Friday, November 28, 2014

Cabo to Nuevo Vallarta

Our first day in Cabo, we had to go check-in. First, we walked to the Port Captain. We were both a bit land sick – the reverse of seasickness. The land seems to swell and sway and you lurch to keep in motion. It’s a kind of persistence of memory that your brain has for the motion of the sea. In addition, to that not being used to the heat and being tired from a 6 day sail with 3 hour watches…. and we had the worst map and there were no street signs. We got to the Port Captain and of course we were told we needed to go to Immigration. We walk in the mid morning sun to immigration where we wait in a courtyard for an officer to review our passports and our visa. We were both pale and sweating…we decided to hire a taxi. Off to the Port Captain who tells us now we need to pay a fee at a bank and then come back. We do and now we tell our taxi driver, we need to go to customs. “Aah - customs is at the airport, 20 minutes out of town.” Apparently there used to be one in town but it was closed. We drive out to the airport. I wait in the car. Jordan comes out and says there is a paperwork problem and we have to go to La Cruz to the bank owned by the Army. La Cruz is 2 hours away. Our taxi driver calls the bank and talks to them and finds us someone who speaks English. Apparently, Jordan fat fingered a wrong number when he applied on line and now we must go in person. Our taxi driver tells us we wont make in time before the bank closes. Jordan arranges to meet him the next morning at 8 am for the 2-hour drive to La Cruz.

The form we need from Customs is a temporary import license for our boat. If we do not have one, the Navy can impound our boat.

We eat at a bar at the marina and stagger back to the boat where we promptly go to sleep.

Jordan got it sorted out the next day. Everyone is very nice. The import license costs $800. Sigh.

I washed the boat, as it was crusty with salt and then went to the nearby bar/restaurant to use the Internet. Jordan returned with a bag full of tamales because the taxi driver took him to a roadside vendor who apparently makes the best tamales in Mexico. They were pretty good.

We were still tired. We decided we would try to leave in the morning.  Cabo is very touristy and if I wanted to go deep-sea fishing and party – it’s an awesome town.

We leave Friday Nov 22. We have a 3-day sail to our next landfall – an anchorage just north of Puerto Vallarta called Chacala. It is just a sleepy little tourist village with rustic restaurants on the beach and a nice calm bay.

We had wind for the first day and then nothing. Sigh. And - it was very hot. It is so hot you can barely sit outside. The water is flat calm. I have read so many books that my eyes are crossed. I have started cleaning things, which is a sign that I am really bored. I sat outside with an umbrella and sweat. Dolphins come play in our bow wake for hours – I guess they are a little bored too.  Jordan discovers we have a hitchhiker on board – a bat on our mast (the side away from the sun).

Flat seas, no other boats, and some wind. We had no moon so the nights were pitch black – some times slightly disconcerting on watch in the night. Nothing to look at – makes me tired. The boat is just moving forward in darkness and you just rely on physical memory to find stuff. The Sails are white so you can see the shape to ensure the set of the sails.

We arrived at Chacala around 8 am. I am tired all over again. I think I barely caught up with sleep in Cabo and then we went back out.

We were in Chacala 12 years ago when we started cruising on our boat before headed out to the Pacific and we visited last February when we came down to check out the area. Chacala is pretty much the same maybe a little more developed. We dropped anchor and took a nap. We were not feeling up to launching the hard dinghy and putting the motor on. We threw the kayak in and I swam in and Jordan kayaked. The swim in is around 1200 yards – hardly worked up a sweat. I love warm water…it was lovely.

We stayed for 3 days and then off to Puerto Vallarta. I woke up with sinusitis – probably a lot of microorganisms in the warm water. I am going to have to flush with saline after I ocean swim here. It was another hot sail – just 8 hours to Nuevo Vallarta.  We tied up to our new slip and went to bed early.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Queen Jane Passage to Mexico - First Stop: Cabo

Day 1 

Ocean passages are just hard work. We have been weekend sailors and day tripping for the last 7 years. Nothing more strenuous then a day sail to Catalina. 

After the exhilaration of clearing Catalina and feeling that finally we were on our way, we settled down to the passage. The first 3 days kind of sucked. It is like the first mile of long run. You start thinking instantly that this is not as fun as you imagined. We settled into a down wind run with big swell running under us which causes the boat to skew and yaw down the wave. Just not enough wind for those waves for us to plow through them evenly on sail alone or so rig clanging that it just makes one nervous.

