The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Last night, the Good was that Vicki and I went kayaking. I enjoy it so much – being closer to the water than in a canoe, it seems like you’re just flying along. Vicki was a little pissed at me because every time I tried to do a succession of 5 or 10 good technique paddle strokes, I’d end up 20-30 metres in front of her. Towards the end I think I figured out how to do good technique without pulling too hard, so I could paddle well but not too fast. I feel a good sort of pain afterwards – muscle tiredness, but no untoward joint pain that I can detect.

The Bad was that my TiVo recording of the Alpe d’Huez time trial cut out just as Lance Armstrong was about to catch Ivan Basso and Ullrich was still out on the course. Dammit – I wanted to see Lance’s climb on the upper parts.

The Ugly is that after a few hours of feeling that my glasses weren’t working out, I tried a few hours without them, and the net result was horrific eyestrain – not sure if the eyestrain came from the time I had with glasses or the time without them. I know that this morning my eyes are all gunked up, which seems to be happening because of the dryness I feel when wearing my glasses.

That was FUN!

As frequent readers of this blog know, I’ve pretty much run out of things I can do that are fun and give me exercise. Running, cross country skiing, orienteering, backpacking, canoing, mountain biking – all have fallen to the wayside as my pain levels continued to increase.

Last night, Vicki and I had a kayak lesson. Back in 1979 I worked at a summer camp and we had really cheap “tupperware boat” kayaks. We called them “tupperware” because they looked like they were made out of the same plastic, and even sounded the same when you thumped them. I played around a little bit in them, but never really learned anything except how to get out of one when you roll upside down and can’t quite get your eskimo roll working. Anyway, I haven’t really looked at kayaks since them because I think of them as downriver whitewater boats, and I’m not all that interested in whitewater. Don’t get me wrong, whitewater is fun, but it’s pure strength, not endurance. When canoeing, I’d prefer to think of whitewater as the prize you got as a reward for paddling for hours up rivers and across lakes.

Vicki and I tried a sea kayak on our cruise last month (sheesh, has it been a month already?), and I loved it. One thing I liked was that it seemed like a more fluid motion than canoeing. And being sea kayaks rather than whitewater boats, they’re optimzed for paddling in mostly straight lines on flat water, which I like. The other thing I liked is that if I can get Vicki involved, then maybe I won’t go out and hammer away at it and get overuse injuries immediately.

So first order of business was to get some lessons to make sure I was doing it right. That we did, and we both enjoyed it. Many of my boat handling skills from canoeing transferred over with little modification. Second order of business is to make sure I’m in no more joint pain after doing it than normal. So far, mostly so good. I’ve got lots of muscle soreness, but that’s the good sort of pain. I’ve also got a twinge in my right elbow, but I often get that from using the mouse, so I’m not sure if that’s paddling related. Vicki says she’s got some pain in her shoulder joint too, so I think we should hold off until next week before trying again, even though my first tempation is to go out today.

Time to wait and see. Keep your fingers crossed.