Nationals

My goodness … Where do I begin. What a whirlwind.

It’s been two weeks since Nationals now and I think I’m only just starting to catch up. As predicted, I got the post-nationals cold (no doubt from being out in the rain for 2-3 days) and I’m only just starting to recover now. It’s nice to be back at home with the boy and the guinea pig with a lot of stories to tell. Nationals was an intense five days and by the end of it I was really starting to feel it – and I wasn’t even paddling. It was five long days of early starts, late finishes and lots of nervous energy buzzing around the camp. I arrived at a reasonable hour on Wednesday night after my boss let me take off early to beat traffic, so I managed to get a good nights rest before the Masters days kicked off.

We shared our tent with Komodo from Canberra, Different Strokes from Sydney and Sloths from Sydney, and let me tell you, we had a ball. I got to see all my friends and it was awesome! Diagonal from us was my old club, Ice Dragons, from Canberra. I didn’t drum too many crews on the Masters days, only women’s, so I had lots of time to soak up the atmosphere and hang out with my folks, but the crews I did drum did amazingly well. It was a lot of fun to be on the front of the Masters boats because it’s such a different feeling and a different vibe. More mature, more focused sometimes. We got a Bronze and Silver medal in the Masters Division which was really exciting for us!

The weather was absolutely awful on State vs State day. It was pouring down with rain and within 5 minutes of warm up I was soaked to the core. having only one VIC state team uniform, that was also soaked within 5 minutes of the first race and I was relying on portable hand warmers on my back and on my chest to keep me warm. Unfortunately, said heat packs actually burned me to the point where I still have blisters on my boobs (Too much information?) and on my back. Rookie error. In the end I borrowed a jumper off Tim and my mother’s Rainbird to keep me warm in conjunction with the heat packs and I was on my way. To distract myself from the cold, I took photos of Darren sleeping.

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WAKEY WAKEY DARREN!!!!! (PS Steph wasn’t really asleep. But Darren was!)

I drummed two out of the three crews on the State Vs State days, including the 100m relay races which were really interesting to run. I haven’t participated in a relay race before and they are awesome! They were a little bit hard to coordinate because there’s so many people to have in marshalling, but it was great. Each team has a coloured flag and an official in their lane so you know when your boat has crossed the line and your other boat can start. It’s nerve wracking seeing all these other boats racing towards you, and then preparing to race back the other way but it’s so exciting.

We did really well and kicked NSW’s butt 🙂 Our Victorian team were really strong this year and we picked up some serious bling on State Vs State day. 3 Gold!

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Victoria, REPRESENT! (I’m in the third row, sitting down about one inch from the left, Mum) 🙂

It was also great to see my friends from ACT Fire (my old state team) who jokingly called me a traitor haha! Actually it was just nice to see some familiar faces in general including faces from my old club in Canberra, the Ice Dragons. There were lots of Jokes about me leaving that club and joining the Flames too.

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Rugged up in as many clothes as possible in a rare break from the rain

Our Prems days were a bit busier for me. I was on more crews – Still 200m, 500m, 2km but for for mixed and women’s. Perhaps the most memorable race for me was the 200m women’s race. We didn’t have one of the strong lanes and we were up against ACCA, Yarra River Dragons, and Te Waka (all very strong crews) and we fought really bloody hard. When we crossed the line, it looked like we might have come second, but then they announced it and we actually got first! (In an interesting turn of events, I might also add that YRD came 4th in that race.) There were tears of joy from some of the paddlers in the boat and it was such an amazing feeling to be a part of that. All of that hard work for the season really paid off for that single one minute race.

One of my other favourite races was the 2km sweeps race where we picked up a silver medal. Goodness me did my voice hurt after that race. YRD picked up the gold, but we managed to keep up a good time and take our corners really well and our paddlers just had an amazing rhythm which they held for the entire race. It was really fantastic to see them all lock in with one another and just thump the water with every stroke.

So, remember how I said I only wanted to come home with just one medal? Well … My haul was pretty damn impressive.

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BLING BLING!!!

Um …. WINNER!!!

We still managed to have our fair share of drama. Our men’s crew managed to somehow capsize right on the finish line unfortunately, but they still manage to pick up fourth place in the race, even with flipping over. They were going so well, then the next minute I see Darren take the sweep oar out, and apparently someone shifted their weight , or they caught a wash and then suddenly …  PLOOP! They just rolled over and they all went for a bit of a swim. Just quietly, I was pretty happy I wasn’t on that crew because I did NOT feel like going for a swim at any point during nationals. The weather just wasn’t ever that nice. They weren’t the only boat to capsize though …. 10’s boats awer awfully tippy, as I’ve mentioned before, and they got a big clap from everyone as they came back in. They dragonboat community is a damn nice one!

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Darren bailing the boat while everyone else just chills out.

It was great that we still managed to have some fun out there on the water too among all the seriousness. Our Irish captain, Aidan was great at keeping things light hearted, and trying to capture his own paparazzi paddling shot (“THEY’RE LOOKING GUYS! IT’S OK, I’LL PADDLE THE BOAT MYSELF!”). We had moments where we said realised it was Steph’s last race in Australia and proceeded to plash her (and everyone else in the boat) with water. We did the Flames star clap on the sidelines whenever we saw our boats come in to the finish line. We got around our team mates when things got tough. We made friends with people from different clubs. We were a damn good team. We ARE a damn good team.

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Action shot.

Nationals wouldn’t be Nationals without an after party. Buuuuuutt we didn’t go to it. Instead we had a team dinner (to which I decided to get extremely dressed up and got a compliment or two on my outfit) where we got the remainder of our medals and then we went back to Serge’s where we had vodka and wine and where I apparently fell asleep talking to Serge. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. I fell asleep talking to my coach because I was drunk and tired. How fricking embarrasing. For someone who is Polish, I do not handle my liquor very well. Um, WHAT’S UP WITH THAT, MUM AND DAD?. (Just kidding. Apparently I’m a “sweet and lovable drunk”. I also happen to be very clumsy, spilling red wine everywhere. DAMMIT).

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Before getting drunk, and falling asleep whilst talking to my coach.

So there you have it folks. That is nationals in a nutshell.Now I’m back at work and I’ve had a couple of weeks off. I’ll probably head back to paddling socially on Sundays so I stay in shape because I’ve already over indulged in nachos and alcohol (I told you, I have no self control with nachos), plus it’ll be nice to just keep in contact with everyone. Will it be cold? Yes. of course. It’s Melbourne. But that will be half the fun. Paddling with a bunch of rad people, then going out for brunch afterwards and complaining about the cold. Two thumbs up!

That’s all for now! Until next time!

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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