Update: The official results have been posted here
It’s all Dan’s fault. That’s Dan Murn, my coach, and the most outgoing guy in three states – I know that, because if there was anybody more outgoing in Vermont or New Hampshire you could hear them from here.
Dan twisted my arm and forced me to go. He also twisted the arm of the organizers, and forced them to add a novice race to the regatta. Three miles sounded like a perfect first race for me, because I’d done all those two mile time trials at Bay Creek, and since the time trials ended I’ve been doing a lot of 4 and 5 and 6 mile paddles, and because of those I realized that I couldn’t possibly maintain any sort of pace over 5 miles, never mind the 10 miles that the rest of the kayakers were going to do.
Probably because nobody promoted it, the only people who signed up for the novice race were other Bay Creekers. I looked at the start line, and figured I had it all figured out – Tom, Dan’s 12 year old son, would definitely win, since his best time at the Bay Creek time trials was nearly two minutes faster than mine, Diane would probably bring up the rear, and Jodi and I would have to battle it out for second place, since her best time in the time trial was a few hundredths of a minute faster than mine.
I almost missed the start, because I was paddling Frank Cabron’s Necky Looksha II, and was having a little problem with the rudder cables binding, so he had come up beside me in his boat and was leaning in trying to figure out what was going on when I suddenly realized I had to get to the start line. I only just got lined up when the gun went off.
After about 20 metres, I was surprised to see I was still in 4th place. I mean, I know I’m a slow starter, but this was ridiculous. But I started cranking up the speed and quickly passed Diane and then Jodi. I was a little surprised that I’d managed to pass Jodi so early. And then I was totally shocked to realize that I was actually gaining on Tom Murn. As a matter of fact, I was gaining very fast, and I passed him before I’d even had a chance to settle down and think about whether I was paddling well or just flailing. I think that was about 500 metres out or so. I was totally hopped up on adrenaline. I could see the boat that marked the turn around and it seemed so incredibly close. I just kept pounding along, sure that I’d fade soon and would watch Tom come sweeping by. But I got to the boat and turned, and saw that I had at least a minute on him. That was all the excuse I needed to take that drink of water I’d been promising myself at the turn.
At this point I should mention that all the other racers had Camelbak-style hydration bags, either on their backs or down the cockpits of their boats with a long hose. Me, I had a couple of ordinary bottles of water with screw off tops – I hadn’t even thought to get a bite-open nozzle like a bike bidon has. So I unscrewed the bottle, took a couple of quick sips, and then my hands were shaking too much to put the cap back on. I dropped the cap into the cockpit, and tried to prop the bottle between my legs. Not the best thing for good technique, but I thought it would be good enough for the sprint back to the finish.
At that point I was starting to notice pain in my shoulder and tiredness, but I was also thinking of the finish as just right there, and I was pretty sure Tom couldn’t catch me now. And I was right – I finished this supposed “3 mile race” about the same time I’d finished my last 2 mile time trial, which I’d also done in the Looksha (Best time trail: 22.87, Today 22:08). Tom had finished a good minute and a half or more behind me (Best time trial 20.92, Today 23:33), , and Jodi was about the same behind him (Best time trial 22.83, Today 25:18).
My first real race, and I did way better time than I expected, and I won. What more could you ask for? But now I *have* to buy that Looksha. There’s no way I’m going to race in the Skerry after having experienced that.
Oh, and the main event kayak race? I think Bay Creeker’s won more than half the awards – first, second and third in touring kayak (although in the official results, it now appears we got first, second and fourth – I wonder if the guy they now have in third was mistakenly classified in unlimited kayak?), and second and third in unlimited kayak, and one of the C2 canoe winners also used to come out to our Wednesday night time trials ever week two. Dan was disappointed to only get second in unlimited, but that guy in first was unbelievable.