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!

State Trials

It’s always interesting participating in dragonboat trials around Australia. I’ve definitely noticed the difference between ACT and VIC states with their testing, and I think right from the word go, how you trial sets the bar for what kind of standard you’ll have for your team.

And for the VIC team? Only the highest standard.

I’ve never done benchmarking in an offsite facility before, so the trials were a real eye opener for me. We had them at AAMI park and the equipment was all state of the art. Perfect for beep test, chin ups, sit ups, kettle bell, bench press, and weigh ins.

As a drummer, I don’t have to do too much for bench marking as all my trials are on water. But I turned up to AAMI park, and watched in awe as these paddlers showed off their amazing strength with their individual tests. I think about how many sit ups these guys and girls did, and I don’t think I could compare – I struggle with crunches alone right now! And the chin ups …. The upper body strength these folks have is so amazing. I’m still working on my upper body strength but I can tell you right now I am in AWE of what these guys can achieve. Some of the paddlers could bust out some chin ups like they were sitting around having a cup of tea on a lazy Sunday morning, whereas I know if it were me I’d be flailing on that bar so badly. They make it all look so EASY, and I know for a fact it isn’t! I remember sitting on the front of the boat a couple of years ago watching our strokes paddle during training, and they both had such a beautiful stroke that I remember sitting there thinking that I could sit there and watch them paddle for days because they made it look so effortless. That’s the sign of a great paddler!

I’m going to say that the calibre of the people who trialed were out of this world. Every time I attend bench marking as a drummer, I am SO impressed by our paddlers. They’re fit, they’re strong, they’re dedicated and they’re excited to be part of the team. As a drummer, that’s what I love to see. I love to see the enthusiasm of each of the paddlers at bench marking, and it actually gives me something to aspire to.

Right now, I’m not much of a paddler, because I haven’t done much paddling in the past. But I’d love to get to a level of fitness where I could pick up a kettle bell and swing it around for 2 minutes continuously like it weighed nothing more than a feather.

I’m pleased to say that I’ve made the Victorian state team this year, and I am STOKED to represent my second state within Australia. When I represented the ACT, I was always in awe of what the Victorian team achieved, and now I get to be a part of that, so to say I’m thrilled to be a part of the team is a bit of an understatement.

And do you want to know what makes victory a little bit sweeter? Our uniforms have sea horses on them. SEA HORSES. I fricken LOVE SEA HORSES.

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SEA HORSES FTW!!!!!!

So we have a State training camp next weekend which will be our first one together which I’m super excited about. I’m looking forward to meeting the team and seeing what we can do together at Nationals this year. Like …. SUPER excited. I’m expecting great things from this team this year -we have a stellar coach, we have amazing paddlers and we definitely have the enthusiasm and dedication behind us that’s going to help us be successful.

Did I mention that nationals are only 2 months away. TWO MONTHS, PEOPLE.

Get excited, because in no time at all we’re going to be crashing Albury/Wodonga and bringing the competition! *excited happy dance*

More after State Camp, guys!

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

Big News! We’re Off To China!

Firstly, I’m sorry it’s been forever since my last update, but boy, do I have some news for you!

I’ll happily backtrack and fill you in on what’s been happening in a moment, but first, the moment I’ve been working so hard towards has come and gone, and I’m super pleased to announce that I MADE THE AUSTRALIAN TEAM!

We’re off to China folks, and I couldn’t be more excited! It 8 short months I’ll be packing my bags and heading over to Kunming and preparing to compete in the World Dragonboat Championships and I am beyond stoked.

So let’s back track a little bit shall we? Let me fill you in on the last few couple of months and how trials went.

I took about a month off training to start with after I slipped down the stairs in my house (ouch!) and only started to get back into training just before trials which wasn’t the most ideal situation. I went to a couple of regattas though (The Battle of the Barwon and the Horsham regatta) to maintain my drumming skills and presence within the club and was pleased to walk away with some great results from those regattas. I even got to drum for one of the Dragons Abreast teams in Horsham who came in Third and they kindly gave me a pennant to show their thanks! (Incidentally, if you want to see a video of me hip thrusting with the inflatable ghost in the picture tied to my waist, head to the Melbourne Flames Dragonboating Instagram Page!)

 

Ok, so on to the actual trials because I’m sure that what you guys are dying to hear about! I had my fan base travel all the way from Goulburn to cheer me on (Thanks Mum and Dad!) and support me as this was the hardest campaign for me to try out for thus far. To the best of my knowledge (and I could be incorrect here still) there were three drummers trialing for two spots on the team. What I do know, is that we were all damn good at what we do. Adelina, from the ACT, can both paddle and drum and has had plenty of experience in overseas campaigns before. On the front of the boat she was loud and in charge – definitely something you want in a drummer. Erin, the other drummer from Melbourne was equally as formidable – her voice booming from the sidelines, as her skills as a sweep shone through from the front of the both. Both of these ladies have extra skills that really make them valuable at the front of the boat, and I think whoever our coach picked, he was going to have a tough decision on his hands. We all offered different qualities and we’re all great at what we do.

The camp went for two days – Most of the tests on the first day were focused around the paddlers. There were fitness tests, and they were in single crafts showing their skills and my goodness, are some of those guys and girls fit and impressive! Honestly, some of them had such a lovely stroke on them that I could have watched them paddle for days … it was so soothing! The second half of the first day we did some 2km turn races. My favourite! Why? TOTAL. DRAMA. CENTRAL.  There’s boats crashing. There’s waves. There’s plenty of yelling. You have to rev up your team. Oh goodness me, there’s adrenaline and I love, love, LOVE it. We did three of those races switching Sweeps, and I loved working with Eliza and Darren. I work with Darren all the time so there’s a level of comfort and control with the boat there. Working with Eliza was great too because she brings this amazing energy to the boat and you just want to be a part of it!

We had dinner and a review of day one which wrapped up around 8:30pm, then day two of the camp kicked off the following morning at 8am. Again, there were some single craft trials for the paddlers and more on water tests for the whole crews with some short distance races which were great.  It was a shorter day wrapping up around 3:30pm so people could fly back to WA or QLD, but it was enough after the day before.

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The 2017 Auroras Trialists after the camp wrapped up in Docklands, Melbourne

I honestly didn’t feel confident getting in to this campaign – As a drummer, you never really know where you stand, and I felt as though this time I didn’t have as much time to show my skills as I had at previous camps. Sometimes you feel like the coach is never around you so he can’t see the skills you have on display, but I guess he’s always watching, right?  It helps that I’m lightweight which is also what you want at the front of the boat! Well … I could have been lighter. You know, we’ve talked before how I’m a sucker for a Mexican feast, and I confess to indulging in a few of those and a few vegan pizzas pre-trials. Alas! It all worked out.

What I’m most excited for is the opportunity to travel to a place that is so out of my comfort zone doing a sport that I love. Ever since I was little, I’ve had this fascination with China – My mum traveled there when I was about 5 years old, and she bought me back this ring that has Chinese symbols on it. I wear it every day, and I’m fascinated with the culture, and indeed this sport and now I get to travel to the country Mama K went all those years ago and follow in her footsteps, but paving my own while I’m there.

This is my second time representing my country and I couldn’t be more excited, or proud. It’s been a very long road to get here since June with a lot of ups and downs along the way but standing here getting to share the news with everyone that I made the team makes it all seem worth it.

I might not come home with a medal around my neck, but I know I’ll come home having grown as a person and that’s really all I’m looking for right now. With an experience such as this under my belt, what more could I possibly ask for?

Here’s to making the team! Paddles up!

Rach xx

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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.

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