Dave The Kayaker

Kayaking, musings, and my mid-life fitness journey. DaveTheKayaker


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James River Rundown practice run

If you would have told me a few years ago that I would paddle an ultra-marathon in a kayak I would have told you you were crazy.

If you would have told me that I’d paddle an ultra as a training run I would have just laughed uncontrollably.

Yet here we are.

Paddling Buddy Dave and I got on the river at 7am this morning to paddle the full length of the Rivanna River and then 10 miles of the James River from Columbia, VA to Cartersville.

We’ve gotten a lot of rain in the past couple days and the rivers were very high, so we kept our eye on the gauges and visually inspected the rivers to make sure we would be paddling within our skill level and not putting ourselves in any danger.  The levels dropped overnight on Friday, just as expected, so we had a “green light” for a day of paddling.

As we shuttled vehicles Friday night I guestimated it would take us between 8 and 9 hours based on our projected river flows.

55 miles, 8 hours and 8 minutes of paddling with ~30 minutes of rest/eating/water-replenishing later, and we completed our mission.

We are tired and sore.

At one point on the river the only thought that came into my mind were the song lyrics, “I focus on the pain, the only thing that’s real.”

The last 7 miles of the Rivanna seemed slow and boring and my back was shot by the time we hit the James so I just did what I had to do to get it over with.

Paddling Buddy Dave showed no signs of fatigue on the water and I continue to hold him in highest regard as an absolute paddling beast.

The Pyranha Octane and Epic V7 seemed very evenly matched and any advantage of one over the other seemed purely attributable to the paddler.

Nutrition for me was water with BCAA’s, almonds, Pistachios, beef jerkey, and two Epic bars.


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#NBNW #NSNG

And so I begin.

The kids’ Spring Break is over and after returning home from out-of-town visiting family last week and after two weeks on the road, one of them out of the country, I had to mow my overgrown yard after work today and skipped the gym for a rest/recovery day.  Even being on the road last week I managed to hit the gym 4 times so a rest day was not unreasonable.

lastbig4-10-17My last big workout last night after driving 6 hours home

Tomorrow I start my no beer, no wine (#NBNW) regimen in support of my mostly #NSNG (no sugars, no grains) lifestyle.

I started the NBNW tradition last year to try to drop a few pounds to lighten up for kayak racing season.

It worked.

So this year I’m going to do it again and I’m also going to eat at a slight caloric deficit most of the time as I try to put myself into dietary ketosis to even further boost my fat loss while I’ll still hit the gym to try to maintain as much muscle as I can.

I won’t lift the way I have been, though.  The weights will be lighter and the sets will be fewer.  I’ll also start cycling more.

Wow, I really miss my road bike.

If I know my body the way I think I do, dietary ketosis should set in by this Friday, April 14 and I will try to stay in that state at least until my major race, The James River Rundown on June 24-25.  That means from April 29 to June 25 I will will paddle more than 160 miles in 4 different kayak races, not to mention the many training miles I will also lay down between now and then.

I want my body running on fat for fuel and I want to have the best muscle-to-fat ratio I possibly can.

If bodybuilders have final contest preparation in terms of dieting then this is kayaker’s contest prep.

So that’s where I am in my journey.

I started to take fitness seriously in early 2013 when I weighed 180lbs at ~22-23% body fat (“skinny fat”) and am now at 177 lbs at ~16-17% body fat.  I was at my lightest–and most unhealthy state–in May of 2014 at 158 lb. Far, far too skinny and unhealthy.

In retrospect you can see things you couldn’t at the time.

I don’t miss those dark days of eyelids twitching, crashed metabolism, sleepless sweaty nights, endless cardio, brain fog, and sore joints.

It has been an up-and-down transformation and I can’t thank my fitness trainer, Vinnie Tortorich, enough for putting me on the right track and pulling me out of my tailspin.  I also thank Anna Vocino for her wonderful recipes and cookbook that make a low-carb lifestyle easy, enjoyable and healthy.

I’ve managed to add muscle mass in my late 40’s and now 50 while also losing body fat.

It hasn’t been fast or easy, but I feel good about what I’ve worked for and can’t wait to see  where I am in mid-June.

atlasweek4-10-17
Last week’s summary

weight4-10-17
Tracking my weight.  Imagine starting at 180 on the left.


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First real test of the new year

I got called out of the country on business this week and only managed to get in one workout in the hotel fitness center.

So today was a test to see if I could snap back into the groove of training, especially since I am still a little jetlagged and am fighting the remains of a head/chest cold I had over the holidays.

I got in a very good lunchtime workout and snapped right back into the swing of things.  I managed to do a medium-difficult upper body workout and then later made dinner for the family which included grain-free, sugar free pizza and white turkey chilli.  A high protein, moderate fat, low-carb dinner that made everyone happy.

I’m feeling good and am ready to challenge my mid-section and lower body in the gym tomorrow morning.

This evening I also learned about the Chattajack 31 race in the American Canoe Association‘s Paddle News newsletter.  I’ll do a little more research into this race and then maybe add it to my racing schedule in 2017.


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Short workout paddle today

I headed out to the South Rivanna Reservoir late this afternoon to get in some more training base miles.  I got some video on Ivy Creek while I was warming up a bit.  Once I got on the main part of the reservoir it was very windy and the water was choppy.  I started at the twin bridges at Earlysville Rd. and paddled to Reas Ford bridge and back.

It wasn’t a very long paddle, but at least I was able to add 8 more base miles to my training.

I also did my first ever Periscope session once I got home so I continue to educate myself on the latest social media platforms.