This was a good Nationals! I didn’t taper much for Nationals, but nevertheless I felt very strong going into the regatta. My best performances were definitely in my K1 with a 5th place finish in the K1 1000m, 4th place in the 500m, 7th in the 200m and my best ever performance in a K1- 3rd place in the K1 5000m. (*placings are of US athlete’s only, Carlos Garcia was racing Internationally). David and I placed top 3 in all of our K2 races, but I still feel like we have some more speed to un-tap. With the help of the awesome coaching staff we have here, we’ll be tapping that in no time!
As I mentioned earlier my K1 5000m was my best performance ever, and it was quite possibly one of my favorite races ever! Here’s the lowdown:
The 5000m race felt so good! Going into it I thought it was going to be very different than it played out. I was anticipating a large peloton-like group made up of 8-10 of the top guys brutally fighting it out to the death, and it looked even more like that as we vied for starting positions. Then the race was off and the two Michael brothers and Carlos Garcia pulled out in front and no one else was there! I tried so hard to catch their wash, I nearly had it at the first turn but then lost them in the mess of Junior K2s. As the three top boats pulled away, I was left alone figuring the whole pack was nipping at my heals ready to ferociously swallow me up in their wash at any moment, so I pounded through that first lap. After finishing the first lap and still no sign of the other paddlers I had a paradigm shift, instead of passively waiting for someone to catch me, then hopping on their wash, I should press on alone and hold them all off. From there on I pushed and pushed, every time something hurt I’d pull harder, whenever my boat speed dropped, I’d pick it up, when I pulled up on a boat, I’d put a burst of speed and pass them. I was pushing my limits but I told myself I had none. The only limit I had was my mind. It was great, the boat was running and each stroke was strong. End of the second lap I saw Carlos all off the Michael brothers’ wash, he was done after that, I watched him give up. So I threw some more coal on the flames and headed after him! I caught him at the final turn. That was the first chance I had the whole race to ride a wash and i was on it for a grand total of 200m. And it wasn’t an easy 200m, the whole last stretch I was trying to fight my way over Carlos’ wash. But every time I’d surge forward, he’d match my speed. With 200m to go I just made a mad dash for it and fought all the way to the finish – just a hair behind Carlos. Because Carlos is an international paddler, his races didn’t count as part of the US Nationals so I ended up getting 3rd place behind the Michael brothers! I worked my heart out for this medal and definitely paid for it. I felt sick until the next morning.
I am so thankful for this race! The Lord encouraged me so much through it. He taught me to press on harder, and not just in a race but in kayaking as a whole. To press hard through every workout, and to keep that knife-edge focus through out the whole workout. But I would be deeply neglecting this lesson if I didn’t also apply it to my life. Every gift we receive is fulfilled when we give it back to Him, so this race and the lesson I learned is to be used ultimately in my walk with God. How often do I just ease up and wait for a ride in my spiritual walk? And how often am I “content” with my pitifully meager knowledge of Him? I shudder at how often I find myself dragging at the exit and not hitting the catch! But in Christ who lives in me I am able to live like Paul; “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” And God is so faithful, even when I am contenting myself with eating dirt, He restores my soul, to follow Him in spirit and in truth. Praise be to God! Because He enables me to no longer squander this opportunity here on earth but instead to be His servant, His kayak ambassador, that His beautiful purpose might be achieved. Consider that! Even I can be a participant in the plan of the Almighty Author and Perfecter’s plan! That is why I kayak! Because God has made me a kayaker on a mission. Praise be to God!
I tried to post a Nationals update sooner but was thwarted by none of the airports I was at having free WiFi, most of this was actually written by hand on one of my flights. But finally I found some WiFi here in Pusiano, Italy, 45min from Switzerland, at a lake in the foothills of the Alps.