Winter SUP Training

January warm in my Sweet Waterwear paddling top and compression pants

January warm in my Sweet Waterwear paddling top and compression pants

Just took a virtual tour drooling over the Naish line of Glide raceboards (have you ever seen that GX? Yeah!)and Mana line of SUP surfboards.  It seems like forever until we head to Maui for some surf and downwind fun at the Olukai Ho’olaulea.  In reality, it’s just about 100 days.  With so much snow and ice on our local paddling locations, we are waiting until late May to get our Naish boards. Meanwhile we prep and dream. I did have the pleasure of going a few miles in the Deschutes River on a recent 50 degree afternoon. It was the first time I’d paddled since our fun in Maui in early December. Other locals, like Randall Barna paddle regularly – every freezing month of the year. naish randall winter

I was paddling on my Amundson 11’3″ all round fun board.  Everyone knows that I have had endless hours of flatwater and surf fun with that board.  Heading up river on a calm day I was surprised to notice – my Amundson just didn’t have that “glide!” In Maui we had been blessed with a few glassy days with small surf so the actual glide of the Naish 14′ Glide was obvious. A set of 6-8 strokes on one side generated some serious acceleration with minimal effort.  It reminded me of some technique suggestions from KIALOA paddles’ Dave Chun.

When asked about paddling technique, Dave Chun says, “Listen to the board, Don’t worry about what you look like. Listen to the water coming off of it. Feel what makes it go fast and smooth.” I was doping that observation during my January paddle and realized how much the design of a board impacts the glide, the sound and the result of a series of paddle strokes.  Even though I love the sound of the chop-chop-chop as the bow skims across the ripples in river current and breeze bumps, having aboard that slices right through all that with more of a “swish” is simply faster! So glad we’ve got a 14′ Naish Glide reserved for the Ho’olaule’a.

We don't have the beach (and I certainly don't have the body) but we can train and prep with guidance from Suzie Cooney, CPT

We don’t have the beach (and I certainly don’t have the body) but we can train and prep with guidance from Suzie Cooney, CPT

While a great board is key to having a great experience during SUP events, the bottom line is getting ourselves ready to be strong, safe and prepared for the physical and mental challenges. To that end we have been poring over Suzie Cooney’s SuzieTrainsMaui website for ideas and training tips. Luckily she has SKYPE sessions available for some true custom training opportunity. I know we will be filming some sessions with the GoPro to get solid feedback that we need.

Since Karen Wrenn experiences much similar winter weather we looked for some training tips that power her fitness and competitive success.  This is from Karen’s blog with a link to Stand Up Paddle Annapolis’ blog

“I do a lot of cross training in the gym in the Winter. Circuit training is great because you can get your heart rate going, build muscle and muscle endurance. I will first do something that elevates my heart rate followed by a couple exercises that include strength and balance. For example, I might do 20 double jumps (or you could do 100-150 single jumps) with a jump rope and then move right into 20 kettle ball swings (from a squat position swinging the kettle ball to shoulder height coming to a standing position) and repeat. Then I would move into a plank position with elbows on a ball and roll the ball forward and back for 20 reps. I would do this circuit 3 times and then move on to another circuit.

Another idea of a circuit is to do 15 split jumps on each leg (http://www.livestrong.com/video/5310-split-jumps/) and then 20 tri-cep dips then 20 reverse crunches (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVVlXA0dqGg) and repeat this circuit another two times.

Basically, come up with some circuits of three exercises. Have the first exercise of the series be something that will elevate your heart rate ( jump rope, running stairs, sprints on a rowing machine) add a strength exercise (kettle bells, push ups, tricep dips, pull ups, etc…) then add in a core exercise ( reverse crunch, plank, medicine ball sit up and throws). After you finish one circuit of three then move on to another.

I run a lot during the Winter. Running is a great way to keep up your cardio endurance and a great thing to do if you only have 45 minutes to spare. If you are not a runner… biking and swimming are great options too.”

From Naish Stand Up Paddle's Facebook page

From Naish Stand Up Paddle’s Facebook page

Excuses for not getting ready? NONE! Have fun, just be sure to be safe and paddle with a buddy when the water and weather is cold.

