The countdown

Reality is officially starting to sink in. We’re a mere 10 days out from departure.

In my room in front of the wardrobe is a line of bags and suitcases ready for travel. One bag is packed for the camp in Sydney this weekend. One bag is full of snacks for the plane and competition and the last is my suitcase 90% packed for China.

I’m nervous. Not about the competition, strangely enough, even though that’s the reason I’m going. I’m nervous about traveling to a country that doesn’t speak English and where simple things like food and water can make me sick.

My mother has told me things about traveling in China that has just instilled this fear within me that I can’t seem to shake … She’s told me things like, “Don’t drink the tap water, but be careful buying bottled water because they fill it up with tap water and reseal it” for example, which has just freaked me right out. It’s bad enough that I will be doing a water sport where I get flicked in the face and mouth with dirty Chinese water, let alone stressing too about the “safe” bottled water I’ll be drinking. I feel like nothing is safe over there and I’m going to get incredibly sick incredibly soon after landing which is going to be awful during competition.

My suitcase, at this stage, is 50% clothing, and 50% safety. What is safety? It’s basically food and medicine. Apparently where we are competing there are a lack of resources in terms of supermarkets and pharmacies, so I’m literally taking everything with me. Clothing wise, I’ll deal. I’ll make do with what I have for the regatta and traveling otherwise and be happy with it. But the one thing I can’t afford to leave behind is what will keep me alive for 2 weeks. I’ve got everything I can think of … GastroStop, Buscopan, TravelCalm, charcoal tablets, electrolyte powder, antibiotics, as well as basic first aid equipment. I’ve got snacks and meal replacement shakes which won’t last for 2 weeks but it’ll reduce the number of meals I have to consume over there.

Somehow, back in 2012, I managed to survive 4 days in Cambodia without falling terribly ill. This was taking absolute extreme caution, to the point where I wasn’t even putting my face in shower water. I’m repeating this process for China, but what’s out of my control is how much water I ingest whilst racing. It’s fine for all the paddlers – they’ll be wearing altitude masks so that will block out the water they ingest. But for the sweeps and drummers, we are exposed and I’ve heard that the quality of the water we are meant to be paddling on was so bad they had to drain the lake.


I am literally so stressed. I don’t do well when I have gastro … I’m not a big person so when I’m sick, I dehydrate really quickly and lose a lot of weight. The last time I had terrible gastro here at home I ended up at home in the emergency department getting re-hydrated via 4 IV bags of fluid, and needles to stop me from being sick. I lost a truckload of weight and was weak for days. How exactly am I meant to deal with this on my own when I’m abroad and everything will make me sick? What am I meant to eat? We’re in Kunming which lacks Western food – rather they have the traditional foods like chicken feet noodle soup etc. which I will not be caught dead consuming.  We’ve also been told that vegetarian options are limited over there, which is what I was going to eat, but then I’ve been told not to consume anything that’s been cooked or washed in water. Which I’m going to hazard a guess will be …. vegetables. So am I living off rice for 2 weeks? (Rice is cooked in water though soooooo …..) I am literally stressing about basic standards of living over there.

I’ll have zero communication with family and friends over there because all social media is banned, so I can’t check in on Facebook, or Instagram and let people know I’m OK. Besides which, I’ve been told that even though we’ve got internet, chances are it’s not going to work so not to rely on it for anything.

I absolutely do NOT want to go anymore. I’m terrified. I just want it to be November already where I’ll be home hopefully safe and sound and this whole experience will be behind me. I don’t know how I ever thought I’d be able to survive this …. I think that I had hoped I’d grown up since traveling to Cambodia, but truthfully I’m just as anxious and scared as I was in 2012.

The competition itself doesn’t phase me. As far as I’m concerned, we’ve all put in the hard yards training and the results will be what they’ll be. Personally, I’m not expecting to come home with any medals, given that our competition is intense. The caliber of racing is going to be in a completely different league to anything I’ve ever experienced before, which will be great to experience I guess. It’s just everything around it that’s going to be HARD.

