May 20, 2010

Time spent in boats

Filed under: health,kayaking,sports,travel — origamifreak @ 6:45 am

A friend remarked this weekend that I’ve improved ridiculously fast in my kayaking skills since the last time he’d seen me practice my rolling in a pool in early March. He said it was due to spending so much time in the boat(s).

I was reflecting on this and decided to actually add up all the hours just to see how much time I really have spent padding. The results surprised me.

Since January 31 I have spent the following number of hours paddling:

  • 14:11 – pool and lake rolling practice  (This doesn’t include the rolling I do every time I get into the water. I want to keep this skill strong and fresh.)
  • 19:57 – class I rapids and sea kayaking
  • 10:40 – class II rapids
  • 13:27 – class III rapids
  • 1:28 – class IV rapids (which was over my head but I was lucky)

Which adds up to almost 60 hours in the water with a paddle in my hands.

Since the beginning of April (less than 6 weeks ago) I have paddled 6 different rivers and 3 lakes, some of them multiple times.   A bonus to this is that I’ve explored more of wild NY state in the past month than I have the past 10 years of living here!

I have used 7 whitewater boats and 4 sea kayaks. I rolled all of them successfully except one of the sea kayaks that has a high seat back.

By the time Memorial Day rolls around there will be 4-5 more waterways on that list, most of them class III and III+.

Which, considering I only just started lake paddling in earnest in July and began whitewater in late September *is* kind of stunning, I suppose.

I feel so driven:

  1. I just love it. Try to keep me out of a boat. I dare you.
  2. I want to make up for lost time, now that I’m physical condition to do it
  3. I want to cram as much progress in as possible before I lose my physical ability to handle it (One of my paddling buddies this weekend is in her 60s and an incredible boater, so perhaps this is less of a worry than I think it should be)

Despite all this, paddling is really more of a *reason* to stay in shape than a *way* to stay in shape because it involves a lot of time sitting in the car driving to a destination and sprinting-type exertion once I get there.

Which means I absolutely have to keep up with the spinning, strength training, and swimming so I’ll have the power and stamina to handle boating all day for multiple days in a row as will happen in two weeks.

And I have to pay attention to technique to avoid shoulder injury and ice the tendons in my right wrist that became inflamed during the sea kayaking trip two weeks ago.

It’s a shame I don’t enjoy cycling as much because that does burn carbs. I do love cycling, but not as much as paddling. It doesn’t grab me the same way.

There’s nothing like approaching a drop, where the world ends over the edge, with your heart pounding and fear running through your veins, and your mind focused on getting down cleanly and eddying out at the bottom to avoid getting mushed up against a dangerous canyon wall…

Gee. That doesn’t sound very fun, does it? But it is, I assure you!


May 5, 2010


Filed under: health,kayaking,sports,technology — origamifreak @ 1:35 pm

I’ve been paddling a lot lately, both flat and white water.

But yesterday I got to try something new – qajaasaarneq – Inuit rope gymnastics designed to keep kayak hunters in shape during the off season. These exercises are supposed to be the closest thing to rolling a kayak there is, without involving a boat and water, LOL.

These days there are competitions for who can do the most moves in half an hour (each side, forward & backward). There are 26 moves in all.

Let me tell you, these exercises are challenging. I managed the Akulaammillugu move forwards with my right leg above the rope, and could do it until I was dizzy. It’s the easiest move and the only one I mastered.

I almost managed Akulaammillugu backwards with the same leg in front. My pulled hamstring complained when I tried Akulaammillugu forward with the left leg in front.

I *almost* managed Pallussineq but just couldn’t quite get all the way back over.

All of us tried Qajaasaarneq and a few of the more experienced kayakers managed it, both forward and backward.

It was a really good workout. So good that I’m thinking of getting rid of the Bowflex in the basement, moving the Olympic cage to where the Bowflex is, and hanging some ropes where the Olympic cage is now. That could be a fun thing to have in the basement to work on during the winter…

We also tried some of the high rope exercises. One guy even managed to get up and over it! None of us managed the one-hand hold (Kisitsineq).