I forgot the constant movement of everything while working – hauling on lines and cranking on winches. Just standing still requires balance. 

We had to pull in the genoa and motor. It started to mist and rain slightly. It was cold.  And still no wind and the motor is loud and sounds like money burning.

The next day – a strange rattled started from somewhere in the engine /shaft compartment. It was still light so we emptied our enormous sail locker – which at sea is so fun carrying heavy gear on a rolling sailboat. Jordan got down there looked and listened and suddenly it stopped. We still have no clue. We just packed that dam locker back up and settled down to rest a bit.

Passage making can be boring. You got to get into the zen and avoid the stress of freaking out about shit that goes wrong or breaks because shit will go wrong and shit will break. So one bow light rusted and fucked….we should have checked before we left. Jordan fixed it. Wind instruments useless and frozen and I only go up the mast at anchor or well if our life depended on it. The autopilot sounds a bit clunky. The captain is a wee bit stressed because that’s his job. I am focused on getting my sea legs and not getting bored.

My arms hurt because the boat was rolling so much – I kind of tense my arms to prevent being flung across the bed.

We are easy going on the shifts for standing watch – who ever has the most energy depending on any number of factors. We take between 3 and 4 hours depending on the time of day.

Jordan took the first grave yard shifts but he was up and helping before as we had a lot of ship traffic around us – a combination of large commercial shipping vessels. At one point – we saw a boat with a string of flashing lights running a half -mile behind them – I presume either nets or lighting the line they had out. We changed course till we passed them. At 5am – I took over and let him get 5 hours of rest. It was a lovely sunrise.  Still light wind…..

2nd Night
Suddenly right before dinner, I got queasy - otherwise I have felt awesome the entire time. The wind had shifted to be almost exactly downwind and the seas still had a big roll to them and the boat was slewing down the waves..ugh. I forced myself to eat and felt better. Jordan had made delicious stewed chicken and guacamole and tortillas. Hey - we are in Mexico. Actually currently we are farthest from land ….the coast falls away to the east and we are out here! No ships - no traffic.
We sailed some today but are now back to motor sailing.

The stars are beautiful and on my night watch, the crescent moon rose golden and bright on the horizon. I stand alone in the cockpit while Jordan sleeps and shout hello to the moon.

3 and 4th Days
Oh god I forgot that that sailing can be boring like paint drying boring interspersed with anxiety. All the while been tossed gently around and missing the roll of the boat and the movement of the waves causing one to land awkwardly or move slowly.  I have a lovely collection of bruises on my legs and one on my forehead from a super fast jibe situation. The freaking seas – huge rollers in close frequency. It makes it tricky to move quickly and gracefully. Every movement is a negotiation with the boat. Downwind with the rig clanging and motor on.
I don’t like to eat meals while sailing but I prefer just to nibble multiple little snacks.
And I am tired.

4th night 
Had a migraine and went to bed for 6 hours. Felt much better and stood the night watch so Jordan could sleep finally. We sailed at least. Today the wind died and we are back to motoring. I cant believe its only Monday…we should arrive in Cabo Wednesday morning have burned lots of fuel. Awesome $$$.

Did I mention we unpacked the cockpit locker AGAIN. So much fun at sea with the boat rolling….the auto pilot arm was clunking and needed tightening. It was worse the second time around. Did I mention those lockers are 5 feet deep and you have to empty them completely to get to anything?

My favorite times are dawn and sunset. I like the dolphins. I like the light on the water. I like the butterfly fatally lost at sea but refusing to stop. I like being rocked to sleep. I like that it’s getting warmer! No more sweat pants and two sweatshirts during the day….hooray.

I think we have just gotten soft and lost our sailing muscle and mindset. It’s like a 20+ mile run. You gotta pace yourself, accept the exhaustion, ensure you don’t do something stupid when tired and stay positive and just keep fixing stuff. We have a bad problem with a set of blocks our genoa sheets go thru before they get to the winches in the cockpit.  The sheet sticks – its ¾ line but it swells slightly and they are standing blocks and they just stick.

