I am back. Back in so many ways.

Back from  seven weeks of holiday in Costa Rica and Panama.

Back from learning to surf

Back doing what I am good at; snowboarding.

Back to feeling strong and healthy.

Back to the playing weight I was at when I was 24 years old.

Back to eating regular meals.

Back to feeling like I should be doing more.

Back to normal? No, I still have issues. But for today lets talk about the good things.

Our holiday

How was the holiday? Just as you would imagine a holiday in Costa Rica and Panama would be like. Sunny and 25 degrees every day. Nice!

Get up at 6:00 AM with the sun, walk on the beach and watch the sun rise if we are at a beach. Have breakfast and do stuff in the morning while the temperature is decent. Rest, read or sleep in the afternoon when it’s hot.

Have dinner and socialize in the evening. Go to bed at 9 PM or so when the sun is down and after catching up on our daily Trump news. No, you can’t avoid it even in Costa Rica and on a holiday.

It was not like that everywhere but you get the idea. Sometimes we were inland where it was cooler and but a lot of time was spent at beaches where I could learn to surf. For those of you who were curious as to where we went here is the quick outline.

Arrived in San Jose on January 3 and visited with Lorna, Linda’s twin sister and her husband George who have just moved to Atenas. It is a town near San Jose that advertises itself as having “the best climate in the world”. It kind of does. We enjoyed a few days there.

Then we caught a bus to Tamarindo, a great little surf town on the Pacific Coast, on the Nicoya Peninsula. We spent two weeks in a nice hotel with a great dunk pool that Linda enjoyed a lot. I took seven surf lessons there. George and Lorna joined us for the second week.

Then back to Atenas for a week helping George and Lorna move their worldly possession that had just arrived from Atlanta where they used to live.  During that week we took a bus to Jaco, a beach town on the coast two hours by bus from Atenas, for a couple of days of surfing.

After that it was a flight to the Puerto Jimenez on the Osa Pennisula in southern Costa Rica. We spent five days at an ecolodge, located next to Corcovado National Park. We had to walk 3.5 km to get there and our luggage was delivered in a horse cart. There we slept in a high end tent and were treated to monkeys, majestic macaws and many other creatures. Along the way, we met a lot of really great people and generally enjoyed ourselves. We were on the coast but it was too dangerous to venture into the ocean. The waves were huge and loud. Very impressive.

We spent a couple of days in Puerto Jimenez, a very dusty frontier town. The highlight was a tour of a wonderful farm where we learned how they make chocolate from growing the cacao beans to grinding and forming the bars.

We spent a few days on a beach across the Gulf in another dusty beach town that was so hot we literally slept most of the day. By luck, I found a 52-year-old ex-California surf bum who gave me lessons. Finally, I had an instructor who spoke good English! It helped. I learned a lot from him.

We then headed for Panama to the mountains where is it very cool (merino wool shirts and down jacket cool). From there, we made an 11 hour, six bus changes, trek to Playa Venao, a great surf beach for a few more days of surf lessons. Then on to visit my sister Shenta and her husband Gary. They go to Punta Chame every winter for three months so Gary can kite surf.

Surfing

And I sort of learned to surf. The last blog had a photo of me surfing.

Here is a link to a you tube  video of me after seven lessons. I took five more lessons and I think I look more relaxed on the board now but watch this. I am pretty happy with my progress.

I had great instructors and I worked hard at learning. At first it was two hours every second day but eventually I could go every day as I got stronger. I was pleased with how strong I actually was. The dry land training I had done in Edmonton, practicing my “pop ups” on the living room floor, really helped. It also helped that I had been doing high intensity interval training (HIIT). More on that later.

I intend to continue to learn to surf and try and get good enough to catch bigger waves. Right now, I am a total beginner. But a 69-year-old beginner, so I am just pleased to be surfing at all. But it’s more than a bucket list thing. I want to be good at it. Good for an old guy.

As it is, I am doing very well for a recent cancer survivor.

Snowboarding

I started snowboarding at 50 and am pretty good at that now. Check out this video from when I was 64.

Now that I am back in Edmonto and back to snowboarding. We drove to Marmot Basin near Jasper with our friends Kevin Taft and Jeanette Boman for two days of snow soon after we got back. It was great. I found I was fit enough to ride pretty hard from 10:00 to 3:30 each day.

I have also been boarding at Rabbit Hill, Snow Valley and Edmonton Ski club for a couple of hours each time. I am preparing for my next adventure. A cat ski/ snowboard trip to Retallack near Nelson in BC.

It is now March 8, 2017. I was diagnosed with cancer on March 18 last year, a day or two after getting back from what was the third annual PowPow Crushers snowboard trip to Retallack. I am very pleased and proud to say that I am joining the group for the fourth annual trip.  We leave tomorrow.

This is snowboarding in the outback where two track machines each carry 12 skiers/snowboarders and two guides up the mountain into the deep fresh snow. We ski or board down in steep terrain and deep snow; usually through the trees. Then the cat picks us up and takes us up to another area of untracked snow.

We get in eight long glorious runs each day for three days. It’s exhilarating but kind of scary going through the trees. It takes a lot of skill and it’s hard to get used to the deep snow after riding on hardpacked snow at the ski hills. When you are in the groove and feeling it, powder snowboarding is the best. But when you fall, and I often do, it’s exhausting getting up.

