Molokai Surfski World Championships – 7 Days and Counting!
The last few months have been hectic but all good things, so I really can’t complain. I had to take a couple months off from blogging as I focused on building a new website for TC Surfski, accepting a new full time job, managing my spring orders and boat deliveries, and trying to maintain some level of training in preparation for Molokai. The good news is that as I write this I’m on the plane to Hawaii and the new website went live with hardly a hitch, and in my humble opinion, looks pretty amazing. Of course the million dollar question is, am I ready for Molokai? And the reality is, I don’t think I’ll know the answer to that question until I hit about mile 30 and start to see the finish.
For those of you who follow my blog, you know that this winter I did a pretty serious shakeup of diet and training in a bit of an experiment to see if I could go from that paddler who bonked hard at 15 miles in September, to someone who can solidly cover 32 miles where bonking is not an option. To make this transformation I focused on three key areas including diet, aerobic training, and technique. I tested my experiment with some 50k ski races in February including the North American Vasa and the legendary Birkie.
If you haven’t already you can read all the details on the training and diet as well as the ski race performance in my prior blogs. To net it out, my strategy was to perform almost all of my workouts at just under my aerobic threshold and also cut carbohydrates significantly as a powerful way of accelerating my body’s ability to burn fats at increasingly higher levels of output. In addition to these changes, I religiously adopted the Oscar Chalupsky forward stroke technique teachings, which focus heavily on efficiency and a paddling style that serves you very well for long distance open ocean paddling. I’m sure Oscar will be quick to point out where I’ve come up short, as we get out on the water this coming week, but I’m excited for the critique.
Looking back at the past few months, while it was by no means intentional or by design, my long workouts tapered quite considerably after I finished the Birkie ski marathon and no longer had the pressure of the ski races looming. My motivation and my family’s tolerance for 5 hours treks to the ski trail were definitely waning. I had great intentions of doing long 3 hour marathon paddles on the ERG, but I came up quite short there as well. I love the ERG, but found it really hard to stay motivated beyond around 12 miles, and I only made it that far on two or three occasions. Ultimately I saw a pretty significant taper in 2 hour plus workouts through March and April. I did continue to post some strong 10k times on the ERG and had some amazing late season 27k skis, but nothing super long.
As far as my diet went, I have continued to keep a fairly low carbohydrate diet, but likely not at ketosis levels (below 30 grams – which is where I initially started). I continue to avoid grains and with the exception of blueberries eat very little fruit. Most of my carbs came from dark chocolate (coping mechanism for the long winter) and the occasional sweet potato. My weight has remained pretty consistent through it all, which is pretty amazing considering I went from a very high carbohydrate vegan diet loaded with grains, to a diet high in meat and cheese with no grains (I’ve always eaten tons of nuts). I’m not sure what to think of the lack of weight change, but I’d like to believe my body composition has improved, not convinced of that, but one can hope.
Paddling in Charleston
The water in Northern Michigan stayed frozen far longer than any of us will care to remember, and I only managed 2 open water paddles before we headed south to Charleston for a combination spring break, boat pickup, and Molokai training cram session. Fortunately my paddling results in Charleston exceeded my expectations. I paddled 5 out of 6 days that we were there, logging: 6 miles, 18 miles, 10 miles, 6 miles, and 22 miles. I did all of these paddles in a new Epic V10 Ultra. I don’t know if all the credit goes to the boat or my Vaikobi vHeat shorts, but I made it through 60+ miles of paddling in a week with no real soreness or chafing. A definite first for me. For the long paddles, I took water with electrolyte tablets but nothing with any calories. Both long paddles went really well, I finished without bonking or cramping, and wasn’t ravenously hungry. All this leads me to believe that the training and diet changes have significantly altered my fuel partitioning systems to be much better at burning fat. The one thing I’ve noticed in my first two weeks of real water paddling, is that I’ve struggled to keep my HR up at the levels that I consistently trained at on the ERG. I’m not sure the full explanation for this, but the same HR level seems to require more work in the boat than it did on the ERG. I’m sure some of that is just getting re-acclimated to the boat and real paddle, etc..
Acclimating to the Hawaii Swell
I had a week at home between Charleston and leaving for Hawaii, but only managed one 6 mile paddle as I was consumed in the final stages of getting the new website live, as well as trying to commit to some family time before leaving for 10 days (including missing both Mother’s Day and my Wife’s birthday – needless to say my wife is amazing, but that is a whole blog in and of itself 🙂
The final component of my training will be acclimating in Hawaii and learning to paddle “the big stuff”. I’m really happy I checked my ego and went with a V10 Sport and although I think I could manage the new V10 pretty well in Hawaii, I know at the end of 32 miles II’ll be more than happy to be in the sport and very likely to be faster in it. I’m very fortunate to be staying with Simon Longdill and Andrew Mowlem, both extremely experienced and strong paddlers. We plan to meet up with the Epic team on the organized paddles throughout the week and this will no doubt be an amazing learning experience for me. The biggest challenge will be not to overdue it!
Now that I have some time as well as a new Go Pro to play with, I’ll plan to post updates through the week, so stay tuned to my website and Facebook page for all the latest.