June 23, 2015

Classified information

obligatory plane wing-in-sunset shot before take-off in Vancouver. 
A few posts ago, I entitled my entry ‘de-classified information’. That was in respect of racing a para kayak. This past week, I was officially classified to race V-1, the para outrigger. I travelled to Montréal to partake in the classification process, and it was successful. In the eyes of the International Canoe Federation, I'm officially disabled enough to be worthy of that particular boat.

Stuck a maple leaf on my paddling prosthetic just to
remind myself of "what's possible" each time I take a stroke. 
Don’t get me started on how being a partial hand amputee does not make one worthy of also being a para kayaker. Who needs fingers to hold a paddle?! It is what it is, though!

Same tree. Same idiot. (editors note: it hurts more to
 do this with a hand with missing fingers. I didn't love it). 
Finish line at the Bassin Olympique.
This happens to be a women's canoe event. 
SO aaaanyway, the classification was part one of the trip to Montréal. Part two was to race in a couple of national team trials sprints to see if qualifications for the 2015 worlds could be achieved. In a word: no. Neither Saturday nor Sunday did I manage to post a time that qualified. I was disappointed in this, as I have been training on times well within the range I was trying to achieve. My Saturday race, admittedly, was sloppier than I would have liked. The Sunday race actually went quite well, though in different, generally slower conditions. I managed to post the exact same time on both days. Logically, then, had I put down as clean a race on Saturday as I did on Sunday, I may have put in a qualifying time. Ah well, no sense over thinking this. 

In general, I am happy with my weekend. Many objectives were achieved. I am classified. That’s a big weight lifted. I know where my time stands where before I did not, and I know where I need to improve.

A third aspect to the weekend: a return to the Montréal race course that I haven’t paddled on since 1997. Nostalgia couldn't help but play a role in the weekend. As I paced around the compound, I recalled the victories my wife enjoyed back when we were teens (she was a national champ that year, on that course). I myself enjoyed my best single boat showing as a teenager that year, getting into a K1 final. Camaraderie with team mates, humid summer weather, exploring a new city—all of these memories came flooding back to me. Granted, I had all my fingers back then. There's no accounting for every circumstance, I suppose.

Guess you could call this... a... hand bag? 
I revel in the fact that the sport that gave me so many experiences and lifelong friends—not to mention girlfriends, and my wife!—is affording me a second existence of new friendships, new explorations and the continuation of racing in a sport that is so ingrained in my life. 

So, I didn’t post a championship-qualifying time… for now. But that’s OK. in the 18 years since I came to this spot in Montreal last, I know I’ve already won quite a lot.  

Ahh, progress. three photos side by side in 1997 vs. a panorama in 2015 taken on this thing called a "smartphone".