Aloha Friday: North Shore Swell

Happy Aloha Friday! In case you haven’t heard, north shore has been BOMBING. And seeing twenty to thirty to forty foot waves is always a crazy experience. Each and every time.

Unfortunately, on the super-huge days I forgot my camera! However, I did manage to capture one of the smaller (but still big) days at the beginning of the swell.

The waves might look small, but keep in mind that the surfers are only 6 foot tall – so if the wave is double overhead, that’s a pretty deadly size.

Even on these days, only the experienced get to brave north shore’s razor sharp reef and heavy-lipped barrels. On a great day, the ground under the sand even shakes.

Although it’s a little terrifying to watch, I love watching my man paddle out with some of the pros on days like this. I love, love, love spending days at the beach in awe of the brave, slightly suicidal surfers that just shred.

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Life Lessons Learned from Riding Waves

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The ocean can be a wonderful teacher – she’s alluring, mysterious, and utterly unforgiving. Those of us who routinely brave her waters spend most of it getting our asses handed to us. Which not only makes riding waves that much more addicting, but is a wonderful way to learn.

Compared to the endless power of the sea, we learn how small and insignificant we really are. Riding waves gives us a deep-rooted respect for nature. We know that sharks probably are swimming around under us more often than not, and if they chose to harm us, it’s understandable. After all, we’re trespassing in their house – not ours.

All of the lessons that come from spending time in the ocean not only apply to riding waves, but to all areas of life. There’s a reason surfers are characterized as low-key, relaxed, and stress free. It’s because we get it. We understand what a beautiful world we live in – and how blessed we are to enjoy what only nature itself can create.

1. Never, ever, ever hesitate.

The worst wipeout I’ve ever had is when I hesitated. The one rule the uncles have always told me is to never hesitate – it’s how everyone gets hurt. The moment you second guess yourself, you’re probably going over the falls, skidding down the face, and hitting the sand or reef below. In life, hesitating is how we miss out on chances, opportunities, accomplishing our dreams, and falling in love. Go forth with confidence, my friends.

2. No matter what happens, ride it out.

Tied to the last rule, riding it out is the only way to avoid getting absolutely smashed. Freaking out and panicking at the top of a steep, terrifying wave is natural. But acting on your fear and panic, like hesitating, is guaranteed to cause untold harm. Most of the time, the smartest move to make is to take a breath, drop in with confidence, and hold on for dear life. The same goes for being sucked underwater, especially at deeper breaks. When you’re in that dark void or getting pummeled by a constant set, you have to stay as calm as possible. Panicking and thrashing around costs more precious oxygen – which you need to survive until the next lull.

3. Getting your ass kicked is the best way to learn.

In the water, the way you learn is the hard, painful, life-threatening way. There’s a saying I’ve heard from some of the uncles – you never really know a break until you have a real wipeout. Not only is it true, but you also don’t really know yourself until you eat complete shit.
Last year, I had been getting better & better and felt that I was ready for a reef break at one of my favorite beaches. The conditions were sunny, clean, and offshore winds – the perfect day to test myself. At the break, I noticed the water was sucking up right off the reef – with maybe a foot or two of water above it. I caught a few smaller waves, and finally went for a decent-sized seven footer. As I dropped in, I saw how steep it really was, and the crystal-clear sharp reef right underneath. I panicked and wiped out, then got picked up and slammed right over the falls as it pitched – and smacked into the reef directly on my right side. The wave completely knocked the wind out of me, and I was so hurt I couldn’t lift my shoulder or move my leg. I ended up catching some whitewash in, and finding out I hard hairline fractures on three of my ribs – and spent over eight months dealing with daily pain.
This is how lessons 1 and 2 really stuck with me.

4. Make peace with your fears.

It seems most non-surfers are shocked when victims of injuries and shark bites rush back into the water. It’s because we’re willing to conquer our fears and risk bodily harm to do what we love. Plus, the ocean is scary on a regular basis. Not only do we have to conquer our fears routinely, but when we have a really bad wipeout, we have to make peace with the ocean. We have to forgive her and let go of our anger and fears.
After my aforementioned injury, my fiancé dragged me back to the same spot on a similar day, despite my protests and general terrifiedness. I lingered for a while, caught a few teeny-tiny waves, and then decided to make peace. It’s crazy, but I ended up catching the exact same wave in the same spot. I recognized the reef below me and slid perfectly down the face. I held my rails, held on, and not only did I not wipe out – I got my first in-n-out over break and on a wave that big. It was one of the best waves I’ve ever caught, and it filled me with a happiness that few things in my life can ever compare to. I still remember the exact look and feel of the barrel. I even dream about it sometimes.
Since then, I’ve caught bigger waves and braved sketchier reef breaks – only because I learned the hard way. And since I made peace with my injury and the ocean, that spot is my favorite break. After all, I love the ocean. And I know that she loves me too – she was just helping me learn, live and grow.

