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SMOOTH!

Three weeks after the race and I finally got back out on the water today.  I didn’t have my boat until last weekend but I’d decided to rest my wrist until today.  Put in at Redwood City marina; a beautiful day.  Supposed to be pretty hot; Indian summer and it’s almost Oct.  I launched about 10 AM.  No wind; the water was like glass.

This is out in the bay.  I’d planned on 4-5 miles.  I had to force myself to turn around; as it was I did about 6 miles.    It felt so great to be back in my boat.  Now I’m thinking I’ll do some reconnaissance next Sat. at Lake Sonoma.  They have some boat-in campsites I’m really itching to do.  Maybe I’ll go up really early Sat., check things out, do some paddling and return home in the evening.

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COLORADO 100

contemplating the race; Fri.

I ended up doing quite a good write up of my race with the Spot Messenger Adventures.  The link is to the right in the sidebar.  I hadn’t really decided to use a Spot until the last minute.  It was a good investment for my Team Captain, Kate, as she could see my exact location and progress along the river.  It was quite funny a 5 hour paddle for me to a checkpoint took her 15-20 minutes to drive.  So she had enough time to find food and water for herself and check up on her new iPad where I was.

my track along the river

breakfast on Fri. at Maxine's

dropping off boats Fri.

preparations before the start

Here’s my account of the race I posted on Spot Adventures.  There’s interesting maps and some pictures there too.

“The Colorado 100 is an ultra-marathon canoe and kayak race held Labor Day Weekend in Texas.  It begins in Bastrop and 100 miles later ends in Columbus.  There is a time limit of 32 hours; people do not stop and sleep, but paddle through the night. In addition, there are deadlines for each of the checkpoints throughout the race course.

waiting for the start

I trained 13 weeks specifically for the CR100.  Training consisted of many miles logged in the Oakland Estuary and SF Bay.  In the last month most of my miles were in the Stanislaus and San Juaquin Rivers.  My longest training day prior to the race was 45 miles (done twice). I am paddling a Current Designs Solstice GTS. This race is open to many types of boats; both solo and tandem canoes and kayaks.

1st checkpoint; Smithville (26 miles)

Kate and I flew to TX on Thurs. before the race.  It rained on Fri. and weather predictions for race day were great; it would be in the low 90’s! Friday afternoon I checked in, completed boat preparation with my Team Captain, and attended the mandatory evening meeting. Race start was 7 AM the next day.

2nd checkpoint; Plum Park (42 miles)

There were 2 divisions, an adventure (that’s me) and competition class, and both had a tandem and solo division.  The solo adventure class started first and 100 boats started getting into the river about 6:40 AM. A bit of a challenge as you were required to either be standing by your boat or holding onto a piece of the shore if you were in your boat. There just wasn’t much real estate for 100 boats!

my Team Captain; Kate

Checkpoints were at 26, 42 and 63 miles.  I was hoping to maintain at least a 5 mph average.  If so, I should reach the first checkpoint in Smithville around 12:15 PM.  It’s amazing how fast 5 hours passes when you’re on a river you’ve never paddled before.  Much of your attention is picking the fastest line of water or maybe avoiding obstructions.  Then there’s making sure you hydrate enough; my cycle was taking in about 5 oz. every 15 min. and sipping liquid food every 20-30 min.  Then at each hour I took electrolyte supplements and hit my “OK” button on the Spot Messenger.

I had no problems with the heat.  They thought there’d even be a tailwind but that never panned out.  In fact, I had some good headwinds a few sections on the river.  Regardless, the first leg of the race went well and I pulled into the first checkpoint at 12:05 PM. My team captain, Kate, was waiting for me.  I got out of the boat turned in my timing tag (a little bar code to registers you and your time) and rested awhile with a very cold drink and an orange.  I didn’t want to stay here long, so we started re-stocking water and food on the kayak, and re-applying chapstick, sunscreen, and Hydropel (keeps hands from blistering).  I was back on the water in 20 min., and hoping to be at the next checkpoint in 3 hrs.