I can’t afford to get sick over there, I really can’t. I’ve lost track of how much money I’ve spent on my portable pharmacy and vaccinations and “normal” food.  But there’s only so much I can take with me and sooner or later my supplies will run out and I’m going to have to rely on the local food and beverages to survive. I’m going to have to risk the re-sealed bottled water because I’m not touching a tap over there except to shower.  I think Beijing will be slightly better than Kunming, and we’re staying at a high class hotel over there so I have a feeling we’ll be looked after a little bit better than in Kunming. But the fact is that I still have to survive 9 days in Kunming, and I honestly have no idea how hard that is going to be. I’m contemplating more meal replacement shakes, but then I run into the issue of finding water to make them because there are no supermarkets when I use all the ones I’ll buy at the airport.

God help me. It’s all too stressful.

You’re probably thinking I’m over reacting …. Everyone I talk to tells me I’ll be fine and it’ll be so much fun but I’m just not convinced. I want to be, and I wish I could be the “roll with the punches” kind of traveler, but the fact is I can’t stand it when I can’t control my health. Like, if I get a cold, that’s OK. I can roll with that because I know it’ll last 2-3 days and I’ll be feeling crap but then I’ll come good, no harm done. But when you have food poisoning or gastro, you have no control over your stomach, your bowels, or how long it’ll go for and that’s what I can’t deal with. I’m freaking out because it’s something I know I can’t avoid and it’s something I can’t control.


Ok, let’s focus on something else …. This Friday morning I fly to Sydney for our second last camp. The camp runs all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then I’ll fly home on Sunday night. We’re expected to do plenty of on water training as a team, as well as the standard dinner together while we have a look at video footage taken throughout the day.

I’ll be getting up around 4am on Friday morning (or possibly pulling an all nighter like tonight and simply not sleeping since I dont get sleepy these days. YAY INSOMNIA. I’ll need to be at the airport around 5am then my flight leaves at 6am. So it’ll be an early morning and a late finish that day.

I’m staying in Sydney with my coach and head coach as well as Darren, so that’s kind of stressing me out too because I’m just not a people person when I’m stressed. And I have external things in my life which are adding to my stress as well so I think I’m going to find it really hard to stop for 3 days and concentrate purely on dragonboating. But I have to. For the next 4 weeks essentially I need to be living and breathing dragonboating, and optimism and positivity and I bet that you can tell from the start of this post already that I have ZERO zen right now.

Anyway, after flying home Sunday night, it’s another week of work until my last camp starts on Friday morning. I then fly out with some of my team mates, departing at 12:30am on the 15th October.

12:30am. UGH. I’m a particularly bad sleeper as I mentioned before. Terrible insomnia …. Takes me forever to fall asleep and when I DO sleep, I have to be in complete darkness and silence and stillness  …. All of which does NOT happen for 10 hours on an aircraft. So, I guess I’m pulling one of many all nighters of my trip. At least it won’t be too hard to adapt to the Chinese time zone? I don’t know. I don’t sleep these days so goodness knows what time zone my body clock runs on.

Speaking of sleep … This has been a 1am sleepless stressed update.  I’m off to doze on the couch next to the guinea pig until my alarm goes off in 4 hours.

10 days to go …





Training Updates

Training in Melbourne during winter might not be as unpleasant as training in Canberra, but it’s still cold, miserable, grey and wet.

Here’s a picture of me freezing my ass off on the front of the boat training last weekend!


Hope the weather is better in your neck of the woods!

43 Days to go!


Guys … We’re 44 days out from departure. 44 DAYS.


Worlds is fast approaching and I’m going to guess that it’s going to be one of those situations where I blink, and suddenly it is here and happening.

The thing is, there’s so much going on right now that I don’t feel anywhere near prepared. We’ve amped up our training schedule, so that now we’re training 3 times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturday mornings. Things are slowly starting to come together – I’ve been working with the two sweeps that I’ll be on the boat with in China and I’m about 80% happy with where I’m at for that. For starters, working with Darren is a breeze. I know him well enough to predict what he’s going to say, and elaborate on some of his calls. He’s my club sweep though, so I’ve had over a year of practice reading Darren. There’s no way I’ll ever be able to predict Eliza though as I haven’t worked with her a lot, but she’s on top of everything, so the best I can do is pick up on some key words, relay them to the front of the boat, and maintain the energy she’s feeding the crew. And what energy! I’ve felt the boat leap when she’s made some calls, or when she’s pushing everyone to the max, and all I can say is that I’m excited to see how that transfers to when the crew is under pressure.

