These blogs are my personal, idiosyncratic observations about aging, training, and sports competition.
To access previous blogs, click "Read Other Blogs" at the bottom of this page.
A Skimpy 2018 - November 26, 2018
Delightful Mud - January 31, 2017
A Look Ahead at 2016 - January 13, 2016
Paddling in Torino -- World Masters Games 2013
Winning - May 11, 2012
Can Too Much Exercise Be Bad for Your Heart - March 11, 2011
The 60 Minute Crawl - January 30, 2011
Playing Tennis Again - October 6, 2010
Why Compete? (2) - June 15, 2010
LOST - May 24, 2010
Happy Birthday to Me - May 18, 2010
Why Compete?(1) - April 30, 2010
Val Barnwell - April 14, 2010
Spring Training Day - April 4, 2010
Becoming Bionic - March 24, 2010
The Divided Kingdom - February 4, 2010
April 4, 2010
It's spring in New England and, after several weeks of rain, the sun is out. I'm going out to train on the Connecticut River. I've already been out a couple of times (in the rain), but today promises to be warm and bright. The boat launch where I put in is usually busy with fishermen backing their Bassmasters into the river, but the recent rains have flooded out the parking lot, so I'm on my own.
I plan to paddle my kayak for an hour or so, heading up river to an island. As I paddle out past the half-submerged parking signs, I see that the water is turbid. My paddle blades disappear as soon as they dip below the surface. The rising waters of the river have pushed the shoreline back into the forest. The water's edge is a tangle of brambles, vines, and broken branches. Behind them the tree trunks stand like dark sentinels in the sun-dappled water. I can see the buds of oak leaves just beginning to swell in the warm sunlight.
I'm trying to keep a steady, rhythmic pace, but my shoulders tighten up. They begin to ache and I have to stop occasionally and let them relax. I was hoping to do some intervals today -- sprinting for a minute, rest, sprint again, and so on. But my body seems to be sending me another message about what is possible this morning.
Later in the spring I expect to see many birds -- anxious herons, shy red-wing black birds, brash crows and a few clumsy cormorants. Today however I see only a raft of wood ducks. As I approach, they take flight, wings beating noisily over the water. They skim low and then wheel out above the bare trees and disappear over the fields beyond.
I'm warm now and I settle into a reasonable early season pace. I'm keeping close to shore, hopping up the eddies where I can find them. The water rushes over half-submerged logs. In mid-summer, there will be turtles sunning themselves on these logs. Not today. Leaves, sticks, and broken limbs float lazily by as I push my way upstream. I try a few sprints and am disgusted at my lack of power. It's always this way when the season begins; I'm always disappointed with myself.
I've made it to the top of the island and ferry over to swing around the other side. The sun is in my face now and a cacophony of spangled light greets me. As soon as I am pointed downstream, I get a shot of adrenaline as my boat picks up speed. My stroke rate increases and the island races past. I tilt my head down, watching the paddle blades pull the boat past flotsam and toward the put-in. It's a straight shot to the boat launch and I finish in a glorious sprint. The forecast promises another good day tomorrow and I'll be back out.