September

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

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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!

 

 

 

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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?