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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Urban Surfing with SurfSet Fitness

It's the end of January and this is what I really want to do...

Photo: Oriana Fowler/Surf Simply

But, it's the end of January (I said that already, right?) and I am a cold water wimp. So, instead, I've been trying to workout with my mind focused on the day when I will actually be able to jump back in the water and surf.  I've been swimming to build up my endurance for paddling out against the waves, doing core exercise and strength training, spinning to maintain my cardio, going to yoga to work on my balance and flexibility, and training for a half marathon to distract myself from the fact that I can't surf. But it's not quite the same. That's when I heard about SurfSET Fitness - a surf-based strength and endurance fitness class currently being offered at Chelsea Piers Sports Center. Sign me up!

It was freezing as I made my way from the subway to Chelsea Piers so I was even more excited about the prospect of warm water day dreaming. It's been years since I last stepped inside the Chelsea Piers Sports Center. It is a ridiculous fitness facility. Full 400-meter indoor track, swimming pool, rock climbing wall, indoor beach volleyball court, countless cardio and strength training equipment, and spa overlooking the Hudson River.

SurfSET Fitness was developed by Mike Hartwick, a former pro hockey player and a surfer, as a way to stay in shape when he couldn't surf. He developed the RipSurfer X to approximate the dynamic feel of riding a surfboard on the water. It is essentially a surfboard resting on three mini BOSU balls so any movement you make requires you to recruit muscles in your legs, core and arms to stay balanced. At one end of the board is a pulley system that you use to mimic the motion of paddling in the water.

I went to a SurfSET Classic class which incorporates all the core SurfSET moves. The 45-minute class was structured like a surf session. We started on the "beach" and warmed our bodies up. Then got on our boards and started padding out through the "breaking waves." With the pulleys, the focus was on the in-water portion of the paddling motion (where it counts!) and the pulleys provided a good amount of resistance which can be adjusted.

As we paddled out, we also got to do some duck-dive push-ups where you push the board under an imaginary wave and then pull yourself up on the other side - sometimes doing this movement fluidly and other times pausing at various points to increase the burn in your arms. Ouch! Once we made it past the breaking waves, we performed a series of ab exercises as we waited to catch a wave. I found this part to be super challenging and I couldn't quite get it right. 

Finally, it was time to catch a wave and "ride" it back to the beach. We started paddling again, and then paddling a bit faster as you would if you were really trying to catch a wave. The pop-up was the most fun for me, maybe because I've been trying to practice them everyday as part of my New Years resolution. I was surprised by how much popping-up on the RipSurfer X felt like it would if I were actually out on the water. Once we were up, we practiced carving rail to rail by shifting weight between our toes and our heels. For me, this was a great exercise because I have a hard time balancing my weight evenly when I surf. I often dig the toe-side rail of my surfboard into the water which makes me fall. 

We also did some other balance moves while standing on the board like walking side-step along the length of the board, lunges and single leg squats which were definitely challenging on the unstable surface. Bill, my instructor, also spiked our heart rate a couple of times by making us do "wave runners" (I think that's what they were called?) which is essentially performing mountain climbers on the RipSurfer X. It was hard to move my legs quickly. I thought I was going to fall on my face. We also did more plyometric-type exercises like hopping up and over the RipSurfer X.

The 45 minutes flew by. It was hard but also a lot of fun. I was definitely sore afterwards and felt like I worked some long neglected muscles. I appreciated that so much of the class focused on paddling because really, that's such a huge part of surfing. I look forward to going back. If only Chelsea Piers was a wee bit closer to my apartment...

SurfSET will be at Chelsea Piers until early March but they are also touring major cities across the U.S. to launch the classes. You can find book classes through their website or follow them on Twitter. They are hoping to have maintain a presence in New York City and I do too!

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Paddling Out and Paddle Technique

Learning proper paddle technique at Surf Simply.
Photo: Oriana Fowler/Surf Simply
I think that the hardest part of surfing for me - both mentally and physically - is the paddle out. Standing at the water's edge, I have to psyche myself up so that I can keep my fear and anxiety at bay and so that I don't feel intimidated by the waves. Well, at least less intimidated. You never know how it will go or how the waves will treat you. Sometimes it's super easy and you can paddle out with dry hair with just a couple of press-ups up and over the tops of the waves. Other times, you get punched and slapped by the waves and do what feels like a million turtle rolls to make your way through the waves. It can take 20-30 grueling minutes to finally get out past the breaking waves and be in position to actually catch a wave. 

