Sunday, June 25, 2006

There's Paddling
and then there's paddling
(and, you will meet the paddler)
A year or two again, after suffering through an unsuccessful day of "professional" rolling lessons, I approached Gary Simon and asked if he would teach me the fine art of the roll. Gary, a serious man, said yes, but I would have to agree to his terms (not surprising since the man had retired from a successful law practice). I agreed (not surprising since I really wanted to learn h0w to roll). In essence, we made a contract.
Among Gary's rules were a, short sessions (about 15 minues) and b, no practicing on my own between lessons so I would not develope bad habits. I agreed suspecting that he believed that no doctor would ever follow the rules dictated by some lawyer, and that no one who starts rolling lessons could ever keep from trying it out between meetings. But, hey, I am ex military, martial artist and (because I have a wife and 2 daughters) a man who follows instructions. Ater not very many short lessons, I rolled my Perception Shadow...not the easiest boat to roll.
Now, as you may recall, I was (prior to 8 years ago) a long distance runner with some marathons on my resume. It is an understatement to say that I loved running. How I discoveed kayaking and how I fell in love with it is another story for another day. What is germaine here is the fact that since givingup running (for reasons that will also have to wait for another day) I have gradually lost my aerobic conditioning. I have lost that feeling-fit feeling, and I don't like it one bit. I decided I needed to padddle harder and longer in order to get fit again. I tried, but some how it didn't happen. What to do? Time for another contract with Gary, if he would have me.
Now, you also need to know that in the past few years Gary has taken up racing. He rains hard and knows more about exercise physiology than most docotors I know. Hey, how many lawyers do you know who carry a meter to measure blood lactose?
Gary graciously said yes and mailed me his paper on the forward stroke (being a very literate man and clear thinker, he has written several items that lay out his methodical approaches to his ways of teaching).
Yesterday, I--in a romany with Euro paddle--met Gary--with a boat that looks like a sit-on-top-thong and a wing paddle)--met at Lake Nemahbin at 10 am. Using the same concise step-by-step way he had once explained rolling, Gary took me through the steps of the stroke he wanted to teach to me. He spent an hour with me patiently explaining, letting me try and specifically correcting.
Flash ahead to today. I haven't got it down perfectly and probably won't this year. But I have a new way to paddle (let go of the new tricks, old dog thing going through your mind), and I have that old feeling back.
I have come back from paddles, long ones, feeling tired, but I have never, until now, come back with that delicious (mild) soreness of having worked out and having used almost every muscle in my body. I sat around yesterday simply enjoying the feeling of having worked out and knowing that I again have tools to use on my own. Now, it is up to me to use what I remember about long distance training, createnine phoshpokinase, recovery and all that other scientific stuff to get back into shape. And, best of all, this is not a change in how I will kayak but, rather, an additional skill set to use throughout the sport.
Thank you, Gary.
Paddle Safe


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