Hey- it’s been a while- so here’s what’s been going down:
Started off the summer season in Europe--flew in to Munich on a Thursday, arrived in Tacen, Slovenia for a brief training session on Friday to set up for a long weekend of racing. Jet lag is a killer, and I didn’t prepare as well as I had hoped. The weekend turned out okay- I finished, but the results were not what I expected- didn’t make top twenty to move into the semi-finals. Guess traveling takes it out of you. Then we (Ricky Powell and I) packed up and headed West to France for 2 weeks of training and racing. After getting lost I have determined that no amount of GPS maps downloaded can navigate you to the heart of France. At midnight we finally pulled into the village we had been inadvertently circling for three hours. The first race was in the L’Argentiere. The course was small but technical. Chilly mornings, sunny afternoons up to 70 F made for very nice training. I made it to the semis on this race, but no finals. After driving through mountain passes that took us almost a full day, we arrived at the next race course. By the crow it’s only 70 km, but the mountains make travel difficult. The course at Bourg was big. The water was big, the mountains were big. Narrowly missed the finals. Our last stop was back east and south as we drove through the icefields of the Alps into Northern Italy. The location- Merano- is inside the Italian border, but the natives really only speak German. The river was crystal blue and held promise for the last race for me on the Continent. Turned out it was just the race I needed: placing third overall in the final ICF ranking race made the trip home much easier.
Back to Charlotte. Training at home in Charlotte over the summer is hot, hot and hot. The USNWC water is like bathwater beginning in early June and on until fall, in peak of the summer the water temps can reach the 90’s or higher. That, coupled with over 100 degree days makes a not so pleasant training atmosphere. It only gets worse from there as the summer progresses. When paddling with a camelback during loop sessions--just to scathe off heat stroke isn't enough--I am oh-so-happy to resort to my other favorite pastime: running real rivers. The best thing to do is get off the course, out of the heat and up into the mountains and run the Green or other stouts with fresh cold water. I chose this option quite a few times this summer in addition to the normal training schedule. So I decided to take a side trip to the beach with my girlfriend and the dogs in August. Body surfed a massive stout wave that slammed me into the shallow sandbar. This was the tweak that put my already sore back over the mark. I ended up in the ATL at Levinson Chiropractic. Good stuff and it turned out I was the last guy from the US team to have held out visiting Dr. Levinson. (Isaac Levinson’s father). 2 treatments and I was back on my way... still a little sore, but at least I was able to start ducking gates again.
The final push for this summer was for the Canadian Team Open. Minden, in Ontario, is located in “cottage country” as its called and I can see why --it is quit beautiful here great training facility impeccable weather for training and relaxing perfect environment for throwing down a fast weekend of racing. I thought I might have O.D.-ed on Tums at this race because my stomach had been KILLING me. Upon a return home I went to visit a specialist, had an endoscopy and it turns out I have a hiatal hernia. They wanted me to only take pills to fix this, but I can’t stand the thought of having to be on medicine for something that I can control with diet. So no more caffeine and nothing too acidic. I am allowed to drink “Stomach Tea” that I found at Earthfare. Yipee.
Slalom season came to an end on Sept 26 with the US National Championships. A one day Sunday race was held at the beautiful Merant power plant - the Dickerson course- in Maryland. The weather was cold and rainy- deterring any of the fair-weather fans. I was the only one to have a clean run out of thirty athletes on the first run, leaving me in a solid position at second. Second runs resulted in a faster time, but with more penalties from touches, and so in the end I placed fourth. I wasn’t too thrilled to finish the season without standing on the podium, but I did have a back injury I was recovering from, and had missed a number of paddling days due to stomach trouble. I was surprised at my good first run, and hate that I couldn’t go out on a win, but this season is not the season to win. This is the season to recover, rest and prepare for the next two years: ramping up to London.
Well as the summer pushes on into fall the weather is not the only thing changing. I happen to morph into a different animal as well, switching from combi neoprene race lite tops and bottoms to mackdry tops, elbow pads and barrier dry suits as I switch from slalom race mode into training to run the Green River and other steep creeks in the Southeast. My first run in the barrier dry suit was a 70-degree day on the Green River Narrows. I loved it. I was surprised at how I could lay in the water and be completely dry. It was super comfortable, and I loved how much mobility I had in it. The zipper (compared to others) is fairly easy, but you still need a friend to help you out. The perfect paddling habitat.
More about the Green to come. Thanks for reading, see you on the river.
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