I know that I need to build my paddle endurance and strength. Aside from surfing, the best way to do that is by swimming. Yesterday, I finally had a chance to get back in the pool. I don't know why it's so hard for me to find the time to swim. I love to swim. There's a pool nearby. I've already paid for a swim pass card. I think that it's mainly the hours. Lap swim is in the morning and in the evenings, which makes sense. I love working out in the mornings and would love to swim then. However, lately, it's been near impossible for me to wake up before 7am or 7:30am because I've been staying up way too late at night. I know that I need to be better about going to sleep earlier at night.

Yesterday, it was so lovely to be back in the water. Swimming brings me a sense of calm and peace. Maybe it's the methodical motion of my arms and legs and the repetition of doing laps. While I am not a huge fan of running miles and miles around a track, I manage to lose myself in my swims. Swim, turn, swim, turn, swim...

While I felt like my arms were moving through molasses at first, I was able to pick up my pace and get a decent swim. I ended up swimming 2500 yards:
- 600 warm-up (200 swim, 200 pull, 200 kick)
- 500 pull
- 500 swim
- 2 x 200 swim
- 4 x 75 (alternating slow, fast slow and fast, slow, fast)
- 200 cool-down

A big part of paddling (and swimming) is learning to be efficient with your stroke. You want to make sure that every stroke counts and helps propel you forward rather than feeling like your hands are just slipping through the water. How do you do that? Well, you want to lightly cup your hands so that you can "grip" and catch more water. There should be a little bit of space between you fingers. Your hand shouldn't be tightly closed ice cream scoopers (as my son's swim teacher likes to call them) but they shouldn't be splayed wide open either. As your hand enters the water and you begin to pull section of your stroke, don't pull straight back. Instead, you want to make a S-curve through the water as you pull back. Why? Because you'll displace more water. More water displaced = more movement forward.

What intimidates you? How do you build up strength and endurance to take on something that scares or intimidates you? Do you have any paddling tips?  

Disclaimer: I'm not a swim coach or instructor so this is just what I've learned as I've worked with some amazing swim coaches over the years and what works for me.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Have you seen Nike's #makeitcount campaign? It asks, "How will you make it count in 2012?" and it's all about bringing your best to everything you do. Apparently, the marketing geniuses at Nike have succeeded again because I can't seem to get that phrase out of my mind. I find myself muttering "make it count, make it count" under my breath more than a few times a day. And I'm not even an active Nike customer!

At first, I thought that this was just another clever ad campaign, but then it made me think. What was I going to make count this year? I wasn't training for anything in particular and didn't have any specific goals that I was working towards (or at least that I have fully articulated to myself). My goals were more like snippets that started with "It would be nice to..." That was when I realized what had been missing in my life - motivation, that fire under my ass that makes me want to strive for something and push myself.

Lately, I've been in a rut. I've been hiding under the covers of a daily routine, identity and a set of expectations that I have grown way too comfortable with but, at the same time, has grown somewhat out of step with me as an individual. It has been easier to maintain things as they are and to take care of everyone else rather than think about what I wanted or needed to be happy. Isn't that what mothers do? I was just doing what I needed to in order to get by, whether working with my clients or making dinner or exercising.

I've decided it's time that I take care of myself and nourish my own soul. It's something that I have started working on over the past several months but I've finally found the perfect mantra to remind me what's important - make it count.

make it count because I want to be true to myself and my intentions in everything I do.
make it count because every minute that I have to spend with my kids really does count and they deserve my full presence.
make it count because staying fit is a big part of who I am. It makes me stronger physically and mentally and makes me a better person.
make it count because I'm a busy working mother and all that I do needs to move me towards my goals

This morning, I went for a run. I really didn't want to. My body was feeling the lingering soreness from yesterday's workout and I wasn't sure how I felt about trying to power my legs up the initial uphill mile from my apartment to Prospect Park. But I got dressed and headed out the door because this was the time I had to run. While I knew that it might not be the prettiest run, I wanted to make it count. I knew that regardless, I would have a chance to clear my head, learn something from this run, and build mental endurance. Isn't that more than half the battle? Hearing those voices in your head and then consciously deciding what you are going to do about them? So I kept running. At the end of it, my average pace was just under 9 minutes per mile, the fastest I've run in a really long time. And I felt comfortable doing it.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year!

