Thursday, August 20, 2009

one paddle, two paddle...

The more I'm paddling, the more I realize how little I know about it.

There are levels of subtlety that I'm only just beginning to understand:
  • how the number 1 needs to adjust stroke rate and length not only for start/turn/chase situations, but also for wave/wake/water condition, while also being as regular and even as possible and without anyone to follow....
  • how number 2 needs to help n1 do this, as well as matching n1's stroke/pace while being on the opposite side (it's not easy, and good paddlers make it seem natural)
  • how n3 and n4 (the "engine room" seats) also need to keep an eye on the water conditions while following the lead of n1/n2
  • how the caller (n3 in our boats) needs to adjust the timing of the switch based on the conditions (if there's a bump coming, or a wake, it might make sense to wait a few extra strokes, or to switch early, and if you're doing change-outs, you want to make sure you've got paddles on the right side so paddlers coming in on the left don't get hit, and how if you're the one changing out, you need to hand off the counting to someone who's not hopping into the water)
  • how n5 needs to help n6 steer in particular situations, and has a large responsibility for watching the ama....if it starts to come up, they're in the best position to see this and react quickly because it's in front of them and the iako is within reach
  • .... n6 has a whole set of responsibilities that are unique to the steersperson....
  • and meanwhile, everyone needs to blend, following the paddlers ahead of them and keeping in sync.... Whew!
We're still training for our change-out race, and we've had some long practices. Last Saturday was about 3 hours and 18 miles, with 3 "climb-into-the-not-moving boat" practices and another 4 while the canoes were in motion. And last Monday we did a number of sets of 3-6-9 minutes with 1 minute of "moving rest" in between. It's exhausting, but in the best possible way. I get back to the beach with little in my tank, but I'm loving the feeling of the canoe moving quickly, of the team working together, and of things starting to gel.

On Monday we only had 5 people in the canoe, and yet the group blended so well that it felt to me that we were moving faster than many of the 6-paddler paddles I've been on. The boat was jumping under us, and everyone seemed to be completely in sync (at times... at other times we felt bogged down, but that's normal too -- it's nearly impossible to keep in sync every second, at least for people at our level). We had 2 more in the OC2, and we rotated into the OC6, and everyone seemed to work together well.

Counterbalancing this hard workout/good tired feeling are my painful ribs. I think they're from clambering into the canoe, and they're slowly getting better (it helped that we didn't do any change-outs on Monday), but today we'll do more changes and I need to figure out a way to get into the canoe without banging them up any more.

I'm sleeping poorly in spite of my physical exhaustion because I can't find any comfortable positions to lie. This can't be the norm for pre-change-out races. I have to believe I'm doing something less-than-optimal. Especially since, once the race is done, assuming my ribs get dinged up during the race, it'll take maybe a month for the pain to subside.....

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