After Action Report from Training Paddle on February 7th, 2019

IMG_2646Today I paddled in the ocean for close to 2 hours and did a combination of upwind, downwind and sidewind runs covering 4.4 miles. The wind was blowing onshore out of the East at about 5-10 Mph.

After reading David Goggins book, Can’t Hurt Me, I have decided to implement two of his training strategies today. 

  1. Train in conditions that potentially are much more difficult than you may or may not encounter during the actual event.
  2. Use what is called an After Action Report, or AAR, commonly used in the military. An AAR is used to asses what happened and to see what could have been done differently so as to insure success in future missions.

Going upwind is a very slow and arduous process. Add swell into the mix and it becomes a slow going balance act. I am really practicing trying to keep really calm and expend as little energy as possible to sustain balance and still drive forward. When floating on the surface of a rough ocean it takes constant leg and core work to stay upright. I definitely found that if I try ‘to hard’ to not fall it used up a ton of energy. Oh yes, I did fall a couple of times today which actually felt really good and refreshing. There were a ton of Portuguese Man-of-War which aren’t jellyfish but a colony of small organisms called Siphonophorae. They sting pretty bad so it was bit of an obstacle course to make sure I did not land on one of those guys.  So that element added to the feeling that I would prefer to stay out of the water as much as possible.

Once I would make it a fair distance off shore I would turn around and work on my downwind skills. This is harder than it sounds. When you are in the trough you start to generate as much forward momentum as possible so as to get caught up by the mid surface face of the swell that is approaching  from behind. If done well the wave pushes you and it is like surfing for a few seconds and you can stop paddling to rest a short moment and still enjoy forward momentum. Sounds easy right? Well, it is not as easy as the Youtube videos from the dudes in Hawaii make it look. I did get to connect a couple of runs together and got my board speed up to 9 miles per hour. Once I got close to shore I turned around and did it again and made a total of 5 runs. It is kind of like when you see guys hike up huge mountains of snow all day and then ride down for a total of like 10 minutes. The ratio of work to coasting is definitely tilted toward the work side versus the coasting. I totally freaking love it! It is so much fun. It is so challenging and I just want to get back out there and do it again. I love being out in the ocean and the solitude of the experience is really amazing and peaceful.

So what will I do different?

  1. Start doing some extra High Intensity Interval Training on my rebounder to build up my leg strength. I planned to paddle for 3 hours and after 2 my legs were feeling like noodles.
  2. Next paddle session like this I am going to try for 2.5 hrs.
  3. Spend more time in ocean and less in the intracoastal waterway. These are 2 completely different challenge experiences. I want to up my ocean time to get more efficient in turbulance.

Before heading to the beach today I received an email from someone who I was introduced to that has a child with Cystic Fibrosis. He offered so many words of appreciation and encouragement for my involvement in fund raising for this cause. I was already excited to get in the ocean today. When I read his email it gave my training session in incredible sense of purpose. When I am heading out toward the horizon, going up and down trough to crest and creeping along at the pace of a turtle. Side note, a sea turtle would kick my butt in a race at this point. I am left with my mind begging the question. Why? The note I received today was the answer I needed. It was the fuel that propelled me forward. Thanks to your support we are pushing forward. Crossing for a Cure!