Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Being on the DL sucks!

Do any of you runners ever have great - no - I mean epic epiphany for blogs while you're running only to draw a complete blank when it comes time to sit down and write it out? This happens to me on almost every run. I even write out the blog in my mind word for word mile after mile of the run. This is what I did early this morning and now I can only remember that it was awesome, but nothing else... maybe it's an early sign of Alzheimer (God, just strike me down now if that's the case).

I'm going to start carrying a digital voice recorder and dictate my blogs!

I ran this morning. It was an angry run. Angry because I'm frustrated with my body. Somehow (I do not remember probably because of an intense adrenaline rush at the time) I bruised my Achilles tendon while surfing either Thursday or Saturday. I vaguely remember (see Alzheimer idea above) being tangled up with my board inside a breaking wave where I may have knocked it a good one against the 10-inch fin. I think it's a deep bruise as it slowly got worse and worse. It's my left leg and it's bruised so badly that I can see where it's swollen up (I DO NOT BRUISE EASILY) and hurts like hell to push the clutch in on my pickup truck!

So driving sucks. I'm a Realtor so driving is a common occurrence. Walking sucks and running REALLY SUCKS! Overall the entire experience sucks. I've been icing it the past few days and I did NOT do a long run this weekend so I decided that this morning would be a test run. After an excruciating 10-minute plus mile it seemed to be warming so I ran a second mile. After the second mile it still hurt so I stopped hoping not to aggravate the injury further. This only aggravated me! Two miles and I hardly broke a sweat. I remember a day when I'd be exhausted and satisfied after two miles. That is not today. I spent the rest of my early morning doing upper body weight training, which is a most excellent way to release aggravation.

I grew up dreaming of being a Major League Baseball player, a first basemen to be exact. For those of you not familiar with DL it it stands for disabled list. I'm officially putting myself on the DL until the visible swelling disappears and I can push the clutch of my truck in without shooting pain. The DL sucks, but I think it'll also force me to give my body a good rest for a few days.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A "Board's" eye view (Sunset Surfing Session)

Way back in June I stumbled upon a post by Holly Beck in her Nicaragua blog. It's only a video of her surfing, but what captured my attention was the camera angle, the sick soundtrack and composition of the video. It captures all the aspects of a great surfing session; paddling out, being stoked, getting shacked, rights, lefts and even wiping out! I was mesmerized and had to know what camera she was using and the song in the soundtrack because it rocks!

Turns out the song is "High Tide" by Still Time, a southern California band with a super unique sound (I bought a bunch of other songs from them and now have them in my iPod to jam out to on my long runs). The camera is a GoPro Digital Surf HERO 5. It's 5-mega pixels and can take video or pictures (normal shots, 2-per second and 5-per second). It comes with a couple of mounting options (an adhesive mount just of like a traction pad or an FCS plug). I was very glad to learn about this camera as I already own the GoPro HERO 3, a similar 3-mega pixel version that straps to your wrist while you surf that takes decent but not excellent photos (the banner to this blog was taken with the HERO 3).

I ordered the camera the week before the Hurricane Bill swell, but of course it arrived the day after the swell faded. I took the tiny camera to Puerto Rico and got some pretty sweet shots out of the water, but the surf was not worthy in my mind. I wanted another epic day like the Bill Swell for my initiation of the GoPro so I waited.... and waited some more... I wanted to debut my new camera with an awesome video and song like Holly Beck's video. I even came up with a few good song canidates, but still no epic surf. It was not to be.

Then motivation struck. A surfer friend of mine ordered his own HERO 5 and took it out the day it came in the mail, emailed me some sick pictures of him on little waves and seeing that broke my wait. We decided on a surf session with both cameras the next day no matter what the surf reports report! I find that there are major improvements to the camera. Everything from better quality all around pictures to faster response times and more acurate exposure metering. The most difficult thing is deciding to take pictures or movies! I've included a few pictures from yesterday's sunset session.We tried several times to get both of us in one frame on the same wave. This is probably the best that came out on my camera. I haven't seen my friend's pictures yet, but there was one wave where I went high and he went low and we crossed each other (keeping my fingers crossed that that one came out!).

As soon as we have another epic day I'll work on my own video with some sick soundtrack and if not, I'll get it for sure this winter while on one of my Puerto Rico trips! To thumbs up to the Go Pro Surf HERO 5!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Thursday Stoke!

This week I am stoked for the beginning of the Fall season!

Autumn officially began on Tuesday. I am SO ready for all the fun things to be stoked about this Fall. Yup, that's right... in list format 10 reasons I'm stoked for Autumn!

1.) Cooler temperatures. At this point in Florida it's hard to tell it is Fall. Temperatures are still in the 90s F during the day and when wearing work attire it feels like an inferno. I can actually feel myself sweating sometimes while in the water surfing!

2.) With cooler temperatures there won't be a need for running at crazy before dawn hours like last Saturday when Redhead Running and I had a 4 a.m. start to our long run. This means NO MORE RUNNING IN THE DARK! It also means temperatures will be agreeable for evening runs at sunset. I always run better in the afternoon as I'm NOT a morning person no matter how hard I try!

3.) Earlier sunrise, which means more time to surf at dawn before work and before they open the beach to traffic. Yes, the water will be colder (I hate wetsuits), but the lineup will be less crowded with beginners, weekend warriors and out-of-towners (trying to be nice to the O-town kooks! LOL)

4.) Grass grows slower. I'll only have to mow my yard two or three times all winter instead of once a week in the summer!

5.) Birthdays, Birthdays, Birthdays! Within a week's period in October seven of my friends including myself celebrate birthdays! Happy Birthday to Morgan, Landy, Jeanie, Melissa, Riki, Jess and ME!

6.) Halloween! One of my favorite holidays. I've got a great group of friends and we usually dress up in some kind of theme. Last year we were hippies from the movie Easy Rider. This year I'm really excited because I'll be entering a Halloween surfing contest, but you'll just have to wait and see what I dress up and attempt to surf as....

7.) Races galore! 5Ks, 10Ks, 15Ks, 4-milers, Half Marathons and Marathons... they're everywhere! I'm already registered for the Daytona Half Marathon on Nov. 1st and the Disney Marathon on Jan. 10th. I hope to throw in a healthy mix of the others hopefully with a few running friends!