Our family is a bit of a mixed plate. We are a Chinese-Polish-American family (although I'm sure that my husband would say that we're a Polish-Chinese-American family). I know, kind of an odd combination, right? It's even funnier when you see my five year old son, who looks more Asian than not, speak fluent Polish. But, there are strong cultural traditions tied to both of our cultures and it's important to both me and my husband that our kids learn about and appreciate their heritage. Since holidays are seeped in tradition, history and customs, we often use them as a way to share our respective cultures with our kids in a concrete way.

Over the weekend, we spent a lot of time preparing for Chinese New Year and exposing the boys to a bit more of their Chinese heritage. Chinese New Year, which starts today, is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays and celebrates the end of winter and the coming of spring. This year is the Year of the Dragon, the most auspicious in the Chinese zodiac. It's a symbol of good fortune, power, and intelligence.

My older son has started to become more curious about Chinese culture and we've been reading and talking about Chinese New Year for the past couple of weeks - all the preparations that have to be done (cleaning, cooking, decorating, buying new clothes, haircuts) as well as traditional celebrations, especially the lion dance. We decided to take the boys to the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), which is housed in a gorgeous renovated space in Chinatown designed by Maya Lin, since they were putting on a lion dance demonstration. We crammed together with about a hundred or so other people in the small lobby of the museum and watched as the lions came to life, dancing around the space. The Buddha led the lions to two heads of green cabbage on the floor which they proceeded to gobble up and spit back at the audience. My older son loved it and thought it was the funniest thing in the world. My younger son, on the other hand, had a death grip on my husband and buried his face into his shoulder pretty much the entire performance. Above the loud music, all I could hear was him crying, "Go away lions!" Perfect. I think that we traumatized him.

As a first generation American, my ties to the Chinese language and culture are definitely not strong. My language skills aren't great (my vocabulary tops off at about the level of a 3 year old) and I'm not familiar with all the history and traditions. I worry about what I am able to pass down to my sons and subsequently, what they will be able to pass down to their children. So when my older son asked me to come to his classroom on Chinese New Year to do a special activity with his class, I was excited and terrified. I know how excited and proud he would be to have his Mommy come to class and I didn't want to disappoint him. So, I did what any parent in my position would do. I googled "Chinese New Year arts and crafts." In the end, it turned out great. The kids made dragon puppets and I read them a story and brought them lucky red envelopes. The kids were so creative in decorating their dragon heads - truly impressive little artists. 

I don't know about you but sometimes I find straddling the line between two (and now three) different cultures to be challenging - of being mixed race and not 100% this or that, of doing justice to all three cultures. But I also think about the amazing wealth of experience and exposure that my kids will grow up with which is so different from the community in which I grew up in. 

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snow Day!

It only took until January 21st for snow to arrive in New York City (not counting the freak snowstorm we had back in October). Did it snow much where you are? I heard that it was snowing pretty hard in some parts of the Midwest and freezing rain in other parts. It's been an odd winter so far but it was pleasant to wake up to a blanket of snow on the ground albeit a thin blanket. It's funny how a fresh coat of snow can make your surroundings seems magical and change your perspective a little.

My older son has been waiting and waiting and waiting for snow to arrive. On our walks home from school, he kept asking, "Will it ever snow??!?" and "How can it possibly be winter if there's no snow?" with an exasperated huff that he has perfected as a five year old. He was beyond happy when he looked out the window this morning and he let out a huge squeal of laughter. We rushed outside to play in the snow and we had the park all to ourselves. As he was getting ready to go to bed tonight, he said to me, "Mommy, today was the best day ever. I had so much fun."

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

MLK Weekend, Sick, and the Ultimate Wave

Did you all have a good MLK weekend? It was pretty bitter cold here in New York City, the kind of cold that settles into and chills your bones. It's weird that there really hasn't been any snow in our area yet this winter. We've had a couple of quick flurries but nothing has stuck. Aside from huddling inside and trying to keep two active boys occupied over three l-o-n-g days, I managed to spend a good part of Sunday and Monday in bed, sick with a stomach bug of some sort. I think that I slept for a good 20 hours out of a 24 hour period.

