Tuesday, July 14, 2009


This morning’s early paddle on the lake was very interesting. I’ve been working on getting a group together for an early Tuesday morning fitness paddles. Though today I learned a little more about the word “fitness”, and how it can mean very different things to different people.

This weekly paddle is described on my kayak clubs calendar as:

This weekly Tuesday morning paddle, designed both for cardio exercise, and a little bit of speed work will give us a great workout. Burning some extra calories for weight loss/maintenance will be an added bonus. And it's going to be fun!

We’ll follow good training principals, including a 30 minute warm up, then very short sprints followed by recovery. Bring your GPS and heart rate monitor if you have one (might make it more fun, and let you measure progress over the summer).

All are welcome, the more the merrier. If we’ve a varied group of skill levels and/or boat types, we can work out partnering, form groups, or work out routing (out-and-back) so no one is left behind.

This paddle is going to be a loosely organized Show-N-Go, signing up lets other's know who's planning to come, but if 7am rolls around and it's only you, go for it!
I’m very conscious of the variety of kayaks and paddlers in our club. I am also aware of my reputation as a paddler (because of this blog), and I try not to give the appearance of being a ‘kayaking snob”, this because I am not one.

This morning there were three other paddlers who showed (I’ve removed names for sensitivity and confidentiality). Paddler1 and I have been doing this paddle for a couple weeks, and had pretty much developed a routine that suited us. It’s all about sprints, working on speed and technique for speed. Why is it that paddlers (meJ are just never satisfied with their speed?

Paddler2, a fried of Paddler1 who has conflicts with this paddle and his golf game (this is really true) also joined us today. Like us, he is 50+, quite fit, and an active bicyclist and paddler, also interested in fitness and speed work.

Paddler3 was not someone I or the other paddlers had met, though I was aware that he had RSVPd to join us that morning. When I pulled in to the parking lot, I must be honest and admit I was a bit worried about how we should proceed. It was clear it was going to be a different fitness paddle.

Paddler3 is a recreational paddler with an 11’ plastic recreational kayak, and like us, clearly a member of AARP. There was no way we could stay together in the format we had been using. Yes, I know I’m starting to sound a bit like that kayak snob, but I’m really just describing the events. It was immediately obvious that we needed a change of plan.

I told Paddler1 and Paddler2, to go on and do their thing, and that I was going to paddle with Paddler3. I was the one who organized this event, and as an officer in the Club, I feel a responsibility to welcome all members. Nothing in my posted description of the paddle would have excluded him, and after all we are all only looking for fun and fitness.

So I spent the next hour paddling with, and getting to know a bit more about Paddler3. He really needs some formal instruction (both in rescue and technique), and I reminded him about the clubs classes, while I offered a few welcomed tips here and there. I found myself almost apologizing, while describing the challenges of doing this kind of paddle with both short and long boats together. He asked me if most in the club had long boats, and I told him no, that I did not believe that was the case, but many of the more active paddlers, who are often posting events on the calendar do seem to. And I encouraged him to post on the forum that he was looking for some paddling partners, since he’s retired, he could pick a more leisure hour of the morning.

He told me the reason he had bought the boat, and was here this morning was because he wanted to work on his fitness, and he needed to paddle with other’s because he couldn’t get his boat on his car along (I can relate to that). He also told me he used to be a skier, and a triathlete, and that as a skier, he was well aware of the need for different skis for different sport, cross county, racing, etc…. and that this was his first boat, and possibly not his last. Clearly he was understanding the differences between our boats.

Then he told me he’d had a heart transplant 3 years earlier. I was completely flabbergasted, then amazed, then quite fascinated, and quite proud of him for being out here. Like some of us this morning, he even had on his heart rate monitor and was watching his heart rate when he and I turned and headed back into the head wind, this, our real workout for the day, while Paddel1 and Paddler2 did a few sprints back and forth and would stop by for a minute or two to chat.

I really wish him well, not only in his paddling, but also in his swimming (he told me he was competing in the Transplant Olympics next year). And I will make a point of pointing out to him events and classes as they are posted on the club calendar that I think he can benefit from and enjoy.

In the end I never did get my heart rate up, or get to go very fast, but, “this morning’s early paddle on the lake was very interesting”.


Captn O Dark 30 and Super Boo said...

If I complain about my knee surgeries or persistant neck and back pain, you have my permission to whack me with your paddle... But my elbow is still sore from shovelling last season "WHACK and SMACK"

Anonymous said...

One solution to your long boat/short boat dilemma is to put the more experienced paddler in the short boat :)

Ken P