- I've only begun getting into proper shape for paddling (at the level I'd like to paddle)
- um... there may only be that one conclusion....
I'm in better shape than I have been in some time. I feel strong and have a bit of endurance. But during/after Saturday's race I realized that the good teams, the teams we were chasing, had better endurance and conditioning. They were paddling at a level they could sustain longer than we were able to do.
We were neck-and-neck with the Kikaha boat (largely novice paddlers, with DougM as their secret weapon) for the first 6 miles. Ahead of them, but not out of reach, were Wakinikona and ???. After making the turn at the buoy, we fell back and by the ~9mi point all 3 of those boats were effectively out of sight. That suggests to me that we just weren't paddling at the same level as we'd done in the first 1/2 of the race.
Jasen called for regular power 10s (which involve 10 strokes with increased effort and speed, usually in groups of 4, so "next change, 4 power 10s!"), and for a while they made a difference. We'd visibly gain ground on Kikaha, then slowly drop back again. But at some point the power 10s stopped being particularly effective (he said as much afterwards) and he switched to a "next change, everyone give me a little bit more!" tactic.
After the race I felt tired, but not like I'd used up everything I had. At the same time, I was aware that my technique was falling apart near the end, due to both conditions and being tired. That's not what I'd like to feel at the end of a race. I'd like to be able to keep my stroke technique all the way through, and drain my body by putting everything into the effort. I'd like to be able to keep up with the good boats.
So, bottom line, I'm not where I want to be, conditioning-wise.
The good news is that Doug's going to be continuing to help with our practices. And I intend to keep paddling through the winter. The not-so-good news is, the weather will inevitably turn less pleasant, and we'll be doing fewer (no?) OC6 races, so I'm going to need to "man-up" and start paddling in an OC1 or OC2 and do some races in those boats.
What's scary about that is that there's no one else to hide behind. If I don't do well in an OC1, there's no one else to blame. It's me and.... myself. The exposure will be good, but it's a bit scary. In spite of feeling that I'm in better shape/condition, the only thing that will prove it is getting out from behind the curtain of an OC6 and into the spotlight of a smaller boat.
One other complication is that an OC6 is as good as the combined crew. SOCC has a reputation for strong women's teams. Not so much for men's teams. And we'll need to have a full boat of men who want to paddle at the same level. If not, 4 or 5 out of 6 simply can't keep up with a fully committed 6-man team.