Sunday, May 31, 2009

Rescue and Recovery 101

Roll Attempt (successful) a couple summers ago with Jasmine Park visible across the waterway
Photo by Hunter Brown

Aimee and I paddled with Colin and Barb this morning. Launched at about 9:30 into a light S wind from Jasmine Park on Harbor Island at WB. Tide was fairly low when we started, so we went up the fairway to the ICW to Shinn's and then into the old swimming hole behind on the Masonboro side of Hidden Creek. Colin and Barb chilled on the banks while I practiced my solo re-entries, cowboy and paddle float assisted. It's the first time I've done them since the end of last summer, and the first time period in my Tracer. Both went fine, though I could definitely use some practice and a little more grace. I suspect that had I been in rougher water (the kind that I'm likely to have problems in anyway), it would have taken a couple of attempts. Then we talked Aimee through the wet exit (roll over and fall out) and I talked her thru a T rescue while we were performing it. She's pretty lithe and slipped right in. Then I fell out and she T rescued me (still with me directing from the water and Colin and Barb coaching from the beach). The water feels great right now. I think with a little practice we'll both be pretty darn competent with 'em. Once the tide was sufficiently high, we paddled back across Shinn's and into Hidden Creek and back to Jasmine Park. We saw the usual avian suspects, like tri-colored heron, great egret, snowy egret, great blue heron, green heron, least tern, brown pelican, cormorant, osprey, american oystercatcher, willet, and other miscellaneous peeps.

After the trip they hosted us for a great Sunday lunch of quiche made from Lydia's local Bladen County free range eggs (super rich) with shrimp, sliced tomatoes tossed in olive oil and balsamic and sprinkled with parsley, mint, and two kinds of basil (all out of their garden, I believe), a loaf of good crusty french bread, sliced apples, Roquefort cheese, and Spanish olives. It was delicious. Killed the rest of the day reading and napping on the couch. A pretty successful Sunday in my estimation.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Holy Ghost Tent Revival and Bike Dude

Life rolls on comfortably, for now. Foot's all healed up from the fire ants that camped with us last weekend, where we saw a great band, The Holy Ghost Tent Revival (available on iTunes or at It's a little bit jazz, a little bit ska, a little bit bluegrass, and a rockin' good time, especially live. Plus, they're from my old stomping grounds in the Piedmont. It was such a great surprise, because the music at this thing is usually kind of not my thing, but these guys really brought a lot of energy to the party.

In other news, a dude came by the shop this week on a bike that was loaded down as heavily as I've ever seen one, with Bob trailer loaded and modified to hold another rack. It was nuts. He says that he's been traveling continuously for three decades, on the bike for 14 years, and has 84 thousand miles logged by bike in that period. He weighed the bike at a truck stop at 300 lbs. He even had a cat for a while (though she never did get used to biking, damn willful animals). He has no address, just where he lays his head at night. When I asked him where he was from, he gave me the most interesting answer I've ever heard to that most common of questions. "I'm from Earth; I'm an Earthling." Then he started talking about the evils of personal property and national borders (I'm not entirely unsympathetic) and wanting to meet Douglas Adams at the restaurant at the end of the Universe. He also objected to having his picture taken, for reasons I didn't pursue (something about native peoples and souls and having rights to his own image, fine). A little odd, but perfectly harmless and very interesting. The free-est person I've met in a while (though I was in a crowd of similars last weekend).

Bicyle Super Tourist Kelly something in an unauthorized and clandestinely taken photo

Last night was May's Critical Mass. Had about 60 or so on the ride, including several friends and coworkers. We broke off from the ride when it got downtown to stash bikes at my place and then walk down to the waterfront for the FREE Journey tribute band that was playing. The show was fun, the band did a great job imitating Journey, and lightning played in the background close enough to be interesting, but not dangerous.

Tomorrow Aimee and I are paddling and lunching with good friends, and I'm planning on a little rescue and recovery lesson for her, review for me. I'll post it. Cheers.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Roasted Bruschetta

I don't usually post about food, but this was so good and easy that I'm going to.

3-4 small-medium fresh tomatoes
2-3 cloves garlic
fresh basil
1/3 of a medium onion
red pepper flakes
olive oil

Slice the tops off of the tomatoes and put them on a dish (I used stoneware and it worked great) that has been rubbed with olive oil. Place in oven under broiler and roast until skin is easy to remove. Top the still whole tomatoes with crushed red pepper and sea salt, add sliced onion and garlic cloves (tossed in olive oil) and put back under broiler. After everything gets good and roasted pull it all out. The onion and garlic cloves should be soft. Coarsely chop fresh basil in liberal quantity and throw in a bowl. Add still hot and whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped onion, and finely chopped garlic. Run a knife thru the bowl to slice the tomatoes up a little (don't do this on a cutting board, you'll lose all the juice). Add salt/pepper to taste and serve spooned onto toasted bread.

