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Autumn Grind | 2014 : 23

Days are shorter, nights are longer. Everywhere athletes are starting to prepare for winter training, and I am no exception. Currently I am in Cunovo, a small suburb of the Slovakian capital Bratislava. Writing this from a sketchy hotel room, listening to aggressive rap music, with nothing but grey skies and a frosty wind outside, this scenario captures winter training well. But before I mention the daily struggle that will be winter training, let’s review what I did over the past 2 months.

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Our trainer mandated a rest period after the last races of the summer. This so that we would be able to take some time off kayaking, give our bodies some rest and come back more motivated for the hard winter to come.

In this time I got into rowing, which is kayaking’s natural enemy. Both sports take place on the water, but there is little understanding between the two. Kayakers don’t see the point in going backwards, rowers don’t understand how kayakers can be satisfied knowing that they have the leg muscles of a 9 year old girl. {kayaking requires absolutely zero leg muscles, therefore they tend to be underdeveloped}

I found that while there is almost nothing that beats the feeling of paddling on whitewater, rowing can be fun as well. It is a much more physical sport than kayaking, as it uses every part of the body. It involves a mental aspect that appeals to me as well, essentially “hurt yourself more than your opponent can hurt himself”. 

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I trained for a bit and took part in my first rowing regatta, the Abeelenrace in Middelburg. I took part in the H2x class, I was in a doubles {with another person} sculling {2 oars} 5km  upstream on the Kanaal door Walcheren. It was a tough race, and although there is a lot of improvement to be made, we took the win. Something positive to take away from a 20 minute trip to hell and back.

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But enough about rowing, let’s talk kayaking. As I mentioned, we had a rest period, which meant there was little racing and training going on. I took part in 2 races over this period, the Holland Cup in Eindhoven and the National Championships in Liege.

The Holland Cup in Eindhoven, on the Dommel river, was more of a formality than anything else. To spice it up a bit I took part in the downriver sprint as well. I do not usually race downriver events, but I managed to get into 2nd place. As it turned out, this sprint was also the Downriver National Championship, so that was exciting stuff. In the slalom race I finished in a less exciting third place after a tough physical race. This was enough to consolidate a 2nd place in the Slalom Holland Cup overall ranking, which is a PB for me on senior level. Congratulations to Marnix Teunissen and Dirk Hermans for completing the first 3 in both the race and the overall ranking. It is good to see the training group on the podium!

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The Nationals took place in Liege this year. Traditionally it has been a cold race. This year was no different. For some reason the Belgians decided that this was a good time not to run the fire place in the club house. Ah well. We weren’t supposed to be inside anyway. It was race day. The course was very doable, and it promised to be tight race. In the end, Maarten Hermans took the win, as expected. I came in a third place, being edged out by Marnix Teunissen by half a second. Not a bad result, considering it was my first individual slalom national championship medal. 

Overall, loads of exciting stuff to take away for winter training. I hope I can keep the productive vibes going through the winter. At the moment I make about 15-20 hours of training per week, next to my university work and other obligations. I feel in great shape, and I hope to take this to the next season. We will see what the winter brings!

Meister wird mann im Winter

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Playtime is Over, Back to Business|2014:22

After a great summer, it is time to get back to reality and get back into the daily grind that is training, studying, eating and (barely) sleeping. This summer has been full of new experiences, new people I have met, new places I visited to and new memories that were created.

Racing has not been the best for me personally. In the German Championships I failed to do the simplest gate on the course twice in a row (urgh), and in the World Cup in La Seo D’Urgell I was struggling to capture the flow of the water. In the World Cup Finale in Augsburg I had the same problem, trying to muscle over the course rather than using the 100 bathtubs that flow under my boat every second while I try to negotiate a course.

However, aside from some delivery issues during my races, training has been very solid. I feel good on the water, and I should just try to translate the relaxed feeling in training to my competition performance.

As for the travelling aspect, it has been awesome. Travelling can be very tedious at times. For example, Seo D’Urgell is about 1500 kilometers away. When travelling with friends in a 40 year old car, it makes the tedious a whole lot memorable. And with only 4 minor electrical breakdowns, you cannot really complain…

It being my senior world cup debut, I met so many athletes who I did not know of, and I got to compete against so many athletes that I look up to that it would get kind of overwhelming every once in a while. More than once the thought ‘What am I doing here, do I even belong in this scene’ popped up in my head. The field is just so packed with excellent paddlers who all compete at such a high level that it the pressure of performing is out of this world. It’s a great thing to be part of, as it is something you won’t experience in other parts of life.

