Cave Diving, Cave Exploration and Cave Mapping in Yucatan, Mexico
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Category — Fitness

Three More Trips to The Pit

Learning to lift an unconscious diver, confirming an alternate route to Jill’s Chamber and a DCS incident.

After a long brake it was time to go back.  This time we started different; with the success of the previous dives in mind we decided to go full scale this time. The main idea was to make the whole project as safe as possible. We quickly understood that being just the two of us would not cut it anymore. Analyzing scenarios including an unconscious diver, a growing number of tanks, and increasingly complex logistics led us to the fact that we would need more support, at least two more divers.

The search was difficult because we were looking for people who like to spend their days off carrying numerous tanks, being eaten by mosquito’s, spending hours out of the water just waiting to later jump in and shuttle tanks around. They also need to understand their role in the team and why we can’t have them fun dive or risk anything even remotely dangerous.  Plus, the idea of trusting your life with somebody else is quiet disturbing. With Hans continually supporting deeper and deeper we needed somebody to fill his spot and somebody out of the water. After many discussions, Hans and I finally called Alain Pocobelli and Etienne Rousseau.  After we explained the criteria for participation they were super stoked and happy to join…awesome.

We all met at Pro Tec for our first meeting.  We discussed protocols, procedures, and set some goals. Specifically, we developed an idea to build a system to lift an unconscious diver from the water up to the trucks, an emergency and evacuation plan, and the parameters for 5 progressive dives the last of which would be a push dive to the end of the line in the Next Generation Tunnel.  We also agreed to document our experiences, procedures and protocols in a manual.  The manual would be used to educate new team members, in the event of an emergency as well as guide our decisions.

The plan for the first day was to setup the unconscious diver system and dive to the Wakulla Room supported by Alain and Etienne. For the support divers, it would be their first opportunity to learn the descent lines and the start of the main line.  For Hans, it would be his first deep mixed gas cave dive.  I would use the opportunity to execute a practice bailout at 300ft while swimming a horizontal distance through the bypass; the primary objective was to confirm my numbers.

As with all complex plans it was bound to change. Constructing a system for lifting a 235lbs (106kilo) diver with equipment 20ft (6m) from the surface of the water and then swinging him on to a platform was more difficult then anticipated. We wanted the system to be simple enough that a single person could operate it in high stress conditions. With limited climbing gear and other resources it seemed almost impossible. Through trial and error it took us some 5 hours to construct and test a nearly working system.  I write, “Nearly” because it still required two people to operate.

After the enormous effort, Hans and I called our dive.  We were exhausted, stressed and it was late in the afternoon.   With the roles reversed, Hans and I played support and cleaned up while Alain and Etienne made a reconnaissance dive.

That evening, I left with a slight feeling of defeat.   It was the first time I went through the effort of blending, putting everything together, waking up early, paying the entrance fee and then not diving.

Three days later I was back at The Pit with a similar plan, this time with Hans and Chris.  Chris is a professional Cave Rescue Expert from Poland. He and I had been diving the week before and when I heard of his profession, I knew I had to get him out there and learn from him.  He quickly came up with 3 different lift systems. Unbelievable!  To our relief, he thought our system wasn’t bad at all; we were just missing one critical improvement that would facilitate single person operation and swinging the body onto the platform.

Unfortunately, rigging and testing took a lot of time and required considerable heavy lifting.  Just like the day before, we finished setting up late.  As I prepared for our dive, I contemplated calling the dive; however I wasn’t able to leave The Pit again without trying my suit inflation system, my new helmet and the bailout plan. Mistake #1.

It is funny how we can feel pressure where there is none. As we prepared for the dive we were feeling time pressure; therefore we decided to shorten the bottom time. Without my normal pre-dive meditation we hurried into the dive. I laid line and Hans staged his intermediate mix.

Cruising through the bacteria cloud at 190ft (57m) I was super happy to finally be back. At the T before the Bypass Hans and I split, he swam through the Bypass at 281ft (85m) and I took the deeper “Main Tunnel” at 305ft (93m). Surprisingly, it is quiet narrow and more difficult to pass.  Two minutes later we met at the second T where the lines join again; it was time to turn the dive and start the bailout drill.

I signaled Hans and bailed out. I chose a bailout gas with a deeper END than I normally use to make it more difficult and more realistic.  To add to the realism, we planned to exit the cave with haste to simulate the highest possible gas consumption due to stress or CO2 poisoning.  For precaution, Hans closely monitored me ready to donate a shallower END bailout gas or I could go back on the loop in the event the Inert Gas Narcosis was too strong.

The first three breathes brought on the strong narcotic effect and it became difficult to focus on my objectives. Complicating the situation was the fact that my weighting in saltwater was neutral with my wing totally deflated. So being off the loop with gas remaining in the counter lungs made buoyancy management more challenging.

Imagine me swimming at full speed while squeezing through the Bypass, switching the set point down to avoid O2 injection, opening the OPV and rolling to get as much gas out of the loop as possible and I was becoming positive, all under the effect of Inert Gas Narcosis…what a blast. I am happy I couldn’t see myself.

By the time I arrived at the turn at 213ft (65m) I had regained composure and everything went “pretty” smoothly from there.

The main goal of simulating a realistic bailout scenario at depth was absolutely accomplished, I learned A LOT.  The old saying: “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast” confirmed itself once more, thanks Steve. I use this line like a thousand times per course, maybe I should listen to myself once in a while.

After the dive, we truncated our normal 2 hour break because it was getting dark. As I climbed out to hoist and load the tanks, I felt a slight pain in my left shoulder and right ankle; it subsided quickly.  However, it was definitely an indication we worked too hard before and during the dive and that we needed more conservatism.

As we loaded the truck, I got a phone call from Alain who had taken off the next day to join us at The Pit. Since support was available and we agreed to not do anymore push dives without support, we felt obliged to dive.  We agreed to dive the next day, mistake #2.

Again, it is funny how we feel pressure where there is none.
We didn’t anticipate that our desire to increase safety by having more support onsite would pressure us into something we knew from the beginning was a bad idea?!?

After blending and prepping the rebreathers, I arrived home at about 2200h. I ate, hydrated and went to bed. The next day we started even earlier to hedge against time pressure. However, we left Playa late because we had to reassemble the CCRs, analyze gases and leak check everything in the pool. Once on site we reinstalled the evacuation system and instructed Alain on the improved version.

