Ooooh Fancy

New Auroras paddle for China.

What do y’all think?

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Big News! We’re Off To China!

Firstly, I’m sorry it’s been forever since my last update, but boy, do I have some news for you!

I’ll happily backtrack and fill you in on what’s been happening in a moment, but first, the moment I’ve been working so hard towards has come and gone, and I’m super pleased to announce that I MADE THE AUSTRALIAN TEAM!

We’re off to China folks, and I couldn’t be more excited! It 8 short months I’ll be packing my bags and heading over to Kunming and preparing to compete in the World Dragonboat Championships and I am beyond stoked.

So let’s back track a little bit shall we? Let me fill you in on the last few couple of months and how trials went.

I took about a month off training to start with after I slipped down the stairs in my house (ouch!) and only started to get back into training just before trials which wasn’t the most ideal situation. I went to a couple of regattas though (The Battle of the Barwon and the Horsham regatta) to maintain my drumming skills and presence within the club and was pleased to walk away with some great results from those regattas. I even got to drum for one of the Dragons Abreast teams in Horsham who came in Third and they kindly gave me a pennant to show their thanks! (Incidentally, if you want to see a video of me hip thrusting with the inflatable ghost in the picture tied to my waist, head to the Melbourne Flames Dragonboating Instagram Page!)

 

Ok, so on to the actual trials because I’m sure that what you guys are dying to hear about! I had my fan base travel all the way from Goulburn to cheer me on (Thanks Mum and Dad!) and support me as this was the hardest campaign for me to try out for thus far. To the best of my knowledge (and I could be incorrect here still) there were three drummers trialing for two spots on the team. What I do know, is that we were all damn good at what we do. Adelina, from the ACT, can both paddle and drum and has had plenty of experience in overseas campaigns before. On the front of the boat she was loud and in charge – definitely something you want in a drummer. Erin, the other drummer from Melbourne was equally as formidable – her voice booming from the sidelines, as her skills as a sweep shone through from the front of the both. Both of these ladies have extra skills that really make them valuable at the front of the boat, and I think whoever our coach picked, he was going to have a tough decision on his hands. We all offered different qualities and we’re all great at what we do.

The camp went for two days – Most of the tests on the first day were focused around the paddlers. There were fitness tests, and they were in single crafts showing their skills and my goodness, are some of those guys and girls fit and impressive! Honestly, some of them had such a lovely stroke on them that I could have watched them paddle for days … it was so soothing! The second half of the first day we did some 2km turn races. My favourite! Why? TOTAL. DRAMA. CENTRAL.  There’s boats crashing. There’s waves. There’s plenty of yelling. You have to rev up your team. Oh goodness me, there’s adrenaline and I love, love, LOVE it. We did three of those races switching Sweeps, and I loved working with Eliza and Darren. I work with Darren all the time so there’s a level of comfort and control with the boat there. Working with Eliza was great too because she brings this amazing energy to the boat and you just want to be a part of it!

We had dinner and a review of day one which wrapped up around 8:30pm, then day two of the camp kicked off the following morning at 8am. Again, there were some single craft trials for the paddlers and more on water tests for the whole crews with some short distance races which were great.  It was a shorter day wrapping up around 3:30pm so people could fly back to WA or QLD, but it was enough after the day before.

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The 2017 Auroras Trialists after the camp wrapped up in Docklands, Melbourne

I honestly didn’t feel confident getting in to this campaign – As a drummer, you never really know where you stand, and I felt as though this time I didn’t have as much time to show my skills as I had at previous camps. Sometimes you feel like the coach is never around you so he can’t see the skills you have on display, but I guess he’s always watching, right?  It helps that I’m lightweight which is also what you want at the front of the boat! Well … I could have been lighter. You know, we’ve talked before how I’m a sucker for a Mexican feast, and I confess to indulging in a few of those and a few vegan pizzas pre-trials. Alas! It all worked out.

What I’m most excited for is the opportunity to travel to a place that is so out of my comfort zone doing a sport that I love. Ever since I was little, I’ve had this fascination with China – My mum traveled there when I was about 5 years old, and she bought me back this ring that has Chinese symbols on it. I wear it every day, and I’m fascinated with the culture, and indeed this sport and now I get to travel to the country Mama K went all those years ago and follow in her footsteps, but paving my own while I’m there.

This is my second time representing my country and I couldn’t be more excited, or proud. It’s been a very long road to get here since June with a lot of ups and downs along the way but standing here getting to share the news with everyone that I made the team makes it all seem worth it.

I might not come home with a medal around my neck, but I know I’ll come home having grown as a person and that’s really all I’m looking for right now. With an experience such as this under my belt, what more could I possibly ask for?

Here’s to making the team! Paddles up!