Overall, summer has been awesome. I worked, I trained, I raced and I got to close it off with a week of partying at the UCR Introweek. Time to get back into a steady rhythm of productivity!

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Thoughts and Whereabouts | Part II| 2014:21

Last year, after the failed team trials, there was a bit of radio silence on the blog. This year, it was pretty much the same. I did not really feel like being active on any social media (those who follow me on twitter or instagram will be aware.) For the last week this has a different reason, my phone broke down, pretty much robbing me of the opportunity to be active on the road.

Anyhow enough excuses, let’s talk about what I did in the past weeks. Since my last update I partook in a small Dutch Holland Cup race in Waalre. Traditionally part of the yearly calendar, the competition hosted by the VKC is not my favourite. The course is usually long, with a large sprint between gate 15 and 16 which goes under 2 bridges where you cannot actually raise your paddle. Main competition would be the Hermans brothers, Dirk and Maarten, and Marnix Teunissen. Outsiders would be Leon Bosma, aka the student, and Michael van den Boogaard, aka the Old Timer. I was not particularly motivated for the race, as I was never able to do well on the Dommel river. I tried hard to get to a respectable time, but I messed up an upstream gate and did not get on the podium, landing in 4th place. Physically I was quite happy with my form.

Talking about my form: rather than last year, I did not stop training properly after the trials, and I still feel very physically fit. I did pay less attention to other external circumstances that were important to me before Leipzig, such as diet and sleep, but those are also getting back on track. In the beginning of June I went to Lofer, Austria with my German club KC Hohenlimburg. The stage was set for the  first Deutschland Cup of the season. Lofer is a small village in the beautiful Saalachtal. The race took place on the river Saalach, a natural stream. Clear gletsjer water with considerable pressure at low temperatures.  I do not particularly enjoy natural rivers for racing, but for paddling down they are a lot of fun. There is a lot of water flowing down the river, so controlling is a challenge. We left on Wednesday, arriving in Austria late in the evening. We stayed in a beautiful place called Hochmoos where we had breakfast and dinner included. The food did not dissappoint, as I forced down many plates of bacon and scrambled eggs to fuel me for barging down the mud near the course.

On the first day of racing, I manage to negotiate the course fairly well, and I landed in 17th place. I still picked up too many penalties though, and my time could have been faster, but I did better than I expected. The second day I was unfortunately penalised with 2 50 second penalties, putting me out of contention for a good time. The whole race was a solid learning experience, and great fun.

After Austria I returned home, to work in an Italian restaurant called 1611 in a nearby village, Veere. It is fun working there, and definitely a step-up for my precision skills as the dishes have to be goodlooking 10 out of 10 times. When I am not working there, I was busting my ass in the gym or on the water, either in a rowing boat or in my kayak. Rowing? Yes, rowing.

Lately I have been struggling a bit with my motivation for kayaking. I find it more and more difficult to train on my own, give it my all and see the use in the training that I do. My facilities in Middelburg are just very limited. I am not sure how this will continue, but I will decide if I can keep this going through another winter after this summer. This doubt about my kayaking did not come at a convenient time, as I am also getting more and more concerned about what I will be doing when I graduate UCR. In addition to that major question in my life, I also ran into some other personal trouble in the past couple of weeks. I hope travelling and racing this summer will help me find an answer to all of this.

It is going to be an exciting summer, that is for sure. Whatever I will decide after, I am at least planning to race the German Championships in Augsburg (GER) in July, as well 2 World Cups, making my senior World Cup debut. One will be hosted in La Seu d’Urgell near Barcelona on the 1992 Olympic Course, the other one in Augsburg. I will be travelling a large chunk of time with my comrades from NSB (Nederlandse Slalom Boys/Beren/Beesten (substitute whatever you like)). We are currently contemplating setting up a crowdfunding project to fund our World Cup adventures, so definitely look out for that!

I will try to post more blogs over the summer, of course depending on the availability of Internet, so check back regularly. Also be sure to expect a renewed stream of nonsense on my Instagram and Twitter.

 

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Stay Off The Goddamn Poles|2014:20

It has not been good couple of weeks. The last time I wrote on this blog was right before the team trials in Leipzig, the race that I had been training for all winter. For those that followed the results: you know what is up. For those that did not, Day 1: 98+8 Day 2: 114+8. In the end, I did not make the top 3 Dutchies to qualify for the European Championships in Skopje this summer.

Training went well that week. The weather picked up towards the end of the week, as did my feeling for the course. I could play with the water, blast through gate combinations. Even though I sometimes had some hiccups, these are inevitable on a difficult course like the one in Leipzig.

