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!

Chinese New Year Regatta

So last weekend was the much anticipated Chinese New Year regatta held in Footscray – the first and only regatta held in Melbourne. I actually love Chinese New Year more than our New Year so this was a regatta I was really excited to participate in because it combined two of my favourite things – Chinese New Year and dragonboating.

As per usual, Melbourne weather was dismal … A cool 19C and raining but thankfully we had the marquee set up this time so we had some shelter from the rain and the wind and when we were all huddled inside it actually was quite warm!

The racecourse itself was really great. It was held at the Footscray Rowing Club and they had closed off the waterways for us to use all day so it was a great area to race on – only problem with the outside lanes being slightly more shallow than the inner lanes which is to be expected. Our sweeps and paddlers handled that really well though!

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The racing distance for this regatta was a scant 200m – blink and you’ll miss it! In this distance literally anything can happen, and it was indeed an action packed regatta.

We managed to get in a few crews this time – 2 premier mixed crews, a premier opens crew, a mixed masters crew and a women’s crew, and all of them ended up doing amazingly well at this regatta! Of course, our strongest competition at this regatta was Yarra River Dragons again (YRD’s) but we had some fierce competition too from Southern Storm, and Dragon Masters too in their respective categories.

We ended up having to rerun one of our premier mixed races as YRD’s had an issue with their boat – they were cruising along just fine but then their drummer’s seat literally snapped in half and she fell overboard. Of course, it was no fault of their own, so we ended up rerunning the race.

In the final of the premier mixed we ended up taking first from YRD’s by something silly like 4 100’ths of a second (after being lectured by our coach) so that goes to show you the calibre of racing that happened on Sunday!

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So our overall results for this regatta were:
Mixed Masters: 1st
Premier Mixed: 1st and 4th
Premier Opens: 2nd
Women’s 20’s: 1st.
Meaning, I walked away with 3 1st place ribbons!img_2528

Pretty rad huh?

So after the regatta drew to a close, our team organised to go and have a Chinese New Year feast together in Footscray which was a lot of fun! We sat down to a massive banquet of duck, chicken, fish, pork, beef, tofu, noodles, jasmine tea and this amazing dessert which was barley water with pieces of water chestnut in it.

It was great to get the team together after the regatta and celebrate a great day of racing and debrief, but also to have a bit of a chance to bond more before nationals. It sounds crazy, but nationals are only 2 months away and they’re fast approaching and what matters now is how well a team gels together both on the water and off the water. I believe that that is really important. The harmony between team members is evident on the water, so it’s really important to take every opportunity that we can to bond, whether it’s over dinners, or movie nights, or whatever we organise.

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So there you have it! Another successful regatta. I was super proud of the team and what they achieved this regatta and I really hope they can take their drive and determination onto the next regatta, which is in Albury in March.

Coming up next is a State team camp, and then the regatta. I’ll have more news after that, but until then, paddles up!

Rach xx

Falls Creek Regatta aka Best Weekend Ever

When I lived back in Canberra, there was always one regatta that I loved the most – That was the Flowing Festival regatta held in Jindabyne, New South Wales. It was a ski town in the mountains with the most pristine water to paddle in, and the atmosphere was amazing too; markets and carnival rides all lined up along the shoreline, with music blaring from the start line and a great festival feel about it. Each of the dragon heads used on the boats had different colours and different faces – some with jewels, some with ribbons, and the boats were nicknamed “bathtubs” as they were so old, and as a drummer I had to sit on the nose of the boat without a chair. It was the best weekend away with my team mates, and it was my absolute favourite regatta.

Moving to Melbourne I knew I’d miss that regatta the most, but I definitely still travel around a lot with the team. However I was super excited when The Falls Creek regatta was announced because it was incredibly similar to Jindabyne. Falls Creek, a little ski town, up in the mountains, with pristine waters and a good 5 hour drive away from Melbourne requiring an overnight stay – meaning a great opportunity to bond with my coach and team mates.

My boyfriend, Reece, and I drove down to Falls Creek on Friday night after work, dodging wombats, and winding around the mountain roads after our GPS took us on a delightful detour out to Sunbury. Luckily, we were both amused by this and laughed about how we a) ended up in Sunbury, b) ended up on a rollercoaster of a country road (literally. Steepest descent ever!) and c) trekked along dirt roads before d) driving down the shadiest looking road ever and finding our accommodation at Falls Creek around 11pm.

Reece and I bunked down with in the boys cabin with Darren, Tim, Armin and John and we were delighted by the abundance of hot tubs and saunas within our accommodation. We set out for the regatta early the next morning and drove down to the race course, which reminded me so much of Jindabyne. That made me so happy! Beautiful mountain scenery, crystal blue water, clear skies …. Yup, being in the mountains was gorgeous enough, let alone being able to paddle my first regatta in such great water.

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Look at this view! And this water! It’s got nothing on the Yarra River!

Yes, you heard right folks …. I just paddled my very first regatta EVER in the 6 years of me doing this sport! I drummed two crews, the opens and the women’s and paddled in the mixed which was action packed.