5. God (or any spiritual entity) exists.

Riding waves has brought me closer to God. No matter what you believe in, it’s impossible to gorge on waves on a perfect, beautiful day and not feel blessed. In the glittering water under a golden sun, its amazing to think that nature created this. That the ocean makes waves that us mere mortals can enjoy. Believe me, nothing is more beautiful than sitting in the water watching fish scurry underneath and the sun sink down. I can’t explain the happiness and joy that comes with a perfect wave – except that it feels like God himself is smiling down at you.

Balancing Bodyboarding and Half-Marathon Training

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For some reason, I decided a month or so ago that signing up for a half-marathon in December would be a fantastic idea. I would get in great shape, feel like a badass, and tuck just one more bucket list item under my belt. A month later, however, the idea’s sounding a little not-so-great.

For one, it’s only a few months away – and I have yet to begin following my training plan. Or realistically, even looking at it. I have been running about twice a week, but only relaxing, easy runs to stretch out my sore muscles. I also didn’t consider the fact that I’ll be doing said half-marathon in December in San Diego, California, and it will be freaking freezing. Obviously not East Coast/Canada freezing, but I’ve been living in Hawaii for the past four years – and running in -32 degree weather won’t be an easy obstacle to overcome.

The reason why I haven’t started training is because i’ve been busy expending all my energy in the water. When I singed up for the race, the wave forecast looked bleak; and I figured, well, at least now I’ll be able to run! But mother nature has changed routes, the waves have picked up, and I’m a month into my supposed ‘training’ plan barely having set foot on the pavement. To be fair, bodyboarding and bodysurfing are both an incredible workout – even better than running – but you can’t really train to run unless you’re actually running.

I’m a little ambivalent about the situation, but I can’t get too mad at myself. I am active, healthy, and doing my best. I just can’t resist the call of north/northeast and south/southeast swells and breezy tradewinds that peak up waves and pitch up perfect barrels on my side of the island. And you know what? That’s okay. It’s part of who I am. (by the way, I totally expect only other surfers to understand this part. haha.)

So I’ve come up with a compromise, because each of my fitness passions make me too tired, sore, and sleepy to tackle the other. My idea is to throw yet another activity (albeit a gentle one) into the mix: hot yoga. I bought a Groupon for a month of unlimited hot yoga classes at a local studio, and am hoping that it can be the arbiter in between running and riding waves.

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I plan to switch off between bodyboarding and running each day, with a hot yoga sesh as a buffer. For example, if I ride waves on sunday (which I usually do) I will go to an a.m. hot yoga class, go to work, and then come home and sneak in a run.

I’m a little worried this routine will make me tired, cranky, and sleepy, but I’m trying to keep positive. And I’m fully aware that Bikram Yoga is not a walk in the park – the classes are high-heat and an hour and a half long. But, I know that the heat will help soothe and stretch my sore muscles, find some inner sanity, and re-energize my body, mind and spirit for a night run.

Dating a Surfer: The Other Woman

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My boyfriend jokes that the ocean is his other woman; his mistress, first love, and soul mate. In fact, the first time our relationship became serious was when he told me that he liked me more than the ocean. Not loved me. Just liked me. And it meant the world to me.

Surfers seem to have some hot, muscly, laid-back lure about them that brings unsuspecting females into an enduringly unexpected trap. It maybe their perfect tans, ridiculous six packs or effortless sexiness that comes with riding giant waves and getting pummeled and almost drowned on a daily basis. But ladies, beware; dating a surfer (or bodyboarder, or bodysurfer, or avid skimboarder) is an entirely different ball game.

In most relationships, you’re competing with your man’s family, friends, video games, hobbies, and obligations for his precious time and attention. If he gets down in the water, you’re also competing with the ultimate other woman: Mother Nature.