We’ve got our divisional coach heading to Melbourne this weekend for a bit of a mini-camp where we will work on our stroke and begin getting people into the seat they’ll be in when competing. It’s going to be a tough mini camp – Only one day, but two on water sessions, with video footage being taken for analysis.

After that, we have essentially 4 more camps and we’re done training as a unit. We have one this weekend, one that’s two weeks later that goes for 2 days. Then I’m off to Sydney for a 3-day camp early October, then we have one more camp immediately before we fly to China. Then that’s it. That’s us as a crew. How we gel in the next 6 week is critical to the overall harmony on the boat.

Physically, I’m not happy with where I’m at … I’ve just discovered that one of the medications I’ve been taking for the last month has caused me to gain weight, so all my work at the gym has been for naught. It’s a bit of a risk, but I’ve stopped taking the medication from now until after Worlds in an attempt to lose a touch more weight. I only use the medication for sleeping, so I’m looking at a herbal alternative that doesn’t have such nasty side effects. I had a chat to my mum and we though maybe 50kg was how much I should weigh, but there’s no way I’ll get to that weight … I’m older now, my metabolism has slowed down considerably and long gone are the days of me ever being that weight again. The best I can hope for is maybe an even 52kg.

I had a talk to one of our coaches though and he said that my current weight is acceptable. I’m just shy of 54kg, which for me is very heavy. But in terms of it being a drummers weight it’s actually not so bad. Apparently we need a to be light, but not too light so that we can help balance the boat if we need to. 54kg is apparently a good weight because there’s enough of you to make a difference by sitting slightly on the left or the right of the seat when it comes to balance. Any lighter and you risk not being able to help out with balancing the boat.

So you’re probably wondering why I want to lose a bit of weight then? Well, for starters, I’m not at optimal health. I need to be working more on my core strength in case I get flung around on the front of the boat in any of the races. I don’t plan on losing too much weight – As I said, I’d be happy with an even 52kg and having a strong core, but I’d be happier knowing that I was at peak health and fitness, like the rest of the crew.

It matters this time more than it did for Canada because the competition is going to a lot more fierce – In Canada it was the Canadians we had to be fearful of. In China, it’s the Chinese and Thai teams. Canada are still up there, but they won’t be on home soil this time. If you have a spare 5 minutes, google the Chinese crew’s performance on Youtube in a 200m race – It’s both beautiful and terrifying to see. They’re a professional team though, so there’s a fundamental difference between us and them. That doesn’t mean we’re not going down without a fight though …

So, what how does this little drummer gal train and get that nice strong core? Well, my current routine looks a little bit like this:

Monday: Gym in the morning (Mostly cardio work, then some mat work focusing on my abs and core. A lot of sit ups. A lot of kettle bell work.)
Tuesday: Training with the team at night
Wednesday: Gym in the morning
Thursday: Training with the team at night
Friday: Gym in the morning
Saturday: Train with the team in the morning
Sunday: Rest day / Regattas or Club training.

Let’s team my training regime with trying to figure out my meal plans too – Basically …. 1400 Calories per. No Alcohol (*whine*). Minimal carbs. Lots of protein and veg if I can get it.

There’s either eggs, or overnight oats with blueberries and nuts for brekkie, a pre-made frozen meal for lunch from Dietlicious (all under 400 Calories), nuts to snack on thanks to a weekly delivery called HarvestBox, biscuits because I CAN’T HELP IT IM SORRY MUM and dinner is yoghurt the nights I train, or whatever my boyfriend feels like cooking on the other nights. In my boyfriend’s defence, he practically caters to me every night, so I just have to say “Satay Chicken with Cauliflower rice please” or “Chicken and vegetable pot pie” (my Sunday and Monday indulgence – CHEESE!) and he makes it for me. It helps that my boyfriend is also training hard for a Ju Jitsu competition in October so he’s trying to eat lean and clean too. If I followed his diet and his 8 x weekly training sessions, I’d have killer abs. (Maybe I should do ju jitsu in the off season? My legs and my abs would be on FLEEK.)

So there you have it folks. That’s what’s been happening in my life for the last few weeks and why I’ve been so quiet on my blog. A LOT of stressing about my weight, a lot of time in the gym, and a lot of time on water. But hey …. 44 days right? That’s not a long time in the grand scheme of things! Onwards and upwards!