For a second day in a row, I was late into the water due to Hans calling his dive because of technical difficulties with his Meg and Alain bruising his leg when he slipped and trapped it between the platform and the rock wall.  Calling the dive crossed my mind, however everything was in place and I felt confident it was safe.  Once the dive started, I was slower then normal as I had to swim all my tanks and stage them.  Mistake #3.

My goal was to explore the other passage into Jill’s Chamber and see if it would be easier to navigate with a scooter then the horrible chimney I passed last time. I hoped to find the origin of the line that was paralleling the main line through Jill’s Chamber into the Next Generation Tunnel. To add conservatism, I selected the VPM B/E algorithm.  I wanted to accommodate for the back-to-back days of deep diving, the strenuous pre-dive work and as a response to the way I felt the day before.

I arrived at the end of Wakulla Room only a minute slower then planned, even though I had to stage all my tanks.  As I swam through the BMB, I started to get a little nervous again, anxious to see the size of the restriction.  Before the T, I crossed sides to get a peak up the restriction. Fortunately, it was a little bigger and did not ascend vertically like the chimney.  It’s slope was more manageable as it ascended to 328ft (100m), instead of 314ft (96m).  There it led to a canyon depicted cave, which headed towards Jill’s Chamber.

After a short distance there is another T. Well actually it is a Jump that is “T”ed into the main line. The main line ends about two body lengths after. So I took the T to the left and further ascended into an even narrower canyon, which further ascends towards Jill’s Chamber.

I was stoked because I was nearly 100% sure that I had found the origin of the paralleling line and passed the chimney. About 1 minute later I was in Jill’s chamber and it was confirmed. It is pretty hard for me to explain my emotions; I felt unbelievably awesome! I think it took me like 30sec to gain control over my euphoria. I was 20min into the dive and I had fulfilled my objectives; it was time to turn.

The way out was relaxed since I did not have to pass upside down through a tight restriction. My decompression obligation was substantial due to the more conservative VPM B/E algorithm. I stopped at every waypoint to keep track of exit times, picked up the tanks and did a couple of short deco stops in between the levels.  Forty-five minutes into the dive I could see the open water in the distance and my Time to Surface was about 160min.

At 131ft (40m) Alain greeted me, took my tanks and left me with one 80cf.  I swam around the huge dome to stay warm and to help the time pass a little bit faster. Even though I was warmer then past dives, I decided that this would be my last long dive at The Pit without a habitat.

When I arrived at 40ft (12m) the dive had been going perfectly and I was very happy.  I swam around and moved my upper body a little bit to warm up and increase blood flow. Suddenly, I felt an unbelievably sharp pain in my left shoulder. At first I was shocked but I was hopeful because I still had almost 2 hours of deco ahead. The pain faded about 15 minutes later; however, I decided to extend all the remaining stops.

When I arrived at 20ft (6m) I extend my 65min stop to 75min. The pain was almost completely gone and I started to surface. At 10ft (3m) I added a stop even though the urge to surface after 4h almost drove me crazy. After 5 min I started a super slow final ascent. Almost immediately upon surfacing the pain in my shoulder returned at full intensity accompanied by pain in both ankles.

I stayed in the water on the loop breathing O2 for 20min contemplating what I should do.  Should I get out of the water or go back down?  Eventually, I decided against going back down because of my body temperature, general physical state and a 100%+ CNS clock.

As soon as I surfaced and didn’t come off the loop, Hans was nearby with an 80cf of O2.  When I decided to exit the water, he helped me strip my gear and I pulled myself up onto the wooden platform. I lay there breathing open circuit O2, hydrating and scanning my body for neurological symptoms. After 30min the intensity of the pain hadn’t changed. I decided it was time to evacuate. I climbed up to the trucks and sat down for a moment.   The pain disappeared and the general fatigue vanished.  Coming off the long period of high PO2 it seemed plausible, but I didn’t trust the situation since something felt strange.

As we left The Pit, I continued to scan myself for pain or neurological symptoms related to DCS. I felt great and honestly a bit relieved. The entire drive back I tried to figure out what happened.  I wanted an explanation for the weird sensations I had at 40ft (12m), on my final ascent and shortly after the dive. Why did I feel that way and what can I do different next time?  Arriving home I felt unchanged: no pain, no extreme fatigue, and no other symptoms. A long day had passed and I was happy to be home and ready for dinner and bed.

I am really happy about our progress and our understanding of the cave.  I am also happy that our team is growing and we are taking a more conservative approach to diving and the project’s logistics.  The project is remains very exciting and we are learning so much from each dive.

Looking back it is easy to identify many of the mistakes.  Many of you will ask why I made them? I can only answer that I am human, this is a learning experience and mistakes are inevitable.  Sometimes the cost for a mistake is small, sometimes it is huge.  Life it seems is a hard teacher, many times you get the test first and the lesson later. There was a time when I read articles like this and said: “Ha, I would never make mistakes like that.” But this was also a time when I didn’t do dives like this.

I want to thank Chris for his invaluable input on our rescue system, Alain and Etienne for supporting us and joining the team and Hans for letting me post on his blog.

Unfortunately, as you may have guessed, I suffered a DCS incident.  I am going to follow this story up with another about the DCS.

This is my story about the Pit and it is to be continued.

Edited By Hans

November 5, 2008   7 Comments

The Pit Revisited

A CCR DPV cave dive to the back of Jill’s Chamber by Patrick and Hans.

Since the last dive, there was nothing on my mind then that bloody restriction at the end of BMB. If you don’t believe me, then talk to anybody who spent time with me. One thing was clear, I had to go back there again, with more time to really look at it and make sure that it is too small to fit with my Meg and two stages. Hans came up with the idea to sidemount our two Megalodons, which I really like, but it will take a lot of time and effort to make that rig work and giving my work schedule at the moment, well that will have to wait a little.

With me working every day and Hans going on several trips to the states we had exactly one day to do the dive. The night before the dive, I managed to be back at the shop at about 6PM which gave us 2-3 hours to blend and rig stuff.  We got to work and finished around 8:30PM, mainly due to Hans’ effort.  He put all the stages together and bubble checked them at the pool while I assembled my Meg; going through all of the points in my checklist.

Back home it was time to run the different scenarios that we had discussed earlier through V-Planner and see what was possible. The major difference for this dive was that we added a DPV to the equation.  This enabled me to take a third stage with bottom mix.  The main idea was to have as much time as possible to check out the two chimneys in the BMB that ascend into Jill’s Chamber. I wanted to get a good picture of the two restrictions so I could make a decision on which one and how I was going to pass.

