jamie and I were out last night for our first proper interval session, although in my haste to get out the door I managed to forget to tape my watch to the boat in order to time the intervals: infact I completely forgot to take my watch at all! Good start!
We crunched out quite a high tempo again up to Molesey before turning back, so we ended up doing a kind of fartlek session whereby Jamie counted approximately 250 strokes with a couple of minutes rest between efforts. It was such a calm and peaceful evening we decided to extend the session, so we portaged over Sunbury weir and did another 30 minutes or so. As we turned back the only ripples on the water were those that we had made ourselves a few minutes before. It really was beautiful.
We have a support crew! Two friends have kindly agreed and are looking forward to it (allegedly!) although like us, I don't think they have any idea what they are letting themselves in for. In fact Adam who is one of them, has some knowledge of the DW as his dad did it a number of years ago, so we'll be meeting up with him at some point to get some insider knowledge.
Hopefully, we have another paddle planned tomorrow but things are looking tight for later in the week. Fingers crossed....
Posted by Alex Kew
Okey dokey, where to begin? Oh yes, last Sunday and I suppose I would class it as our first long paddle. A very early start but we were greeted with a beautiful sunrise and then a two hour paddle which culminated in a turnaround at Raven's Ait by Kingston. Steady, easy and no dramas which makes a pleasant change from the last few weeks. We need to sort out some on board drinks (visions of a reclining chair and a pretty air hostess come to mind, but you know what I mean! ;-) ) We are not sure whether we need to fashion our own bottle holder or whether we cobble something together from a bike bottle carrier and some elastic. If any one knows where we can get these from or how to do a good job that would be good to know.
As a result of that paddle I received my first canoe related injury, well maybe not injury as such, but for a couple of days my left index finger and attached tendon were very achy. I had been really concentrating on opening my right hand which is my control hand but forgot about the left. Nothing major to worry about at the moment but something to work on.
The next first was our first interval session last night. Once again, it was pretty windy so having learnt from our experience a couple of weeks ago we decided to stay near the boathouse, just in case we got caught out. We portaged over Sunbury weir and headed up stream for 20 minutes or so and then turned back and this became our warm up. The turn around was a bit dicey but we are getting much more used to controlling the kayak in these conditions and by the end of the session I would say that we were quite at home! There is a nice shelterd stretch between the weir and the portage point at Sunbury (also, ironically the 100 mile point in the DW) and we used this part to do some higher tempo intervals. They went really well, although we only completed 3 reps of about 3/4 mins duration, but by the end we were breathing hard so although we did not have a heart rate monitor we were definately moving out of the aerobic zone. The really positive point to come from this was the focus on technique that it gave us. For the first time I felt I was properly swivelling, planting my feet on the footbar and accelerating through the water and our timing seemed pretty good. I am of course saying all of this through the eyes of a complete novice and I am sure that if a more experienced paddler saw us then they would pick 100 holes in our technique, but it felt good and fast, so we were really happy with it. Lots more time yet to build the intensity of these sessions.
We are trying to commit to 2 paddles per week and during the school holidays a few more. I calculated that this would give us something in the region of 55-70 paddles between now and DW. It does not sound a lot but we are hoping that we will be able to complete the event doing this (plus running / strength work etc) I guess I am nervous that this will leave us seriously undercooked but realistically, we are not going to be able to do much more than that. So, if anyone has any advice on how we can maximise the use of our sessions then that would be good to know.
Anyway, till next time.....
Posted by Alex Kew
We were meant to get out on Sunday evening last week, but due to something cropping up we had to scrub; we had both been looking forward to it so both Jamie and I were pretty hacked off when we didn't get out. I ended up brooding all evening about it and I guess I should bottle that feeling and remember it when we end up training on those very cold, winter mornings.
We did get out last night though and things returned back to normal somewhat. Jamie immediately started crunching out a higher tempo than usual, but it felt balanced and not difficult to maintain. There seemed very little movement in the water at times but generally, we were feeling faster and smoother, with the only real problem coming when we snagged ourselves on a fishing line; luckily the fishermen concerned were ok about it. We just did not see them in time. As it was we made it between Sunbury and Molesey a full 5 minutes quicker than last time without any great increase in effort; it just seems to be clicking a bit more.
