10 May 2006

Kayaking was awesome!

We had our first kayaking class last night. It was held at one of the pools on campus, so it was rather convenient. After getting outfitted with helmets (to protect our heads from flying paddles and the sides of the pool), life-jackets, kayak skirts and kayaks, they helped us into our kayaks in the pool. There were 3 instructors and 10 students ranging from college-aged to a few in their 40s. I'm very thankful for the skirt part of my bathing suit as all of the other women there were rather fit, so having the skirt there covering my upper thighs was fabulous. Anyhoo, they had us begin in the kayaks without our kayak skirts attached so that if we were to dump (fall over into the water w/ the kayak ending up upside down) we'd just fall out. I felt pretty comfortable in the kayak and decently handled the first fall (intended) into the water. Although, I wouldn't say I enjoyed it!

After pulling our kayaks back out of the water, they showed us how to attach our skirts to the kayak (dang was it difficult!) by stretching it over the lip of the kayak. Then, they taught us the procedure for releasing ourselves from the kayak in the case of a dump (lean forward, hit the bottom of the kayak 3 times with our hands, find the rim of the kayak opening with our hands, run them along the edge until the pull tab is found, pull the tab out and up to remove the skirt from the kayak lip, then pull ourselves out of the kayak as though we were pulling off a pair of pants). Once we all had that down, it was time to get back in the water to try it out one-by-one. I'd already mentioned my issues (fear of deep water and claustrophobia) to the instructors, so while others were doing their successful dumps, one of the instructors not in the water was trying to psych me up for it. It finally became my turn (because there was no one else left!), so I got in the kayak. The instructor told me to take my time, and trust me, I did. I took quite a few deep breaths and then forced myself over. After slapping the bottom of the kayak w/ my hands 3 times, I panicked and forgot what to do! I was completely freaked out! I at least had enough composure to hit the kayak again, and the instructor had me righted within a second or two. And, then I broke down. I was breathing very heavily, crying and just completely falling apart. My husband came over to me while the instructor did his best to calm me down. He told me it wasn't a big deal, was completely natural and was ok if I didn't want to do it (b/c I was hysterically saying I couldn't do it). I honestly don't remember what my husband said (if anything), but just the way he looked at me and held my hand gave me so much strength. I told the instructor I wanted to try it again (albeit a little more progressively), and he agreed. He also suggested I try it with goggles on so that it would be a little less disorienting. So, he had me do the dump again w/out the skirt attached. That was again fine, so next, he had me attach the skirt. But, instead of trying to get myself out of the skirt, he had me stay under water as long as I could tolerate it, and then when I was ready (signaled by hitting the kayak with my hands), he flipped me up. I did that maybe 3 times, and then moved on to the next step, I went through the motions of the extrication process underwater and then had him flip me back up when I was ready. I felt comfortable with that after a couple of times and felt ready to try the full process again myself. I got it on the first try and completely without panicking! I did it 2 more times feeling more and more comfortable with it, and even when I had a little more difficult time removing the skirt from the kayak I didn't panic.

The rest of the class had moved on to learning to paddle and trying it out through a game, so I took a quick break for some nuts and water. By the time I finished my snack and got a quick lesson on paddling, the rest of the class was ready for a break themselves. So, at that time, I got in the kayak and tried out paddling for myself. I found myself turning a bit even though I was trying to go straight, but it didn't take too long to figure that out ... for the most part. I even let myself paddle into the deep end, and while the first trip down resulted in my typical feelings of wanting to get back to the shallow end as quickly as possible, I got over it after just a few minutes. The rest of the class got back in the water, and we played another game where we did our best to stay in one end of the pool (thankfully, the shallow end!:) without hitting any of the other kayaks with the area in which we were to stay decreased in size every few minutes. I did ok with this game and thankfully didn't dump. They then had us get rid of our paddles so as to play kayak basketball. The instructors pondered how to split us up into teams, and visions of being the last one picked flashed through my mind. (Yes, I was typically the last one picked in school when it came to athletic events.) They decided to split us up by the color of our kayaks, so I ended up on the team opposite my husband. I figured my teammates were thinking to themselves how unlucky they were to get me (and I didn't blame them) as we were receiving our instructions. We began at the opposite end of the pool from our baskets (the deep end; ack!) and then had to make our way down the pool making sure the ball was touched by each team member before making a shot. I don't remember many of the details of the game ... except that I (yes, me!) scored at least 3 baskets!!! And, I always sucked at basketball! And, not only did I score multiple baskets, I didn't dump. I will admit that I wasn't overly aggressive at making my way up and down the pool, but I didn't just stay in one spot either. Oh, and not only did my team make about 5 or 6 baskets, the other team didn't even make one!! So, yeah, I felt pretty good about myself.

Unfortunately, in my attempt to gracefully exit the kayak (without dumping myself first), I didn't hold onto the side of the pool and flipped myself over. My right leg got stuck, so I now have a lovely knot about the size of a baseball on my leg just below my knee.

Our next class is on Saturday on the lake (another fear to overcome!), so we'll be wearing wetsuits, etc. b/c of the cold temp of the lake (50 degreesish). I'm still a bit fearful, but I'm looking forward to it!

Weight update: I'm at 148.0 lbs and have been sitting here for what seems like forever. It's a pound lost, so I'm happy. But, as usual, it's so close to 147 it's frustrating too.

I'm utterly exhausted because of all of the things I've been doing over the past week or so: recovering from the UTI on Friday; 3 1/2 mile hike on Saturday; gardening all day (literally!) on Sunday; work, gardening and the elliptical on Monday; kayaking for about 3 hours on Tuesday! So, I'm thinking I may be a bum tonight. We'll see!


Melissa said...

Wow girl you had your first kayaking experience and you did good, tears and all. How sweet of hubby holding your hand and consoling you. Next lesson sounds like fun. If you not too sure of things ask lots of questions and tell the instructor if you don't feel right about things. I give you credit for trying out a new adventure.

Sandi said...

Awesome Jenn. You're doing so much and it's all happening so fast! I'm amazed and inspired by you (as usual). Hope that the bruising heals quickly and doesn't slow you down.

Jessica said...

I'm so glad you decided to take the class! Sounds like it's fun!