It was a good day! I met my 2000m goal of sub 7:40, with a reasonable start, conservative middle, and furious finish. This was enough to win the Masters category, and I saw a girl I beat was standing on the third place spot of the open category, so I guess it would have earned a medal with the young’uns as well. My 500m was not so great, I rated to high (over 40 strokes per minute!) and couldn’t generate enough power without the length. Next time I’ll aim for 30-35spm, apparently we’ll be doing max 500s on Mondays through the spring.
There are a few more Saturday erg series events to do before we get on the water, mostly longer workouts like 6000m and 20min max meters. This last week in the middle of the week I beat my autumn 6000m time by >20 seconds, so things have definitely improved this winter.
I have been trying to get some other photos from folks who were in Regina too, but will just post them later if they come up.
Last July I joined the rowing club so I could learn how to scull. I rowed 2-3 times per week for 12 weeks or so, and then in November when they started with indoor rowing (erging), I started doing that 2-3 times per week. I even wrote a blog post for the Canoe Club promoting it as a winter training method, but no takers.
Rowers can’t go out on a nice day if there is no dock and no coachboat, so it is a loooooooong dryland season in Saskatchewan. To keep folks focused and training during the off-season, there is a province-wide weekly erg race. The workouts varied, and folks are ranked based on their overall average speed for the workout. This last week was 6 x 500m, last week was 3 x 1000m, and before I left for Vancouver we did longer ones like 6000m and 3000m/4000m/2000m. So far I have been ranked about 4-5th in the province, with a bunch of Canada Games-aged whippersnappers and one national team member ahead of me. Not bad for a rookie and a master! It has been a challenge to gain intelligence in my legs and connect my leg push to my arms, but I think it’s coming along.
This weekend is the SK Provincial Indoor Rowing Championships, so I will travel to Regina to do a 2000m race and a 500m race. I don’t expect to be as fast as I was back when I was training 3 times per day and erging with the UBC Team or for fun at Gorge Fitness… I think I did 7:25 back then which is a speed of 1:51 per 500m (this is the speed that is displayed on the machine). Most of my short workouts this year have been more like 1:53-1:54, and I’m thinking that for 2km straight I should be able to do 1:55. Maybe a sprint at the end and I hope to pull a time less than 7:40.
Later this summer there are some races on the Prairies that I will travel to, including the National Masters Champs in Regina.
This fall was the nicest and warmest since I arrived in Saskatoon, but the snow had to come sometime. Late November saw a bit of a dump, and then a cold snap.
I took some photos by my building to show how nice it was.
I was sick of being housebound in the winter, so I finally got some studded tires for my bike. Now I can quickly get out to further yoga classes, the rowing boathouse, and the fancy gym on the other side of downtown. I also got a merino wool balaclava which is comfy and breathable and warm enough even at -20. So far I haven’t ridden in my parka, I hope I don’t have to.
‘OCN’ is Opaskwayak Cree Nation, the reserve on the bank of the Saskatchewan River opposite the Pas in Manitoba (South of Flin Flon for those who feel disoriented.) A 6-hour drive from Saskatoon, just getting to the Pas is a northern adventure. I have heard about the canoe races there for years and always wanted to go. This year was the 50th anniversary of Treaty Days festival so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Treaty days are an amazing array of sport and cultural events: pow wow and jig dancing, trapper competitions, archery, axe throwing, running, biking, talent competitions, and… canoeing, of course!
The canoe race is about 2 hours of racing every day for 3 days, and placing is by sum of times over all the days. The course on days 1 and 3 is 4 laps around bouys on the river in front of the community centre. On day 3 there is one lap then a looooong slog upstream followed by a portage over to a lake and a finish on the lake beach.
The community is small but super friendly and involved in the events. People watched from all along the river bank, cheering and commenting on the action particularly at the bouy turns where a lot of jostling and re-positioning happens. As the first boat down the river containing a woman, we got some ‘you go girl!’ and ‘canoe-girl!’ (and in more romantic gestures I also got invited to the post-race party from what I like to think of as a feminist female-athlete admiring sports fan).
My racing partner Alex and I weren’t sure how things would go, since I don’t have a lot of experience in this type of boat, nor steering the boat from the stern (he has done this race at least 8 times over the years). We trained together in Saskatoon for the last 5 weeks or so, trying our best to train with faster teams. We are lucky in that some of North America’s fastest mixed teams paddle in Saskatoon, so we got beat down and passed and washed out many MANY times. It was a bit discouraging at the time and I certainly wasn’t feeling like a ‘big fish’.
However, I think the experience really honed our skills and fitness, and prepared us to hold on to a peleton of faster boats. We needed all those skills and experiences, and used them to hold onto some really strong men’s teams. At one point we did a strong pull and were in 3rd position, but our overall placing was 5th overall and first in the mixed division. In happy news, the band office kicks in prize money so there was a ‘winners envelope’ for being the first mixed boat, the 5th overall boat, and the 3rd boat from Saskatchewan. Yeeha!