Psychologically, the second checkpoint seemed to be an easy task; only 16 miles, but somewhere on that leg of the river my right wrist began to ache.  Sixteen miles went by pretty fast and I was at Plum Park, the second checkpoint by 3 PM, but with pretty good wrist pain.  I was now worried about it getting worse. If it stayed the way it was, I might be able to complete the race with icing at the checkpoints and taking ibuprofin.  As soon as I got out of the boat I got ice on my wrist, drank and ate, and decided to rest longer to help my wrist.  I was making good time and would rather risk a slower time than not completing the race.  I stayed at Plum Park 45 min. and wrapped my wrist for support and took off.

icing at Plum Park

At 4:30 PM I was allowed more ibuprofin and took 800mg. hoping that would knock out the pain, or at least, help it not to get worse.  The next checkpoint, LaGrange, was 20 miles away (63 total river miles).  I knew I could make it that far and it would be a good test to see how my wrist was going to behave. I should pull into LaGrange somewhere around 8 PM.

3rd checkpoint; LaGrange (63 miles)

I was now over half way into the race, and others racers were really starting to thin out.  I passed a few and a few passed me.  We mostly greeted each other, and usually found out if this was your first CR100 or whether you were a veteran.  Most offered tidbits about what to expect or what to watch out for.  I passed one guy, we were both first-timers and I warned him about rapids at mile 49, granite rocks, and you should pass either to the right or left side.  He said, “thanks,” and I moved on.  Well I paddled too far to the right and got stuck, and then the guy I warned went right passed me!

The river was beautiful. I saw no other boat traffic besides racers. Most of the shore was desolate with the occassional cattle herd, and one Brahman bull who seriously checked me out at the water’s edge. Generally, I was feeling very good; I felt like my fitness was adequate to complete the race.  But, my wrist was getting worse, not better.  It had changed to episodes of sharp pain, and at times I was having to alter my paddling technique to get the left blade in the water.  Now I was really worried.  There was nothing I could do but get into LaGrange, see how my wrist felt at that time, and re-access.

I made incredible time to LaGrange; I pulled in by 7:30 PM.  That was 20 miles in 3-1/2 hrs.  I had completed almost 2/3 of the race; 63 miles!  Unfortunately, I could barely hold my paddle in my right hand.  The last 3 miles had been incredibly painful and though I hadn’t made a decision to abandon at that time, I seriously didn’t think I could make the last 37 miles.  But I received a really warm welcome and decided to delay my decision until I talked to my team captain.

I was helped out of the boat and Kate was waiting for me at the top of the boat ramp with ice, a cold drink and food.  Oh no, Wayne was there too!  He had passed me while I was resting at Plum Park, and he had abandoned because he had already dumped 4 times and wasn’t  optimistic about his chances the last 37 miles in the dark.

After consulting friends and the race director, I sadly announced that I would not be continuing.  I could have paddled longer, but I wasn’t at all sure I’d be able to go the whole way.  Besides the last leg being 37 miles in the dark, it’s also the most desolate section of the river, and the most dangerous.  At mile 80, with a very strong current around an island there’s a few dangerous sweepers, and obstacles in the water.  I did not feel confident about the performance of my stroke when I would most need it.  If I had to abandon in this section, it would be dark (also no moon) and take at least 2 hrs. before rescue.  Rescue is only bodies; they leave your boat!

So, I unwrapped my wrist to apply ice and viewed a very swollen and hot forearm.  I could not bend my wrist and I had no grip strength.  At that point I realized I had already done some damage to my arm, and if I had continued, it could be a lot worse.  Friends pulled my kayak out, unloaded all my stuff, and got it atop the car.  Because I’d planned to paddle through the night (Sat.) we had no place to stay.  We said goodbye to friends and Kate and I attacked the next challenge, where to spend the night.