We did manage to venture out one morning to the Liberty Science Center, just across the river in New Jersey. We pass by all the time on our drives to and from Ed's parents' house in South Jersey. We've just never pulled off the exit ramp to check it out. This past weekend, we finally did. And this is what greeted us when we entered into the museum...

At least if I wasn't feeling well, I was going to watch a little surf movie. Have you seen this? Yes, The Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D is a bit cheesy and commercial (pretty much an ad for Suzuki and Quiksilver) but it was a nice escape from the cold for 20 minutes or so. Plus, when was the last time that you watched a 3D movie? The movie shows Kelly Slater hanging out with Raimana Van Bastolaer, one of Tahiti's most famous surfers, and searching for a perfect ride at Teahupo'o. I think that the most entertaining part of the movie was when Kelly and company go out and surf waves on an outrigger canoe while they wait for a good swell.

Despite the cheesiness, the movie did talk a little bit about how waves form which brought me back to my high school and college physics classes. But since learning about wave formation and surf forecasting was one of my resolutions for the year, I paid attention. I know that this is old news to many of you but it was a good refresher for me.

How waves are formed:
Waves are created by wind. Wind causes disturbances on the surface of the water by transferring energy to water. With more turbulence i.e. a storm, wavelets collide with each other, some canceling each other out and some amplifying each other, causing the wave to get bigger. As the wave gets bigger, the wind has more surface to grab a hold of, amplifying the wave more. As waves get bigger, they disperse from the storm's center into more organized swell. It's this organized swell that creates good, surfable conditions many miles away from where the swell originated.

The one thing that I had forgotten was the in a wave, the actual water molecules don't move much. It's energy that's being transferred between the water molecules which causes the wave motion. This energy travels along until it encounters an obstacle like a sandbar or a reef which stops the movement of energy at the bottom of the wave (trough) while the peak of the wave continues to travel forward at top speed. This causes the peak to rush forward, curl over and crest.

Here's a great article from Surfline on the surf mechanics of Teahupo'o. If you haven't read it, it's a pretty cool look at the conditions that have come together to create one of the most intense waves in the world.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Love, Life, Surf...Run?

Sunrise over the Hudson River - the start of the NYC Triathlon

Seven years ago, I swore to myself that I would not run another long-distance race. In four years, I had completed three marathons (Chicago, Marine Corps and NYC) and one Olympic distance triathlon (NYC). My body was worn out and run down. Shortly after I finished the triathlon, my knee started hurting more than usual and I came down with weird breathing/asthma symptoms. Literally, I could not breathe. It was so frustrating. I felt like I was in the best shape of my life. I trained hard for the triathlon and performed better than I expected. For that, I was rewarded with a forced hiatus of several months.

But shortly after the New Year this year, I found myself really wanting to run regularly again. While I could just incorporate running into my weekly workouts, I knew I needed a goal. That's how I ended up I registering for the More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Half Marathon. It's the largest women's half marathon in the country and it takes place in New York City in April.

I never really considered myself a runner or an athlete. Yes, I played a lot of different sports growing up - field hockey, soccer, lacrosse, swimming, water polo - but I took up running as a fluke. In my Senior year of high school, I could satisfy my PE requirement by participating in community service and running for half an hour. I thought it was an easy out but I ended up really enjoying it. I remember running from school and along the winding roads of our small New England town and down to Pomp's Pond. I kept running in college, heading out for 3-6 mile runs in Central Park or Riverside Park. It was a way for me to clear my head and relieve all the stress of school. When Ed and I started dating, we started running together and we got to explore different parts of the city on foot.

Happy to have finished the Chicago Marathon

Running a marathon was never something that I imagined I would do. I had never run more than 6 miles so how could I possibly run 26.2 once? At some point, Ed and I decided that we wanted to run a marathon together. I liked the idea of having something to train for and a structured plan to help me get there. I was also curious to see what my body was capable of doing. We began training for the 2001 Chicago Marathon over the summer and continued training as I started graduate school in Boston. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to run in Boston and Cambridge along the Charles River. It's one of my favorite places to run, especially in the fall. It's kind of perfect for marathon training as the various bridges along the way create natural loops that I could piece together for my runs. I loved feeling my body get stronger and my endurance grow. I could run 8 miles, then 10, then 12, and finally 20 miles. It was crazy and exhilarating and tiring all at the same time.

