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Interesting month. Quick catch up: no cancer, not deaf but have lost hearing in one ear due to repeated ear infections this winter, finally got my appointment with a psychiatrist. (Another post to follow on that one.)
But, since this is nominally still a health and fitness blog, this post is about my six weeks of paddling. Now, you may know that I’m pretty comfy in a canoe, thanks to my years as a Rover, the oldest level of Scouts. Last year, I joined the BMI dragon boat team, which was pretty entertaining (four practices, one tourney day, and you know I frankly prefer the practices). This year, when given the chance, I joined the BMI team again.
Except this year, we were lighter than last year (I know… sort of the point of BMI, right?), so we didn’t have to use the nice, stable, big wood boat. Nooooo, this year we used a competition boat which is much lower in the water and you know what? I sucked. I kept catching the paddle in the water and splashing the crap out of the person in front of me. In the end, they stuck me in the back row where I could do no damage. Kind of embarrassing, but whatever.
We competed in the Dragon Boat Festival last weekend, and we were 40 seconds faster than last year, probably entirely due to the fact that we had a much lighter actual boat. And it rained pretty much all day. So, not like last year’s experience at all, but still a good fitness and fun experience and that’s where it’s at, right?
Tonight, my BFF and I participated in an intro to SUP (Stand Up Paddelboard).
Totally not a picture of Holly and I (we fricking wish), but it’s illustrative (credit: fortlauderdalesup.com) of the activity. Let’s recap a bit: You carry the board to the water. You kneel on the dock, put one hand on the board, move your water side knee onto the centre of the board, shift your weight and move your dock side knee onto the board. Then you push off, paddle for a while in a kneeling position, and once you have momentum you put your paddle down in front of you, plant your hands, bring one foot up flat on the board and then the other, and push up into a standing position.
The class is 90 minutes. The first 15 are covering the anatomy of the board, how to get on it, and how to paddle. There seems to be no way to paddle straight, by the way, requiring you to change sides frequently.
Did I ever mention that I took ski lessons for the first four years that I lived in Canada? And that I’m a terrible skier because I’m afraid to fall? And that I took a private lesson once just to make me less afraid to fall (consisting of making me fall and get up over and over again for two hours, which is sick, if you ask me) and that it didn’t work? And that the same thing happened to me on skates, and rollerblades (with more padding than exposed skin) and skateboards? Basically the only thing I’m not afraid to fall off is a bike.
I was really hoping that I wouldn’t be afraid to fall off a paddleboard because I am a great swimmer. I can safely tell you that I am terrified to fall off a paddleboard. Holly, not so much. She fell off that sucker once and it was like everything went better after that. I clung to it like cling wrap, shaking like a leaf trying to use my quads and core to keep me attached and upright. I was so scared that it took me a good 20 minutes to figure out how to stand up on the board, and when my legs wouldn’t stop shaking (shades of the tippiest bosu ball ever) I gave up and kneeled again.
I fear sweated the sunblock right off my face. Within the first 15 minutes. (Yeah, that’s gonna feel awesome tomorrow.) I have fear sweat smell on my head. I had fear sweat rolling down my back. And I had ass cramps (from kneeling high and leaning forward) and foot cramps (from kneeling back on my heels). I understand that some people do yoga on paddleboards.
First, assholes. Second, wtf. Who can do those poses on land, let alone on a tippy motherfucking piece of fibreglass? Third, I successfully did cat/cow positions on the board. And a modified child’s pose. Not intentional, but it helped with the cramping. (credit: losangelesyogabeat.com)
So, there was no camera for Holly and I (thank god). But there will be in two weeks, when my friend Julie and I take a whitewater canoe course together. We’re going back to Pure Life Adventures, where dad and I did a day trip together two years ago. That would be the trip where I kept whipping out my camera and taking a picture of him to make sure he was actually paddling.
Julie won a fancy trip to canoe in the Northwest Territories, but her husband is a rock star canoeist and Julie wanted to brush up on her paddle skills and she knew I like to paddle, so we’re heading off to camp together, wear funny helmets, and try not to die.
(credit: purelifeadventures.ca) I’ll be at the back of the boat. We may go nowhere all weekend long as a result. It’ll be my first time steering us – I know the concepts, but yanno, delivering for two straight days while in white water is gonna be interesting. I’ll be sure to post some pictures of bug bitten and sunburned Julie and I when we get back. No doubt she’ll be whipping out her phone (in a baggie, Julie!) periodically to see if I’m doing ANYTHING back there. Cause that’s how you roll in the front of the boat, yanno?
All this to say, I started the summer looking for paddle adventures, and I’m going to hit the halfway mark having spent 6 weeks paddling. I think this is a great thing, don’t you?