8.) Football... need I say more?

9.) Bigger waves. October always has good surf in store for east Florida!

10.) And finally I'm stoked for my dog, Tucker! While I hate cold weather (unless it involves a snowball fight, snowboarding or bonfire on the beach), my dog absolutely loves the cold. He's half lab and half poodle and he'll sit outside all day and sniff the cold wind.

Have a fun weekend everyone! 104 Days until Disney Marathon!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I lay flat on my back, arms out beside me and palms facing the ceiling.

The ceiling is plastered with a "popcorn" finish indicative of early 1980s construction.
A shinny speck... a sparkle catches my eyes.
It's glitter that was mixed with the plaster. I've always hated the look.
My body is sweating profusely as I lay here doing nothing but breathing.

Then I see him; three shinny speckles in a row like stars in the night sky.
Orion's belt.
Two more speckles above and two below the belt...

Strange it is to see this "hunter" of Greek mythology and well known constellation staring down upon me from a popcorn ceiling of a 100+ degree Bikram Yoga studio...

If one believes in signs then what could this mean???

This week is shaping up to be quite interesting. Here's a random breakdown of the highlights so far just as random as my intro and exit to this post!

On Sunday, after sleeping nearly 11 hours after my 16.5 mile long run, I woke up feeling like a million bucks! Yes, my legs were sore as I expected them to be, but I felt so good I decided to do my 3 mile recovery run first thing. Two miles into the run my body said F*ck this! My left knee started hurting and I decided to call off the last mile to play it safe. After all it is a recovery run not an injury run.

On Monday I went surfing after work.
There was a strong onshore wind and a moderate chop on the chest to head high surf at New Smyrna Inlet. I only brought my 9'8" noserider. This is the worst board decision I think I've made all year. I should have brought my thruster as the waves were peaky with lots of sections. I paddled out anyways and even elected to wear a leash. Seaweed was everywhere and I kept seeing either bluefish or tarpon in the water. Larger sharks like to eat bluefish like bluefish like to eat mullet. I was alone and after five or six rides I opted to paddle in and call it a day. Just as I walked back to the Jeep a friend pulls up in his truck so I decide to surf with him. We paddle back out. The tide is coming in stronger than before and the waves are jacking up more and more. My board could use some more rocker. I take a closeout on the head and get pushed into the impact zone. The periods are short. Wave after wave rolls over me, but with a little technique and strength I fight my way back to the outside. My friend is also caught in the impact zone and unfortunately stuck there in a vicious cycle of paddling, duck diving and taking beating after beating by the relentless surf. After 10-15 more minutes I take a left and as I'm exiting the wave my back foot slips causing me to rack my balls on my board. A paralyzing pain that only a male knows overcomes my body. Luckily, I get a boost of adrenaline that temporarily subsides the pain and I'm able to get back on the board and take a wave to the beach. A few minutes later, my friend walks up and tells a similar story. Apparently, after fighting to get back to the outside he racked his balls on his board too! What a ball racking day!

Tuesday was a strange day at work followed by a relaxing but difficult 90 minutes of Bikram Yoga. In today's age of real estate it really is like going to WAR to get deals to close. All the stars, planets, constellations have to be aligned just right and perhaps throw in a solar eclipse and the deal just might close. Part of getting stuff to work out is having people work together. It truly amazes me how lazy people can be sometimes. I'm working on several deals right now and sometimes I feel like I'm the only one that really wants everyone to get what they want; seller sells his house, buyer gets the home he wants, real estate agents, title companies, surveyors, appraisers and loan officers get PAID! You'd think with so many people's paychecks depending on the deal closing that they'd all be going above and beyond to get things done. Why does it feel like I'm constantly doing other people's jobs just to get things accomplished? On a funnier note, a fellow agent representing a buyer that had made an offer on a short sale (a seller getting approval from their mortgage lender to sell their property for less than they owe) three weeks ago got this email:
"Over the weekend my wife and I found a lovely home on the Suwannee River, made a cash offer on it and it's been accepted. Please tell the bank (of the short sale) to PISS OFF. They shouldn't have sat on their asses for 3-weeks to make a decision on our offer."
Wouldn't it be great if we could all tell the banks to PISS OFF?

Hope you all have a great HUMP DAY... tell your banks to PISS OFF. Remind them that YOU are the CUSTOMER and you have the freedom to take your business elsewhere! Sorry about the random blog, but I'm in a most random mood!

90 minutes since Orion appeared before me.

My body is drenched as if I've run 15-miles.

Heart rate elevated, Smart Water drank, I rest, breath and stare at the ceiling.

Where has the "hunter" gone? I cannot find him.

There are hundreds of pieces of glitter within the popcorn ceiling,

But none resemble the constellation Orion.

How could this be? I have not moved. The ceiling has not moved like the night sky.
The lighting in the room has not changed.
Puzzled I am?


Saturday, September 19, 2009

15-Mile Barrier SHATTERED!!!!

If Redhead Running had told me a couple of years ago that one day I would be marathon training at a ridiculous hour (4:30 a.m.) with her for a ludicrous distance (16.5 miles for me, 18 miles for her) I would have laughed her out of the room. I would have told her I'll never run that far. I would have told her that distance running like this is horrible for your body. I would have even bet my bank account against such a crazy prediction. And if I had told her she'd be running like this back in those days she would have raised her beer, laughed ME out of the room and drank!

Those predictions were never made, but Saturday morning at 3:57 a.m. the text message alert on my phone sounded off. It read, "I'm here," and when I opened my front door there stood the Redhead nearly 30-minutes early. Now that's hardcore! Her day started at 2:30 a.m. (when most of our friends are passing out from a long night of partying) to allow time for the hour drive to my house. I wasn't ready yet, but it worked out perfectly because she had a routine of stretching to do before our run. At around 4:15ish, I think, we headed out for our planned run; a 15-mile for me and an 18-mile for her.

All week I've been anxious about this run. Perhaps it's was something about the number 15. I psyched myself up in Thursday's blog post on the number. I hydrated, carb loaded and got plenty of rest on Friday. Now it's Go Time!

