Thursday, April 17, 2008

Spring Training

Today I grambled down to Ocean Beach (SF) to see if I couldn't get some good clean conditions and a few punchy waves before the Spring wind came up. Weather was fine, but the ocean was none-too-inviting. The prospect of pulling on the 4/3 and haggling for a few crumbly waves just wasn't motivating. I switched gears and decided to go for a workout.

I cruised around Land's End to the Bay side of San Francisco and hit one of my favorite places on earth, San Francisco's Dolphin Club. There I ran through about six Surf Stronger exercises in an attempt to warm up my core temperature before my bay swim. You see, this would be my first Bay swim of the year and I know just how damn cold the water is in April in San Francisco. Armed with speedo, goggles and neoprene cap, I went for it! Slowly. Toes, shins, thighs, waist, chest...and I am off! It is hard to describe the feeling of plunging into 54 degree water, sans wetter, but suffice to say it is exhilarating. The first 100 yards I swim heads-up because every time I place my face in the water a gnarly ice cream headache ensues. (This goes away after about 100 yards) At the first buoy I strike up some conversation with a visiting Frenchy, clad in neoprene head to toe. He and I hammer down the buoy line to the flag. Feeling good, I suggest we swim to the opening. He's game and we hammer across Aquatic Cove to the "cigarette" buoy that sits at the opening to the Bay. The Frenchy is in good shape, and with the added buoyancy of a wetter, he is hard to keep up with. At the opening, we marvel at the larger-than-life Alcatraz, then bee-line it back to shore. I bid adieu to him at the buoy line and stroke 50 meters to the sand of the Dolphin Club. The shallow water off the beach feels like bath water. I know I'm now numb and it's time for the showers. After the classic one-two of a hot shower and sauna, I'm super stoked -- a surf-specific adventure workout in the great outdoors! One of my favorite ways to train for surfing.

(Surf Stronger's Todd Walsh making a leap of faith at the 2007 Alcatraz swim.)