My 2012 goals were as follows…
1. Complete 2 months of strength training so that I am ready for the competition season.
2. Top 3 finish in a professional event.
3. Experience 3 personal first descents.
This past year marked a big change in my life. As the kayaking season was approaching, I was finishing up my first year of teaching as a Physical Education teacher and was going to spend my first summer as a full time resident in Colorado. I had spent the past 6 summers living and teaching kayaking at RMOC in Salida, but this summer was going to be different. I would still be receiving paychecks throughout the summer, so I didn’t have to work which would mean more kayaking in more places… or so I thought.
Unfortunately, there was no snowpack in the mountains. We all knew it was going to be a low water year, but nobody could have predicted how bad it really was. I remember checking the gauge on the Arkansas on a Monday in early May. The level has spiked up to 700 cfs. I had missed the first weekend of boating, but thought it would just be the beginning. Little did I know, the Arkansas would not hit 700 cfs for the rest of the season. As a result I didn’t experience any personal first descents.
In February I started a cycle of p90x. My goal was to complete 60 days, but I was extra motivated and I stuck it out for the full 90 days. I was strong and was ready to start training in May. The problem was that there was no water to train in and I went to my first event after just 1 hour of kayaking
1. BV Pro Rodeo- As the bell rang on my last day of teaching for the 2011-2012 school year, I jumped into my car and raced down to Buena Vista. I was pre-registered and placed in the last heat, so I could make the event if all went according to plan. I arrived in Buena Vista 30 minutes before my heat, so I had just enough time to get into my gear and take a couple practice rides. Needless to say, after a 8 month hiatus from kayaking, I didn’t do so well. I think I finished 11th, just missing the semi-final cut.
2. Teva Mountain Games- After a few more days in the kayak, I was ready for the next event. I paddled well in prelims and semis and made the final cut to for the first time ever at Vail. It was exciting to paddle in front of such a big crowd and I was happy to stand on the podium (I was really just next to it) and to cash the 5th place check.
3. Lyons Outdoor Games- Lyons has always been a friendly spot for me to compete. I paddle well in the hole, there is a slightly smaller field to compete against, and it has a general calmer feeling especially when compared to Vail. I felt great during my rides, but was just squeaked out of finals and finished 6th.
4. Fibark- Salida was my last chance to make a top 3 finish on the year. I was hopeful that the water level would peak and Salida would be at a great level for the competition. Instead, I arrived at a small stream with hand piled diversions dams to direct the water over the playspot. I am accustomed to paddling in these types of features, but not in Salida. I had never seen the Arkansas so low. This spot truly was a challenge and I was surprised we could score such high rides. I managed to finish 5th place.
5. Nationals at KWP- I thought Fibark would be my last event of the year, but I wanted another shot. I had paddling well all summer, but couldn’t get my top 3 finish. I drove to Idaho on Sunday night and had 5 days of training before prelims on Friday. This was very interesting to me, because I went through multiple stages of training for an event. Typically I arrive on Thursday and compete on Friday which doesn’t leave much time for training. In Idaho, I got used to the feature, mentally scored my rides, learned new tricks, mentally scored my rides, changed how I set up to go faster, video taped my rides, scored my rides on paper, edited a video of an “ideal” competition ride, visualized my rides, took a rest day, and then practiced my rides with a timer. It was fun to work through the process and I could see drastic improvements as the week went on. On Monday I was getting trashed in the hole and on Friday I was scoring 800 point rides which were good enough for my best finish at Nationals- 7th place.
After Idaho, I made a trip to Glenwood and then it was time to put away the kayaking gear. I was only mid-July, but the water levels were so low it made Colorado boating nearly impossible. Instead, I switch my focus to climbing and relaxing before the new school started.
1. Have more fun and less stress at competitions. For years I have set a goal of finishing in the top three at a big professional freestyle event. I would still like to achieve this goal, but I am realizing that it may not be possible unless I am willing to make certain sacrifices. Years ago I thought about these sacrifices and I made the choice to have a “normal” life that involved kayaking as opposed to a kayaking life. I decided I wanted the “normal” life because it would be more balanced and therefore more sustainable. I am happy with my decision, but am learning that I need to accept that I may never be on the top of the podium.
2. Have a memorable experiences on the river. Much of my recent kayaking history has been dedicated to training. I playboat to learn new tricks and to train for events. This is fun and I enjoy the challenge, but I want to step back because kayaking has more to offer.
3. Create Anybody Can Kayak! River Running. My dad and I are thinking about creating our fourth kayaking instructional video.