Since our last dive, I had learned that there is still a 1000ft of line waiting on the other side before I would reach virgin cave. So the keyword is contingency. I created these plans:

  • X1 fails
  • Bailout
  • DPV fail with CCR ok
  • DPV fail CCR fail
  • Entanglement
  • Etc etc etc…

After what-if-ing many scenarios and running them through V-Planner, I hit the bed at like 1:00AM.

The alarm rang at 6:00 AM, but I was already awake. After loading the truck and getting stuff to eat and drink, we were headed to Tulum. At Dos Ojos Hans helped me maneuver my truck on the primitive road towards The Pit.  We got there without once scraping the bottom of the truck, how cool is that! The day started awesome.

After we lowered the 7 80cf tanks, the 3 40cf tanks, the DPV and the two Megalodon CCRs we climbed down at the platform to get ready. Hans prepared for his first of two deep dives that day. On the first dive he placed the bailout tanks and connected the descent line to the permanent cave line.  On the second dive he will picked up my deep tanks and fetch the reel. 30 minutes after he left, I was submerged.

I put the dpv in third gear and made my way down towards the start of the line.  I was carrying 3 80cf tanks with deep bail out and a 19cf with air for suit inflation. Arriving at the start of the cave line I dropped the 19cf tank and plugged one of the bail out tanks in my suit. I used this short brake to put the scooter in 5th gear and switch set point on the Meg. After that I made my way down the Cardea passage, visibility was even worse than last time so I Ok’ed the line while driving.  The whole time I was in the milky fog, I was worrying a bit about crashing into some rock. It felt like driving very fast in dense fog with the headlights on.

As I arrive at 65M (213FT) I turned down towards the bypass at 85M (278FT). Who would have thought that the Po2 could spike that fast when you scooter at depth . I quickly stopped and did a dil flush to get the Po2 back under control and checked my gauges.

I realized that I was really kind of late, so I decided to drive through the Bypass. Maybe it sounds a bit irresponsible but in 5th gear (of 9) you are really not moving so fast.  My head was ducked behind the propeller and I was cannonballing through the bedding plane at 85M (278FT).  I was loving it!  I got the feeling it was getting too tight, so I let go of the trigger.  Five seconds later the handle of my Meg hit the ceiling!  Luckily, I had slowed down enough to minimize the impact.  I smiled and took a mental note to not do that again.

Out of the bypass, now I was driving to the end of the Wakulla Room. I arrived there at minute 8 which was really super slow. Call me a coward, but it was the first time I scootered at this depth and didn’t want to go full speed.

I hooked the scooter to the line and let go. Hey, who would have thought, going with a perfectly neutral scooter to 90M (295FT) and it is positive like hell. I didn’t consider the density of the saltwater down there. It was kind of funny, I clipped the scooter off and started to remove one of my stages to leave it there with the scooter.  When I looked towards the line, the line and scooter were gone. I look up and there they are, the DPV pulling the line towards the ceiling. I attached the tank to the line and this pulled everything back in place.

Swimming down towards BMB felt different, I was way more relaxed than last time, maybe because I had more Helium in my diluent or just because I had been there before. I came to the T again where the line is touching the ceiling, this time I stopped and pulled the line down to the floor to pin it under a tiny rock which turned out to be a bad idea.  The line cut through the rock like a hot knife through butter and a nice cloud of zero visibility covered my hands. Second try with a bigger rock was more successful.

I can’t say why but again I ignored the chimney to the left thinking that I will check it out on the way back, after I had looked at the other one. Swimming back towards the other restriction I felt really confident, the dive went very well and I still had a lot of the 20 minutes I had planned at 105M (344FT). Also, I started to look around more to get a feeling for the cave and its flow rather then just following a line.

As I arrive at the restriction, where I had turned my last dive, I looked up through the chimney and thought well it looks tight but if I would be in 15M (49FT) I wouldn’t hesitate a second. I can do it. So I did. It actually went way smoother and I had less contact than anticipated but still quite a lot. The chimney ascents from 105M (344FT) to 96M (301FT) where the tight hole spits you out in yet another gigantic borehole style tunnel, Jill’s Chamber.

Huge boulders split the room in half and oh my god it felt so good to be there and see it. I forced myself not to look down where I was sure the restriction was silted out completely and that was a pretty scary thought. So I just started to swim forward into the room, first slowly looking around then a bit more confident. Coming out of the restriction, I saw another line paralleling the one I was on coming from behind me. The lines stay side by side until the moment I turned some 5 minutes after the restriction. I found the end of a line with a new line tied on to, so somebody furthered exploration from that point. I figure that it is the end of Jill’s Chamber and the beginning of the Next Generation Tunnel also due to the fact that the room starts to pinch back down into a smaller tunnel.

On the way back I was super stocked and happy enjoying every second of looking around in this marvelous place. Coming back to the restriction I noticed two things: one the tunnel actually continues and is the source of the line that is parallel and two a zero visibility cloud comes out of the restriction making it look like a volcano that blows out tons of smoke.

Just on top of the restriction I invert one hand on the line, one hand in front of my head for protection. Basically I look like a Padi Instructor demonstrating a proper 5 point ascent just instead of swimming up I swim down. Squeezing through the restriction I arrive at its bottom, now I just need to arch my back to get under the ceiling. As I read the tie off at the start of the restriction I am relieved, I made it, I am on the other side.

Swimming back I passed the T that I had put back where it belongs down on the floor and I am heading out of the BMB. Because of the tension I had created placing the line some parts of it now had disappeared in the rock. It is unbelievable how soft the rock is there.

Ascending along the line back to the scooter and my stage, I have to admit it felt good when I pulled the trigger and the thing worked. On the way back to the bypass my X1 lets me know that time to surface now is 2h20min, not so bad, thank god Jill’s chamber is shallower then the BMB.

At the bypass I thought that maybe it is smarter to push it through rather then driving which worked just fine. From the bypass coming back was easy and the very first time I ever decompressed while driving a DPV. My first stop was at 71M (232FT) driving through that white cloud back towards the ascent line.

After a couple of short stops I arrived at the start of the permanent line and the reel Hans had installed. I dropped two of the deep bailout and took the Triox that was staged prior to the dive.  I also took the 19cf air tank and hooked it to my suit. After a couple of flushes my suit was filled with nice warm air rather then cold damn Trimix which felt fantastic. (I will get a smaller suit inflation bottle when Hans comes back from his next trip to the states).

