I've been somewhat irregular with paddling over the last month, due in part to sick kids and in part to our full schedules. But last night we had a good paddle, and I'm still a bit sore.
The weather was calm and relatively balmy (for late December in the Pacific NW), so we were able to head out into Lake Washington, where we did a set of 12 x 1-off/6-on. The most notable aspect of last night's workout was that I sat in seat #1, which won't mean anything to most of you, but which meant that I was supposed to set the pace and keep it regular. Meaning I had to think more than usual while also gasping for breath and fumbling for my CamelBak(tm) drinking tube.
I've only sat #1 once before, and that was one of the most challenging/tiring workouts I've had in a canoe. So I was a little nervous, but willing to give it a go. And you know what? It wasn't that bad. In fact, I felt like I'd managed to not screw up too much, and I actually had some fun with it.
It helped that we were doing a pretty good job of moving the canoe. (We were just 5, with DougM steering.) Meg sat behind me, which was fair given that the last couple of tough workouts she's been the one stroking. We went out Montlake Cut and north along the Laurelhurst shoreline, toward Magnuson Park, making good time. The water was smooth and black and even though there were clouds, the moon occasionally peeked through. I focused on keeping my stroke rate regular as I listened to the quiet shussh of water against the bow and the harsh rasp of my breath in my throat.
It also helped that Sabine and DougN were keeping pace in the OC2. We pretty much went head-to-head for the entire workout (they took off after we made the turn and started back south, and we weren't able to catch them for 10 or 15 minutes, but eventually we got caught up and were pretty well matched all the way back to the beach). There's something about keeping pace with another canoe, especially one I know is being paddled by good, strong paddlers, that helps motivate me. Though if I were being honest with myself, I'd acknowledge that as 5 people, we probably should have been leaving them in the dust. Still, being able to keep up with them felt pretty good.
And it also felt good that we had a chance to do much of the course for the race I'll be participating in this coming Saturday. This will be my first try at an OC1 race, and I'm a little nervous. I don't like to not do well, but I also don't want to have unrealistic expectations, so my goal is to finish. Seems a do-able goal.
Wish me luck.