We start off with a slow pace to warm up. When I'm by myself I think I might start running faster sooner, but today I want to take it super easy and slow is good. I've got plenty of time until Disney and the last thing I want to do is injure myself. The run it's self is awesome. At mile 5 I'm feeling great! I quickly find the bag of water bottles and energy/electrolyte gels I stashed in the woods the night before and week each down them. It's the faster water stop on a long run I've taken yet. The Redhead told me earlier she wants to keep stops to a minimum as she's only a few weeks from her Chicago Marathon and this is one of her last few long runs. Another mile and we're on the beach. We are so early it's still dark. REALLY DARK. It's a new moon and the stars are amazing. Other than shrimp boats on the horizon and a lone beach patrol officer driving by we are alone for the next five miles. At mile 10 a little detective work is done to find the bag of water and energy gels I buried the day before and marked with a pelican feather. The Redhead finds this amusing. What was really amusing was me the day before in business clothes trying to NOT look suspicious amongst sunbathers while using a shovel to bury the water without being seen. We push on and soon the runner's high silliness kicks in gear. A song pops into the Redhead's mind after an earlier discussion about coconut juice. She starts singing a song from the Lion King:

"I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts
There they are all standing in a row

Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head

Give them a twist a flick of the wrist

That's what the showman said

I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts

Every ball you throw will make me rich

There stands my wife, the idol of me life

Singing roll a bowl a ball a penny a pitch

Roll a bowl a ball a pen
ny a pitch"

I can't help but laugh, smile and think to myself, "appropriate, I am training for the 'Disney' Marathon!"

We had a beach walker snap this shot somewhere around mile 14. Hmmm, either the Redhead is really short or I'm really tall.... or both.

We are now running the 1.5-mile loop on the boardwalk at Smyrna Dunes Park and the first hints of dawn are lighting up the horizon. It's a beautiful sight! We pass three other "serious" guy runners, several fisherman and a few surfers, but that's it and we're back on the beach again tracing our footprints back toward Flagler Avenue. The tide is getting high and the sand is soft so we switch up to pavement a little early and suddenly I realize for me there's only about a mile left to run. The shops are opening along Flagler Avenue. The Coffee House is abuzz with activity. I'm feeling a new sensation. Instead of only leg pain, which set in several miles ago, I'm feeling a loss of energy, a loss of endurance. It's like I have the will to continue running, but every part of my body is resisting in protest. The Redhead claps her hands and yells, "Let's go Sylvan, Let's go!" Now she knows what it feels like to be the motivator and NOT the one that needs end of the run motivating from the "Lazy Runner." I feel her slipping away. It doesn't feel like I'm running any slower, but I am. I struggle to keep pace. Half a mile to go and I catch up with her and proclaim that "I'm back," only to fall behind again. She mentions another blogger she knows, this guy Jamoosh, that counts hot girl's ponytails for motivation. What a great idea? I stare at the Redhead's ponytail. It bounces back and forth with the rhythm of her body. Hot! Normally I'd be in a daze, but right now my extreme fatigue is taking priority. It's like the final few minutes of Bikram Yoga when you could care less if the hottest girl in the world is next to you... all I want to do is finish! Sorry Redhead Running, I love ya, but it's just not working for me right now! At a quarter-mile to go she's a good 50 feet ahead of me and unsure where the stopping point is so I yell out directions. I want to stop, but I'm determined! I dig deep and the most random thought of motivation comes to me. I start singing Pearl Jam's "Alive." When this song was released in the early 1990s I was just a teenager and my father had just passed away. I learned this song on my guitar from beginning to end. It was such an inspiration to me at the time and somehow it's going to get me through this run!

"I, oh, Im still alive
Hey i, oh, Im still alive
Hey i, but, Im still alive
Yeah i, ooh, Im still alive"

Finally, at 2:30:00 we reach the 15-mile mark!!!!

It's located at a friends house where I've left my truck the night before stashed with a cooler stocked full of Gatorade, Cliff Bars, Water and the Redhead's last energy gel. She downs it and heads out for the final 3 miles. I slam a Gatorade and walk around the driveway for a good five minutes before attempting to remember how to drive my truck. I'm looped out of my head right now and it feels great!

So how did I run the 16.5 miles if the story ends here???

An interesting twist of fate all thanks to a sketchy black man in a black truck.

Yup, thank you sketchy black man! Because of you I can say my longest run ever is 16.5 miles instead of just 15!

The plan was for me to drive the truck down to the park where the Redhead would be finishing her 18-miles after one last loop around the boardwalk. I wanted to drive down and be there before she started in on the boardwalk to cheer her on, but she came running up with a look of concern on her face. Apparently, a black man in a black truck drove by her once on the main road, turned around and drove by her two more times and even honked at her before continuing on to the park. We could see the unoccupied black truck in the parking lot. I can tell the Redhead is a little freaked and I would be too if I were a female her size so I decide to run the last 1.5 miles with her around the boardwalk. I feel amazingly better on this last run with no problem finishing. With a quarter mile left I yell out the final distance and the Redhead takes off sprinting with a super strong finish. She is SOOOOO ready for the Chicago Marathon!

Overall it was a milestone run with many "firsts." It was the first time I've set out my clothes the night before a run. It was my first time stashing supplies along the route. It was the first time the Redhead and I have ever run together, let alone being around each other this time of day without being drunk, passed out or hungover. It was the first time I've run that distance in my life. It was the first I've run that early in the morning. It was my first time doing a long run on Saturday (which I might switch instead of Sundays or Mondays). It was the first time I've seen my good old friend the Redhead in more than a 1 year!

All of it rocked!

Favorite Quote of the Run: "Ya'll are going to like live a long time being all healthy and stuff... unlike me," the 7-Eleven clerk said as he took another hit from his cigarette after taking our picture in front of the 7-Eleven sign. You see, The Redhead and I have this history with 7-Eleven, being drunk and in costume. Our friends used to get dressed up in crazy outfits and walk to 7-Eleven after long nights of partying for junk food. It's ironic that years later we find ourselves at 7-eleven using the bathroom at 5 a.m. while on a long run.

At the 7-eleven 3:20 a.m. sometime in 2007

At the 7-Eleven around 5 a.m. 2009

I'd like to send out a BIG THANKS to the Redhead one more time for coming over and running with me. My official time with the extra 1.5-miles added on was right at 2:45:00 (a little slow, but strong) and I doubt I could have done it without my old friend chatting it up, making it seem short, and being silly with me! I've got a long ways to go, but plenty of time to work on that distance and time!

