What does it take

.. To complete an event like the HCC?

As I only have 17 weeks until the event, there is no time to waste with my preparation.  It is not like last year when I literally only had 13 weeks of preparation after building my boat.

There is a fair bit of effort in a lot of areas that go into preparing for, competing in and completing an Ultra Marathon like the HCC.  Well, since that I put my entry in last week, it is time to start following all aspects of my preparation for the 2012 HCC.

Since I have had a break from padding for the last few weeks since completing the RPM 100, today was the start of my training (well yesterday was, but I’ll get to that in a minute). Today was a beautiful winters day with a pleasant 14deg day with almost no wind (5-10km/h). So a quick look at the tide chart and I decided on the time and where to paddle to.  The tide today was going to low at around 13:00 so I picked a start time and course so that I would get a bit of a mix if incoming and outgoing flow.

The boat ramp is located in such a place that no matter what the tide is doing, you are going to have to have it against you for at least some of the time.

Now, what I like to do is to paddle at least 15km, and up to 30km. Today, I chose to do a paddle of just 18km.

When I paddle, I have 2 “best Friends” My Garmin GPSMap 78 GPS and my Tiny Trak GPS tracker that uses Amateur Radio to plot my position Real-time to the Internet.

My Garmin GPS is what I use real-time to see what I am doing and choose to monitor my Av Speed, Distance and Moving Time while I am out paddling.

As I paddle alone, I like the Idea of having my position being sent real-time back to the Internet, so at least someone can see where I am and the reason I always paddle with a GPS Tracker.

Screenshot taken from BaseCamp Software

My paddle today took me from the boat ramp in Angus Inlet, out into Barker Inlet (where the tide hit the low and turned) where I headed around to the Port River.  Here I turned right and headed down Lipson Reach to the old quarantine station, where I turned around and came back up the Port River to the Port River Rowing Club, turning around again and then back into Barker Inlet and Angus Inlet to the boat ramp.

When I get home, I can download from my GPS a lot of info about each outing – as It stores my track, by taking a reading around every 20 seconds.  The image above is a screenshot taken from the BaseCamp software that I use to query the GPS.

Today’s Paddle was:

  • Distance: 18.0km
  • Moving time:  2:15:53
  • Avg Speed:  8.0km/h
  • Tide:  0.7 Low / 2.1 High

There was a little bit of excitement today, I stopped several times just to watch the dolphins swimming past and to rescue a dog that came out of another boat!  Let me tell you it is no fun to have a 15kg dog standing on your lap on a kayak!

The conditions were near perfect – with mostly outgoing tide, in Barker Inlet, against the tide and into the light wind down to the quarantine station, with the flow back up up the Port River, and finally with the tide back up Barker and Angus Inlets.  The tidal flow in Barker Inlet is very strong and with a big tide, it can be in excess of 5km/h, so I always like to try and go with the flow at the end!  The flow out in the Port River is not as strong, but it is a close representation of what the upper Parts of the Hawksbury River are like.

These stats are very important to me, as over the next 15 Weeks, with this data, I will put together my Race plan.

APRS GPS tracking Map taken from http://aprs.fi

Paddling Speed

Monitoring of my paddling speed and recording details about the tide are very important as they are the indicators from my training that help me with my Race Plan.

Over the last 12 months, my paddling speed has improved quite a lot. When I was paddling my plastic boat, my target was to maintain at least a 6km/h average over 20km. With the move to my current boat, that immediately jumped up to 7km/hr.  My training over the last 4-5 months which included the 3 events that I have done this year has seen my average speed slowly increase and today was quite quick as far as thing have been going.

About 2 months ago, my average speed jumped from about 7.2 to 7.6km/h – and what I attribute that to was my paddling.  For the last year, since just after I built my boat, I went from an asymmetric paddle with a “standard” 60 deg offset to a medium wing paddle.  In the last couple of months, I have also decreased the offset from about 52 degrees to 45 degrees, which I found takes some of the stress and strain off the wrists when paddling for long periods, but still has enough angle so as not to act like a sail when out of the water.

Everything I read about the transition from a “standard” paddle to a wing paddle said that it can take up to a couple of years to “get it” and the only thing that I can put my jump in speed down to is that I have noticed that paddling is easier, I go faster with less effort, so maybe I have finally “got it” with the Wing paddle.

Training Targets

This year, I have been training for each of the events I have done and all strung together represent about 40% of what I need to do to prepare for the HCC.  Last year, I did it in a boat that I had only paddled about 160km, using a paddle that I had only done about 120km with and yes, I was well under-done.

This year, I have not really been recording my exact training distances, but I have only missed 4 weekends since the end of February, and on each outing I have paddled between 16 and 25km (not counting the events). training wise, I already have about 200km  in training and 160km over the 3 events I have done.  With the last 16 or so week I have, I should be able to get in at least 250km of paddle training.

I will be paddling once a week, and when it warms up a bit, do an extra 10-15km night paddle in the lake.

What I found was that adding some extra training to the mix helped a lot (in 2010), so I will also jump on the bike and do at least a 10km ride every other week as well.

Enough for now, I’ll add some extra details with my next training report.