We turned around straightaway. Normally I get out, have a quick stretch and then get back in but I decided to stay in the boat this time as I just wanted to get on with it and get home and I was rewarded with a numb bottom that stayed for the rest of the session. It was much darker than last time, although, thankfully, there was no wind to speak of but after 20 minutes or so I encontered another problem. Jamie was taking a much more central track and as we came to the wider part of the river I had no horizon or features to get my bearings with. My balance immediately started to get erratic and it all felt a lot more tippy and as a result the good vibes and synchronisation that we had on the way down evapourated in an instant. Throw in a few fast moving boats and a couple of water outlet pipes with a strong jets and this caused us further problems, but once again, we coped with it. I found that as soon as we moved over towards the bank I had a visual reference and my sense of balance returned. Jamie didn't have a problem with this so he was able to counteract my balance problems, but at least we now have a strategy to deal with that.
Stroke wise, I am still trying to engage my core more. I usually do for a minute or so and then something crops up or distracts me and I lose it. I read somewhere that you should be swivelling in your seat to do this and I could feel it working. Jamie has quite a flat stroke (I have the benefit of sitting in the back to tell him this even though I barely know what I am doing myself ;-) ) and when he gets his technique right the boat feels a lot faster. We need to work on this because my weedy little wrists and arms are not going to keep going for 24 hours on their own!
A Long paddle ,very early on sunday morning is planned (fingers crossed)
Thanks a lot. No worries if you cannot get your hands on anything. We're just trying to get as much info as we can.
Posted by Alex Kew
First off, Jamie brought over at the weekend, a copy of Brian Greenaway's DW book. I wish he hadn't. I spent most of the weekend reading it from cover to cover, but of course the bits that stuck in my mind were the bad bits. The quotes that immediately spring to mind were those cheery anecdotes along the lines of :
'There's never been a fatality in the race, but plenty in training.'
'It's only a matter of time before there's a fatality in the race.'
'A life jacket won't do any good in certain types of weir if you get dragged in.'
'If you capsize in the tidal section, all the banks are steep and you are stuffed.'
Ok, I'm seriously paraphrasing here, but you get the drift of my mindset after I had read it. We now progress to last night's paddle. :-/
Due to Jamie's shift patterns it is going to be hard, if not impossible a lot of the time to paddle in daylight hours and with the nights already drawing in, we set out yesterday at 7.30 in the evening and paddled downstream to Molesey. We had a really great paddle out: Jamie in the front setting quite a high cadence that felt comfortable and although the rain was falling hard we were enjoying it (apart from the water running down our sleeves and sloshing around in the elbows of our flourescent tops - yuk!). As we neared our turn around at Molesey the wind started to pick up and very soon we started to find the going difficult, with the gusts of wind catching our paddles and causing us to rock around, but overall, things were still going well. As we approached the more open section of river at Walton the wind really started to pull us around and jamie who up until now had been steering really well suddenly found the rudder proving pretty useless. It was an odd sensation being in the back and seeing us crab across the water being taken by the wind, but we have got used to steering the boat much more with the paddles and we were able to bring it under control and keep tracking for home.
It was then that we saw a small pleasure craft go by: he saw our lights and very thoughfully slowed right down and we ploughed through his wash without a problem, only to have a massive wobble out of nowhere that very nearly had us in the water. It was really dark and the wind was making it almost impossible for us to communicate. We were most definately out of our comfort zone! I had been keeping a careful eye on the bankside, trying to remember landing points if we capsized but we became fully focussed on staying up and getting home as soon as we could. Intermittently, I would think about the DW and what it would be like. Would we have to cope with this for hours at a time? Could we cope with this for hours at a time? Once again, the possiblity of finishing the DW seemed very remote indeed.
The next 10 minutes were pretty tense with Jamie saying 'We're doing fine.' I am not sure if that was more for my benefit or his, but gradually we realised that actually, we were doing fine and while it had been difficult we had come through it and paddled in some pretty difficult conditions for our experience level.
Should we have gone out? On reflection, I am glad we did because I think we have given ourselves a bit more confidence in dealing with more demanding conditions; the DW is in April afer all! But, next time, I think we might save the bad weather paddling when it's daylight and make sure that the night paddles are in better weather.
Everyday's a learning day!
Thanks for reading and giving such positive feedback. Are there any articles about DW in previous mags and if so, is there a way I could get a copy?
Posted by Alex Kew
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Want to read my old blog entries? Browse through an achive of all my posts below:
- October 2010 (1 post)
- September 2010 (1 post)
- July 2010 (1 post)
- April 2010 (2 posts)
- March 2010 (4 posts)
- February 2010 (6 posts)
- January 2010 (5 posts)
- December 2009 (1 post)
- November 2009 (2 posts)
- September 2009 (4 posts)
- August 2009 (2 posts)