I spent much of Spring 2013 either on my bike or in a kayak getting in shape for racing season…or riding season…I wasn’t even exactly sure what I was training for at this point.
I had ridden hundreds of miles on the bike, eaten way too few calories for months, and paddled 153.47 miles leading up to my first kayak race of the season on the first Saturday in May, 2013.
It was back to the Tye River in Nelson County, VA for the Nelson Downriver Race.
I was ready to compete with the best and since the water was on the low side that year, I chose the Phoenix Match II kayak with wing paddle and I was ready to crush it.
I was feeling good.
As an aside, up to that point in the year my typical daily eating might have been a yogurt and apple for breakfast (or skipping breakfast altogether,) a can of soup for lunch, maybe a protein drink or another apple as a snack, and a chicken breast and broccoli for dinner.
I look at the picture of me racing that day and cringe when I see the sunken cheeks and the look of chronic cardio and semi-starvation. But hey, I was dropping belly fat and I knew I had weight to lose so all was good, right? I thought I was doing a good thing.
Nelson Downriver Race, 2013
I was doing well in the race until I got to a point known as Rockpile Rapids.
There were other people in the rapids at the time so I chose a path that I normally would not have chosen. The line I wanted was already taken by another paddler but rather than hang back and wait for a clear path I decided to choose another route through the rapids and muscle on through it.
I hit a submerged rock that I did not see and it was the most powerful impact I’ve ever experienced between kayak and rock. It almost took my breath away and it took me a second or two to recover from the impact in the middle of the river while I was trying to not overturn. The impact put a hole in my boat and I was taking on water at a moderately fast rate so I spent the rest of the race paddling and then stopping to pump out all the water from my boat.
I knew I was done in terms of placing in the race. Now it was simply about just getting to the finish line.
It was a disappointing result and I feared it was a very bad sign of what might be to come that year.