Being bored during deco I took the scooter and was driving around a bit in the huge dome admiring the intense and spiritual beauty of this place.  Finally up at the 12M (40FT) stop, I got rid of all tanks except a 40cf bailout with Nitrox. Hans came back to bring me something to drink and a second hood because my head started to get cold. When he looked at me he could read it in my eyes and immediately mimicked the: did you go through the restriction? When I nodded it was big smiles and hand shaking. What a great day.

Only some 50min of deco left which I spent swimming around to warm up, thinking about future dives, drinking and waiting for Hans who dropped back down to retrieve the tanks and the reel.

Let me say something loud and clear, there is NO WAY I would have been able to do these dives without the constant support of my friend and dive partner Hans. Thank you!  We are a true team and I am looking forward to the day where I will support his first dive to the Wakulla Room and beyond.

I also would like to thank Pro Tec Advanced Training Facility for providing us with tanks and the scooter as well as Margaret at Liquivision for some of the best customer support and a great product.

If you are waiting for the next story you need to be patient, Hans is gone and I am loaded with work but starting from mid September we should be back in business.  Next plan being two more tanks and a scooter through the restriction starting to depo gas in Jill’s chamber and maybe finding the end of the line!?!

This is my story of The Pit and it is to be continued…

Here is an awesome video that karin pointner put together of our project:

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August 26, 2008   6 Comments

Minotauro Down Stream and Nohoch Na Chich

This weekend brought two more days of wonderful diving.  On Saturday, I dropped Allie off at Xpu Ha Beach and got an opportunity to explore the down stream section of Minotauro.

To access the down stream section, you swim to the back of the Cenote to the duck under.  At the T you make a right.  This section of cave is definitely sidemount.  There are lines everywhere.  If you make the first jump to the right, you have to pass a fun restriction.  After a couple of minutes you will reach a T.  If you go right, you go through a sidemount restriction and end up under the steps in the cenote.  If you go left, the line ends and you can jump back onto the main down stream line.

If you skip the first jump, you will pass serveral others.  At 30 minutes or less, depending on how much jumping you do, you will reach a 4 way T.  I decided to continue straight ahead.  The cave pinches down and starts to turn back on it self and really snakes around.  It is low and silty.  After another 10 minutes, I could feel the distance pressure building and I turned around.  I had plenty of gas, I just felt like I had gone far enough.  Plus, down stream is a noticeable siphon and when the cave gets smaller the water velocity climbs, making the return trip slower and labor intensive.

When I reached the 4 way again, I had plenty of gas so I decided to check out the branch to the right as you are exiting.  The first thing you come to is a very entertaining restriction.  I decided to remove one tank and was rewarded by passing it cleanly.  The branch was a lot of fun.  The passage was never straight for more than a  couple of meters and really twisted and turned.  There were plenty of minor challenges along the way.  I reached the end of that line in less then 10 minutes.  There are some jumps back there that need to be checked out. I turned and decided to check out the other branch.

The left branch, as you are exiting, was much of the same.  Just great sidemount sized cave passage, beautiful tannic stained decorations and plenty of opportunities to hone my skills.

Total run time was 122 minutes and  my max depth was 20feet. This is really one of those caves you can loose an entire afternoon in.   After I cleaned up, I jumped in the Toyota and crossed the highway to Xpu Ha beach.  I met Allie and Sophia and we had a nice dinner on the beach.  I did some swimming and headed home.   What a great Saturday!

Patrick Widdmann sitting with Sonny on the surface interval at Nohoch Na Chich

Sunday delivered another excellent dive.  I headed down to Nohoch Na Chich with Patrick, Katy, Alain, Alian’s friend and Sonny. Sonny is diving with Protec for the week and is an excellent diver.

Until today, I thought there were only two ways up to Heaven’s Gate.   I discovered is there is a third line up there.   It never ceases to amaze me how much line has been laid in Nohoch.   The third line is just to the right of the main line.   The swim from Nohoch to Heaven’s Gate took about 30minutes.  When we reached Heaven’s Gate we T into another line, made a right and swam for another 30 minutes.  As we approached our turn time of 60 minutes, I could see a small very strong green light in the distance.  I couldn’t tell if it was a dive computer or a cenote.  I was really drawn to it, it seemed so out of place.  We reached it at the 59 minute mark, just shy of our turn time.  It turned out to be a very thin shaft of light from either a solution tube or a very small cenote.  I didn’t have time to really investigate it.  The swim back was uneventful but fast.  We covered the same distance in 13 minutes less.  We were really huffing it.  Our total run time was 114 minutes and max depth was about 30feet.

Alain hoisting a tank up on his surface interval at Nohoch Na Chich.

When we got back to PlayaDel Carmen, we decided to go to dinner together.  Hannah,  Sonny, John, Patrick, Katy, Allie and I went to Pummarola restaurant on 1st avenue and 40th street.  We had an excellent Italian meal and shared some of our war stories.  There was plenty of laughter and we really had a wonderful time!  If you are interested in the food in Playa Del Carmen, you should check out http://www.PlayaEats.com.  It is a restaurant and food review website.

Playa Del Carmen Itlian Fried Cheese Pummarola Restraurant

And a fitness update, for those of you following my weight.  I was down to 234lbs this morning.  I have been bouncing between 235 and 239 for a while.  It has been frustrating.  However, I am starting to spend more time around 234 instead of 239.

Allie, Sol and I committed to a Jeff Galloway running program for a half marathon.   This past week I ran 3.5 miles twice and 4 miles once.  I think this is good progress!  Just a couple of months ago a mile was a challenge.  We are targeting the half marathon distance for December 2008.  I will keep you posted.

August 10, 2008   2 Comments

Fifteen Needles Later and I am Still Not Trimix Certified.

A Broken bed, Whale Sharks, A Pregnant Doctor and Injections, The Real Dive Life!

Where do I start?  Some time in the end of June, when I sat down into bed, I broke the bed frame.  I broke it right where my lower back rests while I am sleeping.  On top of that, add the fact that we were sleeping on a very tired mattress through which I could feel the springs.  I knew that the bed was broken but I kept using it.  My thought was that I could live with it, though it was really starting to bother me.

Then my parents came to town for a whirlwind tour of the Yucatan in my 4Runner.  Their visit and the accompanies stress eliminated all exercising for about two weeks.  Then we drove around the Yucatan at break neck speeds which was followed by some competitive whale shark snorkeling and photography.  The end result was that my back was completely messed up.   I had a lot of pain in the lower back and was unable to bend over.  I stretched and took Aleeve but nothing was working, it was getting worse by the day.