I can stare at the ocean for hours. Mostly looking for other ships but just spacing out at the water. It feels calming to be out on the ocean.

Day 5
We finally are relaxed enough to put a hook out. We get a hit going over some shallow sea mounts but Jordan loses the fish. Its finally hot. And yet more motor sailing interspersed with sailing depending on the time of day.

We arrive tomorrow mid-morning at Cabo. We forgot to reserve a slip. We will have to anchor out or grab a buoy if there is no room at the marina. We need to check into the country officially.

Day 6
We arrive at Cabo at daybreak. So tired….

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Yoga - I hope to be flexy - Namaste

I am doing a lot of yoga lately because of my herniated disk. Build the core baby. Everyone seems very young and flexy….I had a hard time finding a class that I enjoyed. I had joined a gym in the fall- the usual huge corporate franchise thing – I quit already because I don’t need all those crazy machines. I need some free weights and I am good. Those corporate gyms bum my head out. The yoga class was huge and they really didn't focus on form and technique. One teacher was crazy advanced and looked like she worked Cirque de Soliel at night. She would do each position in three variations – easy, medium and advanced. Watching the advanced positions tended to elicit some bad language from my brain which is not good in the middle of yoga. Piece of cake - spaghetti lady - piece of freaking cake as I did the beginner and intermediate positions. The other teacher just gave me a bad vibes like he was an angry person but he was talking all soft. He would walk around the class to check our positions but he would kind of stomp. I think he might be a psycho killer yoga teacher.

So I think – yoga - piece of cake. That’s my little positive phrase I tell myself before races. I look a little crazy at Triathlons – muttering on the beach “piece of cake” while I eyeball the surf and wait for the horn to start the race. My thought is that I need to build a lot of core and inner strength to support my back with it now blown disk. My mother had a blown disk and over years developed bone spurs. So I am trying to take the long view and figure how I physically get into the most positive place with my back. I have never been super strong on my core – always had a little belly even before I had a kid although I now routinely blame it on the kid. Totally unfair since I know Ironman women who have kids and they are taut stomachs. Taut is a word I have never associated with my stomach/belly area.

I am a little tight from all the running in the last couple of years but really this will be gentle conditioning to strengthen my core and back muscles. 30 minutes into a class, I am sweating and sweating hard like it’s the back half a marathon. My back creaks and pops like it’s extending out and I get a weird blood rush when that happens. I have read lowering blood measure suddenly causes a head rush and yoga is known to do lower blood pressure.  It’s like yoga is my chiropractor. I sit out anything when I feel is not going to happen – a lot of back arching is tricky since my injury is the most lower back (between 15 and 16).

The next day, I wince a lot. It sucks because those days I swim. I actually haven’t been able to bike between the two. I did a lot of yoga around 15 years ago so I am not a total newbie, it’s just my body can’t do what 30-something Katie used to do. Forget about remembering Gymnastics when I was a teenager when we used to spend hours working on flipping and bending. I didn’t last in that - I was much happier in field hockey. I got rid of my teenage aggression by running over other little girls. We were mean and we wore skirts. Field hockey was probably a great sport for a young girl trying to figure out what being feminine meant. They gave you skirts, wooden sticks and tiny little ankle pads and said GO WIN.

Recently, I went to a small spin/yoga studio and it was awesome. The people were a mixed age group. The teacher had an assistant going around helping people. She asked if they were any people with injuries. I waved my hand. The studio was nice and warm and the class pretty mixed which was nice. I did OK for what was probably an intermediate class. My legs got a bit shaky and I was a sweaty mess but felt loose.

I miss the solitude of running and biking. I need quiet time. I have been walking with my husband as he walks for exercise and it’s kind of nice to do that together. I feel like a dork that I had bailed on doing walks with him because walking hand in hand on a sunny day is so good. Sometimes life gets so busy, I ignore the simple. Did you know that holding hands stimulates the release of oxytocin – natural high!

On a walk with husband

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Mexico - Should we go or should we stay?

¡hola! We had to go to Mexico to check out a marina in Puerto Vallarta. We are considering moving the boat. The positives of having a home that moves is that you can move where you live fairly easily. A ton of things have to click into place but it looks OK. We have been here in Los Angeles for 8 years – yikes did those fly by? Kid is graduating high school soon and we are reconsidering where and what we want to do.