108 Days Until the Disney Marathon!!!!

Final thoughts:
If I ever bring myself to such self torture as taking an ice bath after a long run, somebody slap me!

The Redhead taking her famous ice bath after the run. Wearing a bathing suit bottom, long sleeve shirt and sweat shirt hoodie she listens to Dropkick Murphy's music, head bangs and waits for the ice to melt. You can see the happy picture of her on her blog, but I took this one as she was hunkered down and enduring the "freeze!" Note: She also called me an A*hole for taking this picture at the time.... hahaha... Love ya Morgan!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Thursday Stoke (major announcment!)

I've been struggling with a topic, or should I say headline, for a repeating blog that I can post once a week like some other sites do here and here. At first I thought.... hmmm... Friday seems like a good day. Then came the name game. What rhymes or sounds good with "Friday," and defines a post that would include random ramblings as subject matter? I came up with "Fluky Friday Flash," and made a few post under that name until my recent Puerto Rico trip when Friday rolled around and I opted to go surfing and snorkeling in crystal clear Caribbean waters rather than use the free Wi-Fi in a nearby Burger King to update my blog. After that I said farewell "Fluky Friday Flash," after all the name is kind of LAME and who seriously wants to be concerned with coming up with content for a blog every Friday when the only thing that really matters is finishing up the work week and gearing up for surfing sessions and long runs?

Today I introduce to you:

wait for it....

The Thursday Stoke!

It sounds soooooo much better than Fluky Friday Flash and it means sooooo much more. Every week I pride myself on finding something to be "stoked" about and Thursday is a much better day to be writing blogs than Friday so now I'll share my weekly "stoke" every Thursday along with some random ramblings!

Riverview during my Wednesday
run before sunrise.

And for the Inaugural Thursday Stoke I have a major announcement!

It's official. As of 10:30 a.m. September 16, 2009 this very one TallGuySurfing is registered for the Disney Marathon. Yup.... in 111 days on Jan. 10th at an hour when most of you will be sleeping in I'll be running 26.2 miles... a distance that killed the first runner every to attempt do it. I think I've officially gone mad.

For the past three months I've been training for the marathon, but now that I've actually bit the bullet, charged my credit card and have the electronic confirmation in my email account, I'M SO STOKED! It really is a different feeling not to just say your training for a marathon, but to be officially registered for one.

Other things I'm stoked about this week:

1.) The pain in my left IT Band seems to be gone. After taking it easy the past week with only short easy runs, surfing sessions and playing infield rather than outfield in softball I think I've avoided the notorious ITB injury I hear so much about.

2.) My favorite number is 15. It was always my jersey number in all the sports I played (soccer, basketball, baseball, etc.) growing up. This Sunday it will be exactly 15 weeks until the Disney Marathon. This Saturday I'm scheduled to run 15 miles on my training program. Let it be noted I've never run this far in my life. Hiked, trekked, climbed YES.... run NO! I've been running solo the past three months and I've noticed after 10 miles I get extremely bored, not to mention burning leg syndrome, which I find leads to maybe I'll just stop running syndrome! It's not that I'm tired. I can surf 6-hours a day. Energy isn't the problem, it's leg muscles. They become tired and start feeling like they're on fire! When I realized I was up for 15 miles I became anxious. I somehow feel like 15-miles is some kind of barrier to overcome in distance running. To help me cross this imaginary barrier my friend Redhead Running is coming for a visit with one of her fellow runner friends to join me. They will run 18-miles and I'll stop at 15-miles. I'm super stoked about this and with the realization that 15 is also my favorite number I'm no longer anxious about breaking through the 15-mile barrier! Bring it!

Me after a short easy 5 miler yesterday and just before officially registering for the Disney Marathon! Woohoo! Bring it 15-miler!

*If anyone is already using "The Thursday Stoke," I apologize. I'm not trying to steal it and the only reason I'm mentioning this is I'm not sure how it came about in my head. I may have heard it somewhere or maybe it's original, but I'm going to use it nevertheless.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tennis Chick

At the request of several followers after reading about Savannah Girl I'm chalking up another story for the Dating Disaster files!

This time we'll call her Tennis Chick.

To be honest, I've put off writing this blog for some time. The date actually occurred more than a month ago. Needless to say there was no second date, but I always worry about offending people should they happen to be "blog-stalking" me. I'm pretty sure Tennis Chick isn't blog stalking me nor being concerned with what's currently happening in my life so if you want a change up or a little non-surfing and non-running entertainment read on!

Watching the U.S. Open Championship Match between Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro inspired me to finally write this post. Honestly, before watching Del Potro upset Federer I had never seen him play. I knew Federer, but did not recognize the 20-year-old from Argintina. I could see he was tall and started to to wonder because it seemed about the same size as myself. Turns out he is my size; 6'6" and only about 10 pounds heavy at around 180 pounds. I literally jumped up and down to cheer on my fellow tall person as he won the match point. Yay for tall people!

Ok, now on to dating disaster with Tennis Chick!

The Background

To protect the innocent we'll not get into how I met Tennis Chick, but we'll just say it was a blind date of sorts (I know, I know, I should know better by now!) with our only communication before the date being through email and text messages (of course a few photos were exchanged). Tennis Chick seemed like a winner on paper. Her emails and text messages appeared to have some witty humor. She works in the advertising/marketing field (hmmm creative = interesting) and has a college education (independent?). Her photos are attractive. I really don't require much. Some might say I'm picky and that's the reason I'm single, but I'd like to think I'm smart. All I look for initially is someone with a great sense of humor, healthy conscience and there's got to be some sort of attraction. That's it... super simple. Tennis Chick passes the initial test.

The Date

After several weeks of email and text message flirting I finally pinned her down on a meet up. I say pinned her down because she said multiple times she would like to do activities such as surfing or going to the beach, but would never commit. So the "pin down" occurred when she mentioned her weekend plans that involved playing tennis with a friend on Friday night. Apparently she is an avid tennis player. It's Monday and the conversation quickly turns to everything tennis. For the record I'm not a tennis player. I took lessons when I was a child and that's it. When I play I usually need help keeping score. However, I am athletically coordinated better than average and can manage a non-competitive match for exercise and fun. The date is set for the next night, Tuesday, and we decided to meet at a public park in the next city north of me for a friendly match after finishing work for the day.