So what happened?

I was fast. My physical shape was there, technically my lines were sound. Mentally I was as focused as I had ever been (which does not say much, I have a terrible attention span). But I hit gates. Many gates. Green gates. Red gates. Picking up 4 touches in my runs is not something that I am proud of. In terms of speed I would have ranked second amongst the participating Dutch paddlers, but touching the gates pushed me out of the top 3. I just had some bad luck and a sloppy focus on staying clean.

So what now?

I was crushed after the team trials. Luckily, I was not as crushed as I was last year. I knew I had tried hard, and that I knew that I was fast enough. The only thing I messed up was touching the poles. That was different from last year, when I was also disappointed with my paddling in general.The first thing I felt like when I was back home was how much I felt like paddling. This made for a difficult situation. I was glad that I was still motivated to go out there, however it was very demotivating to realise that I could not paddle as much as I would have wanted.

In the process of the team trials, I did manage to meet the time limit to paddle World Cup races this summer. I am still in the process of figuring out what is possible and what is not, what races I am going to paddle and what not, but I am excited for the summer!

However, for the summer financials are the biggest concern. If you feel like I deserve redemption for my team trials and want to sponsor me, do not hesitate to contact me! For a little more marketing talk head to the sponsor section in the website.

So what is going on now?

At the moment I am in the closing phases of the summer semester, which involves me fighting to meet the deadlines for my many papers and presentations. I am back in training since Monday, and so far I have managed to jam 6 sessions out in this busy week. It feels good to be training again after a week of eating liquorice and being lazy.

For the future be sure to check back here weekly, follow @jacobvdk on twitter and instagram and meet me at the starting line!

 

 

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Second Places Suck|2014:18

It has been a busy last couple of days. In terms of training it was easy, rest until we leave for Leipzig. Luckily for me, it was a bit more. I hate rest.

Saturday I participated in the InterUC tournament. Hosted at University College Utrecht, it is a competition between different Dutch University Colleges in various disciplines. I represented UCR in basketball. We brought a strong team this year, with high hopes on improving on a sore 3rd place last year. Despite the fact that we were playing on an outdoor court we breezed through the qualification rounds and made it to the final. Sadly, after an intense game which ended in a brawl-like event that passed for a basketball game, we lost. 2nd place.

After a trainride back home, it was back to Utrecht for the first Holland Cup at the Utrechtse Kano Club. The course was short, and the gates were hung tightly together. I was pleased with my mental game and my physical shape which allowed me to pull through the harsh circumstances (wind and rain). I ended 0.5 seconds behind NSB teammate Marnix Teunissen, who obliterated the competition on his home course, putting me in 2nd place. I was sad that I didn’t open the season with a win, but it is still a decent result. After the individual races, I teamed up with my NSBro’s to get 1st place in the team competition.

On monday we left for Leipzig. A very windy and rainy Leipzig, as it turned out. The first session could have been better, and the weather could not have been worse. Let’s hope it picks up before the big race this weekend.

For more regular stuff check twitter or instagram: @Jacobvdk

 

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That Last Minute Preparation|2014:17

A very late post this week. I had been busy with some university work this week, that I may or may not have planned. In addition I was trying to code my own website rather than using WordPress. Team trials are coming up, and I could not be more excited! I feel well prepared, both physically and mentally.

Last weekend I had a race in Lippstadt. Lippstadt is kind of special to me. Last year I came 2nd in the West-German Championships, and although a very minor result, it happened to fall in a period in which I was doubting my career as a kayaker and sort of got me excited for kayaking again. This weekend, I am not at all doubting myself and it showed. I had 2 solid runs on a course that did not really suit me (little water, tight gates) and in the end I managed to sneak into second place, behind Schwerte-paddler Jan Eberle. NSB teammate Marnix Teunissen completed the podium coming in third, very tightly behind me. I was really content with my shape and mental game, and hope to produce similar results next weekend in Leipzig.

For the coming weekend, I have an entirely different event coming up though. I am participating in the InterUC tournament for University College Roosevelt’s basketball team. I have played basketball for a couple of years in highschool, but I was never really good at it. Luckily, standing at 1.96m I do not need to be skilled. Last year the event was a lot of fun, and it promises to be a blast again. I do not get to stay for the party, as coming sunday I will be racing the first Holland Cup of the year in Utrecht. Next monday it is off to Leipzig for the last preparation for the team trials.