Now for the kicker, I was scheduled to take my CCR Hypoxic Trimix with Steve this week. I had been looking forward to it for a couple of years.  The whole reason I got the Meg was to dive Trimix.  I emailed Steve to let him know my condition and we agreed that mixed gas diving and lower back injuries sound like a terrible combination.   We decided to postpone class.  A TOTAL AND COMPLETE BUMMER!  But, it was the only reasonable and prudent course of action.  It would be awful to take a lower back hit because I was greedy.

It is really a kind of win for both of us.  I was nervous about taking the class this week and Steve wanted to get some exploration done.  I hadn’t been putting enough time in on the CCR and I was planning to put a bunch of time on it in the week between my parents and my class.   With my back out of whack, I couldn’t put the time on the unit.  Plus, I think the universe was telling me I needed to slow down a little.  I have really been packing in the training and not doing enough practice.  Now I have my reprieve.

Acupuncture needles in my leg.And now we are at the needles part of the story.  On Friday, my back was killing me and I couldn’t find a chiropractor or a masseuse to look at it.  I had two separate appointments, which resulted in no call no shows from the masseuse.  I blew off ice cream waiting for this guy.  The best Chiropractor in town, which at least 5 people referred me to, had broken his ankle.  And the next chiro doesn’t work over the weekend.  So there I was, when Sol saved the day.  He suggested I go to the clinic where he went.  I complied and we stopped in.

Acupuncture needles in my back.We were seen immediately!  We entered the office and there was a very good looking small young girl behind the desk.  She asked if we wanted to do this in English or Spanish?  Which was immediately responded to by Sol, who was wearing a huge shit eating grin, with, “Your a doctor?”  She replied, “Yes, I am a doctor and I am pregnant. I have thirty years.”  I asked, “30 years practicing medicine? You look great!”  She smiled and replied, “No, I have been practicing medicine for 6 years.”   The consult went well, and she told me I needed to see a specialist and she wanted to get me out of pain.  She prescribed three injections and a three day course of anti-inflammatory.  I was nervous about both, but we talked about the drugs.  The injection is B12 and something else and the anti-inflammatory is just that.  I agreed to the course of treatment under the assumption she was going to give the shot.  Well, that isn’t how it worked out.  She left the room and brought back a nurse, who was a much older and rounder Mayan lady.  I got my shot and went on my way.  She gave a great shot, it just wasn’t the girl behind the desk.  That was the first needle.

On Saturday night, I needed to get my second shot.  I was informed that the pharmacy would give me the injection if I asked.  As it turns out, they wouldn’t.  I could buy my needle and my drugs there, but had to find someone else to inject me.  The pharmacy sent me to the Red Cross.  The Red Cross charged me $5USD or 50Pesos to inject me.  I skipped right to the front of the line.  It was surreal.  I watched the Para-medic prepare the drug.  It was two glass vials that needed to be broken open and mixed in the syringe.  Sol took a picture, which I will withhold.  And the medic laughed his ass off.  Needle number two down.

Acupuncture needles in my back.On Sunday evening it was time for injection number three.  At this point, I was emboldened by our experiences.  So, we hit up the pharmacy for the supplies and we went home.  This time I mixed up the drugs and gave the needle to my wife, Allie, to inject me.  I wanted to save the $5 and risk of airborne staff that can be found at the Red Cross.  Allie had had two glasses of wine prior to being handed the needle, so she was a little nervous and so was I.  She pinned me and pumped my rump full of the drugs.  Everything went according to plan and needle number three was finished.  She did a great job!  I never expected my wife to need to inject me.  I guess that is one of the wonders of the self serve medical system here.

That brings us to Monday!  Today, I went in and had a consult with a physician, a real MD, who specialized in pain management and acupuncture.  We talked about my condition; he examined me and then prescribed a course of Ozone Therapy and acupuncture.  The Ozone is to resolve the herniated disk; the acupuncture is to relieve the muscle tension/spasms.  My homework is to read up on the Ozone treatment.  In the mean time, he stuck 12 needles in me making the count 15.  I had never done acupuncture before, so I was a little skeptical.  However, I have heard good things about it.  It didn’t hurt.  It did put me to sleep.  And it gave me a funny taste in my mouth like my body was detoxing.  I have another visit scheduled for Thursday morning.  I am not exactly sure how I feel about it, though I am willing to give it a shot.  I am going to couple it with a return to my yoga practice and some walking.

I am desperate to get active again.  I hate getting off the beam, acupuncture needles in my leg, and feeling like a slob.  I think I am going to dive this week a little, maybe 2-3 dives, nothing deep.  Though that will really depend on how my back feels.  As of tonight, it seems to be well on its way to recovering!  Hopefully, I will be in tip-top shape shortly.

Plus, Allie, Sol and I have agreed to start a training program to train up to running a half-marathon.  I don’t want them to get too far out in front of me.

Have you tried acupuncture or other holistic or eastern approaches to your pain?  How did it work for you?

July 14, 2008   2 Comments

“Never Give Up, Don’t Waste Time Scribing Notes!” Advanced Side-Mount Cave Diving.

Putting regulators on the tanks, carrying them to the water’s edge, and slipping them into the water is almost a meditative experience. Every time I get the opportunity, it is another awaking.

In April, I spent three days working with Steve Bogaerts on the basic side-mount class. The class included: lecture, building a custom side-mount harness, and skills & drills. He focused on gear configuration, safety procedures, tank handling and diving in side-mount configuration. I am convinced that those three days evolved my gear configuration by at least 50+ dives of tuning and experimenting. He condensed years of practical experience exploring into a well thought out task specific system. At the end of class, I was tasked with learning to reverse frog kick, improve my line laying, and diving in side-mount. We agreed to meet in a month for Advanced Side-Mount Cave Diving Class.

My Advanced Side-Mount class was scheduled for May. By this time, I had executed 29 side-mount dives, nailed the reverse frog kick and improved my line throwing skills. I felt very comfortable in side-mount; I was ready to continue.

Class started with a lecture at Steve’s place. He covered:

  • Revised equipment list, tailored for diving in small passage.
  • The need to be able to remove and replace every piece of kit.
  • The recent fatality at Genie Springs, Steve is a local Safety Officer.
  • More conservative gas planning rules.
  • And discussion around knowing one’s limits, mental toughness and the things he has seen deep in the cave, such as abandoned equipment and erratically laid line. All evidence of people reaching their limit.

