Friday, July 30, 2010

Lucy's Revenge kickoff paddle

July 10, 2010

It was an honor to be a part of Keith and Sharon's kickoff of the Lucy's Revenge Paddling Project. The paddle was the same path as the Battle on the Bayou -- started at Gulf Hills Hotel and ended at the Shed. Doug and I did a shortened version of it, going up halfway and heading back, saving the logistical difficulties of a one-way trip.

I had some thoughts about this intriguing concept that Keith came up with, to embark on a physical journey involving fitness of the body, in order to connect with a mental/emotional/spiritual inspiration involving fitness of the mind. Alzheimer's... a particularly damaging disease of the brain, but just like the body -- can suffer devastating afflictions, or small deteriorizations. Mental fitness is so important. Those of us who get caught up in physical fitness sometimes forget to tend to the mind. Feed it, use it, care for it, nurture it... Your mind and your body need each other and make up YOU.

Related thoughts. Tyler was telling me about adrenaline and how it makes your mind work faster, explaining the slow-motion feeling when you're in the midst of a crisis. Makes me wonder if a lower level of adrenaline is kicking in when I ride my bike, fast pace ride in a paceline when you are so alert at all times. Just afterwards, things seem to move in slow motion. As I'm driving home, everyone is in my way. At home, I trip over the dog... somehow she isn't as quick as usual. I wait for D or T at the sink or refrigerator, why are they taking so long? Everything seems slow. Maybe my brain waves take a while to settle back into a normal pattern.

The mental and the physical. Keith put in his blog "Whatever mental filing or head-work needed to organize a persons hustle and bustle life, it has been my experience that out on the water is not the place to do it. I simply can't. There's too much else to think about. Being on the water strips things down to the bare, meaningful essentials. There is plenty of time for thought, plenty of time for discussion, plenty of time for prayer and meditation. But, no time for false worries, or self imposed problems. It's time for refocusing away from such things." I love this thought and how he expressed it. How true this is of paddling, bike riding, running, hiking... anything where you get away and your activity demands that you focus on it. It's a forced break from what normally weighs you down. I have so many thoughts to keep track of -- things to do at work, issues, lists of things I need to buy, appointments to make and things to arrange, needs of my family, groceries, home care, correspondence, etc. etc. So nice to take breaks from that load.

One more related thought. I haven't seen the movie "The Hurt Locker" but I saw the 60 minutes segment on it a few weeks ago. It's about how the EOD soldier becomes so addicted to the danger and rush of his job that it's the only way he can function. Is it a similar adrenaline-high addictive quality that leads us back to high intensity physical activities? Or is it the shifting of priorities that Keith talked about -- how it pushes the more trivial (but real) priorities and problems aside because it demands that you focus on HERE AND NOW?

Our minds drive our bodies. Experiences and memories are really what the fitness activities are about. The whole idea of the Alzheimer's Paddling Project sounded like a mismatch the first time I saw it.... but the more I think about it, the more sense it makes.

Hope to paddle again with Keith and Sharon as their journey continues.

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Saturday, July 03, 2010

Occasional Paddle

Yes, not too much blogging going on from Anna lately. I admit it -- the kayak suffers rejection at the hands of the bike. The blog is ignored in favor of Facebook.

But today -- I must blog today! It is the 5th anniversary of this blog. First entry was July 3, 2005. 5 years ago there was no Facebook, and I did not have a bike. 5 years ago was before Hurricane Katrina. 5 years ago I found kayaking, and through it I found... how do I say it? I found out how to make myself happy and do what I love to do. Really and truly, before that I did not know how to get into an activity and enjoy it. Dale was amazed at how I took to it, looked forward to it, planned to kayak, came back happy... he had never seen that before in me. Not saying I wasn't happy or didn't enjoy life, but the ability to recognize something you love and pursue it, with a combination of indulgence and intensity, enjoying the rewards and allowing it to propel you further into your passion... this is what I was missing, and what I first found through kayaking. It changed my life in such an important way. Like the saying goes, who gets to the end of their life and says "I wish I had spent more time at work"? It's the people in your life and the things you love to do that should fill your available time.