This was amazing. The best part was that it just came together spontaneously. I've made bruschetta before but never roasted the ingredients first. I don't know where I got the inspiration, but we had a bunch of tomatoes and fresh basil from the local farmer's market and I grubbed through the kitchen and found the other stuff and just did it. It's the best appetizer I've ever made. Try it. Change it. Let me know how it turns out. Cheers.

Fire Ants and Cankle

Part of the deal with outdoor activity, especially in wet environs, is that you are bound to abuse the hell out of your feet. I was bitten by a fire ant this weekend camping. I'm not absolutely sure that it was a fire ant. I never saw the bugger, but I've my foot as evidence and there was no shortage of fire ant mounds around the site. At first it was just a little itchy spot, but then it started growing. It's been two days now, and I think it's peaking and should start going down again soon. In any case, I've got one raging cankle. The first photo is from the end of last summer, when I don't know what happened, but my left foot swelled up (note cool tan lines from my kayaking footware and even cooler reef scar from surfing in Hawaii). The second was taken today. I'm off to take care of the old dogs so I can use 'em for a while longer.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Good Times...

...will begin in 5 minutes. You either know, or you don't.

Scotty, Dad, Cindy, Willy and I. 4 of ~2000 Friends that I'll see again this weekend.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Surf and Turf Super Sprint

Finished my second race today, the Surf and Turf Super Sprint in Surf City, NC. Woke at quarter til 5, got my stuff (prepacked) and drove up to Topsail. There by 6. Met the boss, got my packet, helped set up Tech support area, set up my transition area, and then pumped tires for an hour. Nothing too exciting here. I ate a Clif Bar for breakfast and downed a gel 15 mins before the start at 8.

The Swim (750 meters): was brutal. Ocean swim, comfortable at 70 degrees in my ls spring suit. I started with the second wave. Seas looked fairly calm to me from the beach at 7, but I think the tide was coming in and it picked up by 8 to fairly choppy for a swim (my first ocean swim). Had I been surfing I would have called it waist/stomach high. Getting out through the breakers was pretty rough, despite my comfort with being in the surf zone from almost 10 years surfing. Once I made it around the first buoy I settled into a pace that was OK, but all I could think about was getting it over with. I finally rounded the last buoy and swam for shore. The run across the beach to the TA was pretty rough and my legs felt like they would give out, but I was stoked to be done with the swim and going into the first bike leg.

Bike 1 (4 miles): Into the wind on the first half, with it for the second. Averaged 17/18 into the wind, 20/21 with. Drank some water from my bottle with GU2O electrolyte replacement to stave off cramps.

Run 1 (2 miles): Not too bad. Ran my standard pace of 10 min/mile (too slow). It seemed longer than 2 miles. There was a beach leg, mostly on hard sand, but the stairs over the dunes and soft sand on the upper beach was rough.

Bike 2 (4 miles): Better than the first bike, same average into the wind, but picked it up slightly for the second half. Ate a GU gel halfway thru to help me through the last run.

Run 2 (1 mile): A little faster paced than R1. Jubilation at being almost finished.

Times and Places:

Swim: 22:21
B1: 15:12
R1: 20:58
B2: 13:12
R2: 9:27
Finish Time: 1:21:07

Place Overall Men's: 96/131 competitors
Men 30-34: 11/13 competitors

Lessons Learned and Reflections: Again, I need to get better (if not faster, at least more comfortable) at swimming. Specifically I need to practice swimming from the beach out through the breakers, and then back in. I'm going to spend as much time in the pool (and ocean) before Kure Beach as I can. I've got to run and bike faster, and in succession. I WILL IMPROVE BY MY NEXT RACE (June 28). I was finished by 9:30 and Aimee was there, so we walked over to the beach and I stood in the water for a few minutes to cool down, then packed up and rinsed off, changed, watched half of the awards ceremony, then drove home. Halfway home I was suddenly exhausted and starving. At home I showered and ate 3 black bean enchiladas and then went to work for the day. Tonight my folks are in town and took us to our favorite restaurant for my favorite curry, and it was excellent as always. I'm not too stiff yet, but I'm sure tomorrow will be a different story.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Race Bike

