An hour into training I hit it. That moment you get hit by that feeling. I started the day spectacularly, with some quick rolls. I was out of the water instantly after toppling. And I braced on. Things were going smoothly when I missed a roll. Unable to get the paddle back I surrendered to the river and Rajesh had to swim in to toss me over. All the spectators on their weekend office trip, who till now were delighted to see me disappear and reappear with only the pretty blue hull of my kayak to show for it, stood a little quiet now. I shrug it off and get back into position. Tilt left, turn right, go under. Position the blade, take a moment to breathe (or not) and sweep. Air, light, boom, Water. As Rahesh rushes to position himself under me, I realise I missed again.
As I grab some air, and wipe the water off my face and eyes, I ask myself, What gives? Undettered, I reposition and fall back in. Same result. The quiet spectators make way for worried spectators. And I’m struggling.
It’s called Pain.
My hip was sore. And my knees ached. The toes that had found some allowance in that baby kayak were being asked to clear out, and were seriously considering it. My shoulder would hurt if it felt something. And I was back to sq. 1.
It holds true for nearly every sport I’ve tried. At sailing, for a week I had no gloves and a broken jam cleat meant my hands chafed every session. During the races I felt no pain. At archery, the first few sessions my left arm knew what the bow string tasted like. When Oscar changed our technique while kayaking, my calves cramped. So, Why do we do it?
Why am I spending a sunday afternoon trying to repeatedly drown myself when there are other pursuits? Why should I endure back pain tonight? Or put myself back in that tight kayak tomorrow morning?
I can’t honestly say. I guess on some level it’s a reminder that you are doing it right. Your first steps in anything tend to be like that. And after that first fall, first taste of ddust, first mouthful of river water your body becomes more ready.
The first time I kayaked a distance I was hit by a gust of wind heading back, and it put me off balance. I was 2 Kms off shore and there wasn’t a soul in sight. In our lives we experience pain and we shy from it, avoid it even. Take a day off working out, or give up an activity altogether. This, when it might be the very thing we need. In the basic way of looking at it, aren’t we All born off pain. Kicking and screaming we’ve made it this far. And we have a long way to go.
I took the kayak to the launch site, squeezed my severely cramped legs out, let the water out of the kayak. Took a breath or two. Got my feet back in and execute the rolls to perfection. We start at 8.a.m. tomorrow.