Trust me: Mother Nature is a bitch. You can’t compete with her. She can and will do things that you will never, ever be able to provide for your man. She’s beautiful, mysterious, and limitless; and she will always play a pivotal (if not primary) role in his life, whether you do or not.

If you’re dating a surfer, you have to be down to sit on your ass for an unknown amount of time while he has his way with her (or rather, she with him). When my man’s not with me or at work, he’s with her. If he doesn’t answer his phone for anywhere between one and six hours, I know exactly where he is. Since we live in Hawaii where the waves are booming close to year-round, I’m prepared to spend any matter of holidays – Christmas, Valentine’s Day, his birthday, even my birthday – at the beach.

Instead of fighting a losing battle, I decided to join the love affair. And even though the crazy bitch has given me black eyes, bruised ribs, cracked shins, and any number of bumps and bruises, I fell in love with her too.  She’s even damn near drowned me countless times, but I consider it a reminder of who’s in charge. If she’s kind enough to let me in her territory, I respect her rules and take whatever beatings she’s decided to dish out.

Because of her, though, my relationship has changed. Now I blush when he tells me my eyes are more beautiful than a perfect barrel with offshore winds. Instead of jewelry, he bought me a bodyboard for my birthday. Instead of flowers, he bought me a new pair of fins for Valentine’s day. Instead of going on dates and seeing movies we spend hours at the beach experiencing a beautiful, incredible thing together. Because we share this passion and connection, something that would be a glaring issue in our relationship has made us monumentally stronger. And there’s nothing quite like riding into a perfect, crisp blue barrel; except maybe sharing it with the person you love.

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In the Barrel

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I climb up to the wave’s glossy crest, my ankles and lower legs entwined in the sweet pull of it’s wispy, ghost-like fingers. I’m perched at the plateau’s lustrous, frothy top, poised to either pull off or descend the smooth, inviting curve of the wave’s face. I gather my feet and pull back, propelling myself forward with one smooth, powerful kick. I’m surprised by how easily I slide into the rail’s slick groove – I barely have to push onmy board – and I can almost hear my rails click as I follow its path. I carve in a cloud of blissful water and fade away. The board seeps into my fingers and up to my brain, faithfully obeying my every thought along the endless water. I am a mermaid in an emerald sea, blessed to explore its beauty. I speed up and slow down, turning on the crisp face as it catches the yellow sun, emulating its golden rays. The waves becomes iridescent as it barrels gracefully over my head.  I am enclosed in a golden shell, where the air is cool and salty to the taste. I crash right past its clutches, escaping the gorgeous barrel’s ugly finale. Instead, I careen forward, bouncing and sliding up to the sand on my board’s slick belly. My eyes are bright and my lips curved in a stupid, permanent smile, my mind free ofworry and my conscience clear. I roll onto the warm bath of the damp sand, warmed and baked in the day’s sunlight. I look up at a crisp blue sky, stretching forever suspended above the salty water. I smile and close my eyes, and feel my body melt into the sand

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In the Barrel

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I climb up to the wave’s glossy crest, my ankles and lower legs entwined in the sweet pull of it’s wispy, ghost-like fingers. I’m perched at the plateau’s lustrous, frothy top, poised to either pull off or descend the smooth, inviting curve of the wave’s face. I gather my feet and pull back, propelling myself forward with one smooth, powerful kick. I’m surprised by how easily I slide into the rail’s slick groove – I barely have to push onmy board – and I can almost hear my rails click as I follow its path. I carve in a cloud of blissful water and fade away. The board seeps into my fingers and up to my brain, faithfully obeying my every thought along the endless water. I am a mermaid in an emerald sea, blessed to explore its beauty. I speed up and slow down, turning on the crisp face as it catches the yellow sun, emulating its golden rays. The waves becomes iridescent as it barrels gracefully over my head.  I am enclosed in a golden shell, where the air is cool and salty to the taste. I crash right past its clutches, escaping the gorgeous barrel’s ugly finale. Instead, I careen forward, bouncing and sliding up to the sand on my board’s slick belly. My eyes are bright and my lips curved in a stupid, permanent smile, my mind free ofworry and my conscience clear. I roll onto the warm bath of the damp sand, warmed and baked in the day’s sunlight. I look up at a crisp blue sky, stretching forever suspended above the salty water. I smile and close my eyes, and feel my body melt into the sand

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