State Trials

It’s always interesting participating in dragonboat trials around Australia. I’ve definitely noticed the difference between ACT and VIC states with their testing, and I think right from the word go, how you trial sets the bar for what kind of standard you’ll have for your team.

And for the VIC team? Only the highest standard.

I’ve never done benchmarking in an offsite facility before, so the trials were a real eye opener for me. We had them at AAMI park and the equipment was all state of the art. Perfect for beep test, chin ups, sit ups, kettle bell, bench press, and weigh ins.

As a drummer, I don’t have to do too much for bench marking as all my trials are on water. But I turned up to AAMI park, and watched in awe as these paddlers showed off their amazing strength with their individual tests. I think about how many sit ups these guys and girls did, and I don’t think I could compare – I struggle with crunches alone right now! And the chin ups …. The upper body strength these folks have is so amazing. I’m still working on my upper body strength but I can tell you right now I am in AWE of what these guys can achieve. Some of the paddlers could bust out some chin ups like they were sitting around having a cup of tea on a lazy Sunday morning, whereas I know if it were me I’d be flailing on that bar so badly. They make it all look so EASY, and I know for a fact it isn’t! I remember sitting on the front of the boat a couple of years ago watching our strokes paddle during training, and they both had such a beautiful stroke that I remember sitting there thinking that I could sit there and watch them paddle for days because they made it look so effortless. That’s the sign of a great paddler!

I’m going to say that the calibre of the people who trialed were out of this world. Every time I attend bench marking as a drummer, I am SO impressed by our paddlers. They’re fit, they’re strong, they’re dedicated and they’re excited to be part of the team. As a drummer, that’s what I love to see. I love to see the enthusiasm of each of the paddlers at bench marking, and it actually gives me something to aspire to.

Right now, I’m not much of a paddler, because I haven’t done much paddling in the past. But I’d love to get to a level of fitness where I could pick up a kettle bell and swing it around for 2 minutes continuously like it weighed nothing more than a feather.

I’m pleased to say that I’ve made the Victorian state team this year, and I am STOKED to represent my second state within Australia. When I represented the ACT, I was always in awe of what the Victorian team achieved, and now I get to be a part of that, so to say I’m thrilled to be a part of the team is a bit of an understatement.

And do you want to know what makes victory a little bit sweeter? Our uniforms have sea horses on them. SEA HORSES. I fricken LOVE SEA HORSES.

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SEA HORSES FTW!!!!!!

So we have a State training camp next weekend which will be our first one together which I’m super excited about. I’m looking forward to meeting the team and seeing what we can do together at Nationals this year. Like …. SUPER excited. I’m expecting great things from this team this year -we have a stellar coach, we have amazing paddlers and we definitely have the enthusiasm and dedication behind us that’s going to help us be successful.

Did I mention that nationals are only 2 months away. TWO MONTHS, PEOPLE.

Get excited, because in no time at all we’re going to be crashing Albury/Wodonga and bringing the competition! *excited happy dance*

More after State Camp, guys!

Until then, paddles up!

Rach xx

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Trials and Thoughts

I’m back!

Trials have now officially been and gone and now the super long wait until November begins. What’s in November, you might ask? Another selection camp. A week before my birthday too.

For me, as I mentioned, the trials were basically non-existent. I watched on as the paddlers performed their bench marking that consisted of a weigh in, kettle bells, sit ups, chin ups, bench press, and a beep test. Was I impressed? Absolutely. These guys are doing tests that there’s simply no way I could do and I am insanely grateful that all of my tests are performed on water. I don’t think I could bench press a certain percentage of my body weight (Sorry guys, confidential information as to what the percentage is), even though I’m light as a feather. Could you imagine me trying to bench press something with my grass hopper arms? I doubt I’d be able to lift the bar alone without weights on it! These guys were bench pressing a whole Rach. A whole Rach. WHAT EVEN.

Did I dodge the weigh in this time? Betcha bottom dollar I did! Though I jumped on the two sets of scales any way (to get a an average of my weight) and I can happily report that I’m right where I need to be. I just need to maintain this weight for another 3 months (eeeek!) for the selection camp and the Australian Coach should be happy.

But therein lies the challenge. You see, just down the road from where I live is a pub that does fabulous vegan nachos and jugs of mojitos and I’m a sucker for a Mexican feast, and nachos in general. Which means I eat the whole plate and sweet baby Jesus are they amazing …   #NoSelfRestraint

But the next three months health wise are critical, and I confess I’ve been dropping the ball lately. It’s going to take about three months for me to really get things back on track – that’s getting everything back into shape; my diet, eliminating 95% of alcohol from day-to-day life, figuring out how to get my sleep schedule back in order, getting back into a regular training regime, and working out my own off water training to make myself more appealing at the selection camp, and getting my mental health in check too (a great mind set is important!). I might throw in a massage every 3 weeks to keep my body in check, and I’ve implemented “Self-Care Sunday” where I sit down and do one to two things to really pay attention to myself.

Keeping healthy is key for any paddler, drummer or sweep. It’s important that we don’t burn ourselves out, so listening to our body is critical. Often we get so caught up in our training schedules that we don’t do this and this is where things start to get dangerous. It can lead to injury and sickness and time off from the sport and indeed from work respectively.

So how do we do this? How do we listen to our bodies? Before and after training sessions, looking after ourselves is a must. Nourishing our bodies with the right food is where is all begins. My Mum, or Mama K as she’s known as, always used to tell me that my body is like a car and food is fuel. The better the fuel, the better the performance of the car. Or in this case, the paddler. As much as I love my vegan nachos, I’m not going to get far on them when I’m in the boat because it’s just empty energy. Nuts, lean meat, plenty of fruit and veg, and hydration is key. Sounds simple, right? You’d be surprised how often I forget the hydration part. There’s still room for the occasional treat, but it’s all about moderation.
Stretching is just as important, but stretching correctly. Stretching before and after racing/training is a must to obviously avoid injury and warm up the body accordingly. Listening to your body in the boat is key too – if your body is hurting in a way that is hasn’t before, easing off is a good thing. And afterwards, the right recovery is important too. Baths, massages, physiotherapy if needed, compression gear … These are all useful things. I alone could pretty much keep Lush in business with the amount of bath bombs I buy fortnightly.

Three months might seem like a long time to stay focused, and in the back of my mind it feels like it’ll be an eternity. But the new dragonboat season is just kicking off next week, which means we’re back to on water training three times a week, with the first regatta coming up on the 11th September and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s my first season down here in Melbourne and I’m eager to see how different it is compared to Canberra. The first difference already is that you get to go away for regattas – The first one isn’t in Docklands, it’s in Geelong I think, so I’m packing my stuff and some mates into a car and road tripping it to Geelong for the day! Kind of excited 🙂
I’ll definitely keep you guys posted about the regattas and provide some pictures.

Ok, I think I’ve rambled enough for this morning!

Until next time,

Rach x

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