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.

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