Off Season Thoughts

I feel lazy. I always do during off season. I begin to over indulge again and because I’m not training I feel gross.

I’ve taken about a month off now to rest and recuperate after Nationals and I feel like it’s probably time to get back out on the water again even though it’s getting towards Winter again. My club does river runs each Sunday which would be a great way to keep in touch with everyone, keep healthy and keep paddling before China, but I’m struggling with the whole “Waking up on a Sunday” thing, especially when my best is oh so comfy and warm.


But it comes down to looking after myself, and since Nationals, I have NOT been doing that. I was given strict instructions by the Australian Head Coach at our camp NOT to gain weight, and guess what? Your girl has put on 1.5kg since Nationals, so Serge isn’t going to be impressed with that at all.

Truthfully, I’ve never looked healthier at my current weight but at the end of the day, my weight is slowly on the incline it’s probably time that I end my relationship with the snack cupboard at work, so that the salads I’m eating every day actually begin to make a difference. And the alcohol! Goodness me. I love alcohol, so that’s probably the biggest culprit here … I love a good glass of Vino of an evening after work, but I’ve got to get back into the green tea thing again.

UGH being healthy sucks! You feeling me?

But China is only a mere 5 months away now so it’s slowly creeping up on me. I’ve booked all my flights, both international and domestic, and I’ve ordered my uniform so all that’s really left to do now is book my accommodation and some fun things after Worlds and my trip is set!

I’m looking forward to seeing Bejing and seeing the Great Wall of China. I know I’ll be completely out of my comfort zone over there and I hope that right now I’m ready for that step in my life. Although I’m 31 I’m like a little pot plant – I’m still growing in many ways and suffering from anxiety has really stunted my growth the past few years. I don’t have a lot of self confidence outside of the dragonboat world, so finding this community has meant a lot to me. It’s helped me find something that I’m good at and run with it. I might not be good at paddling but I’m good at drumming and that’s really all that matters.

I don’t know how we’ll go in China. I know that the competition will be tough and I’m not expecting to win anything. The experience itself will be amazing and I think that will be enough. I’m excited to get my uniform, because it’s fits much better this year than it did last campaign (pics to follow!) and I know that as soon as it gets closer I’ll be even more excited because it will seem more real than it does now. Right now it just feels like something that’s way off in the distance.

So that’s a bit of an off season update. There’s not too much to report on, other than I need to get my ass into gear again!  Stay tuned for photos of my Aus uniform and possibly photos of me rugged up in snow gear as I paddle in Melbourne winter waters.

Until then!


My goodness … Where do I begin. What a whirlwind.

It’s been two weeks since Nationals now and I think I’m only just starting to catch up. As predicted, I got the post-nationals cold (no doubt from being out in the rain for 2-3 days) and I’m only just starting to recover now. It’s nice to be back at home with the boy and the guinea pig with a lot of stories to tell. Nationals was an intense five days and by the end of it I was really starting to feel it – and I wasn’t even paddling. It was five long days of early starts, late finishes and lots of nervous energy buzzing around the camp. I arrived at a reasonable hour on Wednesday night after my boss let me take off early to beat traffic, so I managed to get a good nights rest before the Masters days kicked off.

We shared our tent with Komodo from Canberra, Different Strokes from Sydney and Sloths from Sydney, and let me tell you, we had a ball. I got to see all my friends and it was awesome! Diagonal from us was my old club, Ice Dragons, from Canberra. I didn’t drum too many crews on the Masters days, only women’s, so I had lots of time to soak up the atmosphere and hang out with my folks, but the crews I did drum did amazingly well. It was a lot of fun to be on the front of the Masters boats because it’s such a different feeling and a different vibe. More mature, more focused sometimes. We got a Bronze and Silver medal in the Masters Division which was really exciting for us!

The weather was absolutely awful on State vs State day. It was pouring down with rain and within 5 minutes of warm up I was soaked to the core. having only one VIC state team uniform, that was also soaked within 5 minutes of the first race and I was relying on portable hand warmers on my back and on my chest to keep me warm. Unfortunately, said heat packs actually burned me to the point where I still have blisters on my boobs (Too much information?) and on my back. Rookie error. In the end I borrowed a jumper off Tim and my mother’s Rainbird to keep me warm in conjunction with the heat packs and I was on my way. To distract myself from the cold, I took photos of Darren sleeping.


