Fighting back from injury

By Josephine Sargent 8 November 2013
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Adventure-race dreams were dashed when Josephine’s ankle resembled a purple gumboot.

SNAP. CRACKLE. POP… SAILING through the air, grasping for the basketball, it was amazing I didn’t notice the sweaty man giant standing below me. He did, however, grab my attention when I landed; my ankle rolled off his foot and I lay crumpled on the ground, gripping it with white-knuckled hands as I tried not to cry.

A chipped bone and three torn ligaments, was the diagnosis. In one bungled rebound, our adventure racing goal was dashed for the first Paddy Pallin Adventure Race series event, which was held in challenging conditions on 16 October. And our paddle training and mountain biking was put on hold, as I took three weeks out to wait for the swelling to go down and the colourful eggplant bruises to disappear.

Our first session back on the water in the Ferry was punishing, to say the least. Although we managed to still work in sync, we were as sluggish as a snail in summer. There was little energy in the boat and I’m blaming the weeks spent blissfully reclined on the couch watching Glee with my flatmates. Coach Ben, however, seemed impressed that our technique was still fairly clean and our strokes were in unison.

Last session, our team was one woman down as Amy was off for a harbour paddle with Teva (which included fresh seafood and champagne – pampered, much?). Jo and I headed off to Northbridge Kayaks and into singles for the first time since our initial paddling lesson with Coach Ben, way back in August.

Take a minute to think back to your teenage years and learning to drive. Remember that feeling of being behind the wheel and negotiating traffic, and pedestrians, and traffic lights, and roundabouts, and parking for the first time? It’s stressful and overwhelming and there’s so much to think about you feel like you’ll never get the hang of it. Luckily, you’ve got someone by your side the entire time, offering warm encouragement and quiet words of advice, effectively holding your gloved driving hand.

Well, at least that’s what I’ve heard happens. My experience – especially mastering a handbrake start in a Landcruiser – ended in a teary tantrum and a long walk home through a paddock by yours truly, despite my Dad’s best intentions. 

Then, suddenly, you’ve passed your test and have a freshly printed license to ride tucked safely into your wallet. I doubt anyone forgets their first solo drive.

Pushing off from the beach in my single kayak, I felt a similar sense of freedom. The exhilaration wasn’t there, mostly because I was well aware of the fact that there was little chance of me killing myself, or even reaching speeds more than about 5 km/h.

But, it was exciting to look back at the many patient lessons offered up by Coach Ben – warm encouragement and quiet words of advice and all – and realise just how far we had come. No longer zig-zagging all over the harbour, no more concentrating on a zillion technical tips at once, no more frustration at an inability to make the headway I knew to be possible.

Just smooth lines, straight posture, even strokes, punching arms and an easy glide through the water. Back in the shed, Coach Ben and Meghan were full of compliments as we all waltzed down Memory Lane, salty arm in salty arm, and marvelled at how much we’d improved. There was even talk of joining in the 11 km Bridge to Bay race on 13 March 2011.

Watch out fellow contenders – team Australian Geographic Adventure is back bigger and better than ever and we’re ready to take you on in the new year!

Join in the fun and find out more about the Paddy Pallin Adventure Race Series.

Session summary:
Josie: Get your motor runnin’…
Jo: Feeling the groove.