Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Flying the Big Kite and Cracking Nuts

It's so good to be back home in California. The last 8 weeks have been a whirlwind of activity and it doesn't seem to be stopping now that I'm back. I arrived Friday, went straight to REI (sports store) to gear up for the weekend, had to pass on dancing with friends due to my early morning the next day, went for a short nighttime run in my hood, drove down to Lake Hodges in San Diego on Saturday (a 2 hour drive) to go orienteering, mountain biking and kayaking as part of an all-day Adventure Race course, went for a 6.75 mile trail run just because I didn't feel I had quite enough exercise for the day, would have gone out on a date if I wasn't so exhausted, finally unpacked on Sunday and resumed my CrossFit training on Monday.

I am sore and I love it. Sore is better than pain from injury although I still have a little of that too. I gave up on docs for now. Mostly because they drained my pocketbook. What I realized is that one's form is crucial when working out so as to avoid injury. So if you are reading coaches, feel free to give me a hard time when I'm not doing something right.

This really hit home when I discovered the differences between running on the beach, running on the street and running in the hills. Running on the beach barefoot was the best. I did this for 5.5 miles and felt great afterwards. It's the most natural way to run and was almost completely pain free (except the chafing on my inner thighs from wearing the wrong shorts!). Next best was running in the hills. There's something about running up the hill that keeps the feet in the right position. And downhill is great just because it's downhill! When I went on Saturday it turned dark when I reached the top (a 6.75 mile run). And since I like to book down the hill I had to raise my legs higher so I didn't trip on anything. Running in the dark with no light is interesting and boy do you see the strangest things. There was this guy walking up the hill when I was about half way down carrying a guitar and singing. Weird!

Anyway, I digress. Running on the street is the worst. The last time I did any length of running on the street I was in a lot of pain afterward. So for now, I'm sticking to the trails and will try to get to the beach occasionally.

Speaking of the beach, I had the opportunity to take a couple of kite surfing lessons while in South Florida. It was a blast. The first lesson involved just the kite and getting used to it. We used a small trainer kite which is actually harder to manage than the normal ones which are much larger. This is one of those things that looks a lot easier than it actually is. The wind has a mind of its own and the idea is to be able to control the kite regardless of gusts, lulls, or direction changes. Because when it comes down, it whips down, crashing hard, damaging anything in its path. That's why we train away from people.

My second lesson was much more fun. First I practiced with the trainer kite to get a feel for the winds that day (it was a much more constant wind than the last time) and then get a handle of the larger kite using only one hand. The wind was about 20-25 miles per hour--perfect for kite surfing. Next it was time to get in the water. Instead of going straight to the board we took the next gradient which was body surfing with the kite. It was actually a lot to manage because the seas were rough--4 to 6 feet--and you need to keep the kite up in the air while you swim through all these waves. Actually it was hard enough to keep my head above water! And I'm a strong swimmer! So the idea was to dive the kite to grab the wind and keep it at the 2:00 position and pull you as if body surfing. Fun stuff! We had to do this quite a few times.

The instructor kept close by, and actually too close because I kicked him in the nuts once by accident. He now calls me the Nutcracker, which I can now add to my list of nicknames.....Warrior woman by my Muay Thai instructor, Dude by my friend Socrates, Crazy woman by my coach in Florida, VGBG (very good bad girl) by a friend in Florida, Gorgeous by my roommate Shannon, and now the Nutcracker.

So I haven't officially kite surfed yet. But I've had a blast learning. When I go back to Florida in October I'll continue lessons and probably even buy the kite and board. After all, I'll want to get into kite skiing and kite boarding too! But when I get to Florida again, the first thing I'm going to do is rent a boat with my dad so I can do some wake boarding. It's great practice for kite surfing and most likely a lot of fun. Hopefully my water skiing skills will translate. Any friends in Florida reading this are welcome to come.

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