It’s disappointing not to finish.  I think to most athletes this is the ultimate goal, no matter the event.  Then there’s all the sub-goals; time, splits, evaluating all the parameters of one’s fitness.  Yes, I’m disappointed I didn’t finish.  That was my ultimate goal.  A sub-goal was to finish in 24 hrs., and looking at my splits I know if it had not been for my arm, I would have finished in less than 24 hrs.  I am really happy with my sub-goals.  My body performed well.  I had no issues with the heat; my fueling and hydrating plan worked excellently.  So, mostly I’d have to say it was a great race.  I learned a lot; a lot participating in the race and a lot preparing for the race.  And I couldn’t have done it without my team captain, Kate.  Thanks Kate!”

Anyways, an enlightening and fun experience overall.  I vaguely remember eating some nachos after the container had blown off the roof as we departed LaGrange.  We circled back and there it was in the middle of the road with the top waving in the wind.  We’d only lost 5 or 6 chips!  We slept in Sun. and headed for a fun-filled day in Austin, a smallish city we really liked.  Maybe again next year? (pssst, I’m trying to get my Team Captain in a tandem)!

Austin


BUSY

I’ve been trying to keep up with reading all your blogs but haven’t had the time to sit down and write in my own.  Besides a full work week, one weekend day is working in my daughter’s new house and the other is a very long paddle.  Well the housework is done and there’s only 2 weekends left of long paddles before the CR100.  I can’t believe it; race day is almost here.  One huge change is a friend, who’s also racing, is transporting my boat.  That means I don’t have to drive and can fly.

I haven’t even had time to add up my training mileage but have had a couple really long days since my last post.  Two weeks ago I went back to the San Juaquin River and put in 30 miles solo.  Let me tell you, it’s a long slog upriver!  Here’s a picture of my one and only land break at about 13 miles.

San Juaquin River

All and all it was a good day.  Had some heat training as it was 92º. One kneecap got very sunburned as my shorts had slid up and I didn’t notice it most the day. OUCH!  It just peeled today.  Mostly it was a great confidence booster as I knew I could still do more at the end of the day.  I have to admit though, it was pretty hard carrying my boat up the ramp to the car!

Yesterday Wayne and I ran the Stanislaus River from Oakdale to Two Rivers; 43 miles.  And all down current. Not a whole lot of water left this time of year, but we were able to average 5 mph.  We were mostly slowed by many, many, many logs and trees in the river.  I think I ran into (yes into, not over) about 5, and got stuck on one. The number of logs we paddled over is too many to remember.  We also had 3 sets of rapids; my first in a sea kayak.  Two of them were about a 3 foot drop and Wayne went over in the first one (he was on a surfski).  Here’s a picture of the Stanislaus in the morning a few miles after starting out.

Stanislaus River

The river looked pretty healthy.  Clear enough to see the bottom, though it was only 3-4 feet deep in most places.  Saw lots of wildlife, which is always a good sign……..turtles, river otters, blue herons, egrets, lots of fish, crawdads, and my first golden eagle (actually several).  And because it was the weekend, lots of humans at the riverside parks we passed by.  Personally I think they’ve become overpopulated, and probably should be relocated to a more remote location. (-:

eat well, sleep well………..paddle fast! Training miles: hundreds


RIVERS

I’ve still been paddling, but with my daughter home from school and her birthday it’s been a couple really busy weeks.  As my long, Saturday paddles build in distance I’ve been challenged finding new places to go where I can be on the water longer than 6 hours.  A couple of long river paddles were organized and then fizzled but a very experienced, new kayak  acquaintance showed me some wonderful places this past week in a couple of rivers.  Here’s the San Juaquin River.

Since the CR100 is in a river I’m trying to spend my last month of training; well, training in a river.  It’s also probably going to be 90º plus during the race, so getting to these rivers in central California provides me with hot, river conditions.  So this last week, one day, I did some river reconnaissance and was lucky enough to paddle 22 miles in two rivers, the Stanislaus and the San Juaquin.  The plan was to go up current on the Stanislaus but we met an un-portage-able set of rapids about 2-1/2 miles upstream.  Luckily where we put in, the San Juaquin ended at the Stanislaus.  We turned around and went up the San Juaquin instead.