The revised equipment list included two new items for my Dive Rite Double Zip Pocket. He suggested that I carry a spare bungee to hang my tanks from in the event that I have to cut my normal side-mount bungee and a lanyard with a clip for no-mounting.

Steve is a hawk with regard to gas planning and management, which I suspect is why he is still alive and pushing. In previous training we talked about why the rule of thirds is not conservative enough here in Mexico. Locally, we have low flow caves that do not provide the benefit spitting you out. This was clearly demonstrated when Allie and I almost sucked my tanks dry during a drill in her full cave class. I surfaced with the gauge reading nearly zero after my safety stop.

For pushing challenging cave, the rule of thirds is not conservative. He suggests the rule of sixths or quarters. We discussed the actual usable volume in the tank, which I had never taken into account, and that we should factor that into our gas calculations. The point being, you can never finish a dive with too much gas. The conditions we will encounter include: zero visibility for extended periods, passing major restrictions in zero visibility, entanglements in zero visibility and equipment failures in zero visibility. Any one of these will delay your exit, take two and you’re going to be very glad you have plenty of gas. The extra volume will be a determining factor in your ability to stay calm, cool and collected. As you will read, I learned this lesson. We closed the lecture with an equipment workshop that lead to additional tweaks.

The first day’s diving was confined water skills at Ponderosa. I had the option to go to other sites, but Ponderosa is convenient to both of us. Be forewarned, I am not going to spoil the plot and reveal everything, just the highlights. To begin, every skill I performed I had to perform with visibility and without visibility. So, if I describe a skill, understand I did it at least twice.

The skills started off easy. I demonstrated my ability to swim with tanks on, one tank on and no tanks on. I needed to do this through restrictions. This culminated in having to pass a no-mount restriction in one direction with visibility and then pass it in reverse with no visibility. This was by far the tightest restriction I had ever negotiated. I had to breathe out to get through it. This is where the day got really interesting. I arrived at the restriction in zero visibility. I identified it and then backed up a couple of feet to prepare my gear. This included removing my right tank and butt-mounting it. As I did this, I forgot to clip the lower clip to off on the tank, so it “grabbed” the guideline. I figured this out quickly. I got the tanks into position while maintaining contact with the guideline. As I proceeded through the restriction, I was nervous because the first pass was really tight and I had to push myself through with my feet. It was a mental challenge. I made it through the restriction. I audibly celebrated and Steve heard me. My celebration was short lived.

Surprisingly, the line “came off” a large placement. I was left with ample slack line in the water. I didn’t realize there was slack line, so I started to replace my tanks. Almost immediately, I was entangled. Steve says he did nothing besides remove the placement. The entanglement was natural. As I swung my left tank back into place, I heard gas leaking. I thought, damn he is piling it on. Zero visibility, entangled and a leak.

My first stage was leaking from one of the LP hoses. This was a real equipment failure, must have been Murphy and his love of cave divers. I turned off the left tank and went on the right tank. I decided deal with one problem at a time, the entanglement. I couldn’t see working an entanglement and feathering the valve. This is where practice and a methodical approach really count.

I started to work out how I was entangled. I tried to untangle myself but it seemed hopeless. In retrospect, I should have spent another four or five minutes working the tangle and the slack line. If I were patient and removed some of my gear, I could have gotten through it. But at the time, the only option was to cut the line. When I was sure I was on the exit side with the line wrapped around my hand, I removed my Z-knife and cut the line. Ping! The other end was gone. I put a loop in the line and looked for a spot to secure it. I couldn’t find one immediately, so I move with the line and finned. Later, I found out that the fining blew the other end of the line away from me. I my search for a spot to secure the line, I realized I was on the cave side of the line. I smacked my head and grumbled to myself. Steve later told me that I had rotated through 180 degrees prior to cutting the line. I was disoriented and didn’t realize it.

Steve hovered watching with amazement. He told me that he really enjoyed watching; he couldn’t have planned it any better. It was the real deal, all natural in the course of a dive. It was a lesson I could never have planned.

I am on the cave side of the severed guideline with a leaky regulator. I thought, “This really sucks.” I collected myself, deployed my safety spool and attached it to the guide line. I started my search for the guide line, making another mistake; I neglected securing prior initiating my search. So after a minute or two, I returned and secured the line properly near the exit of the restriction. I knew approximately which direction the next tie off was from the exit of the restriction. I did a very methodical search and after 25 minutes, I found the errant end of the line. If you have spent anytime at Ponderosa, you can image how difficult this task is with the pond weed and the rocks. The restriction and the tie off are about 15 feet apart and I was looking for the loose end of a cave line in pond weed.

At one point in the drill, I briefly considered quitting. Twenty five minutes is a long time and I started to feel hopeless. However, I remembered something I had read, “Never giving up and don’t waste time scribing notes, just keep going till it is over.” I knew for a second why people surrender and are found lifeless with gas in their tanks.

With the line in hand, I had to connect my safety spool to close the gap. This is when I discovered that I had too much line on the spool for it to be useful. I was already under a lot stress, and then I had to fight with my spool to get it clipped off. Once it was clipped off, I chose to leave the spool inline, instead of making a proper repair. I wasn’t sure how long it had been or how much gas I had left. My tank was getting very light. Later I learned this was a mistake. If I had another entanglement, broken guideline or missing jump spool, I would have been without the piece of gear I needed most. Steve suggested that I make every reasonable effort to take my safety spool.

After I passed the next restriction, I switched to the leaky tank and feathered it all the way home. The drill was a HUGE success. I learned some huge lessons:

  • Be on the right side of the guideline when you cut it. Seems obvious, right?
  • If you can, hold onto both ends of the line.
  • Have plenty of gas. You may have to do a lost line drill with only one cylinder available.
  • Failures never come alone. Gotta love Murphy.
  • The only option at this level is calm cool persistence. If you don’t have it, do not proceed.

The most difficult skill I had to master was to swap regulators between tanks underwater. This is a three part drill: breath from a free flowing regulator while feathering it, breath from a tank valve underwater and perform the regulator swap.

This was a very difficult set of skills for me to master. My breath holding ability is weak, less then one minute. And this decreases as the CO2 builds up. This skill took me 5 attempts over two days before I was able to get through it in zero visibility. One attempt I had to ask for a regulator from another tank. One attempt I ended up bolting to the surface because I panicked a little, which is exactly what we are trying to train out.

