Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Greg Parker's Year In Review

My 2012 goals were as follows...

1. Complete 2 months of strength training so that I am ready for the competition season.
2. Top 3 finish in a professional event.
3. Experience 3 personal first descents.

This past year marked a big change in my life.  As the kayaking season was approaching, I was finishing up my first year of teaching as a Physical Education teacher and was going to spend my first summer as a full time resident in Colorado.  I had spent the past 6 summers living and teaching kayaking at RMOC in Salida, but this summer was going to be different.  I would still be receiving paychecks throughout the summer, so I didn’t have to work which would mean more kayaking in more places... or so I thought.

Unfortunately, there was no snowpack in the mountains.  We all knew it was going to be a low water year, but nobody could have predicted how bad it really was.  I remember checking the gauge on the Arkansas on a Monday in early May.  The level has spiked up to 700 cfs.  I had missed the first weekend of boating, but thought it would just be the beginning.  Little did I know, the Arkansas would not hit 700 cfs for the rest of the season.  As a result I didn’t experience any personal first descents.

2012 Events

In February I started a cycle of p90x.  My goal was to complete 60 days, but I was extra motivated and I stuck it out for the full 90 days.  I was strong and was ready to start training in May.  The problem was that there was no water to train in and I went to my first event after just 1 hour of kayaking

1. BV Pro Rodeo- As the bell rang on my last day of teaching for the 2011-2012 school year, I jumped into my car and raced down to Buena Vista.  I was pre-registered and placed in the last heat, so I could make the event if all went according to plan.  I arrived in Buena Vista 30 minutes before my heat, so I had just enough time to get into my gear and take a couple practice rides.  Needless to say, after a 8 month hiatus from kayaking, I didn’t do so well.  I think I finished 11th, just missing the semi-final cut.

2. Teva Mountain Games- After a few more days in the kayak, I was ready for the next event.  I paddled well in prelims and semis and made the final cut to for the first time ever at Vail.  It was exciting to paddle in front of such a big crowd and I was happy to stand on the podium (I was really just next to it) and to cash the 5th place check.

3. Lyons Outdoor Games- Lyons has always been a friendly spot for me to compete.  I paddle well in the hole, there is a slightly smaller field to compete against, and it has a general calmer feeling especially when compared to Vail. I felt great during my rides, but was just squeaked out of finals and finished 6th.
4. Fibark- Salida was my last chance to make a top 3 finish on the year.  I was hopeful that the water level would peak and Salida would be at a great level for the competition.  Instead, I arrived at a small stream with hand piled diversions dams to direct the water over the playspot.  I am accustomed to paddling in these types of features, but not in Salida.  I had never seen the Arkansas so low.  This spot truly was a challenge and I was surprised we could score such high rides.  I managed to finish 5th place.

5. Nationals at KWP- I thought Fibark would be my last event of the year, but I wanted another shot.  I had paddling well all summer, but couldn’t get my top 3 finish.  I drove to Idaho on Sunday night and had 5 days of training before prelims on Friday.  This was very interesting to me, because I went through multiple stages of training for an event.  Typically I arrive on Thursday and compete on Friday which doesn’t leave much time for  training.  In Idaho, I got used to the feature, mentally scored my rides, learned new tricks, mentally scored my rides, changed how I set up to go faster, video taped my rides, scored my rides on paper, edited a video of an “ideal” competition ride, visualized my rides, took a rest day, and then practiced my rides with a timer.  It was fun to work through the process and I could see drastic improvements as the week went on.  On Monday I was getting trashed in the hole and on Friday I was scoring 800 point rides which were good enough for my best finish at Nationals- 7th place.

After Idaho, I made a trip to Glenwood and then it was time to put away the kayaking gear.  I was only mid-July, but the water levels were so low it made Colorado boating nearly impossible.  Instead, I switch my focus to climbing and relaxing before the new school started.

2013 Goals

1. Have more fun and less stress at competitions.  For years I have set a goal of finishing in the top three at a big professional freestyle event.  I would still like to achieve this goal, but I am realizing that it may not be possible unless I am willing to make certain sacrifices.  Years ago I thought about these sacrifices and I made the choice to have a “normal” life that involved kayaking as opposed to a kayaking life.  I decided I wanted the “normal” life because it would be more balanced and therefore more sustainable.  I am happy with my decision, but am learning that I need to accept that I may never be on the top of the podium.  
2. Have a memorable experiences on the river.  Much of my recent kayaking history has been dedicated to training.  I playboat to learn new tricks and to train for events.  This is fun and I enjoy the challenge, but I want to step back because kayaking has more to offer.
3. Create Anybody Can Kayak! River Running.  My dad and I are thinking about creating our fourth kayaking instructional video.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Get the Buzzz back!!!

It has been a rough year to be a Colorado kayaker.  I know. I was there back in 2001 or was it 2002?  I'm still trying to block it out of my memory.  Yet, I'm still heartened to see on the Buzz that people got out and crushed it anyway.

So this post is going to be for those of you who may have forgotten, just a touch, about how unbelievable kayaking is.

Remember the first time you stuck the hell out of a scary rapid or big trick?  John Pilson explains the physiology:

Nailing the left boof at Double Trouble gets me every time.

The Buzz is unreal.  Sometimes after a big day on the river, I'll be driving home just jittery with excitement.  I just can't wait to get back on the water.  Rapid lines will day-dream through my head all week.

Motivation can be lacking.  The Green is 3 hours from my house and the closest goods I've got.  But I have never regretted a single day on the river.  I wrote that last sentence on this very blog, years ago and it has held true every river day since (although I don't know if my wife would agree?).  Speaking of my wife, she has notices every week whether I've been kayaking or not.  I am more upbeat, positive and generally excited about all things when boatin' is part of my weekly routine.

What else can I say?  Some people like kayaking.  Joe looooves kayaking!

Enough of that sappy BS.  What you all need is some stoke to get you talking about your winter paddling trips!!!!  How about this shot of the original doublet, as in The Toby, finishing off Staircase on the Horsepasture:

I think you can call this a Grip of Waterfalls

Everyone in the kayaking community is discussing the treatment of our ladies.  Well, here are some photos of ladies laying Treats!
Lil A' slaying you Marginal Monsters

Taken on the class V Horsepasture... does it get any better?  Katie D

Shannon following Toby down the Stairway to Heaven

Some have suggested that I might be able to take the ladies division this year at the Green Race, which is a compete fallacy.  I couldn't beat her if I was in front of a Duo with her steering in the back.
Gravity cravin'

The prettiest Janney getting out of the Drunk Tank
And there you have it.  Some killer chicks from the SE!

'I love kayaking!!!!'

Rainbow Falls

If I'm gonna post photos of kayaking chicas, I better post shots of their husbands golden stroking:
Now, as you all know by now, any blog post originating in the Southeast must include gratuitous photos of the Grandaddy Green.  Has anyone ever told you that this diamond gemstone runs 300 days/year?  Get out here EVAN STAFFORD!!!!  I'm starting to consider the very real possibility that Evan's nerves have gotten the better of him?
A little 2hunge flow just Left of Death
Our boy Justin caught the plane flight:
That looks like an awkward feeling on the way to a first Triple Crown.  (Justin Merritt)

Parting Shot:
Justin riding the lightening!