Surf is Where? Arizona!

Lake Pleasant near Phoenix AZ, home of Standup Paddle Arizona http://standuppaddlearizona.com/

Without a wave in sight, an active bunch of standup paddlers have found a perfect place to hone their skills and enjoy their SUP adventures – in Lake Pleasant near Phoenix, AZ.

Stand up paddle boarding in AZ is fortunate to have a leader like Chandler local, Chad Brockman.

Chad Brockman enjoys paddling with a friend!

Chad has a versatile business and provides a myriad of resources for SUPers in Arizona.  As an instructor, he provides a strong foundation for the sport, especially for newbies, by  instructing them how to learn and practice the proper stroke.  Water is a haven from heat, a great medium for fitness, but it can also be a powerful, even destructive, force. Chad includes lessons on  how to read the water and be safe in and around a variety of waters.

Chad has been living in and around the water for 51 years.  That experiences has included plenty of adventures, but also some trials and tribulations.  “Talking story” and sharing insights based on experience adds to the value of Chad’s instruction.

Chad explains, “SUP Health not only improves your physical condition, it will gift you with a healthy mental outlook.” Part of starting new people on standup paddling is giving the “straight scoop” about purchasing the right equipment. Being able to grow into, not out of, equipment saves money and frustration in the long run.  We could not agree more.

If you live in AZ you have a super resource available. Whether you are recovering from an injury or simply want a way to have fun with friends and family and escape the intense heat, SUP is the way to go.

Anyone can do this! Standup paddle boarding can be done any time of day, even by the light of the moon. Join Arizona Standup Paddle for what could be the most fun you’ve had on the water! Chad Brockman is a bona-fide waterman with over four decades of experience world-wide. He has been introducing this new sport of SUP to the valley for five years.  Chad has become an ACE Certified SUP Fitness and a World Paddle Association Safety Instructor.

The state of Arizona offers great weather year-round. Stand-up-paddle boarding is growing as more and more people, products and places are being discovered daily.

This is a great opportunity to try out this new sport. We all like walking on water, now we can run! And get wet, and have fun with our dogs! 

 

 

 

SOP and the BOP

Serenity of the Paddle (SOP) could be an acronym we’ve all experienced but haven’t exactly named. It came to me during a paddle in early October. During the week before and after the 2012 Battle of the Paddle the Facebook and Twitter buzz was both cool and amazing. Even for those of us not at the beach at Doheny State Beach the energy was electric. From photos to videos, from elite racers and sponsors to the enthusiastic SUP athlete with a camera or a buddy on shore we got a full perspective story. One such video from Surftech SUP is such an example.

There’s tons of press, flash and splash around the incredible stories, talent and accomplishments generated by events of that magnitude. No wonder we all want to be a part of the energy.  Perhaps the draw of standup paddling is its simple diversity of personality. Without warning, a completely different type of SUP experience can capture us with an equal, yet opposite, energy. Serenity.

The Saturday after BOP I went with my husband Ed and two good friends up to one of the clearest Cascade Lakes you’ll ever see – Hosmer Lake. Sitting in an embrace of South Sister and Mt. Bachelor, just behind Elk Lake, Hosmer is a spring-fed lake is actually two small lakes connected by a short channel. In the crystal clear waters, you can easily see the trout and stocked Atlantic salmon that are the quarry of catch-and-release anglers here. We paddled across the first, wide section of Hosmer. Even though we’ve paddled here hundreds of times we could help but comment on the beauty, the wonder and how amazing it is to have this lake so close to home.

Clear Hosmer Lake in the Central Oregon Cascades

SOP – Serenity of the Paddle

Even though we were a group of four paddlers, for a good part of the paddle we were together – but alone in our immersion in the color of the sky (cloudless and blue) the texture of the water (gently breeze rippled) and the play of light and shadow on the white sandy bottom below gin clear water.

There is a narrow stream in the far westerly corner of the lake that winds upstream toward a rushing waterfall that seems to deliver last year’s Mt. Bachelor snow toward our summer bare feet. Usually in the quarter mile meandering up that stream it’s required to stand almost in a hang-ten stance in order to get the skeg up out of the water enough to clear the logs, rocks and shallow spots. On this day the depth of the stream added even more serene observations to our journey.

