Tuesday, September 22, 2009

let's get physical...

In thinking about last weekend's race, I've come to the following conclusions:

  1. I've only begun getting into proper shape for paddling (at the level I'd like to paddle)
  2. um... there may only be that one conclusion....
DougN has been working at getting us into shape, bringing specific workouts to practice and increasing the length and intensity of our workouts. It's been a good thing, something I've appreciated and even enjoyed: paddle hard for 2+ hours and come back to the beach physically exhausted, work as a team and feel the boat jump under us when things start clicking. It really is a great feeling when that happens, and it's not a men/women thing. Some of the best feeling boats I've been in have been mixed crews during our evening practices.

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.


Wendell McTravelNerd said...

I'm a big fan of doing things that you're afraid of. Getting yourself in an OC1 or OC2 sounds like a perfect goal to stretch yourself and to notch up your fitness level. I fully support this plan! ~we

Anonymous said...

You can be awesome on an oc6 and suck on the oc1 or vice versa. I have raced the winter series the last 2 years and consistently finish towards the back, partly because I don't train enough on the oc1 and partly because I much prefer the oc6. I just really love the team work and comraderie of the oc6, I can really add a lot to the canoe when I have 5 others that I am working with. That said I still go out and do it! And have a blast!

I think SOCC has gone through a huge growth spurt this year and it happened to be more women than men, though we have way more guys than we used to. I have high hopes for the men's side of things this winter and next year. Historically there has been a strong men's program, but as with all things there is ebb and flow.

I once did a race in Canada where we had a borrowed steersperson. She felt we should be going faster and called so many power 10s they really lost all meaning and she was ultimately beating a dead horse. She should have sat back and let us settle in and do what we knew we could do. Sometimes you have to let the crew do their thing and holler sweet nothings of motivation to keep them going. :)

The ???? crew was Hui Heihei, they are a bunch of studs. I was surprised to see Wakinikona in front of you guys. I am thrilled at how well you all did, though. And the voices you could hear behind you were SSP. They looked totally beat down when they crossed the finish. You guys did not look beat down at the end! If you keep working together I know you can totally take the Wakinikona guys and give the Kikaha crew a run for their money!