We arrived in Chicago a few days before the marathon. It was only about a month after the 9/11 attacks and on marathon day the War in Afganistan began. It was a little surreal. There was a tremendous patriotic feel in the air. I don't know quite how to describe it. It was somber as everyone made their way to the starting area, as if we all had something to prove or a duty to fulfill by running this race. I had lost a good friend on 9/11 who was also a runner. In my heart, I ran that race for her. But once the race got started, the mood lightened. There were several runners wearing "I want to beat Oprah!" shirts, listing her time of 4:29:15. Seeing that lit a bit of a fire under my ass - I wanted to beat Oprah. There was no way that I was going to be slower than Oprah and I wasn't.

Finished at the Marine Corps Marathon

The first marathon led to our second marathon with the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. and then our third and last marathon in New York City - our adopted city. We even trained for that race during our honeymoon! I know, what were we thinking??

New York Marathon finisher!

After taking a year off, I decided to train for a triathlon. I already had a strong running base and I was a strong swimmer. I just needed to work on my cycling. The triathlon also felt more manageable since it was broken into three discrete segments - 1.5K swim, 25K bike and 10K run. I was part of Team in Training and raced in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It was an incredible experience to train with a group of such passionate and motivated people and with amazing coaches who knew how to coax the last ounce of effort you had out of you. 

Ready to start the race! I'm trying to ignore the fact that in a few minutes I will be swimming in the Hudson River.

So here I am today, coming full circle, building up my running base and strength and beginning to train for my first half marathon in many years. I have to admit, I'm excited. I have a goal time in mind that I'm hoping to make but really, I just want to train smart and run strong. Plus, by the time that the race is over, it should be almost time to get back in the water and surf, right??

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Storing surfboards in an apartment - where exactly?

Okay, now that we own two surfboards, um, where exactly do we store them in our apartment? So that they are out of the way, yet easily accessible when we need them, and not in danger of falling on top of our children? Yeah, that wouldn't be so good. Right now, this is where our boards live - in our entryway next to our closet. They are kind of act as decoration right now and definitely serve as a conversation starter among our guests. Plus, there's an increasing trend in surf decor, right?

But I know that this isn't necessarily a sustainable solution. We've spent all this money for nice, new boards but in their current arrangement, the boards could still fall down and get banged up or worse, hurt someone. I started to look into what options were available and quickly was overwhelmed! There are so many! Did you know that there was even a whole blog devoted to all kinds of surfboard racks? It has a tremendous amount of information and reviews about the different types of racks. 

There seems to be three main options for storing your surfboard indoors - on the ceiling, on the wall and vertically on the ground. The method that you choose depends largely on how much space you have, how many boards you want to store and how often you use each board (i.e. do you use some more regularly than others and want them to be more accessible) as well as your personal home style and aesthetic. For us, I'm considering a vertical rack or a wall sling. The wall slings are pretty cool in that it's low profile and can hang more or less flush against the wall. We have a long narrow hallway where it might fit well. 

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012


This anniversary wasn't really on my mind this year. I noticed the date about mid-morning as I went to sign a document. I paused for a bit, pen in mid-air, as the acknowledgement sank in. Then I signed the papers in front of me and moved on. 27 years ago, I woke up on a Friday morning and learned that my father had passed away. I was 8 years old. I remember being super excited that day because a friend was coming over after school. But then I saw my brother and he had this funny look on his face. He told me what happened. I heard my Mom crying downstairs.

Since I was pretty young when he passed, my memories of him are a bit foggy and faint. Yes, I do have some really strong and distinct memories, like watching Saturday morning cartoons together (he couldn't believe how dumb Wylie E. Coyote was) or falling asleep on the couch with my head resting on his stomach, but for the most part, what I do remember is with the help of pictures and stories. I can't remember how old I am in the picture above (maybe 2 or 3?) but that was my Dad's favorite chair and my favorite green sweater. And my bowl cut!!