Puerto Vallarta was lovely. We stayed with brother of a good friend. House was amazing. See the pictures – don’t listen to my pathetic words.
The House
We spent around 4 months in the area around 13 years ago before we headed into the Pacific on our boat. We have many fond memories and so we indulged a bit in the “recherch√© du temps perdu”.  We went to Punta de Mita and had lunch at the palapas on the beach. I thought about how I would sit and watch my little 4 year old boy splash in the waves long ago and now we are about to send him to college. Humm…
The boy - 13 years ago jumping waves in Chacala
Our host took us on some jungle roads to a deserted beach. Lovely….we played in the waves then on to Sayulita.
the lovely beach
The next day, we went back to Chacala, an anchorage we spent the Holiday season at many years ago. The next day, there was more eating and swimming and napping.
I sat in on yoga classes our lovely hostess gives at the house. My back was cranky after the long plane trip and it totally got sorted out with stretching. But that was it for working out – I take holidays seriously. I really would have liked to walk around more but not everyone was into that.

Ok – this house had beautiful bathroom doors. Really...I love that.
I am dreaming about living down there on our boat at the marina. I love the air and the pace. The air is so clean compared to LA.  

The roads in the PV area aren’t screaming "bring your expensive road bike and do 50 miles". Easey-peasy. It’s all like the scary bit of PCH thru downtown Malibu – no shoulder – cars going fast and not kindly towards bikers. But more trucks in Mexico. I have looked up retrofitting the bike as a cycle-cross bike. I will keep the current gear set. I am thinking of getting some bright cycling kit and bright blinking lights.  I saw one hard core dude pedaling thru the hotel area on a sweet high end bike so I know there are road bikes out there.

Swimming is all set. There is a lap pool at the hotel attached to marina and the beach looks like a nice mile shore swim. I didn’t have time to check out currents and conditions. I want to paddle it and see what it’s like. It’s kind of hard to find out conditions – I would talk to surfers but the surf is low at the area of the beach which makes it awesome for swimming.

We have tons of work to do on the boat to get it ready. We are just going to do stuff that is diffiuclt to do in Mexico like rigging. I don’t think I am going to do any big tri race training. I will do the Redondo Beach Triathlon as a goodbye race to the area.

Outside in Mexico

Friday, December 20, 2013

Herniated Disk but still Swimming!

In the summer, while hauling a large sail out of a deep storage locker, I hurt my back. I thought I ripped a muscle but, lucky me, it turns out it is a herniated disk. It’s between 14 and 15 – not just bulging but good and blown out. It’s not painful unless I run. The doctor said no running! Does that mean I can’t do the 10k I signed up for? He gave me the frustrated doctor glare. Ok – really just kidding. On the upside, he said swimming and biking is fine. Hooray!

I usually wear fins for about 75% of practice swimming. Unfortunately, when I use fins it puts stress on my lower back and the sciatica nerve gets pissed off. It is time to get real and swim like a real swimmer. Actually the fins are usually great for older swimmers as it helps you work on your stroke but it definitely is hard on your legs. Usually I ease off the fins if I am running hard. So no fins and if it hurts anyway, I will use a pull buoy and hand paddles. It’s actually been great because I have been focusing on technique. My arms are already looking lovely despite the fact that I have to drag myself woozily from the pool. I am back in the old man lanes and my stroke count per length is pretty sad. But swimming makes me feel great, it’s like someone hit me with shot of cortisone – I feel completely normal for about 8 hours then it will ache slightly at night. I take an Advil and I am fine. Currently, I am swimming 3 times a week but I am going to kick up to 4 -5 practices a week but I am ratcheting up slowly to ensure I don’t hurt myself more.

The holiday season is always tough to keep a schedule – everything is a bit off but on the other hand, the New Year resets everything! In January, I will be honestly saying my workout this year is so intense.

Apparently, I am pretty lucky – the doctor asked twice if I wanted something stronger and I said no Advil is fine. I got a back brace which looks like a black corset. I wear it with leggings and a t-shirt it looks very Seven of Nine. Maybe I should just buy a hot looking corset and wear it all the time – hey doctors orders.