So tonight's paddle was a simple trip with mom across the bay. Not a spectacular sunset, but the evening breeze and the water were oh so nice.
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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Horn Island

May 15, 2010

It wasn't a paddle - no kayaks today - but what a place it is to kayak, I think it belongs here. We took the Blazer Bay out this morning to enjoy the island in case it is soon affected by the oil. Went out early and ended up leaving early too, with storms rolling in. Beautiful island, had this area towards the east tip to ourselves.

Stunt kite flying... easy breeze. Absolutely fun and relaxing.

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Sunday paddle

May 9, 2010

Nick and Brent joined me for this paddle and recon mission to check out the boom at the mouth of Graveline Bayou. It is in place, though the oil remains offshore for now.

This trip was 6.5 miles though I always had in my mind that it was 8 miles to the gulf and back. Anyway, it seemed longer and gave me a bit of a workout! Easy for Nick, who had paddled 17 miles the day before.

Just paddling

April 18, 2010

Catch up blog...

Strange set of pictures, we paddled during the day April 18, yet I was there for the sunset too. I have not seen enough sunsets lately!
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gold Star for me and Marcelle

Marcelle is the Madone, and she's taken me on quite a ride these last 3 months. I finally finished base training - 12 weeks of cycling training for a large amount of time in specific heart rate zones. I told my Mom I was almost finished and she said, then what? You get a gold star? So yeah, gold star for me.

As I wrote a while back, the idea is to use the heart rate monitor and apply your cycling training in targeted HR zones. For me, Z1 121-140, Z2 142-153, Z3 154-162, Z4 163-174, Z5 175-185. Most of base training is 10% of the time in Z1, 60% in Z2, 15% Z3, 15% Z4. It varies a bit as the weeks go by, but that's the bulk of it. Now for the times - Week by week, it's the number of hours that gets progressively harder with every 4th week a rest week: 5, 7, 9, 4. Then the next set of weeks: 6, 8, 10, 5. Then the third set of weeks: 7, 9, 11, 6.

I'm on that last week now, with the 6 hours, so no problems finishing that out. That 11 hour week was a killer! I rode over 200 miles last week and all on the road. When I started out I had to get a lot of time on the rollers indoors, or in spin class. Now with longer days and daylight savings, I can ride after work. Mile after mile - a few rides by myself, but mostly group rides with great company from my GCBC riding buddies. I'd plan a ride, post it on the message board, and someone was always there. All except the snow day, and one long solo ride on a Thursday. Sometimes, they think I'm crazy.

So now my legs feel like rocks. Still a little fat to spare, but I've lost 8 pounds since New Years and all my clothes either fit or are too big. I have not been sick a single day since before Christmas. My lungs feel stronger and clearer than ever in my life. Here's a big one -- no injuries or overuse problems. Had a hint of trouble with my right knee towards the end, but I think I held it off by paying attention to my position on the bike. I've kept up with yoga and a little Pilates, but not a lot of strength training. Now I need to get back into that.

The rest weeks are the most amazing thing. It's like you're coming out from a load, becoming refreshed, renewed, reenergized. The body takes this progressive stress and adapts day by day, but then to have this period of less stress is so important.

Trusting the training plan... that's an important part and it takes a lot of the mental stress and second-guessing away from what you might usually have. You don't have to wonder, am I working hard enough? Riding too much? Should I rest more? You just plan your rides to fill the zones and times you need, and trust the plan.

OK so now what. I have endurance and aerobic capacity, now I build power and speed on top of that "foundation". Build phase follows base phase - less riding, but more intensity. I should start to see some payoff and get faster, if I do harder rides and more specific drills like speed intervals and hill repeats. I also need to retest my "LT" heart rate - that's what the zones are based on. The highest average HR you can ride and sustain for 3 miles, twice. I measured it New Years and it was 174. Now I need to measure it again, maybe this coming Sunday. As for riding, right now I can ride solo for 50 miles at 18 or 19 mph average. I want > 20. The hard rides and the racing events have started for the year.... I just want to see a marked improvement, and not push myself to injury in trying to get faster. That and get below 150 pounds. I came so close! Saw 150.2 on the scale one day. Now I'm back around 153, but I want to get to 145. I'm patient, though. And happy with where I am now. NEVER so appreciative of my body and health as I am now. It's not perfect, and I have no desire to pursue perfection! I think it can limit you. Spend time trying to be perfect, and you don't have time to be great and find new heights. Perfection has limits, greatness does not.
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Mountain Biking at Bethel