Every once in a while over the last couple of months, it would occur to me that both Ed and my brother are now the same age that my Dad was when he passed. That's crazy. When I look at both of them, all I can think is how young they are. How young my Dad really was and it makes me appreciate things just a little bit more. I'm sad that my Dad won't have the chance to get to know my sons because I think that he would really get a kick out of them and they would have so much fun together. My Mom says that she sees my Dad in my older son and that makes me happy.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

And Then There Were Two...Surfboards

If you lived in a not-so-big Brooklyn apartment and recently purchased one rather large surfboard, what would you do next? You buy a second surfboard, obviously. Okay, maybe that's not so logical but it seems that common sense has flown out the door and has been replaced by a new found obsession and preoccupation with all things surf. In theory, it makes sense if you think about it. How can two people who both surf share one surfboard? In that case, Ed and I would have to take turns. One of us would have to sit on the beach while the other surfed. This way, we could both be in the water together. Although it is funny because on the occasions that Ed and I are out surfing together, we are no where near each other. Ed sits off on one side of one jetty while I position myself near the opposite jetty.  

Ed decided that he would ask for contributions to a surfboard fund from both our families as a combined Christmas/Birthday gift this year. One thing that you need to know about my husband is that he can be a very difficult person to buy presents for. He never wants or needs anything. He doesn't like to have things in excess. The fact that he was actually asking for something specific was unheard of. Both of our families quickly agreed and a few weeks later, another big cardboard box showed up at our doorstep.

The boys were super excited to help unwrap the box. They even got to take the first ride on the board.

I want them to be curious and interested in surfing and to be willing to give it a try. How great would it be to learn to surf when you are young as opposed to when you are in your mid-30s?!?? Sigh. They know that Mommy and Daddy like to surf. We've shown them pictures and video and brought them  to the Quiksilver Pro New York contest back in September. The little one, for lack of knowing any better, is willing to try anything. Occasionally, out of the blue, he will mention that he wants to go surfing. The older one, on the other hand, is a bit more skeptical. He asks us questions like, "Do you fall off the surfboard?" "What happens when you fall off?" "Do you fall into the ocean and go underwater??!" I think I have to work on him a bit.

So what exactly is our second surfboard? It's a 7'6" Santa Cruz Pumpkin Seed. The coaches at Surf Simply raved about these boards. You have to understand, these guys are total surf geeks, especially when it comes to surfboards and board designs. To hear them speak so highly about a board made our ears perk a bit and we began researching the Pumpkin Seed. We figured that this would be a good second board for us to have and would allow lots of room for progression. Maybe too much room?


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Oh Crappy Day

It wasn't supposed to be a crappy day. Last night's technicolor sunset foretold a beautiful spring-like day in New York City. It was gorgeous - one of those days which you can't help but smile when you step out the door. Everyone seemed to have a spring in their step, happy not to be bundled up in January. By the way, I'm not quite sure what's going on with the weather around here but it was literally in the teens earlier this week. I'm convinced that winter isn't coming this year. Otherwise, there will be a blizzard in May. I've just jinxed myself, haven't I?

But for some reason, I couldn't shake the glum mood and restlessness that was settling in. At about 5pm, I was ready for the day to be over. I wanted to just crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head and call a do-over. Everyone deserves a do-over right? In either case, I'm calling a do-over. Sorry for complaining.


Friday, January 6, 2012

My First Surfboard

In June, I got my first surfboard. It was a birthday present from Ed and the boys and was definitely the last thing that I expected to take up residence in our house. After all, I had only surfed for a sum total of 6 days at this point and it seemed a bit premature to invest in a brand new surfboard. But after our first trip out to Rockaway, navigating the logistics and the crazy traffic along Flatbush Avenue, we realized that this was doable - that we could manage to surf in Brooklyn. All we needed was a surfboard. We could rent boards from the local surf shop, but that would mean that we would have to wait until the shop opened at 10am. Owning our own board would give us a bit more flexibility as to when we went surfing (and also ensure that we could make it out there, have a good session and get home in time to pick up the boys from school).

