Sprint kayak racing is not an easy sport. I may have mentioned this once or twice, it’s actually rather tough. It’s physically and emotionally demanding, especially when Mother Nature doesn't cooperate. Thankfully, I am training with Dan Henderson and the Kenmore-Cascade Canoe and Kayak club and it makes things a LOT better.
U.S. Team Trials were held in Oklahoma City.
Dan drove our boats out there. Dan made a training schedule and set arrival dates so we had plenty of time to prepare, Dan organized for the Team to eat together and leave together. Basically we have an awesome team who helped each other out and Dan Henderson is a great coach and a really good person to have in your corner when you are trying to qualify for an international race in a sport that is cutthroat.
The months of training leading up to my ONE 200m race (that would potentially qualify me for World Cup) were brutal. I worked hard, I paddled hard and I felt prepared. I knew I was capable of reaching the time standard I needed to reach but there are so many variables I just didn't want plan on it until I had done it. The weather the days prior race day had varied from great to terrible. Wind speeds and directions changed, and we had fought with rain and lightning, so it was a wild card. They changed the ladies Paracanoe race from mid-afternoon to 08:00am to give us the best chance at good weather.
Thankfully Mother Nature was kind. We arrived early to the boathouse so we could go through our warm-up and be ready to go for the first race of the day. My parents drove out from Colorado to be there, and another Paracanoeist and his wife came to watch as well.
We got called to the starting line… ready, set, go! I got a bad start; I didn't get the strength I wanted off the line to pull away. I had watched video after video of athletes recovering from poor starts to win, so I dug in, tried to breathe, look forward and push to the finish line. At ~50m to go I had a serious chat with myself about finishing strong. How could 200m hurt so badly? My body was revolting against me; it was hard to sit tall, the water felt heavy, my legs were screaming, but I did everything I knew to do and kept digging towards the finish. When the horn sounded as I crossed the line, I didn't win and that hurt. I wanted to win.
I caught my breath and went to the scoreboard, I may not have been first across the line, but I had met my time standard and accomplished a PERSONAL BEST time. I was going to Germany!! Holy moly, I qualified for a World Cup event for the first time in 5 years… in a new sport!!! Best part was my parents were there to see it.
Hard work does pay off. 4 of 6 of the Kenmore~Cascade team members qualified for the international spots we were hoping for, a darn good effort by everyone!!
I have a couple weeks before I leave for Duisburg, Germany and I am training hard to improve on my time and my performance!