Carrum Cup / Christmas

HAPPY NEW YEAR FOLKS!!! It’s finally 2017 – the year that we actually get to go to China. Pretty exciting stuff, hey? A lot has been going on lately, so sit back and relax while I catch you up.

I promised I would catch you up on the Carrum Cup regatta in my last post, so let’s have a quick recap on that. Yikes! The Carrum Cup regatta was seems like such a long time ago now though! We drove down there early that Sunday morning and set up camp next to the race course, surrounded by heaps of other teams from Victoria. Weather wise, as predicted, it wasn’t brilliant. I was shivering my butt off and wearing all the clothes I packed, and trying to bask in what little sunlight was available between races just trying to keep warm.

Racing wise, it was equally as tough. Yarra River Dragons were hot on our tails at every given opportunity and honestly, they’re one heck of a strong team. We seemed to jump the start from them, but then half way through the race they’d just accelerate out of nowhere and BAM. They’d cross the finish line before us! Those guys are definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with when it comes time for Nationals this year, and even just competing with them bought out my competitive side.

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Right on, Kermit. You know how I feel.

We ended up doing really well though in my opinion. Overall race results were:
Premier Mixed 20’s: 2nd Place
Open 10’s: 1st Place
Premier Mixed 10’s: 2nd Place
Premier Women 10’s: 2nd Place
Premier Open 20’s: 1st Place
Mixed Master’s 10’s: 1st Place

Pretty proud of how we went, all things considering!

In December the club did some great Christmassy things that really helped get into the spirit of the festive season. Being my first Christmas in Melbourne without my family, I was feeling a bit homesick, but it’s hard to keep that feeling when you’re on a dragonboat in a Santa Hat, surrounded by a fantastic bunch of people who have really welcomed you into their club in the past 12 months.

Perhaps my favourite thing that we did was the Kris Kringle breakfast after training. Almost 5 tables of us piled into this little cafe with gifts to swap around, but not in the traditional sense … The present you received could be taken from you and swapped out as many times as people liked! So we got some breakfast, took a number and when my number came up (lucky 33 I think) I was on the receiving end of a large amount of powdered Gatorade. I traded that for a nice Cheese board, which then got swapped for some sun glasses, which then got swapped finally for some SPF 50+ Sunscreen. Hells yeah – Don’t have to replace my sunscreen myself this year! #Winner

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Yay for Christmas hats!

So here we are now, in January, at the tail end of the Silly Season, and silly it was indeed. I confess that I over indulged good and proper and am now the proud owner of 2 extra kilos of weight that I need to shed to get back to my China Weight. I’ve completely eliminated alcohol from my diet, and have started a 28 day tea detox, or rather “Teatox” to help flush out all the crap from my system, ready to start preparing my body for the year ahead. I’ve started paddling again at training too which has been a bit of a shock to the system, but I paddled 2 x 8km sessions last week without missing a stroke so I’m pretty happy with myself for doing that. Aside from that, I’m also looking at starting some Yoga/Barre classes to run along side the dragonboat sessions, and home sit ups/crunches/squats I’ve been doing to help get my body as ready as possible for China. Now, if someone can take the box of Cadbury’s Favourites away, that would be rad ….

Preceding that though, January brings some other things for me to get through. Our next regatta coming up is the Mile High regatta held in Falls Creek on the 28th of January which is set to be a really great weekend away, so I’m looking forward to that a lot.  But even before that I have benchmarking for the State dragonboat team, as well as Bootcamp for my club team, as well as a fundraising BBQ at Bunnings here in Brunswick. (Come grab a snag, everyone!) Busy, busy, busy! And from now on it’ll only get busier too because it’s only 3 months until Nationals. *3 MONTHS*. Eeeek! This will be my first nationals racing under a different club, so I’m very excited to race in the blue and yellow and hopefully bring home some bling.

So there you have it! There’s plenty of things in the works and there’ll be a lot to catch you up on in the next installment of my blog. Until then though, paddles up!

Rach xx

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.

Battle Of The Barwon

ROAD TRIPPPPP!!!!!

I love a good road trip to regattas. Back in Canberra, my favourite regatta was always the Flowing Festival that was held in Jindabyne each year. It’s always great to wake up early (well, that part isn’t great), pick up your mates, jump in the car and roll down the highway wrapped up in conversation about dragonboating which gets you pumped for the day ahead.

