Thursday, August 13, 2009

'scuse me while i break my own heart...

... or at least squash my own chest.

Last night, in the middle of another night of restless sleep, it occurred to me that I've been sleeping poorly because of the intense pain in my ribs. Hmm.... Well, duh!

I bruised them last Thursday during our paddling practice. We're practicing for the 8/29 "change-out race," the Pacific Northwest Outrigger Challenge. Half our team will then go on to do the Catalina Race in September. It's a race I'd love to do. Maybe next year.

In a change-out race, paddlers swap in and out of the canoe on the fly. Each team gets 9 paddlers for their 6-person canoe, and the races tend to be longer. This one is 26 miles, around Mercer Island in Lake Washington. Change-outs are kind of exciting and kind of fun, and (apparently) kind of hard on your body. Especially if you aren't particularly good at the in/out aspect.

Some folks struggle to pull themselves up into the canoe. There's an advantage to having some upper body strength, though I think that's less critical as you improve your technique. The fact that the canoe is moving toward you is something you can use to your benefit. Its motion helps you pull up and over the gunnel. Or it can, if you know how to take advantage of it.

Like anything, the better you are, the less effort you need to put into it. And the easier it looks. Thus, ice skaters and surfers and everyone in between can make very difficult physical tasks seem easy and nearly effortless. I don't have any video of my practice last week but I'm fairly confident I wasn't making it look effortless.

I managed ok. Better than some, and worse than others. It was a coldish day, but the water was warm (warmer than the breezy air) and I was able to get into the canoe. That's the first concern, that you actually get into the canoe. Other options are to miss is completely, or get stuck clinging to the side, dragging in the water and slowing things down a bit.

We're not a hard-core team, so Sabine is pretty cool about it. She says things like "If we have to stop the canoe, we stop it. Or you try again. We pick you up (in the escort boat) and drop you off again for a second try." The serious teams don't consider those options because they practice this a lot, and everyone needs to be good at it, and those options aren't options. Watching teams who are good at change-outs is fun. Like watching good butterfly swimmers. Smooth, easy, effortless.

In any case, I knew after practice that I'd beaten up my body a bit. My shoulder ached, and my ribs on the left side were sore to the touch. That night I took some Aleve and went to bed. And I've been struggling to find comfortable sleeping positions every since.

Practice on Monday was a challenge because though we didn't do any change-out practice (there were only 4 of us), we did paddle, and my sore ribs meant I had trouble even reaching forward on the left side. At points it made me feel nauseous. And I realized just how freakin' painful actual broken ribs must be.

Finally in the last day or so, my chest has begun to feel better. But last night I still couldn't get comfortable on either side, and today we're doing more change-outs. I've got to figure a way to not land on my chest in the canoe.

And, note to self: When you can't find a comfortable sleeping position, you don't sleep well.

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