Sunday, September 29, 2013

Kerry's Awesome Eight Hour Birthday Surf-A-Thon

My adventurous, athletic husband celebrated his birthday on Friday.  A couple of months ago I asked him how he wanted to celebrate since this was to be a big birthday.  Okay, he turned 65.

"Well," he answered slowly while putting the finishing touches on waxing his surfboard, "We're going to be in Maui in September, so why don't we surf for eight hours?"

"Straight?  No breaks?"

"Yes, eight hours straight with no breaks," he answered.

"I don't know if I can do that," I said while trying to change the subject and steer him towards a birthday celebration that included lots of red wine and chocolate.

"What do you mean?  Of course you can.  Am I talking to the same Jennifer Evans who's a seven time finisher of the Avalon 50 mile trail race?"

Maybe I took too much antacid in the 70s but I don't remember having finished that tough 50 mile trail race seven times.  I'm lucky that I remember my daughters birthdays.

"I did?"

I did!

So it was settled.  I picked up my iPhone and sent a text message to our good friend Glenn who lives in Maui:

Hi!  It's Jen.  La Machina (our nickname for Kerry because he's the machine) wants to surf for eight hours straight at Launiopoko for his birthday.  It's September 27.  You game?

Aloha Jen and La Machina!  Hey, that sounds good.  Launiopoko summer swells.  Count me in.

My main concern--and it's a valid concern in Maui--was the hot Lahaina sun beating down on us for eight hours.  I went to the ABC store, a tourist store in Hawaii that sells trinkets along with what seems to be their main line of merchandise--Hello Kitty paraphernalia--and bought a dorky hat to match Kerry's dorky hat.

September 27th the sun was just getting ready to peek over the horizon like it always does but Kerry couldn't wait.  I felt him rustling around next to me in bed.  His eyes snapped open like a ventriloquist dummies eyes and he leaped out of bed.  We both had strong Kona coffee, grabbed our ice chest which was loaded down with almond butter sandwiches, cheese and pickle sandwiches, salted macadamia nuts, coconut water and energy drinks and headed out the door.

"Slow down!" I said to my birthday boy husband as he sped along the main road leading to the beach early Friday morning.  When my husband is on his way to surf, I have only one thing to say: Everyone out of his way!

We arrived at the beach a few minutes before Glenn barreled into the parking lot and screeched to a halt.  Kerry was busy waxing our surfboards while Glenn ran around the parking lot with a quick Aloha to everyone at the beach.  Glenn is the ambassador at Launiopoko surf beach.  He's usually one of the first ones to arrive at the beach, and sometimes the last to leave.  This particular beach is great for surfing, bringing your family for a picnic, lounging underneath the shade trees and talking story with the locals.  There was no time for talking story.

"Glenn!  Have you got your waterproof watch on?" asked the birthday boy.

Glenn flexed his wrist and pointed to his over sized waterproof watch.  "Fifteen minutes until we hit the water."

"Let's start five minutes early."

I could see how this day was going to turn out: adrenaline charged.

The plan was that we'd start at eight and end at four.  The rules were that Kerry was not permitted to leave the water for any reason during that time.  I would serve as caddy, bringing the boys coconut water and sandwiches every two hours while they paddled to the area where the ocean flows out creating a natural pool, where the children like to play.

The Surf Gods were smiling on us because the weather was perfect with a slight overcast and the ocean was glassy--no wind--which would last the entire day.

We paddled out, me with a slight lump in my throat, wondering how I was going to survive eight hours in the water, Glenn with his usual smile and Kerry, the adrenaline in overdrive.  The boys caught waves right off the bat while we surfed and chatted with all the friendly people who were surfing with us.  We would end up outlasting somewhere around fifteen rotations of surfers in the lineup.

Glenn is one of the most stoked surfers I've ever met.  I am not exaggerating when I tell you that he never stops smiling when he's in the ocean.  His smile gets even bigger when he catches a wave.  "Woo Hoo!" shouted Glenn, as Kerry paddled into and caught a wave.  Glenn's enthusiasm is contagious and before long, I was shouting "Woo Hoo!" along with him not on the first wave, not on the second or third, but on every single one of the probably three hundred waves that the three of us would ride in eight hours.  That's a lot of Woo Hoo's!

Every two hours we would paddle towards the baby pool, the boys waiting in the water while I grabbed our ice chest.