On Tuesday I confirm with her our date plans. Since I'm not sure which public park she wants to play at she tells me I can meet her at Target. I admitted to her that since I don't play Tennis very often all of my tennis balls have gone to my dog, literally, so I offered to buy more if needed while at the Target. That goes over well, but just as I'm getting off work she text me saying she has left work early and is already at Target because she needs to buy a tennis racket.

Can I just say ??????????

May I ask why you are buying a tennis racket if you're such an avid tennis player? Apparently, she needs a new one. She also buys new tennis balls and asks if I have GPS in my truck. After telling her yes she text me the address of the park. I diligently follow my GPS (aka the "bitch" because I gave her a British accent to make her sound more snooty when she talks) directions. It takes me into a residential neighborhood with no tennis courts in sight. I arrive at a house matching the address and there is a woman standing outside near a parked car. She waves.

"Ahhhh sh*t!"

I know this might sound shallow, but that's the first thing I thought as I realized it was Tennis Chick in real life. It is now obvious that Tennis Chick on paper is a few years younger. Tennis Chick in real life is out of shape and in the nicest way possible for me to say this... gained a few pounds. I have an open mind and I have nothing against people that are overweight, but I'm also 100-percent sure at this point in my life that I cannot have a relationship with someone that is overweight and not healthy and active like myself. Friends... sure. Relationship... NO BUENO!

I wave back as I ease to a stop at the end of the driveway and lower my window. Forcing a smile I ask, "I thought I was going to a tennis court?"
"You are. It's around the block. I didn't know the address. This is a friend's house. Just follow me around the block," she yells while climbing into her car and starting the engine.

At this point I'm having a shallow moment. I've already made up my mind that I have no interest in her based only on the few facts I have gathered and first impression. I feel as I'm making assumptions or judgments without due diligence. I hate feeling this way, but I cannot help it. There must be something instinctual about it. She leads me around the block to a park I recognize. I played men's league softball a few years ago here. If she had told me the park's name I would have remembered. We park, get out of the cars and I go to give her a friendly hug, but before I can get that far she points at her car and says, "look at all that shit in my car! Wait, if it's mine it's crap, if it's someone else shit then it's shit. Look at all that crap in my car!"


That is my question because I sure didn't know. I just nodded in silent agreement almost tongue tied. This is first impression time and this is what she gives me to work with???

In the drive between the mystery house and the park I made up my mind that since I've driven all the way up here I might as well play some tennis and perhaps use this as a "practice" date. I've already decided that Tennis Chick doesn't have a chance in hell with me, but seriously, that was her opening line? Look at all this shit in my car???

I ask her how her day went at work (an easy conversation starter). She gives me a long story about a crazy client that her company is getting a restraining order against and she starts every sentence with the word, "like." Like, a pure sign of intelligence! She also drops an F-bomb in every other sentence. Now I don't have the cleanest mouth. I'll admit that, but when you're making a first impression it is not the time to talk like a sailor and especially if your conversation partner isn't using any slang or curse words back at you in the conversation. Just sayin!

We walk over to the tennis court. She opens the can of new tennis balls and takes up her side of the court. Her first few attempts at serving end up in the net. The next few go out of bounds, way out of bounds. More F-bombs are released and we're not even keeping score! Tennis Chick finally dials it in and serves up something I can hit back. After five minutes she needs a break and sits down on the bench. I'm concerned for her health. She says she needs water. Being thoughtful, I packed a cooler with a couple of Gatorade G2s. She refuses my first offer, but when I get one out for myself reconsiders and tells me red is her favorite Gatorade color.

Tennis Chick and I knock the balls around the court for the next 20-30 minutes in what could vaguely resemble a tennis match. No score is kept and no real serve attempts are made. Boundary lines are ignored and I find myself hitting the ball directly back to her rather than aiming for a part of the court that gives me an advantage. It's easier this way and I have to chase down less wildly hit tennis balls. During this attempt to play tennis I go into detective mode by asking a few questions. Nothing crazy. The normal stuff like where did you grow up, go to school, have brothers or sisters, etc. etc. What I get in return is craziness.

In a nutshell she first informs me that she is on anti-anxiety drugs and needs to go to the drug store to refill her prescription because she has a dentist appointment tomorrow only for a teeth cleaning and will get an anxiety attack if she doesn't pop a pill before! I understand a fear of dentists, but what about anxiety from a first date? What is she on right now? Secondly, she tells me her mother is bi-polar and insane. She tells me about her wack relationship with the mother and how she's only spoken to her a few times this year. And third, as if icing on the cake, she throws out her daddy issues and how she's only met her real and only father twice in her life.

A+ goes to Tennis Chick for being brutally honest about her f*cked up family!!!

Hint to single girls everywhere:
1.) When going into a first date situation with a guy tread lightly when we ask about your parents, especially your mom! This is a loaded question. If you're mom is awesome tell us proudly. If not, don't lie about it, but ease us into the situation. We will judge you against your mom and sometimes your dad. It's NOT true that every girl turns into her mother, but there's always the chance that it will happen and you can bet when we first meet you we're definitely considering it!
2.) Easy on the drugs! If you are on prescription drugs for some kind of condition then that's great because it means you recognized a problem and have sought out help... unless you're abusing or addicted. But this is another thing you might want to ease us into. Asking about prescription drugs is NOT even first date subject material and if a guy asks about this he should be given a big FAIL as well!
3.) If you have daddy issues keep that to yourself. Nothing says, "I'm a messed up psycho chick," like letting us know you were abused by your father or your father abused your mother, etc. etc. Again, maybe keep this information until a later date... just sayin!

We're 30-minutes into what I guess could be considered warming up for tennis at best. I'm not sweating. I'm not laughing either. She's huffing and puffing and drenched. I'm concerned she might hurt herself. We take a break and she finishes off the G2 and says under her breath, "there's a really good ice cream place right around the block."

"You want ice cream," I ask slightly amused? "Let's go get some ice cream!"

At this point I'm curious just to see how much ice cream she will eat. I know... I'm evil.