River teeth, a treasure I love to find after reading Oregon author, David James Duncan’s book by the same name, were everywhere. It was a photographer’s dream – light on rocks, shadows on logs, sculpted sand playing in the light and shaping around currents and the brilliant greens of the shoreline grasses. From the SUP Perspective it’s an endless adventure in serenity if that’s what we’re looking for on any given day. Where do you find your SOP?

    

BOP Honors – Inspiration of the Paddle

The ultimate SUP “game” envisioned by Gerry Lopez and his buddy Sparky Longley is called ‘Battle of the Paddle.” When the elite racers fall, flail, and maneuver their way around the yellow marks placed right in the surf break it has to look and feel like one huge foamy battle.

The reality of the SUP contenders battling out for top spots in the one-of-a-kind BOP comes through best in other moments in and around the event.  If you’ve ever been to an event when any of the top ten contenders, male or female, for SUP athlete of the year have been present you know what I mean.

In football you never get to sit with the best quarterback, on the bench before a game but in SUP the beach is open to everyone. Interaction with Candice, Conner, Karen, Suzie, Heather, Kai, Jamie, Chuck, Slater, Dave, and many others is easy and quite inspiring. The absolute passion for their sport and water, waves and wind they live by is contagious! They are a no excuses, hard -driving competitive bunch who train like there’s no tomorrow – but will share a pointer, a word, a smile and encouragement as needed. Clinics, blogs, movies – they share!

If you were like me, it was pretty tough to decide who to vote for in the various SUP awards offered to the public for input.  I have a hand full of favorites all with top-spot accomplishments. In the recent 2012 SUP awards by Body Glove tough decisions were made. Candice Appleby was awarded top honors for women while Conner Baxter won for the men.

The one thing that struck me as I enjoyed the stories, tweets and Facebook updates was this quote from Candice, ““I want to thank the other athletes- you inspire me.”

That camaraderie and mutual respect may not be unique to the sport of standup paddling, but it is one powerful, compelling aspect of how the best of the best live their sport.

Gerry Lopez was presented with the SUP magazine Lifetime Achievement Award for his influence on the sport

No matter where you paddle or SUP surf this weekend you can charge or chill with the attitude of those at BOP. Anyone can grab the attitude  of Gerry Lopez who won the SUP magazine Lifetime Achievement Award for his influence on the sport. He accepted his award and said, “I hope it makes a difference in how we all think. Surf with aloha and live with aloha.”

Okay, it’s Saturday! Grab your board, your paddle,and a friend then look for surf and inspiration – wherever you find it.

License to Play!

Ahh, the day job. I have read all the books and make a true effort to worker smarter not harder. Some days are more difficult than others, especially when the exquisite days of summer SUP seem to be coming to an end far too quickly. While I subscribe to a philosophy of PL-ORK (play at work) the day’s lineup of responsibilities can overwhelm. Have you ever felt that way? (silly question)

Yesterday was one of those days. I have a complete re-write of my PA Pharmacy (day job) website on-going and the energy wasn’t translating so well. At an early morning break I came across a welcome e-mail from KIALOA paddles.They shared a new video that was hard to resist with this introduction, “Straddling the line between creativity and insanity, you are just as likely to hear a discussion on His Holiness the Dali Lama and the merits of Heavy Metal, as one on hydrodynamics and higher design when you visit the shops of  Gerry Lopez Surfboards and Dave Chun’s KIALOA Paddles.

I am so fortunate to live in Bend, OR where both of those uber-cool guys have their shops. Added to that is the occasional opportunity to experience a yoga class at Groove Yoga lead by Gerry Lopez. Maybe that proximity to the Dave-Gerry blend of creativity/insanity made me particularly susceptible to the philosophy of the video, maybe it was just a stellar day outdoors when my head was all mothballs and dust. Whatever the convergence of luck would have it, watching that video changed my day. Take a look for yourself.

How productive was I going to be looking out of my office window and fighting with the task at hand? I took the message from the film as “license to play.”

