Team USA

Team USA
Sloan's Lake

24 April 2012

First Paracanoe Race

This Spring we were fortunate for very warm and mild weather and I had had an opportunity to train on the water on my own several weeks prior to Paracanoe trials. The event was US Olympic Trials for London and Paracanoe trials to qualify for World Championships in Poland and it took place at the Oklahoma City Chesapeake Boathouse.  I was excited and nervous. This was my first race and felt I didn’t have enough training under my belt to do well and I had just been told when I returned I would have to have major hip surgery again. I weighed it out and decided that we all have to start somewhere so I honored my commitment; I loaded up my boat, myself and my dog and drove the 700 miles out there.

The facility was incredible, everyone was VERY nice and I met lots of fabulous people! I got out on the water when I arrived in the afternoon sun. I had a chance to practice a couple times in the start gate which was brand new to me and I was very grateful for the opportunity to do that before the race!
View of the starting line from the docks

Unfortunately, when race day rolled around the weather did NOT cooperate. After years of ski racing you think I’d know how to expect the unexpected but everyone kept hoping and thinking the bad weather was going to blow through and by our evening start times we’d be good. But when you’re at the mercy of the water and the wind it can be a very tough. I went out on the water in the morning to try to figure it out, just in case but I’ll be honest and say I just didn’t know enough to paddle straight with a 20 mph cross wind. I tried for about 45 minutes and decided I’d take a break and come back later before the race to warm up and be ready to go.

Because of the wind there were numerous false starts in the races before ours and we were just hanging out in our boats paddling around in the wind waiting. We too had issues with false starts which made the process even longer. By the time we had a good start we were behind schedule by about 45 minutes and my body wasn’t happy.

I paddled as hard as I could for the 200m but I zigzagged down the course fighting the water and the wind the whole way. I placed 3rd in the LTA class and got to be on the podium with my competitors but I was not happy with my time or my performance.  Honestly I was embarrassed to paddle so poorly with so many top athletes around and so many spectators watching. I had to remind myself I’m just a rookie and we all have to start somewhere. I walked away knowing I had a lot to work on but confident that I had the ability to improve by the next race. Guess that’s all I could ask for right then.

Race1- photo credit Ben Kvanli

Hannah Race 1- photo credit Kevin Carr

3rd Place LTA, At least the sun came out for awards