Last Sunday’s regatta was in Geelong; an easy 80 mins from Melbourne. I managed to drag my boyfriend along to the regatta, so we picked up Tim and Caitlyn at the boat hub around 7am where we loaded paddles, bags and cake into the car before cruising out of Melbourne and down the freeway. Caitlyn is from Malaysia, so on the way down she was telling us some great stories about the different types of paddling styles and regattas that she races back at her home. It’s great to hear about how this sport is experienced all around the world! Some races, she was saying, are raced without lanes, so it’s basically a free for all. Some big regattas are “scored” where the team that wins the event three times gets to keep the trophy forever, but otherwise they don’t have a points scoring system, and they race against other international teams all the time. It’s funny to think that – I mean, we’re so close to New Zealand and we never race them. In fact, I don’t even know if they have a dragonboat team. I assume they do?

After we arrived we found a comfy place for our team to nest for the day, and got comfy. There were three heats of four boats that were going down the river that day and we were in the last heat. Most teams had only entered one crew, like us, with the exception of Yarra River Dragons (YRDs) who entered in two boats. They ended up sending a 10’s crew down the river and I honest commend them for that because good Lord, that would have been a hell of a slog. 6.5km in a heavy boat with 10 peeps? There’s no way I would have survived!

So we kind of pottered around for most of the morning really. We could see the start and the finish of each races but being a river run, there’s really only so much you can see obviously. I chatted with a few of my team members I didn’t know since I’m still relatively new in the club, took some photos, and stayed snuggled up in my jacket since Geelong put on some windy weather for us. Perhaps my favourite photo of the day is the one I’ll post below – I love the dragonboats when they’re all dressed and ready for racing.

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Mmmm … Delicious shallots.

There’s usually a ceremony before nationals where you “awaken the dragons” before big events, where you dot their eyes (to awaken them from their slumber) and present them offerings – There’s usually fruit baskets and they are presented with shallots which are placed in their mouths. I can’t remember the significance of the shallots which is a shame, because I think they look super cute when they’re painted to look so fierce, then they have a delicate bunch of spring onions sitting in their open mouths. Little cuties.

We jumped in a boat around 11:15am (Lucky boat 3 who still had his shallots in his mouth after two races) and after some friendly banter on the start line with YRD on the start line, we took off. They were staggered starts, with about a minute between each boat and we started third. Our Sweep, Darren, and I rode our crew up and down that river, overtaking one other crew in our heat at around the half way mark and it just made our crew hungry for more. That crew … Goodness – they were on point. If we asked for a lift in power, they lifted. If we asked for longer strokes, they went longer. They were responsive, they maintained their pace, and they worked together so bloody well that I couldn’t have been more proud of them. And Darren was equally as stoked too.

Want to know how well they worked? They earned themselves FIRST PLACE. And I was damn proud to be leading them to victory. Second was the 10’s crew from YRD, and third was the other YRD crew, so you can see who out competition is here for the season! But it’s a nice friendly rivalry which is nice. Most of the people on my team and on YRD paddle together on the Australian team, so we’re all friends and there’s some great sportsmanship between the two, and indeed all of the teams.

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One of our paddlers, John, and our captain for the day, Jacquie, holding our trophy!

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The times for all of the boats that competed

How else do you reward your paddlers? FOOD. Lunch at the Little Creatures Brewery in Geelong (hey, it’s not technically Nationals training season just yet!). Piling back into the car, we went and grabbed a beer/cider, and some delicious food with our team mates and some of the other teams as a reward for our hard work before cruising back down the freeway back to cloudy ole Melbourne.

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Hearty post regatta meals. Awwwww yiss!

So we’re back to training again tonight and Melbourne’s put on fabulous weather for us (#Sarcasm #Rain) so that’s going to be super amounts of fun! Our next regatta is actually in Horsham (ROAD TRIPPPPPPP!!!!) but I won’t be attending that one because I bought tickets to a Halloween bash and Halloween is actually my favourite shindig of the year (go figure – I loathe scary movies), but the one after that is in Ballarat which falls a couple of days before my birthday so I have a feeling that’s going to be all kinds of fun. My folks are coming down for that one so you can probably expect some crazy photos and some mischief from that regatta. Whenever Mama and Papa K come to regattas, they’re always cheering from the sidelines! Even when they came to they were dressed up in their matching clothes they bought from Nationals held in Melbourne a few years back, God love them.

How do you thank your folks for following you around the world supporting you? I think if I make the Australian team this year I’ll buy a paddle, and an extra shirt and frame it and give it to them for their wall. It’s not much, but it’s something ….

Okies. Enough rambling! Hope you enjoyed the pics! I’ve got a hankering for some shallots 😉

Until next time ….

Rach x

Come and Try Day

There’s something nice about spending Saturday and Sunday on the water. I feel so much more relaxed having had some time in the sun and fresh air, with water splashing around me. In addition to this weekend’s training for next weekend’s regatta,  we had out Come and Try day which bought out around 2 boat loads of new paddlers experiencing dragonboating for the first time.