"Grab me a cheese sandwich, a coconut water and one of those protein drinks, my beautiful, stunning, gorgeous, sexy athletic wife, please," said my husband.  (Hey, it's my blog, I can fabricate any words I want when describing myself!)

The three of us set up a buffet fit for a king on top of our surfboards, savored every tasty morsel, waxed up our surfboards and paddled out again for another two hours.  On our six hour mark, my arms and back were feeling pretty trashed.

"I'll never admit to being tired," I said while rubbing my shoulders.

"At least you'll never be the first one to admit to it," said Glenn followed by a "Woo Hoo!" as Kerry caught another wave.

The six hour mark was tough for all three of us.  I sat on my surfboard and tried to come up with some motivational words to tide us over when I remembered a quote from Ken Choubler, the race director of the Leadville 100 mile trail race.  "You're better than you think you are.  You can do so much more than you think you can.  We'll tell you when to start and we'll tell you when to stop.  Meanwhile, just keep moving."

I love a good endurance event.  One of the things I've learned is that the body can be trained to do pretty much anything you want it to do.  It's the mind that gets in our way and starts nagging and complaining about all the things it doesn't want to do.  Bitch, bitch, bitch.  Whine, whine, whine.  If you had a friend that nagged and complained that much would you keep that person around?  No!  So we kept paddling and catching waves,  "Woo Hoo!"  and pretty soon Glenn looked at his watch and said, "One hour left!"

It was at this point that my husband started acting like he only had one hour left to live.  The look of determination on his face which was covered with so much sunscreen that he looked like The Joker was almost menacing.  Everyone out of my way!

During this last hour, Dino Miranda who is a Pro Surfer, World Longboard Champion, Artist and oh yeah, a Professional Stuntman, paddled out to surf with us as he'd been doing periodically during the eight hours.

"He's only got an hour left and I think he wants to surf longer," Glenn told Dino between Woo Hoo's.

"Well, he can always extend it, bra," Dino answered.  "It doesn't have to be eight hours.  It can be nine."

I could see Glenn starting to get a little worried that this was going to be our fate when he asked me, "Is he always like this?"

"Yes, my friend, I hate to break it to you but he's always like this.  His eyes snap open in the morning and he goes like hell until he collapses at the end of the day.  But it beats the alternative."

I've had boyfriends on every end of this spectrum--some who didn't like to work out at all and one who dropped dead at the end of a marathon.  When I heard this sad news my first comment was, "Did he cross the finish line?"

"Five minutes!" yelled Glenn.

Kerry became even fiercer in his determination.  "This is addicting.  I'm feeling kind of crazy like I don't want to stop," he told me while scanning the ocean as another set of waves came through.  We all caught one final wave, then caught one last inside wave together and emerged from the ocean with huge grins on our faces.

We were greeted by the Launiopoko locals with cheers, hugs and lots of Woo Hoo's.

From there we dragged our tired bodies to the Aloha Mixed Plate Grill in Lahaina along with Pro Surfer Dino, his wife Kioko and their darling baby boy who is already learning how to surf.  They start them young here in Maui where the water is warm and the stoke-factor is high.

Much laughter was had over an authentic Hawaiian dinner of white rice, grilled chicken, juicy marinated steak, Asian crispy noodles and their signature dessert, fresh coconut custard.

Dino, who is even more of an adrenaline junkie than the rest of us, confessed that when he saw me leave the ocean periodically to grab our ice chest of supplies, he thought we'd caved in and given up.  "Bra, I was wondering what you were doing by the baby pool.  Then I saw you Three Musketeers paddle out again."

Kerry and I made it back to our condo in Kahana where we enjoyed hot showers, then collapsed at 8:30.

When we woke up the following morning, the first words out of Kerry's mouth were, "Let's go to Slappy Cakes for breakfast."

"Not until we go to hot yoga first."

Glenn, stoked surfer that he is, showed up at Launiopoko bright and early for a surf session.  "You know, this makes me wonder what I should do for my birthday," he told me.  "Kerry set the bar for all those guys on the beach, yah?"

As for Kerry and I, we sweated through ninety minutes of hot yoga that morning, then feasted on pancakes with shredded coconut and macadamia nut butter syrup.  I can't wait to see what my Surfer Boy has planned for next year.

Congratulations to all three of us and especially my Surfer Boy husband.  You inspire me every day.  You're a true testament to the old adage "age is only a number".  In fact, you seem to get younger every day.  I love you and our adventurous life together.