The requirements for setup are pretty minimal. It would be fun to see this end up as a new esoteric exercise regime for the masses, LOL.

April 11, 2010

A kayaking goal accomplished! One more step toward badass status. LOL

Filed under: kayaking,sports,technology,transportation,travel — origamifreak @ 4:58 pm

Back in September I took a whitewater kayaking class so I could learn how to roll for my lake boating.

It was all well and good while we practiced in the pool, and even on the one day outing.

But everything changed when we did the overnight trip to the Middle Moose river in the Adirondacks.

We went down that section twice; once on Saturday when the river was running at 3.5, and once on Sunday when it was running at 4ft.

Saturday was a blast, although frustrating. I was in a giant RPM Max boat that was so big I couldn’t maneuver it at all, but so buoyant that it basically floated me upright through everything no matter what I did.

Sunday was a mess. I traded down to a Jackson 4Fun play boat with much less volume (its original paddler got so beat up on Saturday he decided not to go at all on Sunday), the river was higher, and I swam at every rapid, as most of us did. One student even lost her paddle. The instructors decided halfway through to cut the trip short and we walked up the hill to the road.

That day I was cold, tired, and yet still wanted to keep going. And that day it became personal. Between me and the river. I vowed that I’d lose the rest of the weight, get my rolls solid, build up my core and upper body strength and return in time for spring to do that same section at the same water level, with finesse.

I decided I’d become the baddest 40-something ass on the river who used to weigh over 300 lbs. And if that pool of competition was too small, I’d open it up to ANY paddler on the river who used to weigh over 300 lbs. LOL

Today, 7 months later, the first time out in my new boat on moving water, I did it. No swimming, no rolling, AND we added a rapid at the end that was much bigger than anything I’d done in September. According to the gauge the water level was somewhere between 3.93 and 3.9ft, which is close enough to 4 ft, in my book.

In one way I feel really good about this; I set out to show the Middle Moose who was boss, and I’ve done that. On the other hand, as so often with achievements, it was a bit anti-climactic.

I kept waiting for those big scary waves and holes I’d remembered. And we got to the point where the class finished in September and one of the guys said, “gee, that was tame” and I found myself thinking, “but it hasn’t begun, yet. what happened?” And now that I’ve actually done it, on my first day out of the 2010 season, holy heck what am I supposed to AIM for between now and September?! LOL

According to one of my companions the last rapid we added was supposedly a low class IV. One of the guys did come out of his boat (it’s hard to roll that boat – it’s a weird Italian play boat). Another who’d gone down before me said he’d come through the rapid all which-way. Somehow I got lucky on that one and missed most of the big holes and punched through the ones I didn’t miss.

Part of the credit I think is due to my boat. It’s a Pyranha M3 233 creek boat, designed for big water – and I bought it because I figured it would be forgiving of my mistakes more than a river runner or a play boat. And I was right, I think. Today demonstrated that.

Unlike the RPM Max, it actually fits me, so there is lots of ability to edge and maneuver it. It spins on a dime. I can see that I’m going to find this boat very comfortable for a long time, unless I start getting into playboating.

Amusingly, on the way back to the cars we ran into the guy I’d bought the boat from. He now paddles a Pyranha burn, which is the next generation after the M3 and he loves it.

February 23, 2010

Wow, I’m really dense!

Filed under: health,sports,technology — origamifreak @ 8:00 am
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Yeah, we already KNOW I can be dense in the mental arena, LOL.

But what I’m talking about is my mass/volume ratio.

Because tonight I was swimming my laps after water aerobics and wondered why, sometimes in the shallow end, when I was slow on my flip turn, why I would sometimes find myself sitting on my butt on the bottom of the pool after exhaling.

So once I finished I did a little experiment. I laid on the surface and let out my air. Woosh. I landed on the bottom. I held my breath down there for a little bit to see if I’d come back up. Nope. So I stood up.