It's dinner time. The best part about being an adult is you can eat whatever you want whenever you want, but personally I like to eat healthy and substantial food at dinner time. Only a few minutes later we are in line ordering ice cream. She gets the triple size soft serve with gummy bears on top. Excellent choice! I go for the small cup size vanilla (real ice cream) with Reese's on top. I'm a sucker for peanut butter! I pay for the both of us. My treat.

As we sit down and eat our ice cream at dinner time I get the conversation going again by asking about her dog. We both have dogs and dog people usually love to talk about their dogs. She starts by telling me how she has her dog on anti-depressant drugs -- human anti-depressant drugs -- Prozac to be precise. ALL-RIGHTY-then! I understand that perhaps maybe dogs really are prescribed toned down doses of anti-depressant drugs, but in light of all the other "interesting" conversation we've had tonight I've reached my limit. She tells me her dog has been locked up all day in the house and I tell her she should go home and let him out, take him for a walk, make him happy! Excellent escape strategy!

Cue the curtains!

We politely say goodbye, see ya later, whatever, but I'm sure she gets the point. Another dating disaster for the blog! FAIL on dating.... again!

Disclaimer: I would never write about any person like this and give away their identity, nor would I write about them unless I was mostly sure they would never see it even with their identity protected. These kind of stories are only about first dates, strangers I'll never see again and definitely NOT anyone I plan to see again. I'm also hoping that very soon I'll be able to write a dating story that ends in a SUCCESS! I know of a certain candidate ;-) but only time will tell.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Two Waves

Fun swell this weekend...
Not sure where it came from...
Calm offshore winds graced us...
The Weekend Warriors bombarded us...
Managed four sessions between Saturday and Sunday...
Here is a glimpse of the sessions told in only two waves...

The water is warm and glassy. The wave forecast is holding true. To the south I can see hundreds of torsos and heads floating between the waves. To the north I see the same. Some are on longboards with more floatation allowing more of their bodies to be seen above the water, but most are on shortboards. I am straddling a longboard; a 9'0" epoxy Walden Magic model that is solid blue on the bottom and a faded light blue on top. It's name (I name all my boards) is Papa Smurf (because of its color) and it's a performance longboard meaning that with its hard rails, increased rocker, squash tail, side-bite fins and large center concave it's designed to rip up a wave with the most speed and maneuverability that a longboard can bare. The only thing it isn't made for is noseriding. I like Papa Smurf when the waves are large and powerful and a little extra speed and drive is comforting. Today I borrowed a small 6-inch center fin from a fellow surfer to try in place of my normal 8-inch fin. The idea is it will give even more speed and maneuverability to the board on the initial bottom turn after dropping in on the wave face.

The ebb of the ocean has past. The slack low tide turns to a steady incoming tide. I can tell because instead of staying stationary with little drift only caused by getting too close to a rip current we are now being pull north toward the mouth of Ponce Inlet. I've triangulated myself between my Jeep Wrangler on the beach and a spot locally known as 3/2 because of some pavilions along a boardwalk that are highly visible (there are three pavilions close together and then two more a short ways down). By doing this I can tell when I'm drifting. I can also keep myself in a specific spot in the ocean where I feel the waves are breaking the best. There are no landmarks in the surf and you cannot see the sandbars with our murky shark invested water.

Shadows appear on the horizon and a few surfers (the experienced ones) and myself start paddling and repositioning ourselves. These shadows are the first indication of an approaching set of waves. Being on a longboard is a huge advantage in a crowd like today (the largest crowd in recent memory) because sitting higher up gives a better field of vision to see waves first and get into better position plus with more floatation it's easier to paddle into a large wave earlier as the shortboarders have to wait for the wave to peak up more or they won't be able to paddle fast enough and the wave will leave them behind. On a day like today I'm super "aggro" (aggressive) and almost cocky. I have to be. The way I see it, I'm better than 80 percent of the people in the lineup. Most of the crowd is due to it being a Sunday and a favorable forecast. The familiar faces are here, but for every one of them there are 10 unfamiliar faces. If I'm cocky and aggro without being an A-hole about it and I'm in the right position (not dropping in, snaking or cutting off anyone) then 9 out of 10 surfers just think I'm better than them and backoff, which scores me lots of fun waves to ride.

The shadow on the horizon is now only seconds away. Four maybe five large waves approach. The secret it out! Thirty, maybe 40 surfers in the path of this set turn their boards and beginning paddling, acting if these waves belongs to them and only them. However, I'm further out than any of them. I let the first wave pass. They can fight over it. Sitting high upon Papa Smurf I can see there is even a bigger wave beyond the second wave so I let it pass as well. The third wave approaches. I swing Papa Smurf around 180 degrees and start to paddle. Being out this far is going to require a lot of speed to catch this wave before it reaches the wolf pack of surfers closer to shore. I imagine my paddling as an "act of violence" against the sea. Each stroke is harder and deeper. My entire body swings toward the arm giving the stroke. My legs swing back in forth to add more weight to the arm that's paddling. I feel the wave picking me up and my speed increases. I lean back to keep the board from pearling (nosediving). Looking left and right during the final two strokes I check to see that no other surfers are on the wave yet and that I am in the best position for wave priority. The wave excepts me and I feel its power pulling the surfboard along; no more need for paddling. I pop up to my feet, look both ways again and decide to go toward the right. This is considered frontside since I surf a regular stance (left foot forward). The wave has not crested yet. It continues to grow in size. I work my way down the wave about halfway and try to pick a line on this wall of water before me. The line of surfers on shortboards quickly approaches. I call this line the "asteroid belt" because it reminds me of playing a video game and dodging asteroids in a space ship. This is my asteroid belt, Papa Smurf is my space ship and the cresting wave is my thrust. Most of the shortboarders duckdive under the wave or paddle in a direction that gets them out of my way, but there's always a couple that have to be "dodged." This time the asteroid belt clears out leaving a perfect wave before me. I can tell from experience that it will break in a uniform manner allowing for a long ride along the face of the wave just in front of the breaking white wash. I manage my speed by working the board higher or lower on the wave. I see that the incoming tide is giving more push to the wave. This wave is so large it might become hollow. Leaning toward the inside to stall the board, I squat down low and allow the wave to break over top me. I'm 6'6" tall and I've hunched down to probably less than 3-feet almost into a ball. Tucking my head down flush with one of my knees I can see the lip of the wave breaking just inches over my forehead. I feel my inside shoulder brushing the wall of the wave. For an instant I'm in the shade. I'm blinded as water splashes into my face. Instinctively I lean my body weight to the outside to gain some speed and I'm shot out from the barrel (or tube) as it collapses behind me. About 20 feet ahead of me the wave is closing out (no more clean wall to ride, only whitewash) so I pull off a quick bottom turn and shoot over the lip of the wave leaving it behind. The energy of the wave still seems to be pushing my board as I continue for another 10 feet or so behind the wave before laying down on it. The ride is over. It's the ride of the day. A successful barrel!