As if I needed a new outdoor activity... made 2 trips lately to Bethel Trails to ride Mountain Bikes with the GCBC. First time, I got beat up pretty bad as I wiped out 3 times, each time when I hit sand and lost control of the bike. Second time no wipeouts and an enjoyable ride through the woods. I like it... I do! Now THIS is something Dale likes to do too, and it's a lot of fun up there with a good group of folks and some Tato Nut donuts. I'm there in the group photo 3rd from right.
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Battle on the Bayou

March 6, 2010

Perfect weather, great starting location, awesome paddle, fabulous time at the Shed at the end. I did well but could have pushed a BIT harder and done it in under 2 hours. I think my time was 2 hours 3 min - 33/125 overall, 10th in my K1>15 class. I was having fun!

I can't believe what a fantastic job the event organizers did for a first time event. Party the night before at Front Beach, all the logistics covered, prizes, halfway point rest stop, GREAT start and end location.

A friend took some neat pictures from the Ft Bayou bridge looking down on the kayaks. I'll upload when I get copies.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Last Serious Training Paddle Before the BB

Feb 27, 2010

About 8 miles, with a few hard efforts. Actually got in one hard effort in the previous post in the easy 3.5 miles when we sprinted back to the dock. I felt that in my upper body and felt stronger this next time. Training works for paddling too!

We went up towards the otter again but had already gone looking for the birds and daylight was fading. Timing worked out nicely going back into the sunset. I love that.

Buddha said "Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” The moon came up before the sun went down. The moon was one day away from being full. They keep coming back around! Another chance to admire... another chance to appreciate... another chance to feel the shine. Every day, you get to see them again.

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Liesure Paddle, Bayou Trois

Feb 20, 2010

South from the dock to the third Bayou on the west side of the bay... 6 kayaks headed towards the causeway.

Paused for a photo. and went back.

A nice 3.5 miles... fun group.
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Another Training Trip

Very much the same track as the last paddle. Starting out, it seemed the wind was going to be mild and kind, but it picked up in time to provide headwinds on the way back. Coming back across the bay, it was a crosswind, but was every bit as hard as going straight into it. Maybe it seems hard because it's at the end of the trip.

Didn't intend to go 9.3 miles but glad we got in enough to build some confidence that we can go 12 miles in the upcoming event!

Lots of birds out today. This seems to be one of the best times of year to see birds. As I've noted before, they seem to have a sense of entitlement and domination in the winter... like it is their world. In the spring and summer, they take a lesser role and live within the greater diversity. One of the otters showed up again. It's going to be very difficult to get a good picture, but I'll keep trying. It swam ahead for a ways, then turned around and popped its head up, looking at me to determine what I was and which direction I was headed, I think. Then it was gone.

I'm mixing in the paddle time with a lot of cycling and an occasional run. This paddle was Saturday and did that after a 5k run in the morning. Then rode 70 miles the next day, and going out to ride another 50 today. But after this hard trianing week I have a rest/recovery week. I like those - when you follow the plan you really feel like you earn it. And as many of the cycling books describe, it's when you REST that your fitness improves. Stress, recover, come back stronger.
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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mud and Otters - 8.3 miles

What do you get when you go kayaking with an Adventure racer... Adventure!
On the right side of the GPS track at the bottom, you can see a loop. On the way out, we decided to cut the loop and portage over "land". Which turned out to be MUD. Lots and lots of mud. The swamp grass was not actually as hard to get through as I would have thought, and if you keep your feet near the base of the grass, it's pretty solid. There's really not much indication from the surface which mud will hold your weight and which mud will sink you to your knees. Fortunately I didn't sink that far, although David did a time or two. If I had, there's no way I would have got my shoes back. I almost lost them a several times... cheap water shoes. Anyway, it was hard work. At the end, David did a bobsled kind of a run though the mud (see picture), but I couldn't get my kayak to turn and didn't have the upper body strength to wrench it around. So back to the mud/grass for me... and finally, back to the water.

The water was nice enough except for a few places on the way back, fighting about a 12 mph wind across the bay. Brutal! My arms will be sore for a couple of days, no doubt!

I wish I got some otter pictures. First we saw one. An alligator? A nutria? No, this one's an otter! Little head with ears poking up. Back swooping over as it dives back down. Head poking up again. Then it pulled a disappearing act. We paddled down a little further... then, three otters! Swoop, dive, tail flipping up. Head poking up, looking back at us. Two heads. Swoop, dive, flip. Swim, swim, swim... dive. Head poking up. Whee! They swam for quite a while, checking us out. Finally they kept to our right and went back behind us. Could it be a mom and two little ones? They all looked about the same size.

