Friday, February 12, 2010

paddling: ... and I'm so cold...

I (apparently) own the distinction of having the first huli of the winter. And here's what I learned last night: cold black water motivates me to get the hell back on my canoe!

I think I was actually in the water for about 12-15 seconds. Enough time to flip the canoe back upright, undo my leash, duck under the hull to the ama side, and slid back up. Whew! Cold water sluicing off me. Mostly what I felt though was adrenalin.

It happened early in our paddle, while I was still getting the feel for DougM's OC1. He and DougN were ahead in an OC2 and I wanted to keep up (foolish dream!). I was focusing on rotating and getting a big pull up front, and I rotated and pulled on the right and then realized I'd leaned too far and the ama was rising up on my left and then I was in the water.

It was about 6.15p, Lake Union, night-time dark and the water calm, still and black. And cold. Did I mention cold?

The great thing was, once I was back onboard with the leash reattached and paddling again (the Dougs were out of sight ahead of me, heading toward Portage Bay), I warmed up pretty quickly. That's the benefit of all the expensive technical fabric (poly pro, etc.). When soaked, it dries quickly. And the combination of adrenalin and exercise warmed me too.

Casualties of the huli:
  • a blinking light DougM had attached to my shoulder
    (My other light had stayed on my pdf.)
  • my light-hearted joie de vivre

I paddled much more carefully after this, at least for the next 30-45 minutes, overcompensating to the point where my left butt cheek started hurting. It's a balancing act you do in one of these boats, and even though it was a calm night, I still have a lot to learn. Makes me really appreciate what the paddlers do in the Molokai channel and on the downhill run from Maliko to Kahului Harbor. I'd love to get to that point myself. This morning it seems a long way away!

Note: The Dougs were keeping an eye on me, and figured out fairly quickly that they'd lost me, so they turned around and came back. I was already up and paddling again, but told them I'd paused to do a huli "drill," which got some laughs and some questions about if I was going to be warm enough.

The "workout" we did was really a fairly light one. Both Dougs are going down to Portland to race this weekend, so they were looking for an easy 10 mile paddle. I was just working to keep them in sight. They'd paddle ahead, then come back around to me. We paddled around Portage Bay, then back along the east shore of Lake Union, down to the south end, then along the west shore and under the Aurora and Fremont bridges, heading down toward the Ballard Bridge.

The Dougs had said they were probably going to go as far as that bridge, then turn back. I said I'd follow and when I saw them coming back I'd turn around. They assured me they weren't going to let me get that far behind. Then a sailboat came through, heading west toward the locks, and I saw the Dougs tuck in behind it and (they told me later), catch it's wake, surfing it all the way down to the Ballard Bridge. I paddled on my own in the night, past tugboats and fishing boats, trying to get some feeling in my butt while not flipping again. I nearly made it to the Ballard Bridge before I saw them coming back toward me.

On the paddle back out to Lake Union, DougN taught me about drafting, telling me to tuck up close behind them, so close that my bow should occasionally bump into their stern. I found the hardest part about this was steering properly. My feet weren't particularly comfortable in the footwells, so steering the OC1 was difficult for me. But once past the Fremont Bridge I managed to actually draft off them a bit. And it makes a big difference, effort-wise. DougN said it was important to learn, as races can be won/lost using that technique. And apparently it's legal, at least if you do it with a boat in the same class.

By the time we rounded Gas Works Park and headed into Waterway 18, I was pretty well spent. And tight. The effort of trying to keep up, and trying not to huli, and cramming into what felt like a tight-fitting boat, drained me.

I don't think I went more than 6 miles or so, and certainly not particulary fast, but it was still good to get boat/water time, especially time in an OC1. The more I do that, the more comfortable I'll feel. And I think having the huli happen was probably a good thing, over all. Now I've done that and know I can recover. And I can play with the tipping point of the boat without worrying too much about landing in the water.

Oh yeah, I feel the workout this morning. In my back. And my arms. And my shoulders.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Fun times! Doug N's boat is a little on the small side for you. The hurricane is a smaller volume boat than the clubs fusion. I think you have a few pounds on Doug, too, and that can make a difference. Using a boat with a lower volume means you are having to work harder pushing the boat through the water versus pushing the boat on top of the water as you would with a higher volume boat.

The Doug's are really good about hanging with people who are not as fast as them, by looping back to check on you. They more distance without actually going that far, that way, too.

Glad you got some water time. A winter huli drill is very motivating and educational. I'm hoping to start coming out on Thurs nights, too. If we have enough for an OC6 we'll do it, otherwise there is always the OC2/OC1.

-Melissa