WAKEY WAKEY DARREN!!!!! (PS Steph wasn’t really asleep. But Darren was!)

I drummed two out of the three crews on the State Vs State days, including the 100m relay races which were really interesting to run. I haven’t participated in a relay race before and they are awesome! They were a little bit hard to coordinate because there’s so many people to have in marshalling, but it was great. Each team has a coloured flag and an official in their lane so you know when your boat has crossed the line and your other boat can start. It’s nerve wracking seeing all these other boats racing towards you, and then preparing to race back the other way but it’s so exciting.

We did really well and kicked NSW’s butt 🙂 Our Victorian team were really strong this year and we picked up some serious bling on State Vs State day. 3 Gold!


Victoria, REPRESENT! (I’m in the third row, sitting down about one inch from the left, Mum) 🙂

It was also great to see my friends from ACT Fire (my old state team) who jokingly called me a traitor haha! Actually it was just nice to see some familiar faces in general including faces from my old club in Canberra, the Ice Dragons. There were lots of Jokes about me leaving that club and joining the Flames too.


Rugged up in as many clothes as possible in a rare break from the rain

Our Prems days were a bit busier for me. I was on more crews – Still 200m, 500m, 2km but for for mixed and women’s. Perhaps the most memorable race for me was the 200m women’s race. We didn’t have one of the strong lanes and we were up against ACCA, Yarra River Dragons, and Te Waka (all very strong crews) and we fought really bloody hard. When we crossed the line, it looked like we might have come second, but then they announced it and we actually got first! (In an interesting turn of events, I might also add that YRD came 4th in that race.) There were tears of joy from some of the paddlers in the boat and it was such an amazing feeling to be a part of that. All of that hard work for the season really paid off for that single one minute race.

One of my other favourite races was the 2km sweeps race where we picked up a silver medal. Goodness me did my voice hurt after that race. YRD picked up the gold, but we managed to keep up a good time and take our corners really well and our paddlers just had an amazing rhythm which they held for the entire race. It was really fantastic to see them all lock in with one another and just thump the water with every stroke.

So, remember how I said I only wanted to come home with just one medal? Well … My haul was pretty damn impressive.



Um …. WINNER!!!

We still managed to have our fair share of drama. Our men’s crew managed to somehow capsize right on the finish line unfortunately, but they still manage to pick up fourth place in the race, even with flipping over. They were going so well, then the next minute I see Darren take the sweep oar out, and apparently someone shifted their weight , or they caught a wash and then suddenly …  PLOOP! They just rolled over and they all went for a bit of a swim. Just quietly, I was pretty happy I wasn’t on that crew because I did NOT feel like going for a swim at any point during nationals. The weather just wasn’t ever that nice. They weren’t the only boat to capsize though …. 10’s boats awer awfully tippy, as I’ve mentioned before, and they got a big clap from everyone as they came back in. They dragonboat community is a damn nice one!


Darren bailing the boat while everyone else just chills out.

It was great that we still managed to have some fun out there on the water too among all the seriousness. Our Irish captain, Aidan was great at keeping things light hearted, and trying to capture his own paparazzi paddling shot (“THEY’RE LOOKING GUYS! IT’S OK, I’LL PADDLE THE BOAT MYSELF!”). We had moments where we said realised it was Steph’s last race in Australia and proceeded to plash her (and everyone else in the boat) with water. We did the Flames star clap on the sidelines whenever we saw our boats come in to the finish line. We got around our team mates when things got tough. We made friends with people from different clubs. We were a damn good team. We ARE a damn good team.


Action shot.

Nationals wouldn’t be Nationals without an after party. Buuuuuutt we didn’t go to it. Instead we had a team dinner (to which I decided to get extremely dressed up and got a compliment or two on my outfit) where we got the remainder of our medals and then we went back to Serge’s where we had vodka and wine and where I apparently fell asleep talking to Serge. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. I fell asleep talking to my coach because I was drunk and tired. How fricking embarrasing. For someone who is Polish, I do not handle my liquor very well. Um, WHAT’S UP WITH THAT, MUM AND DAD?. (Just kidding. Apparently I’m a “sweet and lovable drunk”. I also happen to be very clumsy, spilling red wine everywhere. DAMMIT).


