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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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.

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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!

It’s time

And just like that, the season is over!

I’ve barely had time to write about the last few regattas because we’ve been gearing up for Nationals, and now our final week of training is here. This time next week I’ll be competing and it’s hard to believe that not so long ago I was there thinking “Nationals is months away” and now I’m sitting here writing a list of things I need to buy and do this weekend so I’m all prepared for competition.

Our last regatta, the Victorian Championships, was fantastic. We had a lot of great results in that regatta, and we all had a fantastic time. Have a look at how well we did!

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Pretty neat, huh? Perhaps my favourite race out of all of those was the 2km sweeps race. I was on the Blue team in the second heat, and we were up again 2 YRD crews. We managed to over take one of the crews, and hold off the other crew that was behind us enough to take out first place. As the drummer up the front of the boat, I rode that crew so freaking hard that I needed to get a strepsil off Darren afterwards. 🙂

After that regatta wrapped up, we grabbed a picture of the whole Victorian crew. and what a great looking bunch we are! It’s so fantastic so see so many different clubs represented this year! In the premier division alone, we have a great mix of Southern Storm, CYSM, YRD and Flames, to name a few, and I’m so excited to see us all come together I feel like we’re going to perform really well at Nationals this year.

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I’m unfortunately on all the “B” crews for the state teams (Possibly because I’m a bit of a fatty right now) but I think it’s still going to be great to see our “A” teams go out there and kick some ass. I’m excited for the 100m relay races actually – I’ve never done one of those before and 100m is such a tiny distance – it’s essentially nothing in a dragonboat. It’s Essentially a start, so if you don’t have a good start you’ve essentially lost it from the get go.

It’s interesting being in a 10’s boat too – they’re extremely tippy and I’m still really nervous on them because they’re quite prone to capsizing. You really have to trust your sweep and trust your crew and being up the front, I have to have my poker face on and not let my nerves show because I don’t want that passed down onto the team. Plus, you know, I’m a professional. I shouldn’t be nervous about a tippy boat by now. I’ve capsized before! It’s not fun, but we wear life jackets so if we go over, I’ll be buoyant.

I’ve been struggling drastically with my weight prior to Nationals which has been stressing me out to the max. you see, I’ve just started this awesome new job which has an unlimited supply of Tim tams, and I might have gone a little bit crazy and I got up to 53kg which is porky for me. I’ve managed to get back down to 51.5kg which is where I think  I’ll try and sit for Nationals because there’s only so many eggs and salads I can eat before I crave rice from the lunch trolley guy (chicken korma and rice today guys, instead of the usual roast chicken salad. Gotta live it up, it’s the long weekend!)

So! Nationals. I was absolutely honoured to be asked to drum the Masters crews for Melbourne Flames. It means an extra two days of racing and that means an extra 2 days of a chance of medals! Not that I’m competitive or anything 😉 But in all seriousness, I like out masters crew – they’re a good bunch of people and there are some amazing paddlers on that crew. I think we’ll perform well and I’m looking forward to being on the front of the boat with them.

I’ll be travelling up to Albury after work on Wednesday night, leaving by boys (read: boyfriend and guinea pig) to have a week long bachelor party at home. I wonder what they’ll get up to? No doubt Caesar will lose some weight because Reece doesn’t over feed him like I do! I’m thrilled to have my parents coming to Albury to support me for Nationals this year – doesn’t get much cooler than having your own personal cheer squad now, does it? They followed me to Canada a couple of years ago, and now they’re bringing their caravan to Albury and following me there to watch me drum for a week. Awesome parents? Yeah, I got a couple!

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See you at nationals guys!

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

Taking The Reigns

I haven’t been to training for a while, I confess. Life has a habit of getting in the way of extra curricular activities, and life has indeed done that to me recently.

I’ve been nurturing one very ill guinea pig – syringe feeding him 4 times a day as he recovers form molar surgery and syringe feeding him water. He’s almost 7 years old, and I love him dearly so he’s been a priority to me lately.

On Sunday he was well enough for me to go back to training so I jumped back onto the front of the boat and went out for a series of runs up and down Docklands.

We had a trainee sweep on the back of the boat as Darren was on his way to China, so I took over all the calls for the training sessions, which was a whole new experience for me. I usually work off what the sweep says, and relay their calls so actually taking control of the whole boat was brand new and I was terrified!

The first run was a bit messy – I was still trying to  figure out how to get my calls precise, and remember to call technique points, and keep an eye on the stop watch as well, but I managed to get it together pretty quickly after that and take the team out for a pretty good training session. I have a whole new level of respect for sweeps now who not only have to yell out calls, and focus on stop watches, but also steer a boat as well, because it’s a lot to try and do when you’re trying to keep an eye on the guys in the boat to make sure they’re responding to what you’re actually calling out.

Also, massive props to our trainee sweep too for taking us out on Sunday because it was crazy windy and I would have been absolutely terrified to be steering a boat in those conditions. She did amazingly well, and managed to look cool, calm and collected the whole time which was fantastic considering it was only her 5th time steering a boat. I tried steering once and we went around in a giant circle and I freaked out, so it’s not an easy job and she’s not much bigger than me!

My aim for next week is to get back to another training session on a weeknight, since I’ve been missing a few of those recently. Small steps … Always small steps. But given how things are with my life right now, small steps are really all I can ask of myself.

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.

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