I am planning a biking training schedule for winter. I haven’t biked yet because that will put a wee bit more pressure on my back and I am just trying to stabilize. I did some long runs right before we got the MRI back and it hurt in sharp and nasty way and I needed shot of cortisone.

I am pondering some Aquathons for the spring (just swim and bike). I am totally signing up for yoga. I own enough yoga pants already and really the outfits are important. In fact, I was packing for a visit to my sister and I realized the only new clothes I own are exercise/yoga type clothes and a one new cozy black oversized sweater I impulsively purchased one cold day. I took care of this by going shopping.

Since I live on a boat, I don’t have a lot of space for stuff in general. For clothes, I have one large draw, one small draw, 2 feet of hanging space on a rod and three X-large canvas bags – one for shoes, one for sweaters/fleece, and one for exercise gear. I know women who travel with more stuff then I own. My husband thinks I am decadent because of the bag of shoes – he thinks I should have 3 pairs of shoes because that’s what he has. Sigh – I don’t even answer him – why bother? I think I deserve a medal for being a very sparse and low maintenance woman.

I do miss having lots of decorative chachkas around. A cool bowl or an interesting tea pot – stuff like that. Our boat still moves – so we can’t have stuff that isn’t secured or cannot be put away in a cabinet. I recently put out a cool, old Norwegian dragon bowl I have but it’s easy to put away. It sits on top of the printer because that’s the only available space!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

10K LA Cancer Challenge

I was laughing with the woman beside me up until the finish!
I could not figure out what I wanted to do this fall in terms of races. I did do a 10k to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer in honor of my mom. It’s a fun run – very family orientated, heavily attended by families who have lost someone to pancreatic cancer. I always cry at the end. My mother would probably be distressed because I am all sweaty in athletic clothes and she was a girly girl. She was a ballerina when she was young and that is pretty intense athletically speaking but the object of that endeavor is beauty whereas running….well the object is finishing!

The best pace partner ever!
I ran it with my friend, Heather and it was foggy and cool….i could hardly see where I was which was good because it went fast. My friend has a bladder the size of a pea and the moment you say RACE  - she wants a porta potty. SO considering a mile 2, she took a pee break and I waited – we did great.  I always chat with people and we met some people who were involved in the organizing the race and running trail runs so we chatted the last 2 miles. So fun!

I like to dedicate races in my brain to people and obviously my mom was in my head the whole time – I burst into tears crossing the finish line. If I am in pain during a run, I think about the  bravery of  my brother as his prostate cancer metastasized onto his spine – I can always push thru it for him. I think about my sister and my father…..biking and running. My dad would bike in his professorial tweeds to the train station to go lecture at MIT – he would most definitely laugh at my spandex bike kit getup...

I have struggled with menopause stuff like hot flashes from hell and the period that never ended. I had this impression that this would go fast but apparently it’s a lie – this crap can last for years. I got a little tense with my doctor. WHAT THE HELL do you mean – years? I had always thought older women were wusses complaining about hot flashes. But NO it truly sucks – biggest problem is interrupted sleep and when you wake up every hour in a pool of sweat having to put a towel down to sleep – it can be messed up. That’s how they break prisoners of war you know….wake them up all the time and don’t let them sleep. I keep hoping I will lose some weight with all the sweating but no freaking luck.

Me with Mom written on my arms!
My doctor announces to me that I have severe symptoms and it is unusual – most women don’t have as severe hot flashes. She tells me this as I am having a hot flash in my little gown on the table in the stirrups. Is that supposed to make me feel better because I really think I may have snarled at her. My doctor decides an ultra sound is needed. I tell her I have a 10K coming up but that’s all – she looks at me like I from Mars. Really Doctor – I stopped bricks and super long rides and runs. I think I need a new doctor. The results suck of the ultrasound. They mutter biopsy and I sit in my car and cry. I have lost 3 members of my family to cancer and another is currently fighting hard (and losing) against a weird virulent cancer so you can say it’s a sore spot.

I go to a new doctor and she is very cool. She does the biopsy and gives me a clear. Phew. In the meantime I develop a sinus infection that slays me. I am on good drugs and lightly working out….actually wincing this morning because I did too many squats and lunges yesterday!

