By Jim on Thursday, July 18, 2013
18 years ago I last competed at a World Champs, then the following year the Olympics. The following year seen me put the paddle in the rack and finish with paddling at an elite level. I did a few more years of Australian Surf Ski, then not long after I stopped altogether.
I guess I did what most of us do, I got married, had kids and got a mortage, this lead to making it difficult to paddle.
A few years later I started Jimsquad and started coaching, we had lots of people go to World Champs and Olympics, I found myself with no goals and at a loss with what to do with myself. Thats when I thought about the one thing that I love to do, PADDLE.
I got on the water with the new team of Jimsquad paddlers, paddlers of all ages, abilities and dreams. They all inspired me to try to be the best I can be, they did because 67 weeks later I flew to Portugal for the first ever World Championships as Captain of the Australian Team.
Flying to Portugal from Sydney is HELL, 37 hours, to top of the prepration my paddles didn't arrive till 20 hours before the race.
I arrived at the hotel on Tuesday, with the race set for Friday, Saturday or Sunday which ever was going to be the most wind. I roomed with up and coming star of Australian paddling Greg Tobin, it was great to share the experience with someone so keen to do well, he showed he can and always do well, because he always wants to better himself. That rubbed off on me.
Twenty hours out from the race my paddles arrived, before that I had to deal with what in sport and life is described as one of the hardest things to do, DEAL WITH CHANGE.I had to use 3 different paddles for the 3 lead up sessions into the race, not ideal, if you want to be good at anything in life you have to be able to deal with change, life dishes up many challenges and it's how you deal with it that helps shape your life. Although using a different paddle is not life changing it's still very important to me to have my gear after I have put in the hard work.
Race day come and it was hard to work out what to do as the race was starting late in the day 4pm, so what to eat and how long to sleep in for.
I slept in for a good sleep, I had breakfast late and lots of carbs and fluids, an hour out from the race I had a protien bar just to have some food in my stomach. You need to have a good set of protien and carbs for energy in the race, I also kept my fluids up all day.
The race was about 20 minutes out, I just reminded myself that I deserved to be there, then I calmed my nerves and went over my race plan one last time. 15 minutes later we were ushered into the start line, one minute out you get the call of 1 minute to go, then they play heartbeat music to get you pumped. I watched the start gate which locks your paddles so there are no false starts, the bang I'm off. With a 90 metre run the jump on my ski, I just looked for the best position to go, I headed towards the leading pack.
The start was so fast and aggresive I found that after 4kms I was hurting so much, it was 18 years since my last Worlds and the passion and speed was still there from everyone. I just stuck to what I had been doing in training, I have been practicing coming home strong. At 7km mark I lifted and stayed strong working hard all the way to the end. The race had no wind, 33 countries and 400 competitors and 22kms of sheer pain, the hard part of the race was not knowing the other competitiors, when at home races I know who is who, so you know if someone has gone out to hard and you let them go. For this race I had no idea who was who, thats what made it so hard, I had to chase the whole way. Every position makes you one better and at a World Champs, that matters. After 21kms I could see the turning bouy and the finishing arch, I was so proud of my race, my prepartion and the way I made this journey.
What I enjoyed most of all was the journey to get to the worlds, the training and hard work that goes with it.
Remember you can only do what you can do and train the amount of sessions you can do, then make your goals fit that. I only get to paddle 4 times a week, so I had to set relestic goals and at the moment I am happy with all my paddling.
I have now flown back home to Sydney, I'll have a couple of days off and then get back into training. I will now look at the calender and set a new goal and race to chase, I hope to see you all there pushing me along and yourself.
Have a look at my race GPS and a quick video of my trip.