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Mind Games…

August 29, 2011

So its been about 5 weeks or so since my last Blog update. Who knew my new job would be so demanding….??  Well I suppose I did!! I probably just thought I’d balance it all. As it turns out – I have been out about 4 times since my last post and clearly not enough training this close to the HCC.

The problem has been in finding the time. I start early during the week and finish late in the day. I could go out paddling at night but that’s not really going to happen unless I pre-arrange to do it with some-one else. Anyway – by the time I get home I am surprisingly tired and all I want to do is eat diner, change into PJs, muck around with the kids and catch an hour of TV before bed.

By the time the weekend comes around – I’m all set to take the boat out. Then I battle a different demon. His name is Apathy !! When I don’t train regular – I find it difficult to get back out. It’s funny that I can determine this pattern in my behavior but seem unable to change. I find when I’m training frequently (like I did when I was off work), the urge to maintain is strong and the ease with which I can get myself out on the water effortless. On the other hand – when I miss a few – the muscles seem to forget the euphoria – and I start making excuses. Last weekend I fought the flu. Could feel it building in my throat and my chest was heavy with a  three day cough. I managed to keep the full effects at bay and completely recover – but I lost a weekend in the process. The paddles haven’t been anything to write home about.

Three weeks ago I thought I was never going to make it. My Manager asked me to book a trip to the US for a Partner Conference in Indianapolis. The conference began on Tuesday the 27th October. He wanted me to fly out on the Sunday (25th). I told him my race finished on the Sunday morning and he was fairly insistant that I’d be fine jumping a late plane that same day. Of course I wanted to be a good corporate lad and my manager is certainly very committed to the company. That was a horrible couple of days. I knew I’d have to refuse the trip. There was no way I wanted to sit in an economy class seat on a flight to the US after spending anywhere between 12 and 18 hours paddling all night long. I’ve been wrecked all day like a zombie after a hard 4 hour paddle. What were my chances of making it to Indy? And arriving in any state to meet the top line executives in my new company?? What a nose bleed !!

Anyway as good fortune would have it – later in the week my manager gave me the choice to not go – which I took. Of course – I didn’t feel as good as I had expected. I actually felt trapped. For a brief moment while I was booked to go overseas, I thought I’d almost found an excuse to pull out….

Of course – all those mixed up feelings aside – I made a commitment. I made it to myself. Declared it in public. Made it to my new found group of paddling friends (Team fat Paddler). I had started taking donations. My wife, children, family and friends all expected me to complete this “mile-stone of life” that I was determined to do…..

Arrrrggghhhhhhh……. Frustration !!

So I have spent the last few weeks debating my commitment. I have lamented the lost weekends. I have begun to worry about my preparation.

On Saturday morning I went out to push myself hard. It might have had the reverse effect. I loaded up on carbs the night before (Eily makes the best seafood spaghetti). I woke early and ate of bowl of Nutrigrain. Sucked down an energy gel and hit the Lane Cove River. I felt strong and applied some mental fortitude to push past any pain and switched my mind to other thoughts…..I found if I can get lost in a long monologue in my mind about something work related – I can access a time warp. By the time I had returned to the ramp – I had completed 23kms in 3hours flat. I was EXHAUSTED. I was so tired – I tried to keep going to crack 30km but my body was spent. I got home – ate some more pasta and crashed on the couch all afternoon. I think I paddled too hard for that period and given the size of my paddle (a Werner Corryvecken) I may have over-exerted myself. My little plastic boat held out at over 8km an hour for about 2 hours then I got caught in a visibly strong outgoing current on the way back up the river, and my overall speed dropped to about 7.5 km per hour. That night every muscle ached. The following morning I was stiff and somehow had managed to pull muscles in my lower back and left should near the base of my neck.

It seems I am doing everything wrong at the moment.

Well I think the Werner paddle will become my back-up paddle. There is no way I’ll be able to push water with that blade for the full 111km. It’s Monday afternoon and the skeletal frame of my upper body – particularly the tops of my shoulders, feel like they’ve been through a medieval rack. I’m going to need to find a way to make many new adjustments to my preparation over the next 7 weeks. I think I may have found a way to overcome some of these hurdles. My beautiful wife brought me something new and exciting home tonight. It will mean learning a new stroke…. This will either break me or make me…..I’ll let you know how I go this weekend…..

6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 29, 2011 12:05 pm

    Perk up princess.
    Use your health insurance and get regular massages as they will help your muscles and clear blockages plus increase your positive chi energy flow.

    Waterproof earphones and ipod.

    Which do you subscribe to Work to Live or Live to Work?
    You know you want to complete the challenging steeplechase even if others place hurdles in front of you just makes that celebratory beer at the finish line more rewarding.

    See you there,

  2. August 30, 2011 8:59 am

    Haha… Thanks Gray !! As my resident outdoor adventure “Action Man” – I should have known there would be NO sympathy coming from you. 🙂

    Of course you are correct !! I agree with your response and in fact I learnt something new and will take your advice !!

    I have struggled the last few weeks and given this is a record of effort – I didnt want to gloss over the internal struggle and emotional ride i just went through.

    Appreciate the support mate 🙂


  3. Scott Sawyer permalink
    August 30, 2011 9:55 am

    Hi Michael,
    Best blog post so far. Honest and like the challenges so many of us battle with. Well done for not packing it in. Often the biggest challenge is making it to the start line. Hang in there, you didn’t expect it to be easy and every challenge will you overcome on the way will only make it even more rewarding and exceptional when you achieve it.
    Keep going and remember attitude is the most important attribute in successfully completing the HCC.

  4. August 30, 2011 10:50 am

    Thanks Scott,
    I really appreciate you taking the time to write 🙂
    Yep – its an interesting time!! When I started back at work – I distinctley remember my suit pants were noticeably loose on my hips – now they are tight again ….. even my dog looks fat at the moment – and he is a Rhodesian Ridgeback……Who knew they could even get fat?????
    Anyway – I’m sticking to it… last blog is part therapy…. and the encouragement I get is the remainder of the therapy 🙂
    I cant possibly NOT do this…..

  5. Scott permalink
    September 26, 2011 3:37 am

    Hi Mike,
    It is feeling like the end of season plot cliff hanger without knowing when the next season starts. You haven’t even leaked next season’s story line to the gossip magazines and websites to satisfy our cravings for more.
    What was the exciting thing your wife brought home?
    What happened to your effort to get a new stroke?
    Have those tired and sore muscle acclimatised to the distance?
    Will corporate life bring a complete end to inspector gadget Mike’s mid life milestone? How will you achieve the balance you desire?
    Don’t leave me hanging please?

    • September 26, 2011 6:37 am

      Thanks Scott – had a good laugh today reading your post !! I’m onto it…..
      give me a couple of days 🙂


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