It wasn’t so different paddling upstream than some of the tides in the bay.  What was different was that the water was so calm and smooth, no boat traffic, and we saw less than 5 people all day.  We hit a little wind on the way back, but nothing like the higher winds we’ve been having in the bay this year. And heading back to the start is all with the current.  Really fun, and psychologically helpful when you’re tired towards the end of the day.

I took this weekend off from paddling, but I’ll be back on the water Mon., and all next week.  I’m going to head out on the San Juaquin next weekend shooting for 30 miles.  I’ll probably be solo again, but it was sure nice spending a lovely day on the water with my new friend. Thanks Wayne!

eat well, sleep well………paddle fast!  Training miles:  238


FLEXIBILITY

I  use to think I was flexible.  In some areas I believe I am.  When it comes to my training, once I make a plan, I’ve discovered it’s difficult for me to make alterations.  I did take the work week off from paddling which is usually 3 days in the water. I was still holding my breath and hoping I would get to paddle the Sacramento River this Sat., but it was not meant to be. So, I returned to the Oakland Estuary with the goal to complete 25 miles (my 3rd attempt).

With 6 days off the water I was ready to return; my body well rested.  I adjusted the Perpetuem formula by increasing to the maximum dosage for my weight, and I doubled my electrolyte capsules. Besides lots of sun and in the boat over 6 hours, it’s also been quite humid here.  I vowed to drink water every 15 min. and sip my liquid food at least every half hour.  I also took some ibuprofin right at the start and made a mental note, that if I needed more, what time a 2nd dose would be allowed.

I planned my route from the beginning and was not going to deviate. This way I didn’t need to expend any energy planning while on the water.  I was going to do all 25 miles in the estuary (with a little jaunt into San Leandro Bay), which required me to pass my starting point 3 times.  I find that psychologically difficult, but I wasn’t going to think about it once I climbed into the cockpit.  I was pushing off from the dock by 6:30 AM.  It was cold and foggy, with hardly a breeze (I was blessed with hardly any wind all day).  I had the water to myself in the early morning hours, except for a few huge container ships being escorted by tugboat out to the bay.

I had the first hour against the tide; 4 miles to the tip of Alameda Island.  I turned around and went with the flow for about 9 miles, and turned around again.  Well, you get the point.  Back and forth and back again; with the flow and then against it.

7/10/10

Here’s my speed over distance.  My average moving speed was 3.9 mph, which I’m pretty happy about as the incoming tide is pretty swift around a couple of areas where the estuary thins by bridges.  My fastest pace was 6.8 mph.  The extreme dips in speed is where I’ve stopped paddling to drink or eat.  The total moving time in my kayak was 6 hrs. and 13 min.

I went through a period this week where I was ready to throw in the towel.  After a few days analyzing the previous two Sat.’s, I realized I had probably “bonked.”  The hardest part is when you’re bonking you don’t know it.  It took a few days of rational thought this week to figure out what I could do to try to make a difference in my performance.  I’m still considering the possibility of training too much, besides just the nutritional adjustments I’ve made. I have some family obligations where it would be very difficult to do a long Sat. paddle.  So, I’m going to continue my weekly regimen and alternate long paddle weekends. Keep your (my) fingers crossed; here comes 35 miles!

eat well, sleep well…………paddle fast.  Training miles: 185


24 HOURS LATER

Today is a multi-topic post.  First off, I disappeared for 24 hours to Half Moon Bay for a wee vacation over a three-day weekend thanks to our national independence.  The three of us headed for a small hotel in Montara for the night and out to a nice dinner on Saturday. Sunday we sat at the beach and watched Chloe exert enough energy for the three of us as she chased sticks, played in the waves and cavorted with every dog that passed by.  Here’s a picture about an hour before sunset from the restaurant on Saturday.

Sunday we had an excellent breakfast at a cafe right next to the local airport, the Three-Zero Cafe.  It took us a really long time to order as everything looked and smelled delicious.  We vowed to come back soon so we could try some of the other dishes.  I settled on a combination of pancakes with some eggs and lots of coffee!  Being next to the airport the cafe was filled with lots of plane memoribilia……….