For more regular updates don’t forget to check: https://twitter.com/JacobvdK

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That Weekend Roadtrip|2014:16

Temperatures are rising, and the sun is showing its face again. For me this is brilliant, my mood and life in general always improves when the weather is good. After a week of break it was getting back into that university grind. The end of the semester is nearing, and with it workload is increasing. Significantly. Juggling the 13 sessions that were planned this week and studying full time is not always easy. It resulted in me doing sprints at 22:00 in the evening, perhaps not the best time of day… Training however has been going brilliantly and I feel more fit than ever!

This showed this weekend. Friday evening (and even a bit of saturday morning) I laid out the plans for the weekend. Saturday morning would hold the annual ‘Kanaalschoonmaak’ which involved us cleaning the bank of the Zuid Willemvaart, my training site at home in Mierlo. In the afternoon Marnix and I would pick up Dirk and drive to Dutch Water Dreams in Zoetermeer. Weather was brilliant, the water was powerful as usual and it was a good afternoon of training. An extra element of slalom was that we had to paddle around the most incompetent rafters one had ever seen, which is an extra adrenaline rush…

On sunday, after a short night of sleep, it was off to Hohenlimburg for some training. Weather had again blessed us, but sadly not only us. It was filled with ‘clubboaters’ or ‘mongofahrer’ as they are called in German. With their bearded faces and tupperware boats littering the course, it was not always easy or safe to paddle. Nonetheless, my shape was great, and I was very content with my performance. Still one more week of hard training ahead of me, then a short week of tapering and then it is off to Leipzig for the teamtrials!

If something is…

If something is important to you, you don’t think in excuses, you think in opportunities.

I am currently in the the last phase of my training. It is hard, and 12-14 sessions per week take a lot out of you. Physically, but also mentally. It is not always easy to motivate yourself to go out there and get in the water and do the work. Oftentimes I sit in my room thinking stuff like ‘it’s actually kinda chilly outside’, ‘it is really windy, I cannot train properly like this’ or ‘the water is really low, I better stay in and so some schoolwork’.

The thing is, it can be hard to try to convince your mind to do the stuff you have to do. A trick I picked up somewhere is to not think. Just do. Your body is much more easily controllable then your mind, and it will not make up excuses. Your mind will follow later, when you are halfway through your training. Don’t let thoughts control your mind, just go out there and seize every bit of time that you have!

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That Spring Break|2014:15

A week of vacation always goes by faster than you think, especially if you train twice a day! Sessions are becoming shorter, but sprints are becoming harder and harder. Feeling close to puking is not an exception during the lactic sessions my coach Michael plans. I am feeling very confident about my physical shape though, and I think I have never been stronger or faster.

Unfortunately no whitewater training this week. I went to the Amsterdam University Library to do some research for a paper I am writing for one of my courses. It’s about an obscure temple in ancient Greece that nobody is interested in. Except for me and apparently a handful of German scholars from the early 1900′s. In addition to paddling getting more intense, uni is taking more and more time out of my day. Less slacking off and less watching series is the way to survive this onslaught.

I am looking forward to the coming few weeks though. The first upcoming race is a Bundesoffene in Lippstadt, afterwards we have a Holland Cup race and then it is off to the team trials in Leipzig! They can’t come soon enough!

Spring Training in Prague

A short little edit I made of some paddling I did on the Troja whitewater course 2 weeks ago. Footage was meant for analysis and was shot by Michael van den Boogaard.
Song: Chiddy Bang – Intro

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That Wintercup #3|2014:12

Another week has passed since my training camp in Prague. I was unlucky enough to dive head first into midterm week upon return, with some essays due and exams to be passed. Fingers crossed, it went well. Training was on the down-low, as I was recovering from straining almost every tendon in my shoulders. Writing midterms didn’t really help my training either. But in the end, it did lead to me being well-rested for Wintercup #3 in Hardenberg.

The Hardenberg white water course is brand new. And with brand new I mean that the official opening is next month. It was built in the same style as the Lee Valley White Water Centre which was built for the London Olympics. Only difference: it is way smaller. The course is shallow, tight, and has little pressure on the water. Aside from this, its only 150 meters long. This made the runtimes around 1 minute.

In Wintercup set-up, one paddles around the course 4 times. It has been a while since I had put in a couple of clean runs, so I was pleased to stay clean for 4 out of 4 runs. I was happy to see that I found a pace and focus that worked for me in a race. I came in 2nd, behind flatwater-titan Maarten Hermans, in front of NSB-teammates (for the meaning check: http://jacobvandekerkhof.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/a-wise-man-make/) Dirk Hermans and Marnix Teunissen. At this point I am hoping to retain this kind of focus until the team trials, taking place in Leipzig in 4 weeks.