How’s your summer going so far? Mine will be packed with adventures: Washington this weekend, canoe trip in two weekends, Jay-Z/Justin Timberlake concert the next week, Osheaga music festival two weeks later, and two weeks hiking in southern Utah this fall. It’s going to be a summer of cultural and fitness experiences. I’m kind of loving it.
Well, I’m a sucky blogger. It’s been almost three months since my last post. In my defence, this is a fitness and health blog, and there wasn’t really a whole lot of that going on. What happened, exactly?
- I went to NYC and wore the wrong shoes. Again. This resulted in me walking approximately 10 bazillion kilometres in pain (I hate my plantar fascia). With my Mum, who starts off by walking fast, whereas I warm up really slowly and then gradually speed up. Which ended up triggering more pain.
- I got back and decided to spend a few weeks stretching, icing, rolling, and resting. I rolled and rested, but stopped playing squash entirely due to the plantar fascia pain and didn’t replace it with anything but a half assed attempt at lifting.
- I ate through my stress and depression. In fact, I ate my stress for six straight months and changed medications, which was a process that really sucked.
The end result is a brutal loss of fitness combined with a sudden weight gain, resulting in Kerry feeling gross, unmotivated and wondering what went so horribly wrong.
Luckily, I have some great friends who reminded me that I actually enjoy being active and that there’s a way back. So, I went back to BMI and talked to them about what to eat when I’m working out. And I did some stuff like the Resolution Run (which I walked), and bike/run/walks at the gym with my best friend. Oh yeah, and I signed up for May’s Try a Tri, which I did two years ago, with the goal of finishing faster than last time.
Last week, I went on vacation and lay next to a pool for several days in a row. I read a book called Triathlon for the Every Woman, by a woman who writes the Swim, Bike, Mom blog. It was recommended by Allyson on the Losing it in Ottawa facebook group, which includes a number of women training for various triathlons this year. It’s a great book for chronicling the challenges involved in going from yo yo dieting and a sedentary lifestyle to completing a half Ironman. Which is insane, but it’s apparently the same price as therapy (note that I didn’t say cheaper – triathlon is freaking expensive).
I really liked the book, with the exception of how the author refers to her body. Instead of referring to it as strong and functional, she’s always calling herself fat. Look at the pictures on her blog. She’s not fat. She’s a size 10-12, and though that may be bigger for competitive triathletes, it’s pretty fricking awesome looking to me. Even at her heaviest (around my weight when she started training), she looked great. What I would give for a pointy chin like that.
Anyway, I came home from Jamaica and … didn’t go to the gym yesterday. I babysat, did groceries, and napped. But today! TODAY! Today I went to an 8:30 spin class. I was the only woman over 150 pounds in that class. And man, was it hard. The highlight was the use of a 6.5 minute long Swedish House Mafia song, until I realized that that meant 6.5 minutes of hill climbs. Also, there was a chafing incident that ensured that I will religiously follow Swim Bike Mom’s advice when it relates to what to wear on the bike.
I came home from the gym and ordered new bike shorts. Enough said about the aforementioned incident.
And I also ordered a Road ID, which is a bracelet that you wear when you’re out running or biking. Mine has my OHIP (health insurance) number on it, because I always feel like I have to have the card with me, and then I’m scared to death of losing it.
And then I went to the Running Room to get an assessment of my running shoes. See, for about 7 years now, I’ve bought shoes based solely on how they fit around my artificial toe joint, with no regard for their actual running function. Why? Because there was never going to be much running. But you know what? It’s hard to run, and I’d actually like to give myself the best measure of success.
So, I have high arches and need lots of cushioning and when I explained why (the artificial joint), the manager looked at the sales guy and said “Brooks. They’ve got that roll bar to assist in the toe off”.
Do you know what a roll bar is? I do, because it’s my favourite shoe invention ever. It’s a piece of something (usually graphite) that sort of sits between your heel and your arch and forces your foot to roll forward. That momentum helps you to toe off better. In combination with lots of toe cushioning, I’m hoping to reduce my dead foot feeling and my plantar fascia issues. We’ll see tommorrow, when I try them at the gym.
Also today, I made a shredded beef in the slow cooker. Well, technically it’s still cooking. Two small onions, 2 pounds of beef, 1/2 cup of bbq sauce. It’s going to be shredded beef sandwiches and salads for lunch this week, and pita pepperoni and pepper pizzas (seriously, I’m in love with that alliteration) with caesar salads for dinner. Snacks this week are boiled eggs, cheese and crackers, and veggies and dip.
My workout plans for this week are:
- Monday short walk/run on the treadmill.
- Tuesday rest day
- Wednesday spin class
- Thursday playing in the pool with Donna (who’s training for the triathlon but who hasn’t committed to it yet)
- Friday run walk at the gym
- Saturday squash
- Sunday spin class
I hope that mixing up the activities will prevent injuries. I’m going into one stressful week at work and then three weeks of language training. At the end of that, BMI’s triathlon training starts, and I’ll be into the group training of it all.
