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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Nervous Ramble

I’ve been madly packing things all weekend for Nationals, and the reality has hit that I  actually leave tomorrow night after work to embark on my trip to Albury. I leave immediately after work tomorrow night, arriving around 10pm I imagine. I’ve got everything standing in the bedroom ready to load into the car tomorrow morning – Blankets, pillows, food, suitcases, my paddle, a lifejacket, and an iPod adaptor for my car incase I get bored of my Harry Potter Audiobooks. And tonight? Frantic last minute things, like going to the Dr, getting some meds, giving the boyfriend far too many instructions on how to look after my guinea pig for a week …

I’m starting to get really nervous – like, really nervous, and I don’t know why. I’ve been to Nationals plenty of times before, but it’s my first time racing with Melbourne Flames and the Victorian State crew, so I wonder if that’s part of the reason why I’m feeling sick and having chest constrictions a day out from departure (hoo boy, just wait until CHINA then hahah). I don’t even know why I’m nervous. My crews are great – the people are rad, we’ve trained hard and it’s finally our time to shine. Is it anxiety about seeing my former club there? Is it anxiety about the 4 hour drive immediately after work, seeing as I rarely drive in Melbourne? I’ll have Mama and Papa K there, and if having your folks close by you isn’t the best safety blanket then I don’t know what is.

Of course, it didn’t help that I was actually sick over the weekend too and have come down with a cold 2 days before racing, plus everyone in my office being sick as well. It’s like my body has just held up it’s little tiny hands and is demanding rest, since I trained Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday over Easter while not feeling 100% (Serge will not be impressed if he knew). Well, little body … You gotta suck it up for another week! I did manage to squeeze in some quality couch time on Easter Monday, and go for a light gentle walk with my boyfriend (stopping to go and play on the swings in the playground) as final preparation but I have no more training sessions, and right now I’m just trying to give my body some decent food (and hope it keeps the food inside of me – TMI!), and deal with the constant nausea I seem to be having. Bad stomach. If you are nerves, I’m doomed on the start line.

I don’t know what to expect from this Nationals. of course, a small part of me is hoping that I come home with just one medal – something to make my folks’ spectating trip to Albury worth their while. Plus, after the tumultuous season I’ve had, it’d be a nice little pat on the back. But it isn’t about winning. I’ve made that mistake before going into Nationals where all I could do is think about the medals and built myself up for disappointment. These Nationals are run a lot deeper than that. Our coach always says that it’s not about results, it’s about the race, and that’s basically what I want to focus on doing. I just want to run a clean race – get all my calls perfect, amp the team up and show them that I’m good at what I do. Because I am. When I’m not nervous and I have a bit of faith in myself.

We’re as prepared as we can be. Most of us have raced on this course before too, so we have that advantage over interstate teams. I would have liked some more time on the drum before Nationals, but I’ll have to rely on what I know, and lip reading the sweep to get me through the first couple of days. I know I can do it. So why the nerves, body?!

Nerves are good. I’ve heard people say that if you’re not nervous then you’re over confident. But the flip side of that is too much nerves hinders your performance. I’ll just have to take a step back, tune out to some Chvrches before I race, and remember to focus on the present. I can’t change the results – what will be, will be. And I can’t change the past – I’ve come along way mentally, physically and psychologically. The only thing I can do is put my faith in the 21 other people in the boat with me and hope for the best.

Until then, all I can do is focus on one thing at a time, and that’s getting through the next 30 hours before departure with all my running around, and work and so on.

Wish me luck guys.

 

 

 

 

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!