Looking forward, this week I am staying at home for spring break, getting some solid sprint sessions in at the local club. After that it’s back to college, but my mind will be fully occupied with the upcoming team trials…

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That Whitewater Training| 2014:11

So after travelling for about 12 hours yesterday, I am back in Middelburg. I was in Prague for the past week, for some whitewater training on the Troja whitewater course. Prague is one of the best courses internationally (the 2013 World Championships were hosted here) and it showed. A lot of international teams came and went during our stay. At some point almost everyone who takes slalom seriously in the Netherlands was there, as the Volmolense Kano Club also had their spring training camp planned in Prague.

Training was really good. The course in Prague is really technical as there are many waves, moves and turns coming in quick succession. Not necessarily my favourite, but great for training! Training went well, I was really consistent and did not miss many moves. I still made a considerable amount of touches though, which can be costly, but I also saw that number dropping over the week. Looking at some of the other guys competing at the team trials (most notably the lads from NSB, Dirk and Marnix), it is going to be very interesting, as everyone was showing great promise.

One thing I kinda struggled with was juggling uni and training. It is not easy to commit to studying when you are always surrounded by people or training. You just want to chill out and not do anything, even though you have midterms coming up in a week like I have now :). It is not really helped by a 900km distance between myself and the UCR bubble. Luckily I did hand in all the stuff I needed to, but it cost me some unnecessarily late nights.

I would like to thank all the people that were in Prague with me for a great time and solid training, thanks guys!

For this week, I’m going to wrap up some essays and take it easy with training to recover. This sunday the first race on a new whitewater course in Hardenberg will be held. It is a really short course, so I do not expect any difficulties. We’ll see how it goes!

Twitter.com/jacobvdk

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That Prague Vibe|2014:10

So last week was a good week. Training was pretty chill as we were tapering for our training camp in Prague, which is this week. School however was busy. Studying hard in preparation for being absent for a week. Also giving the first (graded) presentation and scoring an A- was pretty neat.

Another highlight of the week was visiting court, where I got to witness a manslaughter trial. This was a court-first time for me, but it is also important for my future. Here you see actual law at work. Still debating what I need to do for my Master’s degree, law is shaping up to be a more and more probable candidate.  I am hooked on the ‘Suits’  series at the moment, that might affect my judgement a tad.

On the weekend I took the time to participate in the Zeeuwse Kampioenschappen ergmoteren. This is essentially rowing, but then on dry land. Normally I would not consider myself a good rower, due to the fact that I do not train my legs and live by the motto ‘everyday is upper body day’ as every kayaker should. I do however fit the biometrics of rowing almost to the letter being tall and having a large wingspan. I think this worked to my advantage as a stomped my way to a 6:30 over 2k, winning the race. Apparently nationally this time would not compare that poorly. Good news for someone who just sat on an ergometer for the 2nd time in his life and does not train legs.

Sunday we drove off to Prague, from where I am writing this update. Prague is one of my favourite courses and I am happy to be here. I am accompanied by a lot of my clubmates and other paddlers from the Netherlands. Sessions up until now have been quite good, however I still need to get used to slowing my pace coming from flatwater and Hohenlimburg. We are staying here and it is shaping up to become a great week!

http://www.twitter.com/JacobvdK

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ICF to drop C2 and K2 in exchange for Women’s Canoe: What now?

*This is my take on the issue. I do in no way claim to be superior or right in any way, this is just how I feel about the issue. If you want to disagree, support, or bring anything new to the table, there is a comment section around here somewhere, so feel free to use it.*

According to this article on Paddling media website Sportscene, the International Canoe Federation has decided to drop C2 Slalom and K2 200m Sprint to accommodate the call for a higher level of gender equality in olympic paddling.

The article, which is based on inside information it seems, describes how during an ICF board meeting in Peru the decision was made to include C1 women’s slalom and C1 women’s sprint 200m into the olympic program. A great decision, but at an even greater cost. While of course we strive for a society where gender equality is sought after and women should be treated equally as men, removing the C2 men’s event in slalom  is something I find  unreasonable.

I will not write on the removing of K2 sprint, simply because I know too little about sprint racing and sprint affairs in general. I do consider myself to know something about slalom. C1 women’s has come a long way since it was first introduced 5 years ago, and the ladies are making strides in their sport every year. This is very admirable, and we should not forget that it is just a young discipline. In addition to that, we can expect it to progress even further in the coming years, as Tokyo 2020 is still far away.