Wish me luck. I’m gonna need it 🙂
So, in my ongoing quest to try physical activities I’ve never done before, I’m signed up for a dragon boat team. BMI provides the opportunity to participate in a bunch of different things, like triathlon training, nordic walking, running, and yes, dragon boating.
BMI has two teams, one co-ed, and one women only. Did you click on the link for BMI? I think we can safely say that these are two of the heaviest teams in the competition. Possibly two of the strongest, mind, since every single person on these teams works out regularly, and mostly with weights. (Working out is a core component of the BMI program).
I’m on the co-ed team. We had a first, disastrous practice where we were suctioned to each other and almost tipped the boat every single time someone breathed. So, in the interest of safety first, our drummer (and BMI’s fitness director, whose 8 year old son kicked my ASS in the triathlon last year) petitioned to let us use one of the old, wooden, and most importantly, wide and deep dragon boats. Dear Dragon Boat Festival: Thank you. I love you.
So, we’ve had a couple of practices in the new boat. I have the following observations about dragon boating as a result:
- Um, totally different from canoeing. The whole motion is, well, totally different from canoeing. It’s like a sit-up while tilted to one side and with your arms up or out straight and over to the side. Think about that for a minute. You practice the motion while sitting on the side of your sofa and holding a broomstick. You lean forward and sit back up.
- Everyone follows the lead of the front two people in the boat. Those two people must stay in sync, or the boat lurches from one side to the other.
- Our front people are white guys who aren’t very rhythmic. This causes a lot of paddle clashing. And a lot of splashing.
- Our drummer (who’s sposed to call the strokes) is also not very rhythmic. Her calling often conflicts with the paddling that’s actually happening.
- The pace that you’re aiming for is 58-60 strokes a MINUTE. Can you do 60 situps a minute? With the resistance of water against your paddle?
- You’re in the race for about 6 minutes and paddle about 500 metres in the race, and probably another 500-700 before and after, to get to the start line. Let’s have a moment here, shall we? I’m not like the world’s greatest arithmetician (that was for my friend John, who’s an actual mathematician), but I’m pretty sure that’s about 360 situps during the race, and another 350-500 or so on the way to and from the race.
- And you do it twice on Saturday with several hours in between races.
- The top 75 co-ed teams and 25 women’s only teams make it to Sunday. Dudes. We’re not making it to Sunday.
- I know we’re not making it to Sunday because even though we are entertaining, we’re 22 people whose average weight is well over 200 pounds (including our 90 pound drummer) and whose boat is at least twice, if not three times as heavy as the fiberglas competition boat.
- But that’s okay, because I find it fun.
My best friend and I were discussing one of her kid’s lack of ability at a team sport the other day. Some people are not designed for team sports, and that’s okay. I’m not really designed for any sports, but that also really doesn’t matter.
I think the main point of physical activity is that you’re going to do it more often if you do something that you enjoy. You’re also going to do it when other people are there waiting for you to show up. You’re going to participate when people holler your name when you arrive and who do a wave when you do something better than normal.
So yeah. I’m in a tournament. A tournament where if we don’t come in dead last in two races I will frankly be considering a total win. And I will take my advil between races (cause I really am not good at situps and cheat by using my shoulders and back and damn, that’s hard). And I will hydrate and cheer people on and enjoy myself.
I spent about $100 on this activity, and I consider it to have been totally worth every penny. Any time you try something new and you like it, you open yourself up to doing it again. And that’s pretty cool. I’ve heard more than one person at the start of their BMI journey telling Kelly that they just don’t like [insert activity name here]. Or that they can’t [insert movement here]. I get that. I do. But I wonder how much of that is fear?
Someone in my life asked me if I knew anyone who was selling a treadmill. He wanted to lose some weight, but didn’t want to join a gym because that would just end up in lifting weights and getting hurt, and didn’t want to run outside because he didn’t want anyone to see him run. I think this is why BMI activities are so awesome. It’s a bunch of people who have been on your journey, who have the same struggles as you do, and who’s fighting it. We are living our best lives.
And for those of you on this journey who aren’t comfortable enough to work out in public, I encourage you to read this blog post. I hate the title, but I totally appreciate the sentiment. There are women at my gym (loaded with athletes and tight, toned women) who I high five when I see them there, because they are gutting it out, red faced and sweaty like mad, every time I’m there.
I am not skinny, but I am strong and I am fit. My belly jiggles when I run. My knees ache after squash and my feet are always stiff. And you know what? I am proud of myself because I am moving.
Be proud. Be active. Live your best life. Explore. Find your dragon boat activity.