I have been tasked with practicing this set of skills till I have it nailed. Steve also suggested I seek some apnea training to increase my breath holding skills. We agreed 2-3 minutes is a reasonable goal and will provide ample time.

The class included two cave dives. The skill was to complete the dives. We did two dives down stream at Grand Cenote. This was a pleasure. The benefit of going downstream is you are the only team in that part of the system. There wasn’t a single hand print or fin slash. The system is in great shape. The two dives included a handful of major restrictions that required passing with a single tank and a high flow major restriction. We turned the second dive when we got to a silty no-mount restriction. We were nearing our turn pressure. I have to admit, the cave diving was a relief compared to the skills in confined water.

Steve video taped me during the dives. We reviewed the video and talked about: my strengths, my blunders and bad habits.

My homework for stage/multi-stage side-mount class next month is:

  • Become more aware of my tank position. I am letting them get too high on my body.
  • Work on my frog kick. I am doing half a frog kick with just my ankles. I am wasting a lot of energy.
  • Work on my kick selection. I am capable of doing all the kicks, I just don’t always chose the best one. I frog kick when I shouldn’t.
  • Work on my apnea skills.
  • Work on my ability to breath from the tank and swap regulators.

After reflecting on class and the skills practiced, I am convinced that training at this level is as much about mental toughness and learning personal limits and capacity as it is about learning specific skills. By this time, one must possess excellent watermanship, commitment, confidence and dexterity as a prerequisite. You shouldn’t be learning these at this level; they need to be in muscle memory. The drills we executed and the dives we performed provided the grounds for me to hone my mental toughness, assess my limits, and determine my ability to function effectively as the failures pile up.

May 19, 2008   16 Comments

Another week another 1.6lbs! Weigh in #5.

Another week of working out has elapsed and I have lost anther 1.6lbs. My weight today was 234lbs (106kilos). There were a couple of days in the last period that my weight found a plateau and actually rose a little. I attributed it to the pint of Ben and Jerries Cookie Dough and 2 packages of Gummi Bears. Plus, I have come to believe that after any workout that I am sore, I gain a little weight in water. When I hit a plateau, it is really distressing; even though I know it will pass.

The workouts and running are getting more intense. Today, I ran for two miles with only a 1 minute break in the middle. The last tenth of each mile I sprinted. This was the first time I broke out from my run walk scheme into sustained running. It is a nice accomplishment. The last time I was able to run for more then 5 minutes was last fall. So going from a basically sedentary lifestyle to being able to run/sprint for two miles took me about 5 weeks. I would like to work up to running three miles and not taking any breaks.

Weight lifting is also getting more intense. In the past, I have always worked out alone. I found this to be a problem, because I was never really inclined to really push. I would just do my routines and incrementally increase the weight. I wasn’t really driven.

Working out with someone about the same strength provides me with a lot of motivation. I am a very competitive person and Sol makes the perfect competitor because he brings levity to our workouts. We spend most of the time laughing while the muscle-heads are grunting. Driving the weight up is a game for us. He is stronger in the upper body and I am stronger in the legs. He pushes the weight in the upper body and I do it for the lower body. It makes going to The Gym in Playa Del Carmen much more fun.

April 22, 2008   2 Comments

The Gym, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

If you are looking for a place to work out in Playa check out The Gym.  The Gym is Part of the New York based Equinox Gym.  Its location on 1st South between Constiuyentes and 16th Street.  There is usually parking and there is a bike rack if you ride.  It is a brand new facility. They offer full gym services. They have extensive yoga classes, spinning, kick boxing, and Pilates. The monthly rate if you want to use all the services is $90/month.  If you just want to go from 11AM-5PM the rate is $60/month.  When I was two days ago, they had all sorts of price breaks for extended memberships. They are open from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM Monday through Friday, and 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM on both Saturday and Sunday. For further information call 984-873-2098

I was a member of Muscle Beach in Playa Del Carmen.  Monthly membership there is only $55/month.  However, there is no air conditioning and the facilities are much older.  After 1 month, I switched to The Gym.  Muscle Beach is located on Calle 6 off of 30 Ave.  If you are on a budget, this is the place for you.

April 22, 2008   Comments Off on The Gym, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

7200 Feet at Naharon

Saturday morning I got up and went to breakfast with a close friend. I still wasn’t sure where I was going to dive. After breakfast I went to The Gym for a run and an ab workout. While I was at the gym it came to me, a eureka moment! I decided I should go to Naharon with my Megalodon and do a CCR length dive.

I went home and pulled together my bailout and my rebreather and jumped in the car. I discovered it is almost exactly 40 miles from my apartment to the entrance of Cenote Cristal. The drive down was uneventful although a little lonely. That is the biggest drawback and the biggest upside of solo diving. The whole thing is solo. I always think of diving as a social activity. Talking about the dive, anticipating the dive, executing the dive and then taking about how big and scary the conquest was all make good memories. Unfortunately, talking to yourself about all those things might get you committed and is just not that entertaining.

I decided on an AL80 and an AL40 for bailout. I have the 80 plumbed into my manifold, so I can use it as diluent or for my BOV. 120cuft of gas gave me a max penetration time of about 50 minutes at the depths I was expecting. This was enough time to cover the distance and areas I wanted. I started the dive by going up the main line and taking the second jump into the Halocline Room. I counted two arrows after the jump, one to the left and one to the right. I guessed the jump to the right might be the end of the main line. I turned the dive in Chac’s Room. On the map it is marked at 1700’. The clock was about at the 45 minute mark and I was starting to feel a little distance pressure. The little man starts to talk to me, when I think about how far I might have to swim on bailout and as far as I know, there are no emergency exits. The Halo-Line is an excellent swim. The first three times I had been to Naharon, I really didn’t see anything. I was focused on the dive and staying a live. This dive was different, my field view really opened up and I saw so much more. One of the striking features of Naharon are the tiny silk covered stalactites. They are really amazing, and with the CCR I took plenty of time to wonder at them.

I returned to the main line and made a left swimming deeper into the cave. I made it to the end of the Main Line in about 15 minutes. It terminated near Chac’s Room as I had guessed earlier. The Main Line is a bummer compared to the Halo Line. The Main Line is a shortcut to Chac’s Room, I would use it as a transit route in the future to cut about 10 minutes off the swim. I turned the dive and headed back to the first jump off the main line.