Sometimes I feel like Mother Nature has a sense of humor. Sometimes I feel like every blessing She gives is met with a consequence. "Here's the wave of the day, now you have to pay for it!" As I attempt to paddle back to the line up past the asteroid belt I'm met with a set of breaking waves. The first wave is expected since I took a middle wave of the set. I turtle roll under it and pop back on top of my board and continue paddling, but there's another wave and another and another. One or two waves on the head after a great ride is almost expected, but six or seven? What the hell Mother Nature?!?!? It's just down right annoying. I finally force my way through the impact zone and back out to where I am perfectly triangulated between my Jeep and 3/2.

Another shadow is on the horizon and I'm already in a great spot. This may make me look cocky or like a wave hog, but I'm going for it. Two in a row! Still high from my barrel and lusting for another, I commence another "act of violence" against the sea paddling furiously atop Papa Smurf. The wave takes me. I'm up and deciding to go left toward my backside. The wave is steeper than the last. Perhaps I should've committed toward the right, but I never allow myself to hesitate when I'm in this position. I must be fully committed or "bad things" will happen. It's just me and the wave. All time stops and nothing else matters at this moment. It's... just... me... and... the... wave. It jacks up and I lower my right knee to the board laying my lower leg flush horizontally with the board. My left leg (front) is bend 90 degrees at the knee and almost in a squatting position. My right (backside) arm reaches forward and grabs the outside rail of Papa Smurf digging the inside rail into the wave face as my left arm is outstretched for balance. This is called "pig dogging" and it's the only way I know how to make the bottom turn on a wave this steep without getting pitched out in front of the lip. I try and stay ahead of the violently breaking water behind me. Then I see a shortboarder dropping in 15 feet ahead of me. He's NOT looking around and has no idea I'm coming at him like a rocket. There are now three choices for me. 1.) continue down the wave face, probably getting a barrel and if I make it out of the barrel run over the shortboarder to his surprise and risk injury to either him or myself and perhaps damaged or broken surfboards. 2.) Turn down the face of the wave, hope it doesn't break on top of me and be pushed back into the impact zone where paddling back out is a bitch! 3.) Attempt a quickly little bottom turn and try to shoot or launch myself over the top of the wave landing behind it and hopefully not being sucked over the falls. Being lazy and not wanting to end up in the impact zone or being accused of attempted murder as I run over the shortboarder (he looks like a small guy compared to me) I decide to take option number three. This option results in an epic FAIL. My bottom turn is too long and the wave jacks up to its peak. I jump hard off Papa Smurf, but the the lip of the wave hits my back just above my hips. This punches my body forward and I land somewhere on the face of the wave. I immediately feel the power and suction of the wave lifting me upward. At the same time I feel a hard object flush up against my body. It's smooth meaning it's the bottom side of Papa Smurf (no wax surface) and this also means sharp fins somewhere nearby. NO BUENO! I feel the lifting power of the wave cease and a falling sensation begins. "Oh God, out of all the places to be on this wave this is the worst," It think to myself. The last thing I want to be next to in this situation is Papa Smurf. Surfers have been killed by their surfboards in situations like these. The impact is quick. I'm tossed around like a ragdoll. There is no sense in fighting it. The best thing to do is just remain calm and conserve oxygen. I feel a blunt pain in my leg and know that some part of Papa Smurf just slammed into me. Other than that I'm soon comforted by the fact that I'm deep underwater and that means the surfboard is NOT near me as it will be floating or bobbing up and down at the surface. The wave holds me down for a few more seconds and then releases her grasp. I surface, ignore the pain from my newly bruised and maybe bleeding leg and paddle back out to the safety of the outside. Then I check my leg. I'm not bleeding, just bruised. It could have been worse.

From wave of the day barrel to wipeout of the month one right after another. There's no real need to talk about the rest of the session when that pretty much sums it up!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Turning Negative to Positive

Looking back at the past year I was lost…

Now I am found… (No, this is not a religious post, but I do like that song)

As I ran an easy 4-miler this morning I pondered my current situation and realized how miserable I really was the past year compared to now. As recent as the beginning of summer I felt as if I were wandering in the weeds of life. Lots of back luck and bad timing had me down. I was single and lonely.

Me surfing Puerto Rico last week

I wouldn't go as far as to say depressed, but I was definitely lonely. Date after date seemed to result in disappointment after disappointment. Two different girls (at different times) decided to pick other guys instead of me to start relationships. I wouldn't go as far as saying I was dumped since I wasn't to the level of what I consider a relationship with them, but it's a serious confidence buster being second to best. Not only was I down in my personal life, but I was down in my work life as well. I was and still am making the least amount of money I've ever made in my career (thanks housing bubble burst!). In a 3-year period I went from a six-figure salary to making less than my first year out of college writing obituaries and police blotters as a print journalist. Last year I worked that hardest I've ever worked with the most stress and made the least amount of money. It's hard to find the motivation to keep going each day when I receive no compensation for my hard work.

At the beginning of summer I was really down. I had allowed myself to fall for a good friend (some day I'm going to learn not to do this), a friend that is also a highlight of my personal life. Why is it that girls always say they want to be in a relationship with a foundation of friendship or marry their best friend or be with their best friend, but when it comes down to it they can't step up to the plate? I've given up on the best friend fairy tale for now, but learning from my past I wasn't about to let my emotions ruin a great friendship so I held it inside, kept my mouth shut and set out to find myself, make myself happy and have some fun in the process! The summer is almost over and I can officially say after visiting friends in California, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota and Puerto Rico this summer that I have officially found myself. You see the key is not relying on other people to bring you happiness. You have to find happiness from within first. Seek out what makes you happy and embrace it. Once you are happy you can bring others into your own happiness, but you can never rely on others to bring you happiness. They can only compliment it. I'm living the simple life. I love the ones that treat me right and forget the ones that don't.

