In Honor of MSG Benjamin F. Bitner (ARMY), Special Forces

These training sessions are dedicated to Master Sgt Benjamin F. Bitner (ARMY) Special Forces, assigned to 3rd Special Operations Group, who lost his life on April 23, 2011 while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan. A lot of folks don’t like to do things at night much less go out on the water. Things are different on the water but it doesn’t mean night paddling is bad. Like a lot of things in life you have to spend time doing it to get comfortable with it. The paddle I was schedule to do was a 40-mile paddle, which means a very long day.  I decided to start in the early morning hours so I could spend a couple of hours making friends with the night. The water was like glass, with a slight sea fog, and it was very peaceful. Even the marine life acts different at night. I came across a large flock of sea birds that were just sitting in the water. You wouldn’t think they would do this considering a shark might see them as an easy meal. I guess it doesn’t happen because I came across a couple of other flocks doing the same thing. For this paddle I stayed away from downtown Tampa due to the chaos of Gasperilla. I heading south and went up the Little Manatee River. You can see my track in the section “Find me on SPOT”. In the UFC I really need to watch the tides so I can let the tides work for me. Last weekend and this weekend I hit the tides at the worse time. I hit the outgoing tide going up the river. Mentally I was telling myself this is ok and I will put the energy in fighting this current going up the river but it will be a nice ride down.  This worked for the first hour going down river then I hit the incoming tide and had to fight it all the way to the river mouth. Just before getting to the mouth of the river I started to get this feeling that this weekend’s long paddle is going to end like last weekend’s long paddle. The afternoon winds were forecasted to be from the West at 9 MPH but as I exited the Little Manatee River into the Bay that is not what I found. The winds were from the NW at 13 MPH. Great, the exact direction I had to paddle for the next three miles. Nothing like fighting head seas when you are tired. I guess this is what people refer to as the character building part of the training.  I don’t know how much character building occurred but I can tell that I started remembering some language from my sea-going days that I had thought I had forgotten. Thankfully the four miles after these three miles I had a course change and had the wind on my port quarter. I did do this paddle without gloves to continue the toughening of my hands and thankfully no blisters. My fueling protocol work pretty well but the transition to burning fat for energy was not the best. On my past long paddles the transition had been getting easier and easier but not so on this one. Go figure ! For about 15 to 20 minutes things were not going well but once I got through it I was fine the rest of the day. Ended up covering the 40 miles in 10 hour 8 minutes, which gave me an average speed of 3.95 MPH. Not bad considering that I was fighting the river current for most of the paddle. The other workouts for this week were as follows:

Friday – Ran 3.5 miles 33 minutes / TRX 2 – 7 week routine

Thursday – Elliptical 4 miles 33 minutes /  Weight lifting Routine 2 / Paddle easy  6 miles

Today was a rest day from yesterday’s long paddle and I needed it.  For the family of MSG Benjamin F. Bitner, that included two sons, there is no rest day from the pain of his loss . A donation to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation will make it easier for the families of fallen warriors such as MSgt Bitner.