Around eight weeks from the start of the SEVENTY48 race every year, we really dig into our training plan and try to make sure we’re setting ourselves up for success. Not the kind of success that wins races, but the kind of success that beats last year’s time and leaves us feeling (mostly) human at the finish line. We think of this as our final training paddles: Ramping Up to Race Ready
2018: Eking Out a Finish
Our first year training for the race, we practiced 23 different days, over the course of five months. We paddled the entire race route, and practiced some sections several times. We were on the water as many days as we could possibly be. When we got to the race weekend, our top mileage day was under 15 nautical miles (nmi) – from Fay Bainbridge to Norwegian Point Park. We had only surpassed 10 nmi on five days. On twelve different days, we didn’t even manage 5 nmi. Our average training day was 6.3 nmi. Somehow, we then managed to paddle three of our top five mileage days (ever). In a row. During the 48 hours of the race. At the finish line, we were zombies. We were proud, but we were barely standing. And it took several days before we felt human again.
2019: Taking it up a Notch
So in 2019, we looked at what we might want to do differently. We decided on two big changes: training more miles in a day and spending more consecutive hours in our kayaks. So we flipped our 2018 stats on their heads. We trained just 15 days. Only three of those were less than 5 nmi, and more than half were over 10 nmi. We had five days that were more than 15 nmi, and even managed one that was more than 20 nmi.
Our “long day” of the race was still our longest paddling day ever, but it didn’t feel as difficult as 2018 did. Even though we had to paddle blind when a good portion of the race was fogged in. We even stopped for pizza during the race, and still beat our 2018 time by 10%. And maybe most importantly, we felt human right away. Our average distance was 10.8 nmi and we managed to squeeze 17 extra miles into 8 fewer training days.
2020: Building on Success
We continued the trend in 2020, even through a pandemic and a sick cat and poor air quality. Twelve total training paddles, averaging twelve miles each. Our first 30+ nmi training day, and we kept 2/3 of our paddles longer than 10 nmi. And we don’t really know how that compared to previous years. Like so much in 2020, the race was different. We had to load our boats onto the car each night of race weekend. At night, we slept in our own beds instead of setting up camp, but we still carried our full camp set-up, just in case. We went back to work fewer days after the end of the race, but who knows if we actually felt human or not. Like I said, it was 2020.
2021: Going Big
This year, we’ve already met or exceeded our previous totals for 10+, 20+, 25+, and 30+ paddles compared with any previous year. Our current average distance is higher than it has ever been, at 14.4 nmi. In the remaining weeks before the start of the race, we are hoping to get more than 100 nmi under our paddles, and bring our total training paddles and average mileage both up to 17.
Why Such a Steep Ramp?
In 2021, we’re tackling a larger challenge than ever before. Two of our three teams applied and have been accepted to race in the Inaugural WA360. Not only is this race approximately five SEVENTY48s in a row, it happens on the tail of this year’s SEVENTY48… in which we’re also racing. Our WA360 plan calls for many days in a row that would each have been one of our longest paddles ever. We anticipate that we may be zombies at the end of this new challenge, but if we can finish SEVENTY48 like humans, we can at least plan on starting the WA360 in a non-zombie state.