Darren and I took out our boat and taught them the basic tricks of the trade; how to hold a paddle, how to follow the beat of the drum, how to bring power into the boat and the importance on bonding together as a team to work towards a common goal. What was awesome was seeing these 20 nervous people who barely knew each other go from struggling to keep in time, to working together, having a laugh and absolutely kicking ass in under 90 minutes. I feel like Darren and I taught our newbies well!

We lined up our boat with the two other boats and made them do some mini races and our boat cleaned up in all three races, and I couldn’t have been more proud of them. They were nailing the timing, and getting their paddles in the water at a great angle and trying their absolute hardest and just having a super awesome time. Undefeated rookie champions! The two girls stroking our boats were absolute legends. We had a great time chatting and having a laugh and I let them drum on the way back, and it was great having people come up to me afterwards and thank me for a great session and say they had fun. I mean, I had fun, so I was hoping to God they were having an equally as fun time as I was.

Here are some pics from the weekend.

 

 

So next weekend is the Battle of the Barwon Regatta and I’m pretty keen for that. We’ll be road tripping to Geelong and like I’ve mentioned before, it’ll be my first regatta in Melbourne and as part of this dragonboat club. I think the guys will do well – All their river runs each Sunday will have helped them immensely and I won’t be slowing them down my attempting to paddle in the boat (read: pass out in the boat) so I’m keen to see how they’ll do. I’ve got quite a big week ahead of me work wise this week so I’m looking forward to unwinding this weekend with a regatta even though the weekend is meant to be absolutely miserable (of course!). Better dig out the rest of my snow gear! I know I say this often, but for someone who has never been to the snow, I own an obscene amount of snow gear. One day I’ll get to the snow. Then I’ll be set!

Until next time!

Rach x

First Day of the New Season

Guys …. The new season kicked off yesterday, so we’re officially back to training 3 times a week.

I rocked up to training after work on a cold and wet Melbourne day. Despite the fact that the weather was miserable the water was in perfect condition for paddling – delightfully flat, a puff of breeze and the city lights playing in the background off the water. Picturesque, no? You know I’m a drummer. I’m tiny. I’m built like a grasshopper, not a paddler. So when I went to training yesterday, I was expecting to kind of be eased back into the boat, and maybe learn some race calls for the Battle of the Barwon regatta that’s coming up in a couple of weeks. Instead, I grabbed a paddle and paddled 5km pretty much non-stop, and man, am I feeling it today! I think the last time I actually paddled was in like, March, and I don’t think it was for any large distance like that, so my back and my shoulders are super sore today.

But being in the boat gave me a new appreciation for what I call out as a drummer, and the technique points that our sweep, Darren, calls out. I love the way that he helps us re-focus with is “8..9..10” calls when we’re focusing on a specific thing, like going at 90% or focusing on the Catch, because it really bring your mind back to what you’re doing instead of how much your physically hurting. And for a while there I was seriously hurting. I think I was in denial for a long time about what I was doing. I was like “there’s no way I can do this. I’m a drummer, I can’t paddle 5km” but then by about the 3km mark I was like “Well, I can’t get out of the boat So……..” and I kind of settled into a rhythm and I went from there.

They were going to make me do another 5km but I (respectfully) bailed. One was enough for this little drummer girl! I’m definitely happy to learn how to paddle, but perhaps not in an endurance style environment. I’ve never been an endurance athlete. Even in high school I was better at the 200m track races than the 500m track races. It’s really all a mental game and that’s the hardest thing to overcome in sport. Anyone and anything can psych you out and you have to be in such a good head space. I remember at Worlds last year the Swiss bought giant Cow Bells with them to ring from the sidelines which we could hear from the marshalling tent and I always wondered if that was them using the bells to cheer their squad or to get into the other teams heads ….

The regatta coming up is a 6.5km race, so naturally that’s what we’re training for right now. The regatta after that is a mix of 200m and 500m I think, so hopefully if I’m thrown into the boat to paddle again I won’t die of exhaustion. My coach says it’s good to get into the boat though every now and then so I can get a feel for the boat and a feel for what it’s like to be a paddler and I completely see where he’s coming from because those 5km hurt. So I have a better understanding now of what some of my calls should be this weekend when we do another river run which is good! Unless I end up paddling again! Haha. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen 🙂 But even if it does, remember: Positive mind, positive attitude!

Until text time,

Rach x

Picture Time!

Bonus picture of me from Canada last year! Look at me in my little knee pads. Those drums had skin that stuck out around the rim that were cutting my legs to shreds so I ended up wearing my knee pads around my shins to protect my legs!

It’s interesting because all the drums are different, even in Australia, so it makes it a bit of a novelty seeing what my legs will look like after each regatta / national championship. War wounds! At least I’m smiling 🙂

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How good did the Australian Opens crew look from last year? Super strong!