The level of C1W has improved dramatically, but it is not there yet. The international field of competition is growing rapidly, but it is not there yet. Medals are contested, but not in the way that there is a dramatic level of close competition going on like in the other events. Case and point: Prague 2013. The most recent World Championship. Slalom super talent Jessica Fox from Australia took the gold medal, and she did it with a 12 second lead. Comparing this with the C1 men’s category, its obvious counterpart, the difference between number 1 and 9 was 12 seconds in the finals (mind you, people take more risks in the finals, so differences tend to be a bit bigger than in the qualifying rounds). The difference between the winning times between the two categories was 22 seconds, quite substantial.

In terms of how exciting C1 women is to watch, it is also not quite there yet. Where K1 men and women categories tend to astound us with amazing speed and forward moves, C1M with amazing control and flashy turns and C2M with a team effort to control white water, C1W is for the most part still a bit clumsy to watch. Don’t get me wrong, I respect those women endlessly, especially since I myself cannot even sit in a C1 properly. But in terms of how nice it is to watch, which is essentially what the Olympics are about, it is not there yet. I have heard people that do not know slalom (aka. my parents) comment on watching a final of a World Cup on Eurosport and saying: ‘Why are we broadcasting this?’ Of course this is a bit bluntly phrased, but the point is clear. In terms of visual appearance its not at the level that an olympic sport should be.

I cannot say what the level of C1W will be in 6 years, perhaps it will even be better than C1M, why not?! But for now, it seems unfair to remove a well contested, more appealing category like C2 from the program to accommodate an adventure that has been going for 5 years, and has not fully developed yet.

Numbers in the C1W category have been growing, and more and more women dare to step into a canoe everyday, which is a great development. However, one cannot but see the same thing happening in the C2 men’s category, with more and more people doubling up between individual and C2 paddling. This makes it as worthy as any event to stay in the olympics.

Some might argue that keeping C1W out of the Olympics will work demotivating, as a lack of olympic status may not lead to as much funding or support as C1W deserves. I agree, but mind you, there is a large number of great athletes and even complete sports out there that survived not getting paid by their respective associations. Coming from the Netherlands, where canoe slalom has been demoted to essentially nothing, getting any kind of financial support or even having some sort of development program already seems like a luxury. It urges us to be creative, to be even more motivated and to find our own way to the top. Don’t let not getting paid get in the way of your ambitions and passions. A child is not getting paid for drawing, but does that mean he gets demotivated and quits drawing, an activity that he brings him joy and fun? No. He continues with the same amount of passion, and as should all of us.

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That Pure Joy| 2014: 9

Although I am writing this in a train that is not moving (some person felt the need to express her displeasure with life and throw herself in front of it), this week has been a good one. Uni work has been okay, I have had fun paddling in Middelburg and even lifting some heavy weights could put a smile on my face. Training in Hohenlimburg this weekend was also great fun: the weather was good, coach Michael hanged some challenging gates and my shape was great.

Although I often speak about the dreads of kayaking and how it makes life outside of kayaking better, having fun doing what you do is of course very important, and if you do not have it there is no way in hell that you can stick to your regiment. That is why moments of pure joy, for example the mix of happiness and lactic after a good run are important to keep motivation.

MONDAY UPDATE: Just had my medical checkup, and as expected everything was great. 197cm, 85kg, 9,7%bodyfat. Doctor said I was muscular, so that made my day :D.

 

Hopefully next week will bring me more of those moments: after a week of blasting through some uni work I will leave for Prague for a 7 day training camp. Next update will follow from there, but I am sure it will be a positive one!

A wise Man makes Rival into valued ally

A wise Man makes a Rival into a valued Ally

Since October, I have quite some time training with 2 rivals and friends: Marnix Teunissen and Dirk Hermans. Both of them had great seasons in 2013 and are the top of the country. I had been competing against them for 5 years. This winter we decided to train more often together under the name ‘Team NSB’. For motivation, and for fun. Daring each other to try new moves, go tighter and faster on combinations, that is how progress is made!

However, they are still rivals for the U23 and Senior national team in 2014. Hopefully the progress has made us just that little bit better than the rest!

That Wintercup Mediocrity| 2014: 8

Another week down. Uni is becoming more and more work, and the first layouts and proposals for essays have already been made. It gets more and more key to balance both kayaking and school, but I think I have found a working formula.

Training has been going well, and I was putting down personal bests in the gym for the entire week. I even had a new personal best weigh-in, at 83,5 kg (completely dehydrated in the morning, but still….). Its good to see where I came from, and the strides I have made so far this winter, since they are quite substantial. I lost around 8-10 kgs, my benchpress and other strength exercises such as pull ups, lat pulldowns and dips improved despite the loss of weight, I have built a decent endurance and I seem to have more control mentally over my paddling.

