Sunday, July 15, 2012

Kayaking on the Hudson

For YEARS I've been wanting to get over to Inwood Canoe Club for a paddle on the Hudson during one of their Sunday Open Houses (10am-12pm Summer Sundays), but I'm always away on Sundays racing or beaching or paddling Upstate. This weekend we had plans in the city so I told myself this is THE weekend I will get out on the river and support our local paddling club. Dave was a trooper and came along for the ride even though kayaking isn't his favorite activity. It was a hazy morning with temps rising into the 90's later in the day, so I was really happy to be getting as close to the water as possible without swimming (don't get me wrong, I'd much rather have been swimming!) so I could cool off with a little splash here and there.

We were greeted by a friendly group of folks from the Club when we arrived and we payed our insurance fee of $4 and dropped a donation in the box, otherwise it was a free event. We were fitted for life jackets and then relaxed on the deck for a bit while the first wave of paddlers made their way back to shore. The views are really magnificent there, the George Washington Bridge just down the river to the left and the Palisades looming across the water, I just love this area. I snapped a few photos and a nice guy from the club took a great photo of us in front of the bridge.

 Pretty soon the first group returned and we climbed into (or in my case on) the kayaks and hit the water. I chose a sit-on-top kayak because they're my favorite. I learned to paddle when I was lifeguarding and we always used a sit-on-top kayak because it is easier and safer for rescuing distressed swimmers, you just fling them over the front and hop back on! I haven't used this type of kayak in years and I missed it, so I was happy for the opportunity to do it again. At one point during the trip one of the guides mentioned that I should used a sea kayak next time because they're faster, but I was as happy as a clam on top of the water. Besides, spiders hang out in those things...ick. We had a nice paddle up along the shore past Dyckman Fields towards Spuyten Duyvil before turning around and FLYING back downstream. Going against the current with the wind at our backs on the first half of the trip was pretty sweaty, I wished I could just jump in and cool off, but it seemed like the guides might not like that. Had it been my boat, I'd have been right in the water. 

It was a really nice way to spend a little time and talk with some nice local folks. I met a few swimmers and even more people who do kayak support for many of the NYC Swim races including my upcoming Governor's Island swim, my relay and the Little Red Lighthouse swim. It is always nice to meet new people who are a part of this great NYC swimming community. Many thanks to the Inwood Canoe Club for a great morning- I hope we can make it back again before the summer is over! 

Oh and the new bathrooms on Dyckman Street just around the corner from the marina are open. The parks dept renovated a really cool old building and I think it looks great! Be sure to pack your own toilet paper though... :) 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The 2x2

Last night I ventured back up to Van Cortlandt Park for the relay portion of the Summer Series, but it didn't go quite as planned. I'd planned on running with Julie (raceslikeagirl) and we'd been chatting about the race for the last week or so. I was excited to run with Julie for once rather than against her in a race, but during her warmup she noticed some bad tightness in her hamstring and made the wise decision to sit the race out. I was bummed, but I'm glad she was able to make the decision before the race and not DURING. Knowing Julie and her competitive spirit (much like my own) she would have hobbled through the race, causing further injury. So there we were with 10 minutes til race time and my team consisted of me. Luckily, fellow Inwood Hill Runner Jason had stopped by to say hi and I was able to rope him into running with me. This changed our division to co-ed and put our combined age at 65. Jason took Julie's spot like a trooper and ran his heart out on the first leg while I warmed up a bit and bounced excitedly at the starting line for him to tag me. He came flying in way ahead of lots of teams and I took off along the flats towards the Cow path. Unlike the 5K races which runs the trail along the side of the golf course and around the back hills, this race turns left and weaves up to Cemetery Hill which is a total bitch. Man, that hill is steep and long and left me whimpering this time. My GMR teammate and 4th of July birthday boy was waiting at a point about 2/3 of the way up the hill where he accidentally told me I was "at the top... Oh.. Well, almost" as I huffed up the hill after getting passed by a familiar VCTC runner. He's lucky I didn't have the extra energy to strangle him for his "this is the top" comment because it was definitely not! :) When I finally reached the top, I was thrilled to see the familiar downhill leading to the top of the flats. I did my best to keep up with the guy who passed me on the hill and the woman right in front of him, but there was no chance of catching them with only 0.25 mi or so left. It turns out they were both on teams in our division and AG and took the top 2 spots and the only muffins. Sigh. For the first time in a long while, I left VCP hungry. Oh well, both Jason and I ran REALLY hard and beat my previous 2x2 time by nearly 2 mins. It was a fun night, as VCTC summer nights always are, and the Inwood crew had fun showing off our team shirts to curious folks who peered at our chests to find out just who "runs this park".
I'll be back to VCP in two weeks for the next 5K, I hope it cools off a bit for the next race - this one was brutal.
Thanks to Jonathan Stenger for the photo of me charging up the hill in the worst possible shoes for this race.

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