It’s all Dan’s fault

Tonight was the first BayCreek time trial. Last year, I went to a bunch of them, and was turning in times around 24.5-26 minutes all year until the first time I got to borrow Frank’s Necky Looksha II, on the very last one of the season, when I set my personal best of 22.87 (they time in minutes and hundredths). The Looksha now belongs to me, and I’ve been paddling the hell out if it all last fall and this spring, so I expected to do a bit better. My goal for the year was to beat 20 minutes, since last year I watched Paul D try like hell to break 20 minutes and come up short time after time. I figure over short distances, I can probably compare myself to him, although he’s got a lot more endurance than me and will pull away after a couple of miles.

I started out about a minute behind a guy in a C-1 who last year I’d started behind and nearly kept up with him for the first half mile into the bay, only to watch him disappear into the distance on the way back. This time I was pretty sure I was catching up to him, and still catching him on the way back. I was trying hard to keep my speed over 6 mph, because obviously a 6m mph average time equals 20 minutes for 2 miles, and the bay is deeper and therefore a bit faster than the creek. It was a struggle on the way out, because although the bay was pretty still, there was a tiny bit of a breeze in my face and it was slowing me down. After the turn, a boat wake hit from the side and it was throwing me off a bit, but my speed was still pretty good.

I hit the split time at 9.40! Hey, I thought, as long as I don’t slow down too much, I might get pretty close to 20 minutes. I wanted to believe I could beat it, but I didn’t want to count on it. Soon after the split time, there was a swan in the middle of the creek. I yelled at it, and swerved a little bit left. Unfortunately, he swerved in the same direction, and I hit him. It slowed me down, and he tried to attack me, but I poured on the speed and got out of there before he could reach me.

I got to the last buoy turn and I was almost on the C-1. He had an interesting way of making the turn – he put his foot in the water and dragged it while he did a sweep on the other side. It gave him a small turning radius, but it slowed him down terribly. Now I was well and truly on his wash. I rode it for a while, and tried to make my move and pass him, but as soon as I got out of his wash it was much harder to paddle. So I tucked back in and tried not to hit his stern too often. I tried again, same result. Finally, with about 300 metres to go, I decided it was time to give it everything I could and pass him. It was a real maximum effort, but I was going just a hair under 7 mph as I crossed the line.

The final time? 19.08!!! OMGWTFBBQ!! That’s a 3.79 minute (3 minutes and 47 seconds) improvement over my previous best. Not only did I beat Paul D, but I was within a few seconds of Bill on his surf ski!

Now Dan says I have to set my sights on breaking 18 minutes. Yeah, right. I believe that as much as I believed him when he said I was going to break 19 minutes tonight. Oh wait.

The race as seen by my GPS/heart rate monitor
The race as seen by my GPS/heart rate monitor

The saddest sentence

I took Widget to the vet yesterday for a physical, and I mentioned the problems he’s been having with his right ear, and how upset he gets when I try to look at it. Early on, she asked me if I’d brought a stool sample, and when I said no, she said they’d give me a cup and I could drop it back after Widget produced one.

Afterwards, she took him into the back room and I could hear him yelping in distress. She came back and described how they’d cleaned out the infection in his ear and put in some gel. Then she said something that still makes me sad:

He produced a stool sample while we were working on his ear.

Poor little guy.

The Poseidon Adventure

Today the team met for some light training on the lake. The winds were coming from the south, and so there was almost no waves on the lake except for a gentle regular swell coming from the north west. Unlike several members of the team, and Dan, that’s my favourite time to be out there, when there is nothing to challenge you. It’s been pretty nippy today with temps in the low to mid 60s, and of course the lake water is still very cold, so I made a last minute decision to wear my wet suit, and thank goodness I did.

After a bit, we ended up on the other side of the boat channel and jetty from the beach we’d launched at. We were in the middle of some race tactics work when I was making a circle around and concentrating on looking at the radius point of the turn instead of watching the other boats, while Bill, who was also making a circle around and not watching out for other boats, crashed into me. I attempted a brace but didn’t react quick enough and my boat went right over dumping me in the cold water. Most of my stuff stayed in the boat, except my half skirt which came out when I did – I managed to snag it with my foot just as it was drifting down out of reach. My PFD, which was a bit lose so I could breath, came up around my head which was unfortunate. Initially the cold was enough to make you gasp, but after a few seconds I was actually feeling fairly comfortable in the water.

But I have enough trouble getting into and out of my boat in optimum situations like Dan’s dock or the boat ramp. Even with two boats docked up against mine and guys helping me on both sides, I was unable to get back into my boat and fell out again when I tried. So I ended up clinging to the front of Mike’s boat as he paddled me into shore. The water felt extremely cold against the back of my neck and head. But when I got close enough to shore to stand up, I didn’t feel cold. I wasn’t entirely sure if that would continue, or if I would chill off quickly, so I wanted to get moving again. I tried to dump and pump out water, and get back into the boat, but I was rushing because I felt that I needed to get paddling again before the chill hit me. That was bad, because I ended up doing a bad launch and falling out again into the water. Then Mike and Paul D came to help me get in by holding onto my boat, but again I rushed and didn’t do it right, and fell in again. Mike and Paul had both said that they were going to wait for me to get in and paddle with me back to the beach were we’d launched to make sure I was ok, but at this point Dan came along and took over. He told Mike and Paul to go off and do some training exercise, and made me go sit down on the beach while he took care of dumping out my boat again and getting it ready. Initially I was worried that sitting down in the air would cause me to chill off, but there was almost no wind down low and I didn’t feel too bad. The short rest was actually a very good thing, because I managed to catch my breath and calm down a bit. Up until this time I hadn’t realized that I was acting a bit panicky. This time when I got back in I did it right and didn’t try to rush.

I paddled off, expecting Dan to come with me, but he didn’t for some reason. As I rounded the jetty to head back to the beach where we’d launched, I discovered that my rudder was all jammed up with sand from the beach, and between that and the residual water in the bottom of the boat, I was having some trouble staying upright and off the rocks at the end of the jetty. By this time I was out of view of any of the rest of the paddlers, and I was really annoyed that Dan hadn’t come with me as he’d promised. I felt like I could easily have dumped there and nobody would have seen me for a long time – maybe long enough to get hypothermic and drown. But I managed to get it to shore fairly close to where I wanted to be, and went back to the car to change. I went back to the boat and recovered all my equipment, and by this time I could hear Dan yelling at somebody on the other side of the jetty.

Everything worked out fine this time, and once again we had a great old time afterwards drinking beer and telling stories. That is really the best part about being part of the team.

I feel like when the water warms up a bit I really need a refresher course on kayak rescues. I’ve done canoe rescues in the past, but a kayak is a lot harder to get back into, especially when you’ve got a tight cockpit like mine.