Kia ora everyone! Well I did it, I completed the race. The race was on a river, with loads of current. The 14km paddle was broken down into a 3.5km course that we had to loop around so we had two turns around an island at the bottom of the river and one at the top of the river. There were a mix of stand up paddlers, single man canoes and six man canoes so a lot of traffic on the river to negotiate.
In the lead up to this race I had so many thoughts going through my mind about the race and my ability. It kind of hit me that yes, I am pregnant so don’t expect too much. So many people I come across now expect that I will be ‘taking it easy’ and ‘slowing down’ but I say why? It has been pretty difficult for me to not pay attention to that but I am determined. I have always thought that paddling as with most sports it’s the top 20% that counts. If an athlete doesn’t have their head screwed on you can kiss or your success goodbye.
This race taught me a valuable lesson! Right before my race I had to register and have a safety check, as always. and the person doing my check made an innocent comment to me. She said ‘your keen’ to be racing. I just replied ‘I don’t know unless I try’. I know it was harmless and I could have let that drag me down but I didn’t. I kept my focus and got ready for my race.
My start wasn’t to flash. The current was so strong I thought I would paddle up river a bit and hold water up there so I didn’t have to struggle on the start line. However, by the time I got ready to head to the start line there were so many canoes everywhere it was hard to navigate to where I wanted to place myself at the start.
I ended up starting about a boat length behind, so it wasn’t that great. For the first 1km of the race I was breathing heavy, muscling it and basically my canoe didn’t feel like it had that much glide at all. I looked around and so many people were just cruising by me. So I looked inside myself, relaxed my shoulders and dropped into my breath and rhythm.
I ended up overtaking a few people and when I got to the Island turn took over another two. It was a perfect turn and I came out with a sprint start and then changed my stroke to suit the up river portion of the race. This is where my glide really kicked in and I noticed huge gains in here. It was pretty hard but I pulled in a few more canoes and once we got to the bridge, wow, that current hit us all so bad. I knew I had to make it up to the buoy turn with the pack or I would be left behind on the downward paddle with that current.
Unfortunately I didn’t get in as close As I had hoped and the front pack started to breakaway again. The second leg down river was very difficult, mentally. I just couldn’t catch up once everyone else had hit that current and cruised down river. As i neared the Island again the men were starting to catch up from their ten minute delayed start after the woman. I found myself chatting away to one of the men as they passed. and then another, and another. It was at this point I noticed I had lost a couple of spots.
On the first run I hung in pretty close to the river bank to stay out of the main current and hopefully catch any eddies along the side. This time though the men were so pushy and I got hit a couple of times so decided to go out wider and paddle the current as I did not want to flip. I would not have been a very happy mama if that happened!
The woman in front of me also got taken out and I took that opportunity to make some gains. But we ended up chatting too. But then something switched on in my head and I told her I’d see her at the finish line. We ended up battling it out for 2km and had a sprint to the finish line.
The things I learned in that race is that it is very important to catch a wondering mind. It is important to stay in the game, in the now and focus on what you are doing at that minute.
I also learned that the mind is pretty powerful and that if you truly do believe then yes you will achieve! My goal wasn’t to place, it was to finish but within the time of 1 hour 45 minutes. I ended up finishing at 1.30min and came in second place! I did have a split second thought of wow, what if I pushed harder, but by then its too late. I decided to think about what I had learnt and I have written down a debrief from that race so that when I am truly back into training (without being pregnant) I can achieve more.
It took me two days to recover from the race (14km paddle), not physically but mentally and emotionally. I was on a such a high after the race that by the next day I hit a pretty big low. I wasn’t prepared for that at all and it showed me that I need to really consider my emotions and mental training too. I had two sick babies at home too which didn’t help but I didn’t feel right, myself. I felt a big hole, hollow and I am guessing I may need to look at the outcomes I attach to my goals.
During my sport science and sport psych studies in my earlier years I learnt that at times elites athletes get so used to achieving their goal that once they have hit that they go into a type of depression soon after. This happened to Kelly Slater a while back and he has spoken openly about it. It’s the adrenalin rush and then pressure of working toward the goal that once you get there, it’s over so quick and we are left feeling a little empty. This is where we need to be mindful of looking at the whole journey and the outcome not just the goal and obtaining it. This applies to anyone working toward anything, not just elite athletes and it is a work in progress for me.
I am so thankful to my friends and family who do continue to support me in my journey right now and encourage me. It makes it that little bit easier. I am super excited for my road ahead.
#preggiemama #soulwaternz #imagine #believe #achieve