And then I told the lifeguard I was going to try this in the deep end, just to find out if I really was sinking. And I went down there over by the ladder and did the same thing. And I sank like a stone. It was so fast I actually got a little scared and started swimming back up before I hit the bottom (12 ft). My ears were even feeling the pressure.

Dang. Now I think I understand why some people are afraid of water, especially deep water. It would be kind of scary to find myself at the bottom down there and what if I didn’t have the energy to pull myself back up to the top and wanted to breathe? Yikes.

Last time I was that deep (about 18 months ago) I swam down to retrieve a piece of the underwater vacuum for the lifeguard. I was so buoyant that they had to put down a pole so I could pull myself down the last few feet using my arms, because I just couldn’t swim against my own tendency to bob back up.

This time I think if I went down there again, I’d ask for a pole so I could pull myself UP, if necessary! Heck, if I could hold my breath long enough, I could probably walk around down there.

Bizarre. This whole physical metamorphosis is just bizarre. In some ways it’s almost as surreal as waking up one morning shaped as a cockroach. LOL

December 23, 2009

New BMI = 24.97

Filed under: health,sports,technology — origamifreak @ 8:57 am
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Do you see that?!  Do you see the number up there????

Did you NOTICE?!  It’s UNDER 25!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’m at a “healthy” BMI!  Woo-hoo!

And Amazon says they can get me my SwiMP3 player TOMORROW.  In time for Christmas!!!  In time to USE it on Saturday!!!

Happy little “normal” BMI dance…

P.S.  The other milestone I hit this morning is that my weight is now under 160.  Yay.  But not as exciting as my SHINY NEW BMI!

P.P.S.  I was so excited about getting my BMI under 25 that I forgot to mention the next milestone coming up:  in 3.8 lbs I will have removed 180 total…

December 11, 2009

Countdown to a “healthy” BMI: 2.3 to go!

Filed under: health,sports,technology — origamifreak @ 7:59 am
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Not another milestone…  YET.  Next one in 1.2 lbs when I’ll have removed 175 lbs total.

But as of this morning, 2.3 lbs left to remove until my BMI is under 25, in the “healthy” range.

I have a fun reward planned – an underwater MP3 player that conducts sound through my cheekbones.  (I’m going to have to put in a lot of pool time to train for those 1.2 miles I’ll be swimming in July…)

Now, if I can just manage to drop these pounds soon, I might even be able to get it for CHRISTMAS!!!

At the very least I’m hoping for a shiny new BMI for Christmas…  LOL

October 26, 2009

Rolling on TWO sides, now!

Filed under: sports — origamifreak @ 12:53 pm
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This weekend was great for kayaking “woo-hoo” moments. day

On Saturday I joined the IKC at the Cayuga Lake inlet for a rally supporting the 350ppm CO2 movement.  While there I managed to attempt (and nail) a right-handed roll in my Kestrel.  (In the picture I’m the one in the orange boat facing away from the camera.)

This is significant because the Kestrel is considerably wider than the whitewater play boats I’ve been learning to roll in, and much more stable.  This in theory makes it harder to roll.  It is also significant because the Kestrel is MY boat, and I use it on the lakes, and now that I have a dry top and neoprene for my hands and head, this means I can extend my season considerably because if I get knocked over I’ll be able to come back up without getting out of the boat (and getting cold).

On Sunday I attended the first of two COE rolling sessions in the pool.  We spent a couple of hours doing drills and practicing elements of a roll without actually rolling.  By the time we got around to rolling, I had a pretty solid off-side (left-handed) roll going, right out of the box.  You can see both rolls, here.

In the pool I chose to use the biggest boat they had, the same Dagger RPM Max that I’d used on the Middle Moose back in September.  It’s enormously wide and notoriously hard to roll, and the foot pegs were still adjusted for my legs from when I’d used it last month in the river.  I figured if I could roll in that, then I could probably roll in anything, including my Kestrel.