Rach xx

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Australian Team Trials

I received my official invitation to the Australian Team Selection camp on the weekend and it’s exciting to have an actual date for it. It falls on the 26th and 27th of November (my birthday is on the 28th too – Happy birthday to me!) so I’ll be a busy beaver trying to get ready over the next two months.

The trials are going to run over two days, with folk from all over Australia flying in for them. They’ll be two full days of on-water trials that will consist of jumping in and out of countless boats, faking confidence I don’t have as yet and taking command of a group of paddlers who have never paddled together before.

What’s worse is that Darren, the sweep who I’ve been working closely with, isn’t going to China anymore I don’t think so I’m really going to be thrown into the deep end now in terms of what sweep I’ll be working with, because I was just starting to get the hang of working with Darren and learning his calls and pre-empting what he was going to call out which would have been so amazing for trials, but now without him there I’m not actually sure what Sweeps will be trialing.

This makes me really nervous because I’ve always had the luxury of knowing the sweeps trialing. I’ve always worked with them previously in my club, or had some knowledge of them through the other people I’ve worked with. When I don’t know who I’m working with I tend to get quiet because I’m trying to suss them out and see how they work, but that’s the exact thing I can’t do at these trials.

I’m going to miss having Darren around on the back of the boat – He’s been teaching me some great stuff both as a paddler and as a drummer that’s been helping me grow a lot, and I was hoping that he’d be considering being a part of the team. Since he’s a part of the World Cup, I don’t think it ever occurred to me that he wouldn’t be trialing. But you know – This is a sport where we support ourselves financially. We don’t have any government subsidy so it’s expensive to go overseas twice in a year.

It’s interesting how one person can really help you develop as a paddler and as a drummer. Back in Canberra is was a guy called Kel – Super incredible guy. Friendly, charismatic, and someone who had a wealth of knowledge when it came to paddling and mentoring people. He knew when to nurture someone’s talent, and when to encourage them to push them to be better. In fact, it was Kel who promised me I could represent Australia within 3 years of taking up the sport with my talent – And he wasn’t wrong. kel always bought out the best in people, and he always bought out the best in me. When I was having a shitty day, he would encourage me to leave it on the water. When I was having a shitty day on the water, he would teach me ways to use that as a way of growing in the sport and develop from the things that didn’t go according to plan. Sadly, I’ve dropped out of contact with Kel now I’ve left Canberra, but I don’t think you ever forget someone who helps you grow. And I know I will always appreciate what he’s done for me. He might not know what he’s done, but he sure gave me the world and I appreciate the heck out of him for that.

So, back to trials. I have a vague inkling of what to expect … I’ve been through this twice before. The first time, unsuccessfully because my grandfather passed away while trials were happening and I pulled out. Truthfully, I don’t think I was ready for a spot on the team then anyway. Believe it or not, I was still getting over mild sea sickness and anxiety (yes, sea sickness. In a dragonboat). The second time, I was successful. And even then, I felt like I was barely ready for my place on the team again. I was over the sea sickness thing, but I was still dealing with the anxiety. I don’t think my anxiety will ever go away, but I know this time I’m ready. I’ve been through more. I’ve experienced more. I’ve trained under two different clubs. I know more people. I’ve come out of my comfort zone by leaving Canberra. I’m familiar with the location we’re trialing in. I’m ready.

Well. Almost.

Mentally I’m ready. I have 1kg to go before physically I’m back where I need to be. So I’m getting closer already.  1kg in 2 months is good. Cut out alcohol (except for special occasions) and that ought to take care of itself really. If I make the team, I’ll be on a full time alcohol ban, so I might as well start getting used to it.

The best part about trialing is seeing all my Canada team mates (who have been asking me if I’m trying out) again. I can’t wait to relive those awesome memories and get back on the front of a boat with a nice, powerful crew behind me again. I just love it.

November, November, November. You can’t come soon enough now, can you?

One Step Forwards, Two Steps Back

I think I finally have a date for the Australian team trials in November. They’re falling midway through the month and so I’ve taken a moment to sit down and take a look at where I am health wise and I’ve got to say …. Since the last time I wrote about where I was sitting, I’m not impressed!

I’ve had a few work functions and things on, and in the Sales arena, it’s quite a boozy environment. Couple that with poor food choices and over eating, and I’ve increased my weight, and my sleep schedule is completely out of whack. Mt training regime has been a little bit scattered too – I’m not managing to make it to my three weekly sessions because I’m so run down at the moment (probably from my bad food choices) and despite my boyfriend’s constant nagging I’m slowly slipping behind on where I want to be.

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So I had a bit of a chat with my boyfriend this morning and we’ve got a few strategies implemented to get me back on track again and try and maintain it until November trials.

