All about kayaking from the San Francisco Bay Area

Archive for June, 2010


Yesterday completed one month of official training for the Colorado 100 race in early Sept.  In general, I’d rate it a success.  I’ve really learned a lot (and paddled a lot).  I was worried how I’d handle the stress of logistics; getting on the water 4 days a week while being a full-time employee.  I’d have to say, this has been the easiest of challenges.  There have been a couple of days at work which were physically demanding where I’ve thought, “I’d just like to go home.” But I didn’t think twice about it and found myself  at the end of the day in my cockpit where I belonged.  There have been 2 days I didn’t paddle that were scheduled; one due to winds and another where, psychologically, I just needed to go home and do nothing.

What has been more stressful is the wind.  How windy will it be after work?  How windy will it get when a small craft advisory is predicted (almost every day now).  How reliable are the wind predictions?  How will I perform in the wind?Recently a local weatherman said our weather to date has been like early spring.  With regard to the winds, that’s the windiest season here in the Bay Area. I’ve been looking for to the normal decline of wind as the summer progresses. Now it’s almost July, and we’re often getting warnings of winds at 25-30 kt.

I didn’t really have doubts my body would handle the long paddle days as long as I put in the required daily training.  After the first 20 miler I began to feel the stress.  The hours after that first 20-mile paddle and the day after were the first time I felt a little soreness and “systemic tiredness.”  Yesterday a 25 miler was scheduled and from the beginning I knew it was going to be a challenge.  It felt more about “mental wrestling” than physical.  I just couldn’t get my mind around being in the cockpit for 6 hours or more, and I was obsessing about what the route was actually going to be.  I wanted to get around the island, but there were no guarantees the north point would be passable.  And  yesterday as I approached the northern tip three kayakers came towards me and warned how windy and choppy it was.  They had decided to turn back.  A wind advisory was already posted and the tide was racing out (wind/tide in opposite directions), so I wasn’t optimistic.  After taking a look myself, I too retreated; I was solo.


On a more optimistic note the wind was negligible in the channel. Now I was only going against the tide for less than an hour.  This then created the dilemma of the route I would take to cover the required 25 miles.  While I was paddling I began all the mathematical computations and ways I could go to make the mileage.  I paddled all along the east side of the island and around the southern tip but was halted by an extremely low tide.  No getting into the Bay this way for a few hours.  Back I went the way I’d come and figured I’d get back to the starting point with about 20 miles under my belt.  Well, I’d just have to paddle around in circles I guess to get those extra 5 miles in.  Then on the way back I hit the incoming tide which was incredibly strong, and the first time in this channel where I could barely make headway against it.  Maybe I haven’t used enough adjectives as yet to describe to you the horrible day I was having. Oh, that’s right, this rant is public!

After a couple of miles fighting the current those core muscles were really tired (good sign my arms weren’t).  I had a neckache, a headache and I just kept making bargains with myself to get to next selected spot ahead of me to keep me going.  I tried to tell myself this would pass, pretty soon I’d feel OK.  But I just kept feeling worse, physically and mentally.  When I spied my starting point I told myself 20 miles was enough!  I was not having fun.  I was really spent as I exited my kayak and stood (or tried) on the dock.  At that point I was sure I had made the right decision to cut my day short.  I just wanted to get packed up and get home.

So, I felt a little failure with regard to my expectations yesterday, but it was the 2nd weekend in a row I’d completed 20 miles.  And, next Sat. no increase in mileage.  Yes, 25 miles again!  I learned the shoes I was wearing were not going to work (my old kayak shoes disintegrated last Mon.).  My MSR Dromlite is working great.  I’m remembering to eat and drink on time.  The clothing I’m going to wear for the race is being tested and all is well, I just need to get a short sleeve top for all this summer training.  The training miles are adding up.  I think the first month ended with a total of 118.

So begins the SECOND month with 9 miles tomorrow.  Wed. is a 6 mile time trail.  I get to compare it to the 6 miles done a month ago. July 10, calls for 30 miles and my coach is taking me to the lower Sacramento river where we’ll be paddling together.   Now the biggest challenge seems to be completing the super, long Saturdays, and WHERE to paddle the super, long Saturdays!

eat well, sleep well……….paddle fast!  Total training miles: 118


That north point of Alameda Island is really freakin’ me out. Yesterday I purposely started early to beat any wind.  It was predicted to be only 5-7 mph anyway.  I arrived at the dock at 6 AM to cold, cloudy and windy weather.  It was already reading 10 mph with gusts even higher.  My plan was to paddle to the north and “peek around.” I guess the currents and wind make this an unpredictable spot. I didn’t get too far before I decided to just turn around and go south.  The winds were getting worse and I was worried my day might be shortened altogether.  Turning south put me against the current.  Oh well.

Here’s my route.  I did round the south point and get into the Bay. This is near the area where I had to get off the water last week.  Boy did it look different. My schedule called for 20 miles. I did a little backtracking to get all the miles in.



eat well, sleep well……….paddle fast! Training miles: 87


Today’s the end of three weeks of training.  This week was pretty successful with regard to getting my miles in and little disruption from winds.  Monday was 8 miles at a moderate pace, and mostly it was a great paddle with sunny skies.  I have to admit, I was somewhat unsettled with any sudden gusts of wind.  Vigilance left over from the previous Saturday experiences.

