Saturday, May 8, 2010

paddling: ...some people call me lazy...

(warning/teaser: another workout post you family readers might want to just skip, though I do mention kids and parenting right at the very end....)

Thursday OC2 Workout
(I-90 and back with DougM)

I'm posting this in lieu of actually doing workouts this week Thurs/Sat (M's got an event tonight so she's working a lot of hours).

A week ago Thursday I did yet another OC2 workout with DougM, my first down to I-90 in an OC2! On the previous Tuesday we'd done a 10+ mile OC2 workout in windy conditions, sticking to Lake Union and the Ship Canal (see bottom of page for track), and I was looking forward to this Thursday paddle. Knowing ahead of time that I'd be going out with him, I made sure to eat well before hand and drink plenty of water. There's not a ton of time to hydrate during these workouts.

We did 14+ miles in 1 minute off/1 mile on pieces, and the weather was fairly nice (calm, light wind from the north). And for the most part, it felt pretty good, though it was also the longest small-boat workout I've done, and it wore me out.

Doug is such a strong paddler that I have the opportunity to overachieve when I'm with him. By which I mean that I manage to do more/better when with him than I would if left on my own. I'd like to find a way to tap into that "over achievement" when I'm in a single. I think it's partly a motivation issue, and is something I think about regularly.

I love being out on the water, even when I'm working hard. Or maybe especially when I'm working hard. Every time I go out, I get a little more experience, and that makes me a little more comfortable. It's such a treat, and I get a workout at the same time.

The water, especially around Montlake Cut, was busy, with dozens of boats were already lined up on the log booms for Opening Day (on May 1). Yet in spite of this, we didn't get any wakes to surf! All those boats and none going our way at a speed we could take advantage of. We passed several boats that were putting along slowly, looking for spots to moor. Nothing that we could take advantage of.

As I paddled south, I got to thinking about where I was last year at this time (still contemplating trying out the paddling at SOCC) compared to now (able to survive workouts with "the Dougs") and it made me realize just how much better I do in "small pond" situations.

SOCC has an all-inclusive approach, and especially last year we didn't really have a competitive mens team of regular paddlers. A lot of us were rookies and still learning, and that meant we got attention at practice and boat time in races, and were given opportunities (including races like Catalina) as rookies. I'm fairly certain that this wouldn't have been the case at some of the other clubs. When there's a group of high-level achievers, they tend to get the attention and focus, and people like me might be relegated to "second tier" status. (Note: I know some clubs have good programs for novices, that provide encouragement and instruction, but in order to have that, you need a critical mass, and that's not as easy around here as it is in Hawaii.)

If I step into that kind of situation, "the best and the rest," as a beginner, I don't know that I'd thrive. In fact, I strongly suspect I wouldn't. But with SOCC I think Sabine and Doug managed to walk a good line, trying for competitive teams while giving us beginners enough attention and time. That, combined with the encouragement and experience we got, meant that we could progress faster. In short, I think I'm much farther along, having started with SOCC, than I would be if I'd started with some other clubs, including some of the others here in the Puget Sound region.

So now, a little less than a year after I started, I'm in an OC-2 paddling to I-90 from Lake Union, paddling with an experienced and strong paddler who's been willing to have me join him several times recently. It feels good to have reached this point, though I know there's a lot still to learn. And as we near the bridge I'm starting to struggle a little. But not from exhaustion.

My biggest issue in both OC1s and OC2s is that the left side of my okole starts to hurt, badly. I gather this is a pretty common issue for small boat outrigger paddlers. There is a tendency to lean left, toward the ama, to offset any likelihood of a huli. I've dealt with the problem in all my OC1 races, and on Thursday I made a real effort to paddle hard on my right when I was over there, and to really use my legs, hoping to reduce the amount of pain. That helped, but over the course of our 2 hours, my butt definitely got to me, so much so that near the end I could barely focus on technique and wasn't feeling like I was giving my best.

The small-pond-big-fish line of thought led me to remembering my switch from Punahou (hundreds of kids) to Seabury (dozens... like 120 total from 7-12). I thrived at Seabury in ways I never would have at Punahou, and I think it was for much the same reasons -- I got personalized attention, got to be a full-fledged participant, and had the time/space to grow at my own slow pace. We were so small that I could be on the swim team (captain even.... of a 1-boy team!!) and there were only 5 of us playing basketball, and yet we still regularly won our rec league (not due to my contributions though!).

I've always been something of a slow starter, and I don't think places like Punahou are conducive to slow starters. Once you're put on a track of some kind (the "orchestra kids" or the "latin-taking kids") it's hard to become anything else. I take too long to figure out what kind of kid I'm going to be (still figuring it out, actually), so I get stuck somewhere (the "rest of the rest" track) to be left to my own devices. Which is not to say that some don't pull themselves up by their bootstraps and become successful, but I think that's the exception rather than the rule, and it's hard for the rest of us, the less-than-spectacular ones, to find our own footing.

An aside: This is where having a particular mentor, a teacher or coach who takes an active interest and makes an effort to help, has a huge impact. I can think of teachers along the way that have done that for me, from Mrs. Hefty (5th grade) to Fred Rawe and Charlotte Melrose (high school) to Susan Ashley (college).

Anyway, (and remember, while all this is going through my head I'm supposed to be keeping count of strokes and calling changes and working to match Doug's pace -- good thing he's in the first seat and can't see me daydreaming!), I moved on to thinking about this in terms of parenting.

I'm not much of a natural at anything, but with the right encouragement and attention (and effort on my part), I can be successful. So what I can do as a parent to make sure my daughters have the space and the opportunities to blossom, even if they aren't "naturals" at particular things?

No real answers here, but it's an issue I'll continue to ponder, even while I'm grateful for the opportunities and encouragement I've had in paddling, at school, from friends and family. It's something to distract me during these longer workouts!

A visual, to reward anyone who's read this far:

Tues: 1 min off / 5 min sprint
(x more than 8)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have come a long way. Me too! I think I have certainly thrived in ways that weren't happening with my former club. The all inclusive nature of SOCC is one of the many things I love about our club. There is a real unity that is so much more personal in a small group than in a group of 100+ paddlers. We also have the chance to get to know one another better, too.

Re parenting: as the daughter of a single parent (mother) home my take away message was that I could do anything I wanted to. And whenever I expressed interest in something my mother would back me up. She HATED going to my softball games, but I loved them so she went. There was never a moment where I thought I 'can't' do that, more I don't 'want' to do that. I also heard stories of things she'd wished she had been able to do, but when she was young (40s-50s)there were limitations put on girls and specific expectations of both girls and boys. I have learned from her regrets and missed chances and I think it's helped me have a fuller life. FWIW