Firstly, the nagging continues. That’s always going to be a given. The getting to training three times a week is tough because for two out of three sessions I’m paddling, and I’m just not a paddler. My body aches for days afterwards, and seizes up, so I’m either going to have to quickly get some muscle memory or invest in a large bottle of Radox bath gel.
Secondly – I need to lose 1.5kg to get back to the weight I need to be for trials. That’s going to severely reducing my alcohol intake again to practically nil, and reducing my portion sizes back to what I should realistically be eating. Oh, and licorice …. We’re going to have to break up again for a while. Sorry, friend. We had a good run though … 😦

The maintaining the weight and fitness is going to be the hardest part of all.Being in the club with the Australian team coach comes with it’s own personal expectations which I never really thought about. Being someone who has chronic fatigue, I have to learn how to manage that because I will have to turn up three times a week otherwise I will be booted from the team. No ifs, no buts. There’s going to be many tears, and many tantrums, I imagine.

I know that being an athlete is not a linear process – that you can’t always be making progress and sometimes you either have to plateau or you have to take a step back. In my case, this time it’s two steps back, but it’s better that I’ve caught this now early on in the season and I have time to sort this out before trials. It’s so easy to get caught up in every day life and not pay attention to your body and that’s exactly what I did.

So I’m going to sit outside in the sun today, and enjoy my boiled eggs and salad for lunch, before going for a brisk walk up to Typo to buy my friend a birthday card and then tonight I’ll wander off to training where the real work will begin.

Let’s do this.

Bench marking: Round 1

So I guess by now you’re probably wondering how the process goes when you want to be on the Australian team. Well, lucky for you, everything is starting to happen right now.

On the 1st July (oh my goodness, that feels like forever ago!) I put in an expression of interest to be a part of the Auroras. The timeline for the entire process usually looks a little something like this:

Put in expression of interest

  • 1 month after: Attend fitness bench marking in your state. If you pass bench marking:
  • 2 months after: Invited to a selection camp, usually held in QLD
  • 2 weeks: Begin the nail biting wait to find out if you made the team or not.

It’s a rough time line, but that’s usually how things go.

So we’re up to dot point #2 – the bench marking per state, which is due to happen next weekend. My friend Tim who is a paddler technically doesn’t have to do it because he’s already selected to represent Australia for a campaign that’s happening in October, but he’s doing it anyway. His fitness tests consist of far more than mine do as a drummer (obviously) Tim’s consist of kettle bells, push ups, chin ups, sit ups, beep tests, bench press and probably something else I’ve forgotten about. Maybe a flexibility test? Perhaps a weigh in? I’ll find out more next weekend.

Bench marking for a drummer at this stage is extremely different. For starters, we don’t really have to do anything, but I don’t like to be caught off guard. Usually at this stage, the drummers divide up and help jot down the results for the men’s and women’s bench marking results – or that’s how it’s been done in the past. This time it could be different … I could be called to have a weigh in. Which if that’s the case, that’s totally fine. Weight wise, I’m in my absolute prime – I just have to hold it here for another week before I can pig out on a burger and chips.

My real bench marking is done all at once – usually at selection camps. I’m tested for my weight then, my agility on the front of the boat, my ability to balance in rocky and windy conditions, my confidence, my voice, how I command a boat, how I work with the Sweep at the back of the boat and so on.

This time around I’m stressing out. There’s so much more competition this year and one of the other girls I’m against is fierce. Her voice is far more stronger than mine and I’m wracking my brains trying to think of everything I’ve been told in the past of how to make my voice carry. I know that it does in the middle of a race, as opposed to river runs down the Yarra on a Sunday morning where I don’t really want to be too loud because I don’t want to disturb people having their Sunday morning coffee, but at the same time … STRESS. And this is only one girl! What about the others that are going to come from other states that I don’t know about?

The only thing I have that’s keeping me sane is that Serge, who is the head coach of the Aus team, casually told me about a month or so ago that I was a good drummer because I knew my calls. I’m holding on to those words, and right now I’m doing my best to work with Darren, the sweep from our club who could be going to China to try and improve my chances of making the team.

What else am I doing? Oh yes … I’m looking at buying a wobble board to try and work on my balance and strengthen my ankles so I can hover above my drummers chair if I need to. One of the Australian drummers, Pauley, was able to do that and I respected her so much as a drummer. Granted, she was a lot shorter than I was, but if push comes to shove in a 2km race and I need to stand to balance the boat out, I’ll be able to do it. I want every advantage I can get because going to China is something I desperately want to do. I can’t un-grow, so it’s the next best thing!

So these trials are next weekend. I’m (im)patiently awaiting an email with the fine details in it, and hoping I can squeeze in some time with my brother too while he’s down from Queensland. From there, we wait. And we train. And we wait. And we train.

Stay tuned for the post-trials deets!

Rach xx