And in fact, the Dagger feels a lot like my Kestrel – they both take a lot of effort to flip upside down – sometimes I found myself sculling with my hands to actually get the Dagger over –  and both take a few fractions of seconds to settle.  All the Jackson WW boats I’ve been in (Fun2, Fun4, SuperFun, AllStar) roll over like little logs – probably reflecting the fact that they’re designed to be play boats, not displacement-based river runners.

P.S. My current favorite tea is Celestial Seasonings True Blueberry. I THINK it’s the flavor, but now, looking at the box, I wonder if the fact that the berries are going down some nice-looking rapids has anything to do with it? LOL

October 4, 2009

WW Yakking on the Middle Moose (Class III)

Filed under: sports,travel — origamifreak @ 11:58 pm
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Water level pretty low on Saturday (3.5 ft).  Did it in a big ole Dagger that I hated ‘cuz it was a biyatch to maneuver.  But it was very buoyant and stable and I never flipped or swam.  Out of the 6 of us students, 1 other made it through without getting wet.  1 made it with a single combat roll.  Two swam multiple times, and one swam so many times and got beat up so bad he walked the rest of the way out.

He opted not to paddle on Sunday – one of his fingers was so bruised and swollen I suspect it may be broken.  He also cut his lip on his boat, which bled alarmingly spectacularly.  He was the oldest student (and person) on the trip (56).  I was the second-oldest (43).

We saw a Fisher during one of the calm sections of river.  It came down the bank to get a better look at us.  That was very cool.  It was much more curious than afraid – so much so I wondered at first if it were rabid.  But the instructor from NH said he thought it just wasn’t used to seeing people.  He speculated that it was sizing him up to decide whether or not to eat him.  🙂

Higher on Sunday (4 ft).  Tried it in a 4Fun – the boat vacated by the guy who got beat up on Saturday.  Yikes.  Much more challenging.  But also much more maneuverable. Most everyone else was coming out of their boats too, and it was so bad by the time we passed House Rock, that the instructors said we were done for the day and we carried the boats up to the road.  (One student lost a paddle that we never recovered, and only one didn’t swim at all).  I swam half of House Rock after getting stuck in a nasty narrow hole that flipped me as I was exiting it.  I was the first one to go down, and I think seeing me bouncing around like a rag doll between big rocks freaked out the instructors because after that they positioned themselves with ropes to catch the rest of us as we washed down outside our boats.  😛

And then the two creek-boating instructors did the dam at Fowlersville, which is just plain sick (IV+).

The playboating instructor decided to give it a pass, and I don’t blame him.

Overall fun and I am DEFINITELY interested in doing more stuff like that!  What a rush.  My HR monitor registered over 190 bpm at times, both days.  Apparently I burned over 800 calories in 3 hours on Saturday.  That’s what I call an efficient cardio workout.

At the private debriefings tonight the instructors told me my enthusiasm is great, but maybe I should dial it back a little, since I don’t seem to have enough fear instinct to keep me from wanting to do things that are above my level.  (Are we surprised?  Um, no.  But point taken!)

September 30, 2009

Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’

Filed under: sports — origamifreak @ 8:25 am
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I did it!!!

And then I did it AGAIN!

And again, and again, and again… (I have about an 80% success rate at the moment.)

September 24, 2009

On a roll!

Filed under: sports — origamifreak @ 11:20 pm
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Well, I did it!  ONCE.

A bunch of other times I apparently came close, but I can sleep now, knowing that if I managed to roll a kayak one time, I can do it again, if I can just figure out what I did right…

I distinctly remember coiling myself like a spring in preparation and really torquing myself around, so I’m going to focus on that.  Also, I need to focus on bringing the paddle across my body, not up over my head where I have no strength and it has no business being, anyway!  LOL

The other thing I remember was that it felt like almost no effort, at all.  It had been *easy*.  Now, if I can just figure out how to do it AGAIN, I’ll be in business…

But the main thing is, I DID IT!!!  All by myself!

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