The Bike I'm Riding Tomorrow

24 Hours to the Surf and Turf Super Sprint

Right now tomorrow I should be either running or on a bike in my second triathlon in Surf City, NC on Topsail Island. I've got to get up there by 6 a.m. to get my race packet and help with tech support for Two Wheeler. I've been training some; not dedicated swim/bike/run for hours every day, but making sure I get some physical activity in. I joined the Y and I've been using the elliptical and swimming there. I ride my bike rather than use my car all the time, and I've gone on a few runs too. Today I'm resting, getting my stuff together, and hanging with my folks. I'm a little nervous about the swim; it could be calm and glassy or big and mean based on what the wind does in the next 24 hrs. Otherwise I'm looking forward to it. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


In the bad economy (and afterwards), make sure you take time to do little things that actually matter. Go for a bike ride or a walk, hold hands with your partner, eat a good meal, have friends over for dinner. There are lots of things to do that don't cost money and can be more rewarding than the things that do. Life isn't about cars and houses and rings and material; it's about experience, and knowledge, and relationships. We had dinner with friends tonight, and played a game. It didn't cost much, but it was a great time, and I'm grateful to be able to share with people who've had an impact on my life, and whose lives I think I've impacted in return. Thanks to all my friends, you know who you are. Cheers.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Barrier Island Solitaire

I've been reading Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey; it's amazing and I recommend it highly to anyone who likes nature lit. On Friday evening I got inspired, checked the weather, and decided that if the forecast held I would paddle over to Masonboro Island to spend Saturday night alone among the dunes and sea oates and stars. Saturday morning I threw the essentials in my car, loaded the boat, stopped at the store for food, and went to work. I got off at 5, on the water at 6. I put in at Trail's End because there's plenty of (free) parking and it's further behind Masonboro, so I can get a more private campsite than the spots on the N end of the island where all the motor boaters go. I launched into a stiff SE sea breeze and paddled into it for a bit, trying to find a new way to the back of the island through the marsh. After 2 failed attempts to get through all the mud and grass, I decided to get back in the ICW and head north to more familiar territory. I took a wrong turn, but it ended up being a good one and I paddled through a huge back bay to a sandy beach on the back side of the island, landing at about 7:30. I walked over to the beach side, not too far (the island is wider at some points than others; the thinner the better, less distance to carry gear/boat), and found some dunes to hide from the wind (still strong). I hauled everything across and set up camp in the lee of dunes while the sun set and turned the sky psychedelic. Camp was very simple: tent, tarp ground mat, sleeping bag, dry bag full of extra clothes for pillow. I figured a clever way to anchor the tent to the ground also (standard tent stakes are almost worthless in loose sand); I put my paddle at 0 degree feather and then ran it between the fabric and the spars that give the tent some form, then piled sand onto the blades. After I got everything squared away, I stripped to nothing and jumped in the ocean to wash the labor and the grit off. It was brisk, but not uncomfortable, and the wind felt wonderful on my bare wet skin. I put on my favorite running shorts and a synthetic t-shirt, cleaned my glasses of salt crystals, and sat down to dinner: apple, beef jerky, naan, bruschetta, gouda, and screw top wine, and watched the last of the light fade away to darkness. I wasn't sure what phase the moon was in, but she wasn't up yet, so I pulled out the head lamp and grabbed my book, which I figured I would finish that evening (correctly). It was a fitting place to finish it, laying in my tent with the doors open and the breeze (abating now) flowing through. There were no insects and the temperature was perfect (I never got too cool in just my shorts and t-shirt). After a while reading I glanced up, out my tent door, toward the ocean, and saw the full moon, deep red, rising on the horizon above the dark ocean. I've never seen it like that. I flipped off my lamp and got out and stood watching it rise, turning from red to orange, and finally to yellow as it climbed higher in the air. It was so bright that when I turned away I could clearly see my shadow stretched out in front of me on the sand. Looking up I could make out the Little Dipper and a few other stars (I don't know my constellations very well). I returned, eventually, to my book, and reading Abbey's reverie pondered my own, sitting alone in my tent on an island, the only sign of other humans the lights back on the mainland and up at WB, polluting the view of the stars (though the full moon helped that too). I finished the book and turned my light off and fell asleep on the hard sand with nothing to block my view of the sky but the thin nylon mesh screen of my tent. I woke occasionally (damn hard sand like concrete, get a sleeping pad) to roll over, always checking the position of the moon as it moved across the sky.