All of this was not really showing in the Wintercup II race last weekend in St. Oedenrode. Traditionally a course I do not perform well on, I was still striving for the win. I finished second in the last race and was determined to do better. I let this ambition get the better of me, and this mindset combined with some nasty winds and upstreams hanging in the flow, it resulted in me accumulating at least 2 touches per run. The paddling times were still okay, and similar to those of the winner. A sign that I do not lack physical ability, which is reassuring. Congratulations to fellow NSB (Nederlandse Slalom Beesten) training partner Marnix for taking the win!

Training and studying goes on, but finances are getting tighter and tighter with the season coming up. If you have a business and would like to sponsor, or know someone who might want to, be sure to get in touch! (See the sponsors page in the menu)

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Success is the …

Success is the sum of all small efforts day in and day out.

I read a bit of text that described an interesting feature. In the short term, skipping one session in a week that contains 12-14 may not seem like a big deal. It is just one out of 14 sessions right?

Wrong. Imagine you skip those 60 minutes of training every week. In the end you will end up with a training deficit of 52 hours compared to those who did commit to that one session. 52 hours is a massive difference in competition preparation. Don’t skip training, that’s what I am trying to say.

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That Addiction to Exhaustion| 2014: 7

This week was all about recovery and adjusting. Finding a rhythm in school, training, sleeping and life in general. Bouncing back from a throat-infection-like-event, the week of training was actually kind of good. It was really windy throughout the week, so I had the feeling as if I was paddling through sand. During the sessions I had plenty of moments where I thought: ‘What the actual f*ck am I doing?’

So what drives me to train? Because it seems like kind of a hassle, and not even that interesting most of the time. Getting into your thermals, grabbing your old almost-dead freight-ship-sized kayak from the bicycle shed and carrying it to the river on your bare feet. You get in the kayak, paddle into one direction until your watch beeps and then you paddle back. All the time while heavily breathing and having the wind blowing in your face, because this is Zeeland and it is always windy. Then you stand under the shower for 10 minutes to warm up and you are done.

Reading back, this a horrible sequence to go through. Training on whitewater is a slightly different story, as it is actually appealing and exciting, but what would possess one to go through this hassle that is called training at least once a day? To me, it is not so much the feeling during training that makes kayaking fun. It is much more feeling after a training that makes it good. The feeling of achievement, the soreness in your shoulders. The feeling when you sit in class after training and think to yourself: ‘I did it again’. That feeling of achievement makes everything in life better. I wrote about this in http://jacobvandekerkhof.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/it-is-hard-enjo/ last week.

I also found the time to put together a cheeky little video of my training in Hohenlimburg last weekend. Check it out:

Furthermore, I will just try to keep the good vibes going this week :)

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It is hard enjoy something you didn’t work for.

It is hard enjoying something you didn’t work for.

Take for example a weekend during vacation. Normally a weekend would be a nice break after a week of studying or working. In a vacation however you don’t have that, and you can’t enjoy the weekend as such. This is also the case with training. Everything becomes a lot more enjoyable when you know you have put in the work in a tough training session. Food is better, chilling is better. Even class is more pleasant to be in because you can still feel the hurt in your shoulders from training.

So train hard and enjoy the hurt afterwards!

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That First Week Shock|2014:6

So back in the Burg, life has picked up. It requird some adjusting, coming from a six week break to get back into a productive university life. In terms of academic work I have tried to pick up work as well as I could, I now read all my homework and take a bunch of notes during class. It was great seeing all the classmates again that I hadn’t seen for six weeks. One thing I still have trouble with in uni is regulating my sleeping. Trouble is not the right word, I suck at it. I find it difficult to stop reading/watching whatever I am doing and just go to sleep. Still some learning to be done.

In terms of courses this is going to be a good semester. Even though I have to suffer through the dullness of qualitative methods, after which you feel like your soul has been ripped out, the rest of the courses are interesting and will prove some interesting fields of research. Because that is what we do, a lot. Writing papers.

Aside from that, training started off okayish. It is more difficult to find the correct heart-rate zone while paddling straight-out rather than with gates. Still though, I can feel the progress of getting stronger and more technically proficient. Training in Hohenlimburg this weekend was okay, although I feel like I am starting to suffer from a throat infection (F*cking winter cold).

Let’s get busy!

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A Man’s True Enemy is Doubt

“A Man’s True Enemy is Doubt.”