Three-Zero Cafe

This last week included 42 miles of training.  One day this week, Wednesday, was a 6 mile time trial which I repeat once a month.  It was an exciting week as my 9 mile Monday was relatively easy (and beautiful), and Wed. I beat my previous TT time by 8 min. I was feeling really good about my progress and performance.  I was a little anxious about Saturday’s distance because I was unable to complete 25 miles the Saturday before.

However, I approached Sat.’s distance like that of the first leg of the race where the first checkpoint is about 25 miles. Mentally I was telling myself I just had to complete 25 miles.  The day was looking good as there wasn’t a speck of wind and the water was almost completely flat in the estuary.  I planned to go north 4 miles and then retreat 8 miles covering the eastern side of Alameda Island. Then depending on the tide round the southern tip continue on for awhile and see how far I could get.  I wanted to do about 12 miles before I again turned around and headed in the direction of my starting point.  Well it was dead flat when I got to the northern tip of the island (the first 4 miles) and I figured this would be the time to try to circumnavigate it.  I went for it and I did paddle the entire way.

7/3/10 Circumnavigation of Alameda Island

Unfortuneately at about 13 miles I started to get horrible muscle aches in my torso.  I immediately took some ibuprofin and hoped it would make enough of a difference that it wouldn’t interfere with the distance I’d hoped to accomplish.  I kept my mind focused on passing my starting point and doing as much mileage back up the channel before turning around again.  Mentally, I didn’t think I could pass the starting point yet again for the third time without heading for the dock and finishing my day.  I seemed to lose my focus at about 16 miles.  I was entering a really busy part of the channel and decided to turn back (south again) and head for Coast Guard Island.  I passed my starting point for the third time and as I paddled past the west side of the island (Coast Guard Island) I knew all I had left was getting around that island and heading for home.  I didn’t think it would be more than 20 miles or so, and it was just shy of 21 when I finished.   I was completely spent, and as I sat in my cockpit a bit trying to feel good about what I had accomplished all I had were doubts about ever being able to paddle 25 miles.  I know I’d done a lot.  Twenty-one miles is something to feel good about, right, but all I could think about was if I can’t even complete 25 miles in training how was I really going to be ready for 100!

I continued with my doubts the rest of the day. Should I just give up now? I was supposed to do 30 miles next Sat. with my coach.  Was I going to embarrass myself next weekend?  Maybe I was just too old for this?  Maybe I wasn’t good enough for this?  I felt distressed about the fact I was doing all the training and my body wasn’t cooperating with the plan.  The first friend I talked to suggested maybe I was training too hard.  Maybe I needed a break; some time off.  My first reaction was, “no, I have a scheduled training regimen. I need to stick to it.”  The next friend I talked to said 21 miles wasn’t that far from 25, and I’d gotten around Alameda Island, something I’d been trying to do for a month.  She seemed totally convinced I would find answers to my apparent dilemma.  Well, I didn’t have too much time to sulk as I was leaving for my Half Moon Bay adventure. I’d have to put a hold on my obsessing.

Twenty-four hours later and I was feeling a little better about my Sat. paddle.  I was recognizing that yes, 21 was really close to 25.  Also I was willing to try something different.  I’ve decided to take the whole week off and only paddle the 30 miles this upcoming Sat. on the Sacramento river.  It feels like a risk not to do the mileage planned for the week.  But it feels right about taking a break and seeing what I can do Sat. with more rest.  I’m also wondering if I’d taken in enough calories.  I’ve been using a liquid endurance formula for athletes.  It’s possible I need a higher dosage of calories.  So, next paddle, I’ll increase the calorie content of my drink.  I realized later I didn’t take my supplements regularly (electrolytes) and I also missed some doses.  I think my physical discomfort  interfered with my focus on taking water, supplements, and calories on the planned intervals.