I've always believed in finding a positive in every negative situation. I'm a positive person for the most part. In fact, I'm guilty of avoiding negatives even when they must be faced and realized. Some of my positives from negatives right now are:

Work (real estate) is slow = more time to pursue other ventures.

- Last year I killed myself for very little money at work. Hell, I have gray hairs now! This year I'm getting a reputation of not working, but I don't care. "Let them eat cake!" Haha. The fact is I am working, but I'm only working on things I view as being worthwhile. If I feel it's a waste of time I simply trash it and move on. There's no point in stressing myself out because of situations I cannot control. I'm happy to say I have the least amount of stress in my life in a VERY long time.

I'm single (perhaps a little lonely) = Freedom to travel, explore and do whatever the hell I want.

- I'm in my early 30s. I'm in the best shape of my life. I'm stable with no kids or negative baggage and I'm having the time of my life. It's as simple as this; I'm free to do whatever I want! I am dating and would ultimately love to find someone with the same views and drive and eagerness to explore and share this world with, but at the same time I'm being 100 percent myself. Whomever I end up with will have to except me, love me and laugh with me for who I am, as I will them. You see what you get and I'm not holding anything back and it feels great!

Very little disposable income = Becoming smarter with the money I do have, living a healthier life (exercise activities such as surfing and running are free).

- So I can't travel in first class style anymore. So what! Traveling like a poor college student is sometimes way more rewarding that being some rich snob. Besides, I always strive to be a traveler and not a tourist. Instead of going out to expensive restaurants I'm learning to cook meals that are better than the menus at those restaurants. Instead of blowing money in bars and nightclubs, I'm getting up early and surfing the sunrise or running toward my goal of the Disney Marathon. It's nice to have money, but I've learned that money has very little correlation to happiness and good health.

I'm sitting here with a frozen bag of baby corn, bean & pea mix on my knee (I find it feels better than just a bag of ice) and I realize this blog is really exposing myself… throwing it all out there to a bunch of strangers. The bottom line is I'm stoked for my life right now and I'm excited about the future, whatever it may hold in store for me! I recently read a blog by my friend at Caution: Redhead Running and in part it inspired me evaluate myself, how positive I am and to write this post.

I'm still single, but okay with it, and I'm still in the weeds of life, but instead of wandering I'm exploring, living, loving, laughing, learning, surfing, running and being happy!

This Walt Whitman excerpt from "The Song of the Open Road" has floated around in my head for several months. Every time I read it I get goose bumps and I really feel it's an accurate description of my life right now in both general and when I'm running. I've wanted to somehow use it in a post and it wasn't until now that I figured out a good point to use it. Here it is:

AFOOT and light-hearted, I take to the open road,

Healthy, free, the world before me,

The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune—I myself am good fortune;

Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,

Strong and content, I travel the open road.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Viva La Vida: Puerto Rico

Steps Beach at Tres Palmas (Rincon, Puerto Rico)

Get ready for some awesome photographs!

Last week was spent in Puerto Rico. It was my second trip this year and proba
bly not my last. Cities visited included Rincon (home base), Aguadilla, Isabela, Arecibo, Utuado, San Sabastion and Mayaguez.

If you enjoy the water be it surfing, snorkeling, diving, swimming or just sitting on a beach with beautiful tropical water in front of you I recommend everyone visit Puerto Rico at least once. The most important factor I've found is to stay away from San Juan (a true clusterfuck of traffic and people, although the fortress is worth a once in a life time visit). When I go I fly direct from Orlando to Aguadilla (the Northwest coast) and go from there. It's a 30 minute drive to Rincon and for the most part hassle free.

My original plan was to move to Rincon for the winter months this year from mid-October to the end of March. However, some unfortunate economic factors are not allowing it so now the plan is to just visit my friends that are moving to Rincon several times this winter for some super fun surfing action!

Here's my story of Puerto Rico in a fun little photo essay. Enjoy!

Click any photo to enlarge

John, Julie and I at Arecibo. That dish is about 900 feet across. Arecibo is a fun day trip from Rincon. It's also the biggest alien telephone in the world!

Jobos at Isabela...

Can you believe this tiny little wave broke my leash. I'll never buy that brand leash again!

A local surfer gave me this coconut after a surfing session. It was so freaking good! I think the only thing that would have been better is a cold beer!

It looks like I'm drooling, but it REALLY is only coconut milk! Haha!

I broke my leash while surfing near the Aerocibo lighthouse. It was almost new. I couldn't even believe it considering the waves were small. I gave it to a local grom on the beach and continued to surf sans leash. I hate leashes anyways!

With little surf and super clear water I found summer time in Puerto Rico the perfect opportunity to try out my underwater photography skills. This was a small wave right up on the rocks, but a little bit of a different view than what you normally see.

Puerto Rico is famous among surfers for being a sea urchin nightmare. Thousands of these little feet stabbing monsters are everywhere along the coastline. I'd rather brush up against coral than step on these guys!

A Hawksbill turtle.

This video is pretty cool. I took it while I was chasing either reef squid or cuttlefish (I'm not sure which they were) and then ran into the turtle. Pretty cool moment!

Hello Blue Tangs! I kept thinking about Finding Nemo.

The same Elkhorn Coral (Dogman's and Tres Palmas) that I surfed over last March! Glad I'm good at NOT wiping out! Hahaha!

They call these things Christmas Tree Worms (attached to the Brain Coral)

You know you're near a surfing mecca when all the street signs are covered in surfing stickers. This is on the hill over looking Tres Palmas (Hwy 413, Rincon). It was just last March that I witnessed an insane swell from this very spot with 25-30' face waves.

I'm always searching for that odd angle with my photographs. Here's a little self portrait from inside a tidal pool near Dogman's.

These hermit crabs are all over the beach. This one was searching for a new shell.

I had never seen a star fruit tree before. This one is in the yard of the house my friends are moving into next month. Also in the yard are avacado, coconut, papaya and cherry trees. How cool is that!?!?!

I quickly made friends with the hammock on the patio.

This was the sunset view from the house we rented overlooking Rincon.