Thursday, April 28, 2011
I'll start with the training. I had been paddling the Green a lot this summer with some Atlanta boys, Jiri, Zach, Andy, and sometimes Tim and Blake. There were plenty others but these were the ones that Andy eventually talked into racing with him. He hadn't done it before and I don't know what gave him such a crazy idea. We all had cracked boats and dubbed our group Team Gorilla Tape as this has proven to be the most reliable form of repairing our cracked boats. I was probably one of the last to commit on racing since I wasn't comfortable on the notch and still terrified of it but then again no one ever really gets too comfortable on The Notch. My girlfriend Megan was encouraging and said never count it out. So I didn't. I'd only run the notch a couple times in 2 years so after chimping Gorilla so many times (walking the notch and putting in between the notch and gorilla) I finally fired it up again and it felt amazing. So day one of training (basically bombing with the exception of setting safety at go left and speed trap) my boat severely cracked, Gorilla tape saved the day. I ordered a new boat and had to wait a month before getting back up there. We all eventually got new boats. I had lost time and from now on I was committed on running the notch every time. Lots of weekends staying up there getting 2 laps a day. I was feeling super solid out there. The weekend before the race I was comfortable enough to try the left line at Pencil Sharpener (Flying Squirrel). All 3 times went smooth and I thought it seemed easy. Had one dawn patrol run without stopping once and it was amazing. Ran the whole Narrows in 49 minutes and we were still the first ones in the parking lot at the take out. The Friday before race day I had another smooth run and felt super ready for the race. If I could do what I had just done but faster then I'd be feeling pretty good. During my training my timed goal had gone from 5:30 to under 6:00 to under 7:00 to just finishing alive.
Very mixed feelings race day morning. Backing out had actually crossed my mind but I had come too far. I get my bib #123 and start time of 2:19. Hiking in felt like hiking into a completely different river. I had been about 50/50 on the first rapid Frankenstein so I went to the start line an hour early to observe. Then it was time! John Grace counted down after a short interview of me giving some BS about it was my first run but I watched lots of YouTube and drank a Red Bull. 126.96.36.199.1.go! I dug out like a bat out of hell and nailed Frankenstein. Observing had paid off. Tunnel vision set in and I make my way through the boogie, through pin cushion, through whale tail, through boof or consequence main line, (the sneak is faster and I will practice that next time) a firecracker goes off 20 yards in front of me and I know shit is about to get carazy. I come into go left with some speed and am unable to set up properly. I went over the log and melted down off the right side and pitoned myself right into a side surf which had only happed twice out of all my previous runs. The crowd goes wild and I think crap I really can't believe this is happening. My bow spun around into the hole throwing me into a front ender which was actually pretty fun. My stern set down and I went out the correct left notch backwards without even flipping. Letting go of my paddle to give the cheering crowd a fist pump I flipped over and couldn't find my paddle till the 3 attempt or so before rolling up. Pretty embarrassing. (still looking for pictures of that) I slowed my pace to catch my breath, all I could hear was go! go! go! paddle fast! yeah whatever, easy for you guys to say. I felt great on Chief and Zwicks and come into Flying Squirrel move at Pencil Sharpener a little slow and leaning too far to the right. I melted down into my right side and pitoned again on the second part of this drop and immediately flipped over. This is directly above the notch and swimming was not an option. Second attempt I rolled up and thought oh look an eddy, should I stop, NO! Crowd is yelling GO! GO! In fact that's all I kept telling myself the whole race, just keep going! Practice had paid off somewhere and I styled Gorilla and Speed Trap. Then I come off Nieces too slow and get spun around going into Scream Machine and run it backwards while shaking my head in shame in front of the crowd. Two more slides and I'm done! So I powered through to the finish without a breath to spare. #124 who started after me is waiting at the finish line and tells me he boofed over me when I was getting worked at Pencil Sharpener. I didn't even notice. check 0:53 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVjSCGka9PM&feature=player_embedded#!. I watched a little before the races were over and paddled out a changed man. All in All, it wasn't my best run, in fact it was probably my worst but I was also trying something completely different and pushed myself harder than I ever had before in sport. It was only my 2nd time bombing it without stopping and only my 24th time on the river. I finished with a time of 6:29, 53rd out of 70 in the short boat class and I absolutely cannot wait to do it again next year!! http://www.boatingbeta.com/races
this is the best green race video I've ever seen: not in it.
more video: 3:20
Thanks again so much everyone for the encouragement!