I woke a little after sunrise to a very light westerly breeze and the waves expending themselves onto the sand 50' away. As soon as I opened the tent (if you leave the doors open all night ghost crabs will come in, I heard them scurring around the tent) mosquitoes and no-see-ums pored in, which sent me scrambling for the bug spray (grabbed as an afterthought as I left my vehicle). Properly protected, I grabbed a banana and walked down to the water to sit and eat my breakfast and consider my day's paddling options; I can either put in where I took out last night, or I could surf lauch and head N to the inlet. Being alone and still respectfully cautious in the ocean, I opted for the marsh. Decision made, I checked the water level at my launch and broke camp and carried everything back across the island and loaded up. This is hard work, so on my final trip to grab the last few things I stripped again and ran into the cold ocean to bodysurf a few waves without the drag of boardshorts. Getting out, it felt so good to feel the breeze and warm sun on my skin, so I just stood there on the beach for a while without a stitch on and smiled like an idiot at the lovely morning and my good fortune to spend it here.

Camp, a little after sun up

Back across the island again, last few things loaded, I pushed off into the marsh and headed N. I remembered from the maps (which I didn't have with me) that the big marsh bay I was in connected via creek to a familiar creek and then to Masonboro Channel. I figured that if I kept the dredge spoils to my left and kept taking creeks that seemed to head toward the back of the island I would eventually reach the creek I know. Along the way I saw an osprey with a fish clutched in his talons, and whimbrel with their long gonzo beaks, common and least terns, laughing gulls, great egret and tri-colored herons, semi-palmated and black-bellied plover, and plenty of pelican. Fish darted away, stirring the mud in the shallows. Eventually I realized that I was in familiar water and from there paddled up Masonboro Channel across the inlet and up Bank's Channel. I stopped at Wynn's Plaze by the bridge and walked over to Robert's Grocery for a cup of coffee. After this I paddled back to Trail's End via my old SMKC fairway and Cut-through Creek to the ICW. I got off the water at about 1. I paddled about 4 miles last night and almost 10 this morning. It was great.

Friday, May 8, 2009

White Lake Official Results

They're finally in, my official times.

Swim (750m): 19:53
Bike (14 miles): 50:11 (includes transitions 1 and 2)
Run (5k): 30:01
Total Time: 1:40:04

Place Overall Men's: 222/324 competitors
Place in my age group, Men 30-34: 20/27 competitors

Check for yourself at:

Obviously, I'm no star triathlete, but for my first race I'm pretty happy with my results. Like I've said before, there's plenty of room to improve in every discipline. I'm working on it for next weekend. Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

...Tri, Tri Again

I've signed on for my second race, the Surf and Turf Super Sprint Triathlon in Surf City, NC. The race is next Saturday morning (May 16) and consists of a 750 meter ocean swim, a 4 mile bike, a 2 mile run, a 4 mile bike (again), and a final 1 mile run to finish. It's a strange format. It's pretty soon after White Lake, but I can't think of any good reason not to do it. My entry is comped by my employer, I already bought all the essentials that I needed for the first race and therefore have what I need for the second, and I get a T-shirt out of it. I rested on Monday and Tuesday of this week, and then started training again. Yesterday I ran to work (almost 4 miles) and today I rode the bike to the Y, joined and swam. I'm wearing about ten too many pounds of fat right now, so I'm going to up my cardio and burn that crap off.

I haven't posted my official results from White Lake yet because they've got my time off by 10 minutes. I've been assured by the organizers that it will be fixed, at which point I'll put it up.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