I wasn't cold, suprisingly. No gloves, wet feet. The PFD kept me nicely insulated and I had a windbreaker on with two layers underneath. Grey, cold, windy day... who would have thought it would be a fun day to paddle? But it was.
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Friday, January 22, 2010

Cycling Training

Ah, something nice about a blog, where you can say whatever you want and know that people only read it if they WANT to. Not because it shows up on their "News Feed" or forum or in their email box, and they feel obligated to wade through like so much junk mail. I write, you choose whether to read or not. It frees me up to write! On Facebook, I'm not much of a post-er. I might think of something to say and then think, but all those "Friends" of mine don't want to read that... And I erase it. Facebook is too broad. Here, I choose the topics. I focus on paddling and related subjects. And sometimes, as you may have seen throughout the years, cycling is related.

Last year I started to get pretty serious about cycling. I rode about 4,000 miles, got a new bike, got pretty fast, rode some special events, and built some group riding and general bike handling skills. But I had some setbacks, too. I had intermittent knee trouble and went through two rounds of physical therapy. Had a few challenges with the bike fit. I had problems with muscle knots or trigger points in my quads and learned about massage therapy. Experimented with other things throughout the year also - strength training, plyometrics, core strengthening, Pilates, yoga, bellydancing, running, and indoor spin class. Also got a set of rollers and learned to ride the bike indoors, working on pedaling technique and balance.

I read a lot of books, magazines, and online articles, I talked to the people I ride with, read the forums. It's just unbelievable how much I have learned about cycling. And still there is so much more to learn. It's really the same with my physical progress - it's amazing how much my cycling ability has developed... and yet there is still so much more potential.

I'm on an actual training plan now. Started the first week of the year and just finished my third week. A total of 5 hours the first week, 7 hours the second week, and 9 hours this week. The idea is to ride the majority of the time in a lower heart rate zone than what you typically tend to ride in when you just go out and ride hard. Not easy... just a step down. For me it's a heart rate of 143-153. Lots of time riding in this window. Just ending that hard third week, and I really nailed it. Got the time I wanted, got the heart rate zones I wanted, got the rides I wanted. Off to a great start!

I'm combining it with a low-carb diet and have shed some extra fat already. I still believe in you, Dr. Atkins! I believe the body can get better at using fat for fuel, and that encouraging your body to do this through diet actually combines quite well with a HR training program.

It's amazing to me that muscle can become so much more dense, so much stronger, and gain so much endurance, and yet not really be any bigger. Look at the professional cyclists. Their legs are amazing - hard as a rock, toned, strong - but not huge at all.

I can feel these changes in my muscles. Massage is a wonderful thing when your body is working to build and rebuild the muscle tissue. And it's important to watch for those trigger points and massage them out when they appear. Stretching doesn't work until the whole muscle is relaxed.

Relaxation and stretching... yoga... another area where there is so much to learn. I've learned so much and become much more flexible, but I have not even begun to get into the breathing, the inversions, and the other advanced stuff. One thing I have found is the most amazing power and pleasure from my lower back, with yoga. I thought lower backs were only a source of pain! It's not true. Those complex muscles in the lower back want nurturing and release. They will return the favor and make you feel re-centered... wonderful.

My job is at a desk and a computer. It takes a lot of physical activity to counterbalance those 40 hours a week there in the cubicle, where I engage only my brain and my hands.

The best physical activity brings music and movement together, such as dance or any aerobic activity to music. But a close second is bringing exertion and outdoors together. That's why I love the bike rides, and that's why I love to kayak.

See, I did say something about kayaks in this post :-)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Kayak Race
The FIRST ANNUAL BATTLE ON THE BAYOU will be held Saturday, March 6, 2010 on Old Fort Bayou in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The 12 mile race for kayakers is sponsored by South Coast Paddling Company and South Coast Kayak Club.

Time to start training!

I miss my kayak. I've launched this cycling training effort that takes a lot of time in the initial base-training phase. Somehow I need to work in some paddling time as well, and this event is before daylight savings time! 12 miles is a real challenge. But I defintely want to do it.