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!

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

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.

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.