You can(oe) it! Or kayak?
I have a confession to make. About a year ago I did something a little different, and bought a kayak. Not just any kayak, this particular model (nelo vanquish 2) is super fast, and super tippy. A lot faster than I can make it go. It has recorded many medals at the Olympic and world championships in a variety of sprint distances. This particular boat belonged to Chris Proulx, Canadian national team and Olympic hopeful. Why, one might ask? Well, I have never been known to shy away from a challenge. I have never owned a kayak, and have been in one only a handful of times before. Why not go all the way, from the gun? A simple, but sometimes ....unwise philosophy. I like to think fortune favors the bold. Audentes Fortuna adiuvat.
Time to backup a little bit. 2019 has been a mixed bag in terms of canoe racing success. The spring campaign went well, with a mix of wins and podium finishes with my partner Trevor LeFever. Spring rolled into summer, and there our luck shifted. We were forced to drop from the Michigan Marathon, and La Classique saw a rash of bad luck including broken equipment, forcing us out of contention for a podium finish. Certainly a humbling experience, and one which gave me food for thought. Why did things go wrong? I have been paddling for more than a decade, and generally things have gone my way. Training, staying injury free, and race success. What was different this year? Two things come to mind: focus, and motivation. For me, one key component to staying hungry is to continually challenge myself, to take on new things. When things become routine, boredom sets in. It has a cascading effect, eroding away at all the little habits that make the difference between a good result and a great result. When we skip over the finer details and try to take the shortcut, things will eventually fail. The result, a broken seat that should have been noticed earlier, a shortened and condensed training program, a heavy racing and travel schedule and not enough preparation. And, life just happens. Time and energy is finite to us mere mortals.
So, where does kayaking come into the picture? A challenge. Something new. Being in a kayak, and one so hard to even stay in for more than 5 seconds, is immensely stimulating to me. And wet. That feeling of learning; recalibrating muscles, blood flowing to the brain, renewed focus, intensity and concentration. Every training session I learn something new. It's great to be a novice again, absorbing information from everything and everyone.
Today was my first race in the kayak, after a few weeks of training. Shout out to Kevin, Bri and Miranda, they helped my confidence immensely by following me around as I wobbled down the river beaver slapping the water during those training runs. Today I finished. And not last! There were many close calls. It was moderately windy (even a slight breeze feels like a gale), and a power boat did its best scaring the living bejesus outta me with its gigantic wave. I managed to not flip, that is until just after crossing the finish line and a celebratory fist pump later had me coughing up the brackish water of the Seneca river. Gross. NYMCRA (NYPRA) held its annual banquet and award ceremony following the race, where I was the lucky winner of a free Canoe Regatta entry (the gods must have a plan), and Kevin was nice and nominated me for the board, which landed me a vice presidency. Woo. In all honesty, I am looking forward to it and the opportunity to pay something back to the sport which has given me so much.
Stay hungry folks.