When I reached the first jump, I was nearly two hours into the dive. I decided to make the jump and swim 20 minutes or so. I counted 4 arrows on the swim and after the 4th arrow the cave takes a hard left and then a right and then you go up onto a boulder / breakdown. On top of that boulder is a gorgeous garden of formations. I was clearly in a part of the cave which doesn’t get a lot of traffic. Even with no bubbles, I was getting a reasonable amount of percolation just from my pressure wave. I relaxed and enjoyed the view for a while and gave my poor calves a break. Then I headed for home.

Overall it was a very meditative dive. My recent tweaks have really paid off. Carrying two BO bottles is superior in a lot of ways to carrying one. More gas rocks and two bottles are so much more balanced then one. My neutral position is not pulled to one side or the other. And de-inverting the tanks really helped my trim.

There are still some problems with my rig:

  • It is too heavy. With two BO bottles, I have to really inflate my wing and it is pressing on my back. This is uncomfortable and inefficient. It wastes a lot of diluent and makes the volume changes that much greater.
  • The door handles on the Armadillo Butt Plate suck! They are all wrong for AL tanks. And they make reaching the butt ring very difficult. And they just don’t seem to be in the right place. Donning and doffing tanks can be difficult with them.
  • My Dive Rite Two Zipper pocket that is belt mounted is also in the wrong place. It is very difficult to get my wet notes out with the BO on.

Here are my proposed solutions:

  • I am going to remove the single tank adapter and strap the tank to the back plate with the hose clamps. That should lower my profile and remove a pound or two of weight.
  • I am going to remove the door handles and attach two d-rings to the butt plate. Like the original Nomad butt plate. This should fix the position of the tanks and make it easier to reach the goods on the butt ring.
  • I may trim some AL off the back plate. However, this is not going to happen immediately.
  • I am going to get a new bellows pocket mounted on my left thigh for wet notes and other spare crap. I want to ditch the Two Zip. Or I will start to hang it from my butt ring, like I do when I am side mounting.

I feel like I have seen some of Naharon. Total run time was 2 hours and 40 minutes. There is at least one circuit I would like to do and a bunch new passage to be inspected. I figure I will need another 10 trips there to feel satisfied.

Dive: 396

April 21, 2008   4 Comments

Loosing the fat couldn’t be any easier! Weigh in #4.

My weight this morning was 235.6lbs (106Kilos) and I am excited. I have exceeded my goal for this challenge! When I first moved to Mexico I weighed about 255lbs (116Kilos). I felt really fat and I looked like it. My performance in the water and walking around town reflected it. Then I got sick with bronchitis and lost about 10lbs. I thought it was the coolest diet ever. Sick for a week and lose the weight. I wished I had been sick longer. Unfortunately, I put 5lbs back on as soon I got back to eating. However, the idea was in my head that I could lose the weight again.

Some of the benefits of this weight loss are that my shorts are starting to fit better and so are the t-shirts. Some shirts that I had moved but been unable to wear now fit. A big guy sqeezing into a t-shirt is kinda gross and sad. I have noticed a drop in fatigue after diving and the equipment is becoming easier to manage to and from the water.

I meet a cave diver on vacation from Canada, he was on a stop over here in Playa Del Carmen returning from diving the Antartic, and he asked me, “How much effort and change is involved in loosing weight?” I was stunned for a second and wasn’t sure how to answer. I started to give the following answer, when he interrupted me to tell me about how he wants to loose some weight when he gets home.

The first step was to make a decision. After the decision, all I need to do is take a little action and repeatedly reaffirm the decision. My schedule involves 2-3 days a week at the gym for 1-1.5 hours. While at the gym I run for 20-30 minutes. The rest of the time is spent lifting weights or doing hypers/abs. I work out with a friend named Solomen and we look for new and interesting ways to torture ourselves. We mix lower body and upper body. I think I get the most out of the core work. The hypers and ab exercises have really strengthened my mid section and made me much more comfortable with tanks and heavy/awkward loads. The upper body work is more about burning calories and vanity. I have always wanted Peck muscles that were visible through my shirt. Unfortunately, what has been visible through my shirt for the past couple of years has been my Man Tits, a very weak substitute.

The biggest change has been in my diet. I have stopped finishing all the food on my plate! This is a biggy because I had fallen back in to the habit of eating till I was painful full. This step alone has cut down on my caloric intake. I have also stopped eating out every meal. Now breakfast includes peppers, onions and 2-3 egg whites. Lunch is a tuna sandwich. And dinner varies, but I have cut Pastore out of my diet. I am still going for ice cream fairly regularly. Progress not perfection.

I am sure I have made other small changes that add up, but I am not sure what they are and they haven’t really effected my life in a negative way. Most of the crap I was eating, I didn’t really need. I was just filling the hole with sugar and fat. The overall effort is reasonable and the dietary constraints are not really noticeable. Just sensible choices with a little effort.

April 15, 2008   Comments Off on Loosing the fat couldn’t be any easier! Weigh in #4.

Weigh In #3 on the Big Challenge!

Progress has been slow the last week.  I spent too much time eating out and not enough time in the gym.  My new weight is: 237.2lbs (107.6Kilos).  I am currently 1.2lbs short of my goal.  I would really like to exceed my goal by a couple of pounds.  I am confident that with a reasonable amount of dedication I will make it.

I am very happy to report that it is becoming increasingly easier to go to the gym and workout.  The first couple of weeks really sucked.  I wasn’t motivated and all I could think about was the suffering.  The last two trips to the gym were pretty cool.  Yesterday, instead of bailing out when my workout partner, Sol, left.  I took the extra 20 minutes I had and got back on the treadmill for a second run.   Last week when he didn’t show, I actually stayed and did a full workout concentrating on cardio, body weight work, abs and lower back.  I think I am getting stronger and the running is definitely getting easier.

I vividly remember going to the gym becoming an indispensable daily ritual the last time I lost a bunch of weight.   Either I went to the gym or went out an peeled off 12-30 miles on the road bike, just about everyday.  On the weekends we would go for a 4-5 hour mountain bike ride.  Here in Playa Del Carmen, I am looking for a similar rhythm.  Right now it looks like it is concentrated on the gym, however I want to expand.

I am not all that excited about bringing my road bike down.  The roads here can be pretty gnarly and I am not sure I want to spend that much time under the baking sun.  I have been thinking about other options and I came up with open water swimming.   I am going to talk to Allie it; she is a strong swimmer and was on the masters team in Mount Lakes, NJ.  Maybe she will have some insight.  We have a beautiful ocean a couple of blocks away.  Maybe we should go for a swim in the morning.

April 8, 2008   Comments Off on Weigh In #3 on the Big Challenge!