Wednesday, October 7, 2009

workin' for...

I took last week off from paddling, in part because it was a busy week for M so I needed to cover childcare, and in part because I've been having problems with my right shoulder. These started after I spent 5 minutes tossing a tennis ball for Lucy. That is, tossing a tennis ball between 25 and 35 feet. In other words, I did almost nothing, and yet my shoulder began hurting badly.

(A friend told me a few years ago that you know you're getting old when you go to bed feeling great and wake up in the morning and your back has gone out. And you didn't do anything but sleep.)

The pain was bad, but not constant if I didn't lift my arm above my head or reach back behind me. Most of the motion for paddling didn't seem to bother it too much, but I wanted to give it a rest, so I didn't make it to any practice last week. I also did a lot of icing, but took no anti-inflammatories (to give my body a rest).

By Tuesday I was feeling pretty good though, and M would be home in the evening, so I had the option to paddle. Which I did. And I'm glad I did, but man, what a workout! It hurt .... good.

We had 12 folks show up. 10 regulars and 2 newbies. The 6 (regular) men took one boat, and Sabine took the rest in the other boat.

DougM steered the men's boat. He's on his way to Hawaii this morning to paddle in the Moloka'i Hoe. DougN stroked in #1, with Rob in 2, Murray in 3, me in 4 and Zachary in 5. We warmed up hard and headed out onto Lake Washington where DougM gave us the workout: 1 minute easy, 1 mile hard. Repeat.

We got started and paddled south, repeating until we got to the I90 bridge. It got dark as night came on, but it was a calm, beautiful night, and the water was smooth and easy to move across.

That took us about an hour, and nearing the bridge we saw a dragon boat ahead of us. It became our motivation, to catch them before the bridge, and even though we were starting to drag a bit (I think we'd done our 1min/1mile routine 4 times), it gave us a concrete goal and I could feel the difference as we dug in and went after them. We caught them right at the bridge, then continued on by and beyond, until we cleared the other side and Doug called "paddles up" and we took a minute breather before starting back. At this point it was at around 7.10p.

Now he challenged us to make it back to the beach in under an hour.

We turned north in the growing darkness and went at it, 1min easy, 1mi hard. Doug occasionally called for 4 10s, where we'd do 4 changes of 10 harder strokes. And whenever there was a bump of any sort going our way (boat wakes usually), he did his best to get us riding them for an extra lift.

It was brutal, exhausting, the kind of workout where by the end of it my brain was barely working and I was only following the others out of pure habit. Which is when the muscle memory either helps or hurts you -- if you've got good technique and your body knows what it's supposed to do, it can do it even when you're too tired to fully concentrate. I tried my best to focus on timing and technique while pulling hard (favoring my right shoulder slightly, though it didn't bother me hardly at all).

The boat felt good. I love when DougM steers us. He has a way of encouraging in an assertive and push-you-past-where-you-thought-you-could-go way. He strikes me as a real leader. And having DougN stroking was great too, because we were pulling long strokes rather than the shorter strokes that some #1s do. And because he's a monster and wasn't going to ease off at all.

In the darkness it was harder to follow the rhythm of the paddlers ahead of me, but in general I think we all did a good job of staying in time. The boat was moving and there's something about being a part of that that serves as motivation to keep it going. I never want to be the one who gets off, who makes the boat fall of of the top of the water and down so that it's slogging through rather than cruising over.

We paddled up along the west shore, under the 520 bridge, and back toward Montlake Cut. Then through the cut, under the bridge, and out to under the I5 bridge where we finally backed off for the last time and made our way back to the beach. 8p. Under an hour!

Sabine was waiting for us and helped us beach the canoe and close up. I think we were all tired in the best possible way, and I was thrilled that my shoulder didn't bother me too much. By the end I could feel it, and I suspect that was as much due to deteriorating technique as I wore down.

Here's the GPS track of our workout:

According to the data, we averaged 6.9mph with a max speed of 8.8mph.

If we could keep this kind of workout going all winter, we're going to be feeling good next spring! (Unfortunately, DougM doesn't really paddle with us. He works out with DougN regularly, and paddles with us when we need a man in the boat, but he's officially part of Kikaha and races with them. I really enjoy being in a canoe with him though, and will take any time I am able.)

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