Not 45 minutes later I was at Groove Yoga sweating through exactly the class I needed. With my trusty Amundson surfboard on the roof rack, class was followed by a short drive down to Lava Camp and the river launch spot just upstream from Benham Falls. Ahhh, breathing in that crisp air while applying massive amounts of sunscreen was just what I needed. I took off upstream planning to go about 4 or 5 miles before turning around for a down-current ride back.

The gods of wind had to be chuckling, throwing gusts right into my face during the up-current paddle. “Are you kidding?”

No problem, it was an unexpected play session smack in the middle of the work day. Music in my ears consisted of a playlist created by my 10-year-old granddaughter, and it kept me smiling. About 90 minutes into the paddle I hit the 4 1/2 mile mark (GPS and mileage by Nike+). A quick turn and I was soaring back downstream. The easier paddle back allowed lots more time to let the endorphins and the views kick in.

Did I hit the office with enthusiasm later that afternoon? You bet! The day allowed me just a couple of hours of work but it was productive – or maybe my mindset imagined it so. In any event, nothing was lost by the hours of escape from routine and some sweet river diversion. Thanks to Dave Chun and Gerry Lopez for the inspiration and license to play.

Radiating Insights and SUP Aloha

I live in Oregon and have had the good fortune to meet Karen Wrenn a few times. From those experiences I recognized that on top of being an incredible athlete and a stellar Mom, she is extraordinarily giving when it comes to what she’s learned through SUP. So I follow her blog, and follow her posts on Facebook.  You may want to as well.

Karen Wrenn introducing her group to proper paddle technique. Photo by Ed Shasek

Just last week at the Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge we arrived on Friday just in time to attend the Positively Kai Grom Clinic.  There, nearly engulfed by several dozen eager pre-teens was smiling, calm Karen.  Kids at that age can behave like a herd of cats, but they remained focused and attentive throughout the land training. Parents hovering around the edges seemed particularly pleased when Karen made sure the kids got their PDFs or borrowed one for water time. One worried mom pulled Karen to the side, hands holding tight on your young son’s shoulders. After a few moments’ conversation, with a smile, the mom handed off the boy who no longer seemed so hesitant. Confidence at each step of the way seemed to be the theme.

With the clinic on Friday, a course race on Saturday and a blustery down wind run on Sunday every on of the top athletes had plenty on their plates. Just the same, Karen took some time to answer my questions about what would be my very first experience on the Columbia River. I haven’t determined what race board to buy just yet and have only about 4 lake races using a 12’6″ Hobie or Amundson. Steve Gates had already hooked me on the benefits of using a race board like the Naish Glides he carries at Big Winds.  As a Naish team rider, Karen showed me why she chose the Glide as well.

I had never been in the Columbia River, not had I ever paddled any board larger than 12 feet long. I asked Karen, “Would it be crazy for me to use my 11’3″ Amundson surfboard in the conditions we’ll have in Sunday? Will I be like dead last, or crazy slow?” The winds were expected to be 30-40 mph and i was freaking out more than a little.

That was the beginning of a valuable conversation. I learned where to go on the river and what to do should a barge come along. (A HUGE double barge did send me almost to the Washington side of the river)  She explained the sort of swells I might encounter and how to surf them to connect the most glides. Best of all, her easy assessment of my ability to not only do the race but also enjoy it gave me one more level of confidence.  Cool too, was being able to watch Karen’s technique in the course race, rounding marks, planting her paddle for the “catch” and using her legs and core. And did her Glide ever “gliiiiiiiide!”

Karen Wrenn rounds the bay buoy in the Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge course race. Photo by Ed Shasek

I guess it all added up. Holy cow! I am solidly addicted to the sort of conditions we had on the Gorge Paddle Challenge downwinder. Totally jazzed I can’t wait to get back there to do it again – Summer 2013.

It hadn’t been too long ago that the ultimate SUP race, the Molokai 2 Oahu race took place. I have been a swimming, sailing, surfing, ocean person since birth and crossing big ocean expanses (with safety and support) has been a dream. (I wrote about that dream in an earlier blog)  Could I ever train enough in this seventh decade of life to manage that? Deliriously I thought – maybe?