Wednesday and Thurs. paddles were 4 miles each; one fast and one at an easy pace.  Funny how 4 miles goes by fast when you start to do 12 and 15 mile paddles once a week.  However, Thurs. I just didn’t feel right.  I seemed to be unable to get in a rhythm and didn’t feel comfortable.  It wasn’t physical, more emotional.  And, I wasn’t hungry (you know something’s wrong).  And today I was suppose to do 20 miles, but I’m feeling a little under the weather so I decided to postpone until tomorrow.  So maybe that unsettled feeling I had Thurs. was the beginning of my cold.  Tomorrow I’m going to try the Alameda Island circumnavigation again. Push-off 6 AM, and winds are predicted 5-7 mph. I invited my coach, but he chickened out. (-:

On another note, here’s a pic I borrowed from Mackayak’s blog.  Just had to post to share my horror over events in the Gulf.

eat well, sleep well………paddle fast!  Cumulative miles: 68


Auginbaugh and Sea View streets; the closest residential intersection to where I had to bail during my training session today due to high winds.

rocks, rocks and more rocks

I checked the marine forecast and it was the first day all week nothing was posted.  I was psyched!  It was going to be a wonderful day.  My coach was going with me for the first hour or so and getting me on my way for my first circumnavigation of Alameda Island; slightly further than 15 miles.  Apparantly the northern tip can be pretty rough by the afternoon and we were going to round that area in the early morning hours.

Four of us started together from Jack London Square and we noted how the wind was already up.  As we came to the northern tip it was already choppy and as we rounded the tip and headed south there were already some pretty good gusts.  It was a really unusual day of wind as it was offshore.  My coach was going to turn around at the sea wall where I had a straight shot down the west side of the island. He had shown me on a coastal map exactly where I should go and also where I had to avoid some very shallow waters.  Most of the paddle  along the island beachfront was OK, not great, and not at all relaxing.  I had to really pay attention and be ready to brace at any moment.

Prior to reaching the southern tip of the island I was instructed to cut across the channel to avoid very shallow waters with muddy sand bars.  This meant keeping a small jut of land to my right once I crossed.  Here’s where the fun began.  I left the slightly protected water from the land to my left and entered the open channel.  At first the wind was to my back but as I turned to port, aiming for my destination, I could not make enough headway before I would get blown into the rocks to my right. I tried a few times but it was clear to me almost immediately I would have to pull out.  I looked for the area of smallest rocks I could find and braced myself for getting out as fast as I could.  All went pretty well except for the mossy rocks that but me on my a*# the moment I got out of the cockpit.  The tide was on flow so I slid my boat well out of the water, grabbed some essentials like my phone and fluids, climbed up to a nice sitting rock, and called for a ride.


A disappointing end to my second week of training.  I did get about 10 miles in today but combined with Wed. (5 miles), where I could not paddle due to high winds, I was short about 10 training miles for the week.  I guess I shouldn’t worry.  I definitely learned some things today to put in my “experience” book.  Tomorrow’s a day off with 8 miles scheduled for Mon.

eat well, sleep well…………paddle fast! Cumulative miles: 52



I was blessed with beautiful weather; neither high winds, fog nor wintery clouds.  Out on the water, solo yesterday, by 7 AM. It was a big day for me.  Twelve miles in an area I hadn’t gone before.  Used my dromedary for water.  Johnny hadn’t finished the fabrication for it’s suspension behind my sit (in the cockpit).  So I put it behind me on deck.  Wasn’t the greatest and the cap somehow unscrewed about midway out.  But I was able to get it back on and had enough water for the rest of the paddle.  Also used Perpeteum, the liquid food for endurance athletes for the first time.  Had the cafe latte flavor.  It was very palatable (actually tasted quite good); I didn’t get hungry and supplemented that with water for a little over 3 hours.

A happy ending to my first, full week of training.  Thirty miles.  At weeks end, I realize I had some anxiety about it all beginning.  First, how would I feel dealing with the logistics of loading and unloading gear four days a week, 3 of them during the work week.  I worried about not only being up to the physical challenge, but also emotionally with the stress of it all.  I worried about the winds a lot.  One day was pretty horrible.  Interestingly enough, that was my “easy” day, which it was NOT because of the wind.  Thank goodness I didn’t have to put in more than 6 miles.  I definitely felt tired after my 12 miles, but I wasn’t wiped out the rest of the day, and this morning felt really good physically and psychologically.  I’m ready for week two: 7 miles at a moderate pace tomorrow.

eat well, sleep well……….paddle fast (training miles: 30)


Home late today after a 6 mile paddle after work.  I was really worried about the wind as it was reported to be 15-25 kts. in the afternoon. While still at work we were getting some really good gusts and it even crossed my mind, “what if it’s too windy to actually get in the water?”

Well off I went to the public dock, parked and took a gander just outside the car.  It didn’t look too bad at all. Unpacked gear, got the boat in the water, hopped in, and off I went.  It was 6 miles, fast.  I beat my time from Monday, but the paddle today is a baseline, something to compare to in another month.  I won’t bore you with a picture of my route.  It’s the same one I took on Monday.  I forgot to put on my heart rate monitor, but I do have speed over distance.  I’ll have to add that later as I still have to go unload my kayak from my car for the night.  Had to rush in and eat dinner first!

eat well, sleep well……….paddle fast!

Today: 6 miles/1:35:29/Cumulative: 12 miles