Before getting drunk, and falling asleep whilst talking to my coach.

So there you have it folks. That is nationals in a nutshell.Now I’m back at work and I’ve had a couple of weeks off. I’ll probably head back to paddling socially on Sundays so I stay in shape because I’ve already over indulged in nachos and alcohol (I told you, I have no self control with nachos), plus it’ll be nice to just keep in contact with everyone. Will it be cold? Yes. of course. It’s Melbourne. But that will be half the fun. Paddling with a bunch of rad people, then going out for brunch afterwards and complaining about the cold. Two thumbs up!

That’s all for now! Until next time!

Nervous Ramble

I’ve been madly packing things all weekend for Nationals, and the reality has hit that I  actually leave tomorrow night after work to embark on my trip to Albury. I leave immediately after work tomorrow night, arriving around 10pm I imagine. I’ve got everything standing in the bedroom ready to load into the car tomorrow morning – Blankets, pillows, food, suitcases, my paddle, a lifejacket, and an iPod adaptor for my car incase I get bored of my Harry Potter Audiobooks. And tonight? Frantic last minute things, like going to the Dr, getting some meds, giving the boyfriend far too many instructions on how to look after my guinea pig for a week …

I’m starting to get really nervous – like, really nervous, and I don’t know why. I’ve been to Nationals plenty of times before, but it’s my first time racing with Melbourne Flames and the Victorian State crew, so I wonder if that’s part of the reason why I’m feeling sick and having chest constrictions a day out from departure (hoo boy, just wait until CHINA then hahah). I don’t even know why I’m nervous. My crews are great – the people are rad, we’ve trained hard and it’s finally our time to shine. Is it anxiety about seeing my former club there? Is it anxiety about the 4 hour drive immediately after work, seeing as I rarely drive in Melbourne? I’ll have Mama and Papa K there, and if having your folks close by you isn’t the best safety blanket then I don’t know what is.

Of course, it didn’t help that I was actually sick over the weekend too and have come down with a cold 2 days before racing, plus everyone in my office being sick as well. It’s like my body has just held up it’s little tiny hands and is demanding rest, since I trained Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday over Easter while not feeling 100% (Serge will not be impressed if he knew). Well, little body … You gotta suck it up for another week! I did manage to squeeze in some quality couch time on Easter Monday, and go for a light gentle walk with my boyfriend (stopping to go and play on the swings in the playground) as final preparation but I have no more training sessions, and right now I’m just trying to give my body some decent food (and hope it keeps the food inside of me – TMI!), and deal with the constant nausea I seem to be having. Bad stomach. If you are nerves, I’m doomed on the start line.

I don’t know what to expect from this Nationals. of course, a small part of me is hoping that I come home with just one medal – something to make my folks’ spectating trip to Albury worth their while. Plus, after the tumultuous season I’ve had, it’d be a nice little pat on the back. But it isn’t about winning. I’ve made that mistake before going into Nationals where all I could do is think about the medals and built myself up for disappointment. These Nationals are run a lot deeper than that. Our coach always says that it’s not about results, it’s about the race, and that’s basically what I want to focus on doing. I just want to run a clean race – get all my calls perfect, amp the team up and show them that I’m good at what I do. Because I am. When I’m not nervous and I have a bit of faith in myself.

We’re as prepared as we can be. Most of us have raced on this course before too, so we have that advantage over interstate teams. I would have liked some more time on the drum before Nationals, but I’ll have to rely on what I know, and lip reading the sweep to get me through the first couple of days. I know I can do it. So why the nerves, body?!

Nerves are good. I’ve heard people say that if you’re not nervous then you’re over confident. But the flip side of that is too much nerves hinders your performance. I’ll just have to take a step back, tune out to some Chvrches before I race, and remember to focus on the present. I can’t change the results – what will be, will be. And I can’t change the past – I’ve come along way mentally, physically and psychologically. The only thing I can do is put my faith in the 21 other people in the boat with me and hope for the best.

Until then, all I can do is focus on one thing at a time, and that’s getting through the next 30 hours before departure with all my running around, and work and so on.

Wish me luck guys.