Last year I felt old, and I am compared to the others, but I earned the reputation of having no quit in me. Hence the name of this blog. This year I am not only old but I might be considerably weaker. Apparently, I have been recovering from radiation for the last 8 months. We will see how it goes. I do feel like I can handle it.

I am boarding with a fantastic group of successful young entrepreneurs and professionals in their thirties and early forties. They are all friends and associates of my friend Antoine Palmer who, along with Joey Hundert, organize the trip. Such a great trip. Such great guys. I am honored to be included. We stay in a pretty nice lodge, eat some great food and generally have a great time. Expensive but well worth it.

Feeling strong and fit.

All things considered, I a pretty fit, but am I fit enough for the intense snowboarding? I will let you know in the next blog. But I have been training. Surfing is great exercise. I was able to go out for two hours of surfing and not be too exhausted.

I have also been doing yoga almost every day since before Christmas. My yoga has been steadily improving since I recommitted to doing it regularly. I am much more flexible now than I was, even a month ago. I now have a very solid routine based on Power Yoga that I do each time. It takes me an hour. Good thing I am retired and have the time. I try do it in the morning when I won’t be distracted but often I do it at night.

I am getting to the point where I do the movements well enough that I can concentrate on controlled breathing as I do them. That is real progress compared to how I usually do yoga. More stretching than yoga practice. I hope I can keep it up.

The yoga is keeping me flexible and nimble but what is getting me in shape is the high intensity interval training. I have mentioned it in previous blogs. I am a big fan of HIIT as a way of getting fit. It only takes a few minutes a day and you can create a program without any, or very little, equipment. You can also do it all at home. Fast, convenient and no expense.

Here is my program:

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

You do seven exercises in seven minutes and work up to 15 exercises in 21 minutes

In the beginning, you do each exercise for 40 seconds and then rest for 20 seconds before you start the next one. Eventually you add more exercises and do them for longer. I do 15 exercises for a minute and rest for half a minute.

You do each exercise as quickly as you can without losing form.

The idea is to exhaust yourself in that 40 seconds. You will probably be breathing hard at the end if it’s an aerobic exercise like jumping jacks or feel you can’t do another repetition if is an anaerobic exercise like curls or push-ups.

There are apps for timing yourself but I just use the stop watch on my I phone.

I do the exercises in our living room.

Here is a good example of the sequence of exercises I do:

  • Stride jumps
  • Push- ups
  • Run on the spot
  • Curls (with dumb bells)
  • Burpees
  • Shoulder presses (with dumb bells)
  • Lunges
  • Dips (between two kitchen chairs)
  • Plyometric jumps
  • Triceps presses (using the front of a chair)
  • Squats
  • Pull ups (I have a pullup bar above a door frame)
  • Wall sits
  • Plank
  • One leg alternate toe touch.

Notice that I alternate upper body and lower body.

I get all the major areas of the body.

I also alternate the anaerobic with aerobic exercise.

If you want to do this at home start with the Seven Minute workout. It’s an app you can download and follow along with the instructions. Once you are into it for a few weeks you can get this book, “Doctor Metzel’s workout prescription.” Check it out wherever you buy books on line.

I don’t do HIIT every day. But I try to do something that would be considered strenuous exercise every day. With one day of rest a week. I usually do yoga that day.

I am lucky. I actually enjoy physical activity. Actually, we all did when we were kids, it’s just that I never gave it up.  It just gets programmed out of us over time from a variety of pressures. Exercise is work but it can be enjoyable, and it makes me feel so much better after I am done.

My next goal is to get back on my mountain bike and be able to keep up with the F’n riders, my high functioning bike riding buddies, by the end of the summer. These guys ride a lot, summer and winter, so I am going to have to really work to get up to their fitness levels. And of course, they are younger. Most in their fifties but a few in their sixties. I can do it.

Back to my playing weight.

I still only weigh 146 pounds. 146 pounds of saggy skin and bones. The muscle is starting to come back from the exercise but I am not adding weight even though I am eating a lot.

Bonus, I can eat virtually whatever I want.

……..to be continued in my next blog.

9 thoughts on “I am back. Back in so many ways.

  1. Nice work Surfer DuDe! Not an easy task even for a young guy. I’m glad you dropped by after our F’n ride the other night, you are Indeed lookin’ good! …..Beer back in your diet? What more could you ask! All kidding aside John congratulations on kicking the Sh_T out of this thing! Wishing you many more retirement adventures with Linda and your F’n Riders family!

    F’n BrYan

    1. Bryan,
      I appreiciate that you and the F’n riders have been there for me through this whole misadventure. I expect to be back riding with you guys some day in the not too distant furtre.

  2. My heart loves reading of your adventures and successes. You will meet and exceed your goals and put all of us OLD people to shame!!

  3. Excellent blog John…….sounds like you are almost there! Your trip to Costa Rica sounded great.

    Joanie…from Cuba

    1. Joan
      YOur world travelling is an inspriration to Linda and me. You keep it up, and we will try catch up.

  4. Inspiring. Inspired.

    We will be taping your HIIT regime up and attempting this. “No. no… think like John does Brent… DOING this!”

    So glad you were able to fly over “the wall” and get back here.

    1. Good to know Brent. I am a huge advocate of HIIT. I hope you make it work for you. Start slow with the seven minute workout.
      You have been one of the big contributors to this blog and to supporting my recovery. I appreciate your wise partipation. I know that your own recovery experiences have been powerful and that your insights are deep. Thank you.

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