Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Six Months out and the Mulberry Fork Race

With out a doubt six months of no kayaking was nothing short of miserable. Looking back I did learn a alot from it. Up to the shoulder surgery I had pretty much never had any serious injuries or any problems, so I took good health for granted, but six months out of the boat changed that. For the the fist six weeks after the surgery, I had no activity and no movement of my arm.  After that six weeks I had lost almost all muscle in my arm and alot of my body had become soft. Even when the sling came off I still couldn't run, lift weights, paddle flatwater, or anything. There was also a section of time that I had to fill to take up the time that I would be kayaking, and being a 20 year college kid sometimes those weren't the most healthy activities. For weeks I was waking up no earlier then 10:30 am, eating out all the time, and just didnt really have much motivation untill my arm would heal. After 10 weeks I got the go ahead to start running, and running I did. I registered for a marathon, and pretty much spent 2-3 hrs a day running. Around this time the physical therapy also started to pick up so I was beginning to gain a little bit of strength back in my upper body. By the first of the year I was ready for flat water, and although paddling flat water is one of my least favorite activities I learned alot from it.  I started spending the weekends on clear creek learning how to race slalom and doing big attainment workouts, it wasn't boofing holes but atleast I was in a kayak. As February rolled around PT became more like lifting weights and I began taking some real easy trips down the tellico and working my way back into paddling moving water, and on the first weekend of March I found myself driving down to Alabama for the 2009 Mulberry Fork Race.
I had a hard time deciding if I even wanted to go to the Mulberry Fork, I didnt really have the money, all my buddies were going to go to the canyon, and I had never raced any slalom so I didn't want to pay money to get my ass whiped. I decided I would race the Men K1 Downriver in my Dagger Green Boat, and the Mens K1 Championship in one of Dirk Davidsons Slalom boats. 
I cant say enough about the people that run this race. For they entire weekend the staff made sure that I had everything I needed. In the first 5 minutes I was there I asked a guy on four-wheeler where I could turn in my registration form, and he stopped setting up tents and walked me all the way across the festival to make sure I was squared away. I found the guys from the Alabama Canoe and Kayak, and Auburn Whitewater club extremely welcoming and I didn't feel like an outsider what so ever. I witnessed a ten your old kid put all his gear on head to toe, pick up his boat, and proceed to the river, apparently on his way he decided he needed to make a pit stop at the concessions booth where this young man proceeded to suck down a red bull and a funnel cake with out even unbuckling his helmet. At that point it was clear that I was getting ready for some Alabama racing.
The down-river race started 8 am, and it seemed like I barely had time for a cliff bar before I was hammering away in my Green boat. The race was about 3.5 miles and I found it pretty challenging because of the large amount of flat water on the course. After the down-river I had a couple hours break before the slalom heats, I spent a good portion of this time in the sweet ladies in the massage tent. I was a little nervous about the slalom race, mostly because it was my first one.  The crux of the course involved punching a hole through gate 13 and then getting the hole to spit you left to make 14 and 15. My strategy was going to be really clean on the first heat and be sure not to miss any gates and then I would be able to hammer out myheat. This went exactly as planned I had a seconed  slow clean run with no penalties and then a faster run with 6 penalties on the seconed heat. At the end of the day completely beat down, sore, and sun burnt I found myself 1st in the Down-river and 4th in the slalom. You can check out the full results at Overall the Mulberry fork was a huge success and will definitely be on the race schedule for years to come. Thanks to all the people who made it a great time. In parting, here are some recent photos.

         Canyon Falls on St. Patricks Day. Photo Charlie Mix
  Dave Levitt on the Canyon Falls. Photo: Charlie Mix

Boats of Choice
           Matt Wallace after the first class 5 rapid I ran in 6 months.

The after of the "Before and After" photos, taken on the last day of Physical Therapy. Unfortunately I lost the before picture.