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First Time Paddler / Race Report aka Rambling Reflections / Boat 5353 (Read 610 times)
08/21/17 at 21:04:48

SalliOD   Offline
MR340 Veteran

Posts: 10
*
 
Gee, I’ve been having a real hard time making myself put together this race report.  I think it’s because I’ve never put this much into a race before and I’m really not sure where to start, what anyone would find interesting, nor even if I can recall any details of the race itself!  I used to be an endurance trail runner, 50-milers, but was never really that good.  I used to say, “I paid for 12 hours and I’m going to take 12 hours.”  Ha, like I really could go much faster!  Except for my final trail race, I always finished but never with much time to spare.  After I got my new knee in 2010, I became too familiar with the deadly duo (TV and couch) and realized I needed to find something to replace my running.  I discovered endurance paddling.  In 2012, I got my first “fast” kayak (Eddyline S18) and for a couple of years I played around with some 100 and 300-mile open water races.  The venues were fun and just what I needed to gain basic skills but never a real big field of competitors.  Then in 2015, I discovered rivers and surf skis - what an amazing combination!!  I don’t think there is any turning back.  I have tried out many surf skis and now own 5 that share rack space with my 4 kayaks.  If I had to give up all my boats but one, my Stellar Surf Ski (S18S) in the multi-sport layup is my keeper, no doubt!!  That boat has carried me through some fantastic adventures!
Now, to jump forward to the prep for the MR340.  2016 was to be my first attempt but I blew out my right wrist/forearm on a 140-miler 6 weeks prior and had to cancel.  I was bummed but in retrospect, that was a blessing.  When I signed up for the 2017 MR340 in January, I was determined to remain injury-free prior to the race as well as to learn what type, amount, and delivery of hydration and nutrition suited me best.  I knew my SI8S was the right boat for me so together we used some wonderfully difficult races (such as the Lowcountry Riverrat Race) or demandingly fun races (such as the James River Rundown) to tweak my nutrition and other gear.  I had to change my InfinitNutrition formula twice and added some great rice based foods from Thomas’ and Lim’s “FeedZone Portables” book.  It was magic!!  During the MR340, I didn’t have any problems with cramps, nausea, nor energy lags – wow, that was a first!  I was Team Captain for a friend on this year’s Texas Water Safari (go, Paul!) and learned a lot about how to use (or not use) sleep to my advantage.  I also spent endless hours reading comments from the MR340 forum and watched every instructional video out there (can’t thank Mr. Luedke enough!).  As for staying in the channel, I was given some “fast tracks” by a veteran paddler but my low tech skills rendered them useless to me (Joe Wildlife, thanks for trying to help!!).  I ended up building routes in GoogleEarth which I transferred to my GPS, but it was a painstakingly long process.  I was impressed by those (Wayne) that could read the channel without the aid of GPS routes.  With instruction, I was even getting the hang of it…but how the heck do you do that at night?!!  Back to my GPS “pink line” for me!
And, now, to jump to the MR340 experience – what a blast and what a beautifully run event!  All the paddlers, ground crew, volunteers, and local folk from the beginning to the end were genuinely nice people.  My amazing ground crew team was made up of my husband Mike and good friend Jim.  One could not ask for better support and they kept up their duties a good 48-hours after I got off the water…when I needed the most help!  Once the race started, I guess you could say, I was in my head.  Even though I was on the water 44 hours, it seemed to fly by.  Even though I was often alone, I was never alone.  Even though the days following my race I was in crippling pain, I felt relatively no pain during the race.  I studied and prepared so much for this race that it is inconceivable that I can’t recall details of the course, but it is all a blur. 
Here are my highlights: 
1)  Within the first 25 or so miles of the race, I blew out my left wrist / forearm due to poor form.  I now know what needs to be corrected, heck, I had over 300 miles to think about it!  I was able to adjust my stroke enough to continue on but had to resort to wearing a splint for the final 50+ miles of the race.
2)  I love, love, love the current!!  When you’re in the channel, it is a thing of beauty, when you come out, well that’s a different story!
3)  The moonrise on that first evening is something that will never leave my memories nor fail to calm my soul.  I thought I was seeing campfires in the tree line but I came around a bend and the rising moon, blood orange, filled my path.  The river flowed straight to it, and it seemed to slowly, majestically rise…wow!
4)  It was rather cool that first night and by then, I’d been paddling by myself for quite a while.  Above I mentioned being alone but was never alone…heck, if anyone was near me, they’d know for sure I’d come from the looney bin.  I was talking pretty much non-stop to the big guy in the sky.  You name it, we touched upon it - nature’s beauty, weather, simple (oh, so simple!) math, making deals, gratitude, silly songs, reflections, childhood…even running.
5)  My ground crew – the importance of a focused ground crew can’t be overstated!
6)  Volunteers and others’ ground crews – I hope you guys know what your words and support mean to those of us who you barely or didn’t even know.  You all were like special icing on an already tasty cake.  I could see how the camaraderie between you and my Ground Crew grew – can’t thank you enough!!
7) Barges – woohoo, only got to experience one but so glad I did.  Your barges disrupt your waterways in a whole different way than I’m used to.  My experience with them are on the much wider expanses of the Elizabeth and James Rivers of Virginia’s Hampton Roads.  No way do they cause such disruption as what I saw down river of New Haven!!  I bow to their power but I also bow to the stability of my S18S.  Since I am very comfortable in my boat, I didn’t have to wait too long to jump back into the channel and continue downstream.
8)  Hello, Legs!!  Even though Hermann gave me a hint of the lack of communication between my brain and my legs, it was not until the finish that I realized they were not on speaking terms.  If you want to see something funny, check out the video of me at the finish (posted on 10thLifeKayaking by Jim Shannon)!
OK, enough of my ramblings.  I so much enjoyed this race and I really hope I’ll get to come back next year for more fun!!
 
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Reply #1 - 08/22/17 at 18:53:35

Rusty Coons   Offline
5X MR340 Veteran
Gritty Fitty Veteran

Posts: 173
*****
 
Salli, Thanks for the write up.  I do a write up every year after the race to find what went right and what went wrong. Your time was impressive, even more so for a first timer!
Thanks for sharing
Rusty Coons
Calico Moon
boat 3337
 
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Reply #2 - 08/24/17 at 10:41:42

SalliOD   Offline
MR340 Veteran

Posts: 10
*
 
Hey, Rusty - yes, I really like reading the experiences of others.  Not only is it entertaining but one can learn so much.  Where do MR340 folks post their race reports?  I looked on this forum and on the MR340 FB page...perhaps I'm overlooking something.

Thanks, salli
 
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Reply #3 - 08/24/17 at 21:18:32

Rusty Coons   Offline
5X MR340 Veteran
Gritty Fitty Veteran

Posts: 173
*****
 
I did mine on the facebook but in all honesty this is the best place for them.  They are easier to find here and will be here forever.  I will get mine on here as well.
Rusty Coons
 
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Reply #4 - 08/26/17 at 09:15:58

SalliOD   Offline
MR340 Veteran

Posts: 10
*
 
Excellent, I look forward to reading it...and I do hope others follow suit!
 
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