Enter my new 8'6" NSP longboard (22 5/8" wide and 3" thick). It's an epoxy board that's a lot of fun to ride. You can see the board's construction here. It has enough volume to make it pretty forgiving for a beginner, especially for those of us who may not have a chance to get in the water on a consistent basis, and good for days when the conditions are smaller. The volume helps to make the board more stable in the water and easier to paddle, giving me a little bit more wiggle room as to where I sit out the back. At the same time, it's a pretty responsive board that I can maneuver. I've also ridden the 8'2" NSP and also had a lot of fun on that board. While it's four inches shorter, it has a similar volume as the 8'6". Therefore, it offers similar stability in the water as the 8'6" but is much more maneuverable due to its length.

Once the board was delivered, the next step was figuring out just exactly how to get it from the front door of our building into our apartment. It arrived packaged in a big, long box. I tried dragging it into the elevator. I think about half of the box actually fit into the elevator. I then tried carrying the box up the stairs but it wouldn't cut the corners of the stairwell. Crap. I had visions of our surfboard residing in the lobby of our building. Maybe I could install a rack somewhere along the hallway? Maybe one of our downstairs neighbors would house our board for us? I finally stripped all the packing off and tried the stairs again. This time, I made it. Phew.

Here's a good article for beginners looking to buy their first board.

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

We spent the afternoon of New Year's Eve playing around the Dumbo waterfront - a neighborhood in Brooklyn that sits between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges and one of our favorites in the city. It technically stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. It was a beautiful day - unseasonably warm with temperature in the 50s and sunny skies. A perfect day for the playground, throwing rocks into the water, watching the subway trains run across the Manhattan Bridge and enjoying some treats from Jacques Torres Chocolate.

My kids are also somewhat obsessed with carousels so a ride on Jane's Carousel was also on our agenda. The carousel was originally created in 1922 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company and first installed in Youngstown, Ohio, before falling into disrepair years later and has been painstakingly restored. It's now housed in an awesome modern building designed by renowned and Pritzker Prize winning architect Jean Nouvel right on the waterfront.

Today, we spent a beautiful morning running around Central Park, climbing boulders, and soaking up sunshine - surely an auspicious start to the new year. 

2011 was definitely a year of ups and downs. It's been incredible to watch my two boys grow into themselves and develop their sense of humor and appreciation for the world. As they grow, our family is slowly finding our own unique identity. It was the year that I decided to leave my full-time position, strike out on my own and try to create a work lifestyle that was more forgiving to myself and my family. 2011 was also their year when I discovered and fell in love with surfing. I feel pretty lucky to have had the opportunity to cultivate this new found love among the supportive, caring, super smart and funny folks at Surf Simply and in the warm waters of Costa Rica. I have learned the importance of taking care of myself and not just constantly put everyone else first on impulse. I have been trying to make it a priority to nurture my own sense of self and well being while also juggling the responsibilities of being a mom and wife, building a freelance consulting practice from scratch, managing the household and learning to re-negotiate the relationships in my life.

I am looking forward to 2012 and all that it has in store. In particular, I am excited to see how my surfing will improve. It's got to get better, right? I am not one to make resolutions but with the reality of winter settling in and the slow acceptance of the fact that I'm not going to be able to surf for a while (unless someone decides to leave some plane tickets at my doorstep for a mid-winter getaway), I decided to set some surf-related goals to keep me going through the winter.

1) Learn more about surf forecasting, weather patterns, wave mechanics and surf reports so that I can make sense of what I'm looking at and it's not just a bunch of jibberish. Any tips on where to get started?

2) Train to be a stronger and more confident surfer. Swim to build endurance for paddling, build core strength and flexibility. I am intrigued by Taylor Knox's Surf Exercises videos and curious to try it out. Practice 10 pop-ups in the morning and in the evening to build my muscle memory so that when I do get back in the water, my body will be familiar with the motions and it won't feel so foreign. OK, I'll settle for just 10 pop-ups a day.

3) Read 2-3 surf-related books. It's been fun reading about other people's surfing journeys like Kook and Saltwater Buddha. Any other recommendations?

4) Since the winter surf in NYC is supposed to be great, get out to the beach once or twice to watch and witness the die-hards in action.

Hopefully that will help keep the fires stoked while I try to stay warm through the winter. I also plan on living vicariously through other people's blogs as they recount their surf adventures so surf more for me! Here's to a great 2012!

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