White Lake Sprint

I finished my first race this morning in about 1:40. I drove up to our cabin (Two Wheeler Dealer is a sponsor and does tech support, so we warrant a cabin) to spend the evening and prepare for the race. There were about 8 guys in the group. My boss, Jim, was kind enough to cook burgers and walk me through race procedure. Reggie Barnes hung out with us, which is pretty cool because he was a pro skater and is pretty connected in the action sports world and owns Eastern Skateboard Supply, which is one of the biggest skate product distributors in the country. I once met Tony Alva and Skip Engblom at his annual open house, which was super cool. Anyway, I never got nervous last night like I thought I might, and even managed a decent night sleep. Today began before dawn. I had a cup of black coffee and a banana for breakfast, then took my stuff to the transition area and set it up, again with Jim's able guidance. We did the tech support thing for a while, which mostly consists of pumping up tires, and at around 7:30 I left to get dressed and ready.
Because of the previously mentioned mix-up (the event folks had me registered for the Half-Ironman rather than the Sprint) I got stuck in the first open place available for the start time, which was female age groups, the 5th wave, starting at 8:12. Immediately before the race I ate a powerbar, went to the john, put on race shorts and wetsuit (courtesy of Kim, thanks), grabbed my swim cap and goggles and walked down to the water to wait for my wave.
The Swim (750 meters): I jumped in when the 3rd wave was starting and started to make my way up to the start line. I got some pretty funny looks because everyone else in my wave was female, and I was a little scruffy this morning from not shaving for a couple days. At about 8:15 they announced our start in 10 secs, I started my stopwatch, listened for the air horn, and started swimming. The swim course consisted of three pretty evenly spaced legs, forming a big triangle. I immediately swam over to the left of the pack to have a little space for myself and started swimming. At the completion of the first leg I was getting a little winded from the freestyle stroke and switched to a sidestroke for the rest of the swim. I have got to become a better swimmer. I'm surprised that it was that bad, because my training went pretty well, but I think that I was caught up in the fact that I was actually swimming in the race and not in the pool and didn't focus on a pace that was comfortable for me. Also, Kim's wetsuit was a little small for me and it was the first time I swam in it, so I think that didn't help either. Regardless of these excuses, the answer is that I need to become a better swimmer. The second half of the swim was pretty much all sidestroke, I was breathing heavy, and I wanted the swim to be over. I crawled out of the water 20 mins after I started and started jogging down the pier. I stopped and stripped out of the wetsuit and carried it into the transition, where I pulled on my socks, shoes, and helmet, downed some water with an electrolyte replacement powder mixed in, grabbed the bike and trotted to the bike start line.
The Bike (14 miles): consisted of two laps around the lake, each 7 miles. I spent the first half of the first lap recovering from the swim at a pace of about 18 mph. After that I was feeling pretty good and picked it up to around 20 for the remainder. I think I could have gone faster, but I was concerned about leaving myself enough to run, so I settled into a pace that I was comfortable with. The course was flat and mostly smooth with two spots where you had to make right turns. On the second lap I was starting to feel really good, and passing people who had passed me before (though there were some fast people that passed me throughout the ride). I tucked into aerobars and focused on racing, and it was a thrill. I don't know exactly how long I was on the bike. The computer says the wheels were moving for 46:05, but that includes moving into and out of the transition area, so I'm guessing 45 mins on the bike (I'll know more when the results are posted on the web).
The Run (5k): My run transition was pretty fast, I think. I biked in my running shoes, so all I had to do was rack the bike, take off my helmet, put on a hat, and start moving. I did take the time to finish my electrolyte drink and grab a pack of Jelly Belly energy beans (which I had pre-opened). The first couple of minutes running felt pretty weird, coming off the bike, and I was a little worried that my calves would cramp up, but they never did. There were people packed around the start of the run, which was also the finish (it's an out-and-back course), and they were all cheering and yelling, which was motivating. I felt OK during the run, not great, but I was doing it, and I was excited to be almost done. I saw Jim and a few other people on the run course. At the turn around I was getting pretty anxious to get to the finish, but I maintained a reasonable pace. I picked it up with about a quarter mile left, and sprinted out the last 100 yards or so. People were yelling and I heard my name announced and that was it. I was done.
Aftermath: Aimee came to welcome me across the finish line, and I gave her a sweaty hug. I exchanged congrats and handshakes with friends and coworkers. Aimee and I walked down to the lake and I sat in it for a minute and waited for my heart rate to drop to a normal level. She brought us a picnic lunch, which she went to get while I took a cold shower and loaded everything into the car. We ate ham and avocado sandwiches and sat on the pier listening to the awards ceremony. Then we left. I came home and took a nap, then we went for a walk downtown and got a coffee. I feel a little stiff, but pretty good (of course, there are a couple of Advil and a rum and ginger ale helping that). I'm happy with my race. It was new and it was fun. I'm glad I did it, and I think I'll do some more. I need to get better at all three sports. I'm interested in seeing how I compare to my peers, so I'll post the official results as soon as they're available. Cheers.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Race Prep

Tonight is my last night at home before the race. Tomorrow morning I'll go to work, after which I will leave straight for White Lake. Since we're doing race support, the shop has a cabin right at the finish line. I'll crash there tomorrow night, wake up in the morning very early, pump up some tires until it's time to go, and then start swimming at 8:06. Tonight I'm gathering everything I need, or think I need, for the race. I dreamt last night that I was in the race and didn't have all kinds of things that I needed, like my race number, goggles, or helmet. It was a stressful dream. When I told my boss and coworker, both Ironmen, about it this morning, they laughed and told me I was on the right track, which I interpreted meant that it was good I was worrying because that would make sure I had everything I need. Right now it's all laid out in on the guest bed.

There was a little mix-up in the registration, so right now I'm registered for tomorrow's half Ironman race, which I laughed heartily at. I've been assured that it'll be worked out. We'll see.

I got a haircut for the race. I'm ready. Check Sunday night to see how it all went down.