Highs and Lows


It’s funny how things work out. Expect the unexpected, always.

I had a 4 week trip planned, as I mentioned in a previous post. 2 weeks in the US, 2 in Portugal. 6 races, a lot of flights, and much fun to be had.

I picked up tendonitis in my wrist a few days before I was meant to leave. I thought an anti-inflammatory injection would sort it out, as I had visited this particular scenario 5 years before (although that involved 50km of Cape Point paddling, and a highly staked Foosball game), and this was the solution that finally kicked the butt of an annoying, and frustrating over-use injury. Hence if something works… So I repeated it, hoping for that same result. The body changes, as does the mind, and the cortisone did nothing for me, and even less for my wrist. One painful paddle under the Golden Gate Bridge had me reaching for the wrist brace, and the whisperings of a terrible thought started in the depths of my brain. 10 minutes into the actual race a few days later, with a stabbing pain in my wrist, making it increasingly difficult to paddle, let alone enjoy the runs, and that terrible thought became a reality. I would have to cancel the rest of my trip and head home. No point in flogging a dead horse! Best to head back to SA, get the wrist sorted and get back into training. I still have the Fish River Marathon in October to think about, as well as World Marathon Champs in Singapore later the same month.

So began my Low. Not only did I want to defend my titles in Portugal, but I was worried it would take a long time to heal, in effect ruining the rest of my 2011 season. I especially wanted to race the Nelo Summer Challenge. Not many races and event organisors respect the women paddlers out there enough to actually offer equal prize money. I really try to show my support to those that do, and the Nelo Summer Challenge is one of the few. Gutted to miss it.

I had a week planned at my friend Kate in Beaver Creek, Colorado before heading to Portugal. I was hoping to get in a lot of training-trail running and whitewater, but with my wrist and upcoming races over, I decided to just enjoy my trip, and really try to see and do as much as possible. Enter Kate, the World’s Best Host and Tour Guide!

And so began the High. And I mean HIGH! Beaver Creek sits at about 8000 feet above sea level. My first run left me gasping after only 3 minutes. Not one, but many, old folk passed me walking their dogs while I stood holding my sides, wondering where all the oxygen went.

What an amazing place! There is way too much to do. We went rafting, SUP down some small rapids (although on that board they were actually pretty challenging!) hiking, Jeep 4×4 trip, my first Rodeo and even a Demolition Derby! Americans… Such a diverse place, and I only saw a tiny smidgen of the place.

Corn Dog

We drove up and over Independence Pass, at a lung crushing 12 100ft, into Leadville (10 200ft) where the infamous Leadville 100 miler trail running race takes place.  We wished SA’s Ryan Sandes good luck, before he went out and won the event in the 3rd fastest time in the history of the race!

Spent the last night in Boulder. Great place that, oozing with sporting talent and great little eating spots. Met up with Dan Hugo and some of his training buddies. I see why he has picked this as a training base.

Unfortunately it was time to board the 1st of 5 flights to get home. Quite a trip, especially when the first 3 were delayed by hours. The real low point was sitting in a hot, overbooked flight with no aircon waiting for it to be repaired. I kept thinking, should we be flying in this plane? Anyway, the high point came on the final 2 flights, 3 seats to myself, great food, and awesome service on Qatar Airways! 3 days later I got home, love that my dog is always so stoked to see me!

Hoping this wrist heals really fast, as I am going nuts not paddling! So it’s lots of running and cross training at the moment, and easing back into the paddling. 8 weeks until Marathon World Champs. I am hoping I haven’t lost too much. The Low’s have been frustrating, however, maybe the rest has been a good thing, it has been ages since I have had a break from paddling that is longer than 1 week!

Thanks Kate for having me and keeping me super busy! I think we might have done all the fun things to be done in Colorado!

Paddling and being a full time athlete can make one so selfish and self-absorbed. While I was away there was a terrible shark attack in Plett (my hometown). Local surfer Tim van Heerden lost his life doing something he loved. I was moping around just because I couldn’t train and race and the Lowest of Lows happens.

Makes you think. RIP Tim.

To end on a happy note, here is one final beautiful photo and the great news that Bridgitte Hartley qualified for the London Olympics by paddling the fastest 500m time in history! Go Bliggie!

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