With only two months to go I am well underway with training for Coast to Coast and GODZone (in early December). In fact it they seem way closer than I would like. I want to train more but really just need to remind myself to trust my training programme. It is challenging training for both as they are very different beasts, but one thing that crosses over nicely is kayaking. It has been hinted that there will be more paddling this year at GODZone and we are about to start learning how to pack raft (as they have just arrived). This means the paddling training will cross over really well for each event.
In build up to the events I decided to give the Rasdex Classic River race a crack. It involves paddling the Coast to Coast paddle route (roughly 72 km), which is fun. It throws at you rapids, rocks, bluffly corners, braids and an incredible environment if you get the chance to look around and appreciate it.
The morning of the race I was not feeling so good after sleeping badly and struggling to eat breakfast. It was very windy on the drive up and I was feeling a bit anxious. My kayak is a Sharp 6 which I love paddling but am still mastering it in tricky whitewater sections (I’m nearly there). I did one paddle of the route before the race and was stoked to get down without a swim and that was what I was hoping to achieve again during this race.
All the open women set up and off everyone went. I didn’t have the greatest start but just focused on settling into a good pace and picking braids. It’s a long paddle and to get through it Richard and I had talked about breaking it into smaller sections and focusing on one bit at a time. This worked a treat rather than focusing on how far there was to go. One of the rock gardens was flat but on the second one things where a bit rougher. As I approached it I tried to pick my line but could not decide whether left or right was better, which ended in disaster! I went straight down the middle…..not a good line choice! I heard a “awww Rach” from a friend behind me as I tipped over. I got to the side, quickly emptied my kayak, got back in, checked my drinking system and headed on my way. Often when I used to swim when whitewater or multisport kayaking I would get upset or frustrated. I decided before starting the race that if I did swim (which I really didn’t want to) that I would work on staying calm, which is exactly what I did. I took a lesson from it and really focused on making good line choices.
On the next rock garden I nailed my line choice and saw some other people swimming down. I paddled nice and steady through to the Iron Bridge steadily catching open women along the way and focusing on good line choice. I nailed the line on Bluff Bluff and was stoked. I enjoyed sipping away at a berry smoothie and tailwind to keep my energy levels up.
There was more chaos after the Iron Bridge with really strong wind making it challenging to paddle forwards. I pretty much got blown over, luckily a guy and I had been paddling together and he gave me a T-rescue, which was awesome and saved me a swim. It might be time to do some more rolling practice so I can get that combat roll down. Reaching Woodstock was a relief and I had to keep pushing and try and pick it up. It felt great to go around the final bend and make it to the finish line. It was a long paddle with the flow being really low. I was gutted having had a swim but was happy with how I recovered from it and paddled the other sections of the race. I’ve been improving in my kayak and just need to keep spending time paddling it on moving water. If you want to get better at kayaking the best thing to do is to go kayaking!