Last month, SUP race novice Will Rogers shared his SUP race challenge plans, today, reality bites as race day looms that little bit too soon. He’s got blisters all over his hands, but its not from race training…
WR/ Its true – often time just kind of overtakes you. Life is moving fast, work is fully loaded and finding that time to ‘train’ becomes a challenge in itself. Suddenly its dawned on me that race day is actually tomorrow, and I really haven’t trained as much as I should have. I don’t think there’s any backing out now, but tomorrow I will be taking on the Head of the Dart SUP race and I don’t feel as prepared as I had hoped.
A few months ago when I set out on this challenge I decided to train religiously to prepare my self for my goal of not only just completing the HOTD race, but completing it to the best of my ability; being fit and tuned in to the technicalities of race paddling and what my body could deal with. But as always everything happens at once, and I’ve literally run out of time meaning my training has suffered. Balancing sessions with work and life’s general distractions has been incredibly hard, but my real Achilles heal has been the waves; they have been fantastic and I’m a real sucker for them. They have been continually coaxing me in; distracting me, teasing me, maybe it means I’m just not strong enough? I have huge amounts of blisters on my hands, but I’m embarrassed to tell you that its not from training hard on my trusty 12’6, its from too much time on my surf SUP.
“Balancing sessions with work and life’s general distractions has been incredibly hard, but my real Achilles heal has been the waves; they have been fantastic and I’m a real sucker for them.”
The fact is, a huge part of a challenge is motivating yourself to prepare for it, its an attitude thing I suppose, if ‘race training’ was my second choice to SUP surfing, SUP surfing was always going to win. Tomorrow me and over 70 Stand up paddlers will be racing down the Dart – if I’m not prepared now, its too late…there’s going to be know where to hide!
A technology and mind mega mix…
But its not all bad news, even though my discipline was weak, I have managed to learn an incredible amount, I have discussed training plans and paddle technique in depth; learnt about nutrition, blade design and heart rates. But one of the most rewarding elements has been beginning to understand how I can push through boundaries using an incredibly powerful tool, my mind and its powerful psychology to allow my to push that little bit harder when everything is starting to hurt. I know that my fitness will be well below 100% on race day, but if I get my head in the right place my determination will get me to Dartmouth. This is, of course consolidated by the knowledge that there is some really great pubs there.
In my last blog, I mentioned that I had recruited a training partner – an equally inexperienced SUP racer with a 3 piece aluminum paddle with no blade angle just goes to show your challenge does not have to include the best gear. We have been battling our way through training sessions, zig-zagging across the waterways, sending each other motivational emails at work and generally having a good time. But there’s a second training partner in my life as well, its called Polar (the heart rate monitor), and has been a great tool to measure how hard I’m pushing myself and learn about how my body feels at different heart rates. I’ve got a habit of doing everything at a million miles an hour in my life, so my endurance skills aren’t the best. Polar has been an incredible tool to guide me through this learning (once I figured out how to operate the thing of course).
Cheating the plan…
If it wasn’t already going badly, in the final month before the race, my very ‘scattered’ training plan was interrupted by a holiday, and not only was it 10 days of broken routine, but to make matters worse it was a SUP surfing holiday, the training nemesis was again raising its head. Knowing this distraction to be my Achilles heal my mitigating strategy was to take and iSUP for when the waves were down, so I could paddle head down along the coast of France, maybe even paddle for the morning Baguette. Unfortunately this plan quickly came unstuck when the waves were relentless, for 8 solid days. I SUP surfed twice a day, and by the time it was flat, my hands were blistered and although I managed it, I was not feeling the biggest motivations to sweat it out along the Vendee coast. While sipping my 2009 Merlot, my hands became a constant reminder of my lack of discipline, as the wine flowed conversations convinced me, that paddling for 5 hours a day on a 7’7 x 27” Surf SUP was still a ‘form of training’ …. I suppose race day will be the judge of that theory.
Highs and Lows
Of course, there has been some great moments, paddling with friends, learning the new skills and technical competence, but there has been some awful lows too. My days have had to become like precisely scheduled projects in order to fit all the action in. When your training sessions are firmly on the ‘critical path’ you certainly don’t want any set backs….Driving 10 miles to the river, pumping up your iSUP and realising you left your paddle at home doesn’t go down well. In reflection these moments just made me stronger; my bright pink face from frantically pumping up my race board at least covered up the built up rage.
My great intention of top quality nutrition plans have also had their set backs; with plans to ‘carbo load’ prior to the event and keeping my finely tuned racing body fuelled on only the finest energy sources during the build up, its been a disappointing realization that in race week my increadibly busy work schedule has resorted to be eating McDonalds on 3 consecutive days. I feel dirty, embarrassed, only consoled by the fact I won a free apple pie on the in restaurant promotion – but I guess in a way, that just made it even worse.
To top these great achievements off, in beautiful fashion I took a unplanned dip while fully clothed (including the trusty wellies of course) during a training session in France. Determined to complete my training session I persevered and returned home, probably verging on hypothermia as the bitterly cold Easterly bit through my sodden jeans. But on the bright side, I was that bit fitter and a little more prepared for the forthcoming race. I’m learning fast, its all about the positive mental attitude.
“Its been a disappointing realization that in race week my increadibly busy work schedule has resorted to be eating McDonalds on 3 consecutive days. I feel dirty, embarrassed, only consoled by the fact I won a free apple pie on the in restaurant promotion”
It’s now or never…
So the time has come, no backing out, no excuses – So far my real challenge has been finding the time to train, but along the way I have made progress and learn’t some tricks. The forecast is good, the sun is going to be out, the wind is light and its looking like champagne race conditions. I’ve researched the route, studied the tides and channel positions, and most importantly dried out my wellies. See you on race day – I will be back to tell you how it all goes.