I didn't get the highs and lows today, warm and sunny! 11.5 inches of sun!
Dan and I were taking it easy, still recovering from Sunday's canoe club, when he got the call that the jeep was at the harbor. We hurried over, putting an end to the expensive car rental. It was so nice driving in a car we are accustomed to, and that we really like. We have needed the jeep several times here and have avoided certain hikes because we didn't have it. There was little time left before canoe club so we had a shave ice (our tradition for laundry day, we did our laundry at 9am and it wasn't open yet) and checked out Opaeka'a Falls.
Colorado plates in Hawaii!
In the early evening sun, the riverside is hot and shade is scarce. The sun, directly overhead, is intensely fierce, and it's winter here! No one is around but our coach Midori, Lou, and Jerri. Lou is hardcore, in her late 60's or early 70's she owns a bunch of rentals here and is a badass on the water. Midori goes over the itinerary: run, warm up exercises, paddle, core exercises.
Dan, Lou, Jerri and I run down the beach, it's tricky finding the right line to run. To high and the sand is loose, to low and you run in foamy, 3 inch deep water that has come onto the shore when a big wave crashes. In no time I am covered in sweat, and I distract myself by looking at the beauty all around me. We run just over a mile and it's a lot harder than I imagined. I have to laugh inside. In Colorado I had fantasies of running on the beach, and, here it is! I never imagined I'd be doing it as a warm up with a bunch of women before paddling. I guess you never know how, what you ask for, is going to show up. Reminding me of the old adage, be careful what you wish for!
The men's team Pu'uwai, practice in the same place on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Once their coach shows up, Modori goes over and talks to the him, calling Dan over after five minutes. The last I see of him, he is paddling out to the ocean joined by four other canoes. We are all in a circle and after thirty minutes of aerobics, one canoe goes out on the ocean and one, mostly novice, is on the river. Today, the ladies are serious and don't have much time for the newbe. I am silently determined to pull my weight and maybe even impress the coach with my potential.
I have never been really good at sports. I was in soccer when I was a preteen and my freshman year in high school, but never did really well. Swimming was also something I tried my freshman year, I always came in last. In middle school, I joined the basketball team. During a game, trying my hardest, I finally got the ball. I ran up to make a basket, everyone was cheering. For a second I wondered why the other team was watching me, but I decided not to spend too much time figuring out why. I ran up and scored! I was so stoked! My first basket! I turned around with a big smile on my face to learn that I had just scored for the other team! Doh! I like to be active and push myself but competition is not my thing. For this reason, I have always done solo ventures; cross country skiing, hiking, walking, running, yoga, snowboarding, kayaking and rollerblading. I can learn at my own pace, usually the hard way, without feeling like I am holding someone up or being insecure about my (in)abilities.
The practice is informative. Midori spends a lot of time on paddle technique and pacing. We learn about the three phases of the forward stroke or propelling the canoe forward. The "catch" is when your paddle first enters the water, "compression" or "the power phase" is the stroke, and "recovery" is getting the paddle out of the water, up front, and into the water. There are so many things to be aware of; my body position, the pacing, head position, hand position and of the person in position 1, I need to look forward, to listen for when to switch paddling sides, make sure my paddle is transferred from one hand to the next fluidly, hit the water on the word 'hoe!" and say hoe!, loud at the same time, change my foot so that my support is coming from the same side I am paddling on, stretch forward and put my paddle deep into the water - to the hilt -, push with my top hand and pull with my bottom hand untwisting my body (which is not bending causing my arms to do all the work but twisting so my core does most of the work) until my paddle reaches mid thigh, pull my paddle cleanly and silently out of the water and reenter. Run silent, run deep. An easy pace is doing all of this in a second. Sixty strokes a minute is not going to win races and a clean, quick recovery reduces drag on the boat increasing your speed. Midori shows us, we copy. When asked if we should be watching the paddle only, Midori scrunches up her face, draws a deep breath in, exhales and lets out a no. She says it's hard to explain, it's a feeling. You need to watch everything; the water, her head and hand position, the pacing of her paddle, her body language. Sometimes, she is going to mess up her stroke, maybe she's looking at the scenery or thinking about something else. If you only watch her paddle, you will mess up your stroke and so will everyone else. We paddle again, she corrects. Always firm but kind, I really like her. She knows how the boat feels when everyone is pulling their weight and paddling in unison. At one point, I was tired, and I messed up my paddling and she could tell. Looking forward and paddling, she shouts "keep it together girls! Follow my pace!" We are on the water for about an hour, the last thing she has us do is paddle individually, 4 sets of 8 (2 sets on each side), everyone else is calling out the count and rocking the boat forward. That pretty much finished me off!
The sun was setting when the other boats came in from the ocean. The women arriving with the men, means the women kept up with them! In the twilight, I try to help the girls pack up the boats. I found out I was expected to do this (didn't know it even needed to be done) when one lady walked up to me and handed my a bailer. A bailer is what you use to bail water out of the boat, there was no water in the boat. I just looked at her as she walked off. Someone else said fill it up with water and rinse the boat off. Ok, direction, good, I need that.
Dan is exhausted. A mile from shore, they did sprints the whole time. He figures they did 6 to 8 miles. At one point, everyone is hot and sweaty and they all get out of their boats to cool off. At the end of practice the guys are trying to recruit him and Midori is a little worried. She wants her team to be a mixed team and needs Dan to be the third guy (haven't seen the other two yet) but understands Dan will become better and stronger with the guys. Midori has been a coach since her early teens and knows how men and women train, it's very different mentally as well as physically, she says. Dan wants to try and practice with the guys, cruise on Sundays with Midori's team and compete for both.
Thank god it's too dark for the core exercises! Pooped, Dan tells me the men's coach invited him to come over to his house, which is right by the river, for beers. In the jeep, Dan just wants to get something to eat and go home, relax and watch Lost. Plus, the dogs need to be let out. Rolling out of the dirt parking lot, we see everyone outside and decide we should at least say thank you for the offer. Turns out it's a luau, someone's birthday. We talk a little bit and head over to Bubba's Burgers. We are starving, the veggie diet isn't that appealing when you are burning this many calories!
One of the bruises from Sunday.