The race weekend hangover

Post Paddle Hang-overSo, maybe the title is a little misleading, though the beer garden or after-party for some could make it true. But sometimes after a long day at the beach, in the canoe, and journey to the far-off place called ‘the race site’, we can feel pretty beat up, scarred, chaffed, dehydrated and haggard. A little hungover if you will. So allow me to share some of those post-race whinings and whimperings many of you are possibly feeling in between checking all the FB photos, race results, and looking up what D.O.M.S.* means.

Let's recap the day. The loooong day of arriving at o’dark thirty, rigging canoes, setting up camp (your home for the day), attending steersman meetings, Getting any sort of shut-eye you can manage before the race. Waiting what seemed like forever until your race.

The race, can’t forget that! But that story is always unique and special.

Hanging out afterwards, retelling your race story to as many person who will listen. Hearing others retell their race story (fair is fair right?). “Shoulda seen this turn”, “that other crew totally cut us off”, "our ama was at least [hand gesture] high", “we had a bad start”, “we had an epic start”, “so proud of my crew and how we finished!” (that last one never gets old to me).

Checking the results table 10 times before seeing your race posted. Running back to your camp saying “results are up!” with your face and emotion telling the story. Relaxing to ukulele strumming in a nearby tent. Convincing yourself to do one more pass along the vendors and buy that "Cali Paddler" hat (ok maybe that one is a stretch). Checking your raffle tickets. Waiting through the awards ceremony, knowing if you leave for just a second to hit up the port-a-potty, you will miss your team, or your friends team, being called up. Hearing a familiar club's name and losing your voice cheering.

Outrigger Canoe Awards

Load canoes? whimper...time to load canoes...30 tired people trying to dolly, lift, slide and strap em down…”oomph! when did these get so heavy?”. After loading, some are too tired to run off, so they just stand around for five minutes leaning on the trailer. Break down the campsite. Schlep gear to the hot car sitting in the sun all day. Discuss who has the energy for the after party. Or perhaps start the trek home, various distances, sometimes caravaning with the canoes at 55mph (thankless but appreciated!). Wondering why there is so much traffic!

These are only the ‘day-of’ feelings of exhaustion and fun. But wait, it gets better. Little did we know the race day effects will linger.

  • Sun burned…I swear I put on sunscreen
  • Wind chapped…why does my face could feel so raw?
  • Chaffed…who decided to sew a seam THERE?
  • Bald and scraped knees…don’t worry, it will heal…in September!
  • Sore lower back…shoulda lifted the canoe with my legs more, and held my technique better!
  • Hamstrings…why didn’t I stretch more!
  • Toenail all in the -??? guess the inside of that canoe isn’t so smooth.
  • Raw bootie…Chamois But’r you are my new best friend!
  • Blisters…I was wearing gloves WTH?
  • Won’t even mention how long it might take to get onto and off of the toilet in the middle of the night.

Sure the arms hurt, your core is sore, and your legs heavy. But you expected all of that. This other stuff…bonus! Every race we learn and curtail some of the problems above…but never all of them.

Monday or Tuesday, its practice day. We return the sweatshirt to whoever left it at the beach on race-day. Quick recaps of the race, coaches talk about how “proud” they are, but how there is “more work to do”. Both are always right on the money. Guess what, if you want to paddle, time to unload and re-rig the canoes!!! That’s right, “these canoes aren’t gonna rig themselves folks”

Finally, the sun is setting, you figure a nice well-deserved low-key paddle to recover, right? Wrong. What do you mean fartleks, ladders, timing drills, technique work, [insert painful anything here]? That’s right, we can’t waste a practice day. Only have two before the next race! Back to work we go. But ya know what…for whatever reason, call us crazy, or attribute it to the post-race-stoke we are still carrying in our hearts and minds…we push off, and have an amazing paddle with a renewed sense of purpose. And low and behold, we can’t wait to repeat the process all over again! (but ooomph...those first few sides hurt!)

"If you paddle, you get it!"

-Clarke, Cali Paddler

(Did we miss anything? Chances are, we did, so please share in the comments below some of the fun, painful and perhaps even embarrassing post race pains you have encountered. Don't worry we are all family here.)

* D.O.M.S. - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Who knew Monday would hurt as bad as the last mile???

[ Thank you to: Kristen S./PaleKaiOCC in Avila, CA for the photo of your beautiful canoes! Joe A. and SDOCC for your cat-nap pic and ninja photo skills, and the 2016 Kai Elua OCC Novice Women for being stoked on the medal stand and Ellen Lee for capturing the moment. ]

Cali Paddler Team Writer Clarke Graves

Team Writer Clarke Graves - If there is water, he will paddle it (regardless of craft). Clarke is a surfer turned paddler who grew up in San Diego but has traveled every corner of California enjoying its beauty and appeal. He has had the privilege of racing SUP, OC6, OC2, OC1, Prone and can't wait to hop into a dragon boat and surf-ski for an extended length of time.

One of Clarke's goals is to paddle as much shoreline in California as he can, with as many paddling friends who are willing to join him. If you have an idea for Clarke to write about or any questions, send it our way and we will pass it along!

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  • pam - May 19, 2015

    (left out) irritation at the paddlers who were slackers/vacationers and ‘forgot’ to help de rig, load, unload, rig and troubleshoot trailer glitches…
    Loved the last part ….looking forward to an easy practice…NOT! that was last nite

  • Rich Van Dine - May 18, 2015

    All of the above: Sounds like my weekend in Santa Barbara… Next weekend Monterey! Then Berkeley, etc, etc :) Have a great season everyone and hope to see you on the water soon. Aloha from OSC, Santa Cruz

  • sue - May 12, 2015


    I met you at your booth on Saturday and told you how much I loved the Pre-Race Day post. This is yet another spot-on account of what we do for this crazy sport that we love! Keep these coming, I am posting to my club-SBOCC!

    See ya at the next race! (and yes, I am sore in more places than I can count!)


  • Jess - May 11, 2015

    May I recommend a Sunday morning massage :)
    5 days til Rig Run!! Let’s do it all again!!

  • Kristen Sanchez - May 11, 2015

    Awesome synopsis! I think the only thing missing was mention of the cramps…luckily I didn’t get it until after getting out of the boat…top of the hamstring, right at the sits bone. Yeow! LOL!

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