With further insight I realize that the novice attempting that crossing – in or out of that event- would be somewhat disrespectful to the power of that channel and the esteem of the challenge. Karen wrote a powerful blog about Molokai 2 Oahu not too long ago. The article wove the challenge with the tradition. It underscored the dedication and training commitment the athletes who successfully cross the channel have invested.

I know that the Molokai 2 Oahu will always be what it has been to me – a dream. But it is also a window to what the top athletes in SUP can do. In my own way, at my own level I can be my best by keeping personal abilities in perspective. Training as much as I can as wisely as I can toward the events that make sense for me might be more fulfilling than chasing a dream.

Karen Wrenn with her signature smile racing to the finish.

Thanks to the athletes like Karen, Candice Appleby, Brit Oliphant and Suzie Cooney we can all aspire to our best. Follow their blogs, see what they dedicate to the sport through Facebook and YouTube video. Be the best YOU can be and celebrate the journey. Smile!

SUP Leaders Grinnin’ and Givin’

KIALOA paddles and Naish team rider, Chuck Patterson and his signature smile

Perhaps every sport has its heroes, good karma ambassadors and experts eager to share their time, skills and experience with newbies – but SUP seems to have more than its fair share.  As with most categories of leaders in most any field, the busiest seem to be the most eager to share.  Chuck Patterson and Karen Wrenn gave clinics at the 2011 Bend Paddleboard Challenge. Before and after their clinic they shared freely with any paddlers hammering the questions their way – and always with a smile!  Karen is a busy mom and competitor, but like Chuck she’s and incredible ambassador for our sport.

When my husband and I were in Maui last May for the Olukai Ho’olaule’a race, we tried the shorter course from Paia Bay to Kanaha – rather than the full Maliko Gulch run.  Local SUP trainer and world class athlete, Suzie Cooney consistently gave of her time and experience before and during the event. The absolutely amazing spirit of the team for Olukai and the encouragement from Suzie infected us with a focus on getting prepared for the 2013 Maliko Gulch run as part of the Olukai Ho’olaule’a. We plan to learn from her online training tips and some actual training runs over the next months. If she hadn’t been so willing to share from her first meeting with two old SUP downwind “wannabees” we might not have had the confidence to complete training enough to compete (term used loosely – LOL)

KIALOA paddles team rider, Brit Oliphant

Most recently I have had the good fortune to know one of the younger leaders in  standup paddling, surfing, and all types of racing, Brit Oliphant. We share the same home town, and often cross paths on the Deschutes River that flows through town. As Brit offers training to all ages in groups large and small the constant is enthusiasm and a great smile. Day after day! Just out of high school, Brit has a love of life and maturity that’s rare at any age. While disciplined training has provided the fitness background needed to compete at the highest levels, an absolute love of oceans and rivers adds a special something else.

So, as I wavered in my commitment to watch-participate-watch, maybe, or participate (should I?) in the upcoming 2012 Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge I went out for an easy paddle with a friend yesterday. “Hey, Judy!” I heard as I walked past the Sun Country SUP rentals at our RiverBend Park. It was Brit, back from a one day training trip to Hood River where she and fellow paddlers had done a few rounds of the 8 mile downwind course.

In chatting, she heard me mention that I was still wavering about doing the event and might just rent the Naish race board my friend Steve Gates recommended in case I decided to do the downwind on Sunday. Now, I know that Brit recently got a brand new Joe Bark designed Candice Appleby Model 12’6″ race board. She’d paddled it to a win at the recent Gerry Lopez Elk Lake WPA race and was obviously thrilled.  That said, without a moment’s hesitation Brit said, ‘Judy, if we aren’t racing at the same time you can use my board on Sunday.” Sharing a brand new anything is generous – but a race board – what a cool gesture, Brit.

Generosity like that is rare.  I won’t be borrowing her cool race board, yet the offer was easily sincere. The confidence I gained from Brit’s wholehearted advice, hints and belief that not only could I do the event but I would have a world of fun (if the wind cooperated) at the same time.  Let’s see what Sunday brings. My guess is that we will see Brit competing toward the front of the elite class, smile shining, having a blast whatever place comes her way. For me, I hope I muster the nerve to give it a go. Better register now!