This year I paddled Ski to Sea with a new-to-me racing partner, longtime veteran paddler Fiona Vincent from Regina. We have done a few races leading up to this and paddled together in Florida, but this race was the ‘big deal’. You can tell because Fiona stenciled our names onto the boat! We are both normally bow paddlers, so we were almost flipping coins to see who would go in the stern. Luckily for me, Fiona’s experience on rivers won out and I got to paddle in the bow like I did last year. Fiona also did the run from the road bike to the canoe, something I’ll need to get my butt in gear to do next time (note to self: prioritize knee rehab!). These choices paid off, and Fiona did a great job of steering us over the swirls down the river.
Reports were that the river was empty and we’d have to run, and if you’d been eating ice cream this winter then too bad for you (or too bad for me, in my case of frequent winter ice cream). However, there was good deep water to be had if you knew where to look – and you weren’t seduced by the idea of taking the shortest distance between two points. The longer route was often where the ribbon went, so that’s where we went too. The finish was a bit rough, we took a shallow route and spent the last of our arms trying to pop the boat. We had a bit of a messy exit from the canoe to the final portage, and I (embarrassingly) dropped the boat 6 inches before the finish line due to dreaded ‘claw hand’. Luckily, the biker already had the chip and was starting his leg.
Results were good, even better than last year which I was pretty happy with. On our mixed team of 5 sports, we were the highest ranking leg (although tied with the male kayaker). We beat the next women’s crew (local all-stars who know the river well) by 43 seconds and Boundary Bay by almost 6 minutes. We did 2:09 compared to under two hours last year – but we did this on a slow river with a longer run, and this year we ranked 18th out of all teams compared to last year’s 22nd. Full results here. The photos from the race can be found here, and there is also a cool video filmed by a quad-copter drone:
Afterwards we went to the Scandinave Spa for some high-end outdoor hot-tubing. Cameras were not allowed inside, but check out the website photos to get the idea – it was pretty swank. I’m not sure I like it more than JJ spa (especially value-wise), but it was a nice experience.
Bonus one-week-later SK ski report (sorry no photos):
I had a ski Wednesday night which was pretty nice, and one last night which was EPIC. -20-something, but wind down to -32. The trails were groomed yesterday morning, but the wind blew the snow all over the trail so there were no trackset and you could barely see the skate trail. I plowed off the trail more than once in the dark (even with my headlamp). However, for the first time ever i kept up with the skating crowd. To be fair, these conditions were really my comparative advantage: no way to be technical or make use of glide, and only sweat and determination to get over the drifts and crunch along the snowmobile path. My headlamp and I made the most of it to lead the group. 😉
By the end my hands had warmed up, but my eyebrows and eyelashes were frozen, and I had a giant frozen snot/condensate shield on my face muffler. 5km loop in about 45 minutes, I called it a day and went home. Respect for polar explorers just grew 10-fold.
A few years ago I bought a hula hoop and did some hoop dancing. It was fun!
A few weeks ago I tried a free aerial hoop class, which is like trapeze acrobatics but with a hoop instead of a bar. I liked it, so I signed up for a 6-week class.
It involves a lot of chinups and upside-down sit ups so its pretty tough, but the hardest part is the toe-pointing. Ballet was a long time ago and all the yoga lately really encourages tow-spreading – which I have embraced. The hanging from keens, elbows, etc also induces a lot of bruises, but maybe I’ll toughen up over the next few weeks. By the end I hope to do pike mounts in the recommended way, without kicking to get my feet through. Eventually I hope to be able to put it all together like in the video.
In April 2004 I got a call from someone I didn’t know in Bellingham asking if I wanted to do Ski to Sea. I had heard about it, but wasn’t sure it fit into my plans. The fellow ended up convincing me to paddle the anchor kayak leg and ring the finish line bell for a sponsored women’s team: Boundary Bay Brewery. It was a success, all of the women won their respective legs and our team was first in the women’s category. yay. I paddled with them again the next year and then started to do more school and less paddling.
Now it is 10 years later and I am gearing up to do ski to sea again, this time as a canoer on the marathon canoe leg. I don’t have a very strong ‘athletic CV’ as of late, so I am paddling on a non-sponsored team for the experience and to post a time in the hopes of getting sponsorship next year. Good thing I am employed this time, because getting the boat there, flying to Vancouver, and renting a car to drive down to Bellingham will be a bit pricey.
The Nooksack is fast and cold and can be pushy, it will be a challenge but not as much as it would have been 10 years ago; paddling lots of kilometers in these boats on the North Saskatchewan and Qu’appelle rivers will be a big help. I also have a great partner: light and stern-with-finesse Edith, who was also my XC coach this winter. Here are some videos that show what it is like:
So last weekend was the long-awaited Team Trask Sun Run, although between traveling and catching up at work I have not posted until now. But here it is, the full Sun Run report, with photos!
We have been planning this since Christmas. David had a hip replacement in June, and he has been working hard on rehabilitation since then. He’s done a lot of physio and now he is back to teaching yoga and back to working with Vancouver School Board. In with all of that, he also found time to train for the Sun Run. Nice work!
David has done a lot of yoga over the last decade, and it was fun to stop in the middle of the street/bridge to do some yoga. Family traffic-interrupting yoga!
It was fun to all walk together past the bands and ocean and Stanley Park and my Vancouver house. It was pretty fun to visit and chat along the way, since we took a relaxed pace.