It’s a week off for me.  I’ll keep you posted.

eat well, sleep well…………paddle fast.  Total miles:  160


ONE MONTH

Yesterday completed one month of official training for the Colorado 100 race in early Sept.  In general, I’d rate it a success.  I’ve really learned a lot (and paddled a lot).  I was worried how I’d handle the stress of logistics; getting on the water 4 days a week while being a full-time employee.  I’d have to say, this has been the easiest of challenges.  There have been a couple of days at work which were physically demanding where I’ve thought, “I’d just like to go home.” But I didn’t think twice about it and found myself  at the end of the day in my cockpit where I belonged.  There have been 2 days I didn’t paddle that were scheduled; one due to winds and another where, psychologically, I just needed to go home and do nothing.

What has been more stressful is the wind.  How windy will it be after work?  How windy will it get when a small craft advisory is predicted (almost every day now).  How reliable are the wind predictions?  How will I perform in the wind?Recently a local weatherman said our weather to date has been like early spring.  With regard to the winds, that’s the windiest season here in the Bay Area. I’ve been looking for to the normal decline of wind as the summer progresses. Now it’s almost July, and we’re often getting warnings of winds at 25-30 kt.

I didn’t really have doubts my body would handle the long paddle days as long as I put in the required daily training.  After the first 20 miler I began to feel the stress.  The hours after that first 20-mile paddle and the day after were the first time I felt a little soreness and “systemic tiredness.”  Yesterday a 25 miler was scheduled and from the beginning I knew it was going to be a challenge.  It felt more about “mental wrestling” than physical.  I just couldn’t get my mind around being in the cockpit for 6 hours or more, and I was obsessing about what the route was actually going to be.  I wanted to get around the island, but there were no guarantees the north point would be passable.  And  yesterday as I approached the northern tip three kayakers came towards me and warned how windy and choppy it was.  They had decided to turn back.  A wind advisory was already posted and the tide was racing out (wind/tide in opposite directions), so I wasn’t optimistic.  After taking a look myself, I too retreated; I was solo.

6/26/10

On a more optimistic note the wind was negligible in the channel. Now I was only going against the tide for less than an hour.  This then created the dilemma of the route I would take to cover the required 25 miles.  While I was paddling I began all the mathematical computations and ways I could go to make the mileage.  I paddled all along the east side of the island and around the southern tip but was halted by an extremely low tide.  No getting into the Bay this way for a few hours.  Back I went the way I’d come and figured I’d get back to the starting point with about 20 miles under my belt.  Well, I’d just have to paddle around in circles I guess to get those extra 5 miles in.  Then on the way back I hit the incoming tide which was incredibly strong, and the first time in this channel where I could barely make headway against it.  Maybe I haven’t used enough adjectives as yet to describe to you the horrible day I was having. Oh, that’s right, this rant is public!

After a couple of miles fighting the current those core muscles were really tired (good sign my arms weren’t).  I had a neckache, a headache and I just kept making bargains with myself to get to next selected spot ahead of me to keep me going.  I tried to tell myself this would pass, pretty soon I’d feel OK.  But I just kept feeling worse, physically and mentally.  When I spied my starting point I told myself 20 miles was enough!  I was not having fun.  I was really spent as I exited my kayak and stood (or tried) on the dock.  At that point I was sure I had made the right decision to cut my day short.  I just wanted to get packed up and get home.

So, I felt a little failure with regard to my expectations yesterday, but it was the 2nd weekend in a row I’d completed 20 miles.  And, next Sat. no increase in mileage.  Yes, 25 miles again!  I learned the shoes I was wearing were not going to work (my old kayak shoes disintegrated last Mon.).  My MSR Dromlite is working great.  I’m remembering to eat and drink on time.  The clothing I’m going to wear for the race is being tested and all is well, I just need to get a short sleeve top for all this summer training.  The training miles are adding up.  I think the first month ended with a total of 118.

So begins the SECOND month with 9 miles tomorrow.  Wed. is a 6 mile time trail.  I get to compare it to the 6 miles done a month ago. July 10, calls for 30 miles and my coach is taking me to the lower Sacramento river where we’ll be paddling together.   Now the biggest challenge seems to be completing the super, long Saturdays, and WHERE to paddle the super, long Saturdays!

eat well, sleep well……….paddle fast!  Total training miles: 118