My plan is to be last-minute charley on short runs – if I see a race and I feel good – what the hell – I will do it.  I will do a local half marathon in Jan and a Christmas 10k. I just saw a Thanksgiving Turkey trot. I am considering the LA Marathon. I had thought to do the HITS Tri in Palm Springs but I think this year is a wash for Tri’s. I will look to the Spring …..
The reason to be outside!!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

My Body is a House of Cards

Reporting from Catalina
I took the summer off from the blog. I was race –exhausted and still fighting the training blahs. We took the boat to Catalina for a couple of weeks. The kid was off for a month for summer activities. I was planning on biking and doing a lot of ocean swimming. Unfortunately, I struggled with exhaustion combined with cluster migraine headaches. The migraine medicine is fairly strong and leaves me feeling a bit dopey.  Then, I got sick and had to go on antibiotics. I managed consistent runs and inconsistent swims and some good long bike rides.

Post Training Ride Burrito
Then, just as everything was getting better, my husband and I were emptying a deep storage locker in order to fix our generator on our boat and I pulled a large sail (around 60 pounds) at a funny angle I heard something tear in my lower back. I was immediately in immense pain. I could barely walk. My husband kept telling me I looked like Tim Conway playing an old man and it made me laugh till I cried because laughing apparently engages your lower back muscles. I spent a week with ice as my close friend and finally healed. I started back gently and after a week decided I was 100%.

I had 2 weeks to the Malibu Nautica Tri and I decided I would do 1 week of some decent challenging workouts – some swim/runs and bike/run bricks. I finished the week with a vigorous ocean swim. I was exhausted but felt OK – I went home and woke with my lower back in severe spasms. I iced but the pain would not stop. I had 5 days till race day and I knew in my heart I was not going to make it. My husband threatened to tie me up if I tried to race. I went to the doctor and he shot me up with cortisone and I felt way better but still had trouble bending. I told I friend I could do the race if I had a valet in transition to help put my shoes on! My doctor rolled his eyes when I asked when I could back to training. He said SLOWLY.

La Jolla Rough Water Boys Start
My son did the La Jolla Rough Water 1 mile swim the weekend I was supposed to be doing the Tri and that was nice because it distracted me from the fact that I lost a lot of money and missed a race for which I had trained many months. They sent the USA Swimmers out in their own wave but only two waves – one for boys and one for girls. This meant the boys wave consisted of 220 teenage boys from 13 to 18. It was a super mosh pit. He got punched in the face hard twice and took a lot of body hits. He needs to figure out how to stay of the mob – he lost a bunch of time and ended up coming in 16th.  Open water swims are so unpredictable but his time was solid.

That week, I started back swimming because that is the least jarring exercise on a healing body. Of course then I decided that the problem with my body is I don’t lift enough weight and go crazy with free weights and lunges. So the next day, I was freaking sore but figure the pool will loosen me up so I came off the wall hard on the final 25 sprint of the morning and my calf muscle on my right leg (the back injury was on the right) started having spasms really hard. I just curled in fetal ball and started to sink but grabbed the lane line and hauled myself to the wall where I had two more severe muscle spasms which practically stopped my breath. On the whole 1 to 10 scale – that hit 9 of pain – kind of like a labor pain. I didn’t puke or pass out but it immobilized me.

Back home to limping and walking like an old man – actually this was more like Quasimodo because I dragged my leg – 24 hours with an ice pack. I think I tore some muscle because it was swollen and I could not support any weight on it for an entire day. Deep breath – ugh this whole getting old thing sucks. I feel like an old car that needs to be babied – warm that engine up before your drive it because otherwise something breaks. My body is a house of cards – once something goes out, I get a cascade effect from compensating for whatever is injured.

I am back to being mobile but you know what is the worst for my back still? House cleaning or – well boat cleaning – because in a small space to clean you have to bend and crouch. Yeah – the guys are not picking up the slack. My husband said don’t worry about it – do it later. I guess he means when it gets really dirty. My son is a teenage boy for whom cleaning tools might as well be alien instruments. Ok so my recovery involves investigating races and planning what I want to do. Palm Springs Tri in December sounds good. Less is more. I can easily veer into vacation planning – don’t I need to visit the Caribbean?  I bet I can find a 10k there. You gotta dream….