My first race paddling, I shared with a lovely girl from Yarra River Dragons, Jordie, who had kindly filled in some seats on our team for us. For Jordie and I it was our first regatta paddling, and indeed our first race EVER and what should happen? Another boat runs into the side of us! I’m not even kidding … I’m doing my thang, paddlin’ my little heart out and in my peripheral vision I see this dragon head getting closer to me and I begin to think “Oh they’re gaining on us”, but then this dragon head gets a little bit closer, and then TOO close and before I know it, it’s hit the side of the boat I’m paddling on. Jordie and I have our paddles in the air, Darren (who was steering) was trying to push the other boat away from us, and we could feel the boat do this LURCH which only happens when you’re about to capsize … I remember thinking “That’d be right! My first race paddling and we capsize!” but we all somehow managed to hold on and finish the race in our lane and without any injuries. See? DRAMA. And it wasn’t even a 2km race!

Our opens crew missed out on making the finals, but they had some wicked competition, and the team we took down was only a small one. Yarra River Dragons were again out in force and looking fiiiiiiine on the water. They’re going to be HOT at Nationals this year, I can tell.

Our Women’s crew … Now this was awesome. We called ourselves the Flaming Storm because we were 1/2 boat Melbourne Flames and 1/2 Southern Storm paddlers.  Despite the fact that we had never paddled together before, and indeed never met each other before being put into a boat together,  we raced fast and hard and ended up walking away with a second place. Second to, you guessed it, Yarra River Dragons. So a pretty damn good effort!

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2nd place! Winners are grinners!

Look at that beautiful trophy!  And look at this new group of friends!

So after we wrapped up the regatta it was time for the after party. Y’all like party stories, right? Well, we started off by having a few drinks in the hot tubs and reminiscing on other regattas and Nationals and afterparties. Again, I bunked down with the boys (I had to be the girl that broke up the sausage fest in the hot tub. The “Chickie Buffer” if you please) and after our delightful hot tub and drinks, we got ready for dinner.

We had a team dinner at a little Italian joint up in the mountains which was amazing – I had to try hard not to eat everything everything that wasn’t nailed down. The pizza smelled amazing but I went for pasta instead. After cheers’ing to a great regatta and having some food, we met up with Yarra River Dragons and played some soccer, before moving on to playing some Bocce.

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Playing Bocce with rivals and friends, Yarra River Dragons. What a night!

After chilling out in the evening light, we decided to move back to the accommodation for some more fun. Everyone came down to our bunk, and we decided to crack out some drinks and some cards and have ourselves a Melbourne Flames party!

To start with, I want to say that our coach is a VERY bad influence on me when it comes to drinking vodka (3 shots in a row, Serge! Na Zdorovie!) and secondly I want to say that he is also very good at playing cards. I, on the other hand …. DISMAL. I can’t remember the name of the game we were playing, but the only object of the game was NOT to lose, and you bet your ass I lost ever time lol. We had a great time playing several rounds of this mystery game, which Reece ended up winning every time he played. (that’s how games usually work in our house! Reece wins, I lose!)

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This picture accurately represents what it is like to play this game.

So after our evening wrapped up we all rolled into bed. You really can’t argue with that for an after party … Drinks, hot tubs, games and cards. 10 out of 10: Would recommend.

You can check out some of the photos I took at Falls Creek on the Melbourne Flames Instagram page, and indeed other pictures I take! I am, afterall, part of their social media team!

Next thing coming up? State team trials. Then the Chinese New Year Regatta in Footscray! Two very exciting things coming up. I’ll keep you posted on how everything pans out.

Until then, this little drummer girl has one hell of a hangover to nurse! #weak

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

Carrum Cup / Resting Drummer Face

Behold: Resting Drummer Face. Similar to Resting Bitch Face, only there are also photos where we’re yelling so we look twice as delightful! RAWR! It’s possibly the most embarrassing photo face to have because it screams “DERP” at the camera.

There’s lots of photos of me sitting in the drummers seat looking down the boat – I think I’m meant to look fierce and serious but mostly I just have Resting Drummer Face (hereafter RDF) and look pissed off at the world. But I’m not! I swear! Mostly I’m just wishing I bought my sunglasses because it’s super bright out there on the water. Other times, I’m just DERP-ing along in my natural state. Ah yes …  The joys of not being photogenic….

Our next regatta coming up is Carrum Cup – About an hour out of Docklands this coming weekend. Our local club has a couple of crews entered which is great and it should be a pretty great day all in all. Weather wise, Melbourne s still can’t make up it’s mind if it’s Spring or Summer, so it’s only going to be a chilly 20C; a change from yesterday’s 34C at training!

Carrum Cup will be the last regatta for the year before we break for Christmas, then the first regatta in 2017 is Falls Creek, which sounds like it’s going to be a great weekend away in January. I’m still getting used to traveling around the countryside for each regatta, because back in Canberra each regatta was held in the same place at the same time. Here, it’s definitely more exciting, and it gives us a lot more experience in racing on different bodies of water which is great for Nationals which are held in a different place each year. We’ll be traveling down the morning of the Carrum Cup regatta, hanging out for the day and competing in 200m and 500m races and hopefully coming away with some bling for the club! 200m races are over before you know it, so I’m looking forward to getting some practice for these races under my belt.

So there you have it! A brief update. I’ll have more for you after this weekends regatta, so stay tuned.

Until then!

Rach x x

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

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