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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Always learning

When I went for my first kayak session on Kauai, I was given the quickest of lessons.  The dude showed me the back of the paddle and said "these are the spines of your don't see your own spine and you don't want to see the spine of your paddle."  If he said anything else more meaningful, I must not have heard it because of the gruesome images popping into my head.  I'm pretty sure though that it was just a haphazard demo of the paddles going into the water.  With that, he shoved me down the chute and I was off into the canal to the Hanalei.  I was so blissed out that I was actually within the weight limit to do it that I didn't care if I was doing it right or not.  When we went a few days later, he asked if we needed a lesson and I told him we rented there earlier in the week.  I should've said yes so I could glean more than the whole spine reference.  But the Mr and I plowed on and headed out.  (To see this adventure from the Mr's point of view, click here.)

This time was much more difficult because the trade winds really kicked up big time.  (They always seem to kick up the last two days of our time there.)  Well, I fought like hell against that current on the Hanalei and thought we'd get a nice break on the way back in.  I was wrong.  The winds shifted and we had it blowing at us going both ways.  Eff you mother nature!  Once the Mr was on the paddling bandwagon, I figured the most important lesson was not to see my paddle spines and I'd done it twice without incident so I was now a paddler.  After the third time taking my own out for what should've been a leisurely paddle with light winds at sunset, the next day left me so sore I could barely lift my arms.  I remember sitting here when finally reaching the bridge and while I enjoyed the sunset thinking I seriously didn't know how my arms were going to get me back to the boat launch about half a mile away.

"How the hell am I going to get back?  Maybe the Mr can tow me on his paddle board?"

I felt that surely there was an easier way than getting pissed off and digging into the water in a rage when I wanted to move at a decent pace.  I wanted the representation of what our paddles were like in pictures to actually be as peaceful as they looked.

So I headed over to YouTube to see what I was doing wrong, how to improve my experience and you know, not end up with a scathing case of tendinitis of the wrist or pop my shoulder out of socket.  I found this video and this video to be quite helpful.  Apparently the spine thing, while important, should've been the last thing I was told because he basically glazed over everything that was important.

If you don't have time to watch the videos, here are the things I am taking forward from them and a few forums run by instructors.

1) Make sure the whole blade goes into the water.  I had a habit of doing the same thing with paddle boarding and not fully getting the paddle under the water.  I know this sounds like a no brainer but sometimes when I was fully underwater with it, I felt like I was doing something wrong and I was which brings me to...

2)  Engage in full torso rotation.  Put the blade in the water close to the location of the ankles, turn as you pull back and lift the blade up just past the hips, not at the hips making sure to follow through like this on each stroke.  You should be paddling with your abs and obliques, not your shoulders.

3)  Posture should be straight up and down with the shoulders slightly ahead of the hips to stop the shoulders and upper back from becoming strained.  (Raising hand)

4)  No death grip on the paddle and relaxed shoulders.

Yeah...those seemed like important points to make for a first timer and would've been appreciated. So now I have to correct what I've been doing wrong.  I'm glad I thought to look up all of this stuff when my body was saying "look sistah, something ain't right here because you threatened to punch the Mr in the gullet if he mentioned kayaking again within 30 minutes of getting home."

I am a typically stubborn person (shocking, I know) but when it comes to taking on a new hobby/sport at my age, I don't want to do something that will potentially injure me.  I am looking forward to putting these techniques to work so I can improve and hopefully make this more enjoyable with less pain the following day.

When you don't know how to do something, do you turn to videos to help you learn a new activity, recipe, etc or just wing it and hope everything turns out okay?

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  1. I ended up in the same boat, so to speak. While the paddle boarding instructions were a bit more involved than the kayaking ones were, they still didn't really go too much into proper technique and all that. Our first outings this year were a bit tougher for me unnecessarily but thankfully I found a good YouTube video to show me the proper techniques and I have to say it worked because the other night was much more pleasant for me. I am sure you'll find it to be much better once you get a chance to test your new knowledge.

    1. I hope it will. I can't be as sore as I was yesterday every time. I'm looking forward to giving the shoulders a break!

  2. I tend to try winging it, then get frustrated and look it up online. There are some great videos out there of things that amaze me that people take the time to post. I wanted the kids at the boy's bday party to make their own beanbags and then do a beanbag throw game. It turned out to be way more work than I imagined, but with a little help from YouTube it was so worth it.

    Sometimes I think you have to try something first before instructions really help. If you haven't at least tried, the instructions sometimes seem like they're in a foreign language. Once you've tried and failed, you at least have enough experience to understand what you did wrong and what to correct. I'm glad the paddling videos helped you.


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