In canoe slalom, in order to succeed, one must be aware of one’s capabilities and have full trust in them. As such, train like you should and have no reason to doubt, which will lead to success.

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That New Beginning| 2014:5

As I write this the winterbreak has ended, and the classes have started again. In fact, I am sitting in a classroom at the moment. Time to do a short recap of the break and look forward upon of what is going to happen next.

The break has been long, since 6 weeks can be counted as a luxury. I trained a lot (averaging about 12-14 sessions per week that makes a total of 72 sessions. Of those 72 session I did about 15-18 weights sessions in which I trained my strength. The rest of the sessions I was out on the water putting in the work to enhance my technique, conditioning and explosiveness. As a result of the done labour I feel stronger than ever on the water, and I cannot wait to get back into racing.

I had a first taste of racing already during a simulation session in Hohenlimburg the past weekend. Although there is still some things to improve upon, physically it was sound and technically there were not too many flaws. In terms of time I was right up there with training partner Marnix Teunissen, reigning national champion and also one of the main contenders for spots in the team next season. I hope to keep the progress going in this respect.

For the second significant aspect of my life, things have started to pick up again as well. First notes in class are taken, first readings are done. Even the first party was already attended, and seeing how our UCR Common House was at this moment, it is going to be awesome when it is done. I hope this semester will see me as a disciplined student/athlete, with a clean room, a clean diet and a tight regiment of workouts. Hopefully I will make it happen!

For now, the future looks bright!

Follow: https://twitter.com/Jacobvdk

 

That Teaching Experience|2014: 4

So this week was not the best. Again some major ups and downs, but this time mostly downs. Frankly a lot of bad luck. The week started off bad when on Tuesday my laptop decided to catch fire while I was using it. After I plugged in the AC adapter, smoke came out ventilation. Some asking around and googling pointed out that the problem of the energy plug would also affect the motherboard. Repairing would be… expensive to say the least. Since the warranty wore off one month ago, the battery had given out completely (ergo 5 minute battery life on average) and it had already been repaired three times, maybe it was time to move on after 2 years of using the ASUS.

But this worry was for later. On wednesday I taught two guest lectures at the Willibrord Gymnasium, my old high school. It was funny seeing how the school had changed in some respects, but remained completely the same in others. It was special to see that I was still recognised even by teachers that never taught me. It enhances my belief that small-scale education works and makes me glad to be in my current university. The lectures went fine, and I even got some tips that will help my presentation skills. Still not sure if teaching is for me, but I have a better idea of what it entails now.

Sadly though, during the lunch break, I lost my keys. Pretty much the keys of my life. My room key, my parents’ house key and so on… They fell out of my jacket pocket while cycling.This kinda put me down for the following days, as I now had a broken laptop and no keys. I couldn’t go to training, since I didn’t have a key. I also had to look for a new laptop without sufficient funds on my account. Understandably my mood wasn’t to great.

As they usually do, things are piecing together at the moment. I managed to buy a new laptop on which I am typing this blog, I managed to arrange for some new keys and managed to sneak in some running and gym sessions. Regardless, this experience has hopefully taught me to be more careful with my stuff so I won’t break it, lose it or accidentally set it on fire. Another up of the week was seeing everyone return from the ski trip and spending some time with my girlfriend this weekend (catching up on BBC’s Sherlock). This cheered me up a lot!

For the coming week I will continue training hard as it is my last week before returning to college. Already moving some stuff back there this week as well, so university life is slowly starting up again!

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That Moment of Misery|2014: 3

Even though the title may suggest something different, this is actually quite a cheerful post. It has been a great week of training, completing 12 sessions in a good fashion. This weekend I visited a friend in Leiden with some fellow kayakers to celebrate his birthday, which was great. Afterwards I went to Middelburg to chill-out with my girlfriend who was in town for a day and wave her and other fellow-students goodbye since they are leaving for ski-trip. A ski-trip that I had originally intended to join, but due to the fact that kayakers never ever have money I saw the bus to France leaving without me. A shame, since I would quite have liked to join. Better luck next year.

So where does the misery come in? We went to Hohenlimburg on Sunday, my German pseudo-homecourse. The first session of the day went great, nailing the combinations my coach Michael had put up. The second session was a completely different story. We were set to do a heavy conditioning training on the whitewater. 6*5′(5′). It did not go well. And when I say not well, I mean terrible. Although I completed the first set with an average heart-rate of 180 BPM, technically it was worthless. I was being thrown around by the water and hitting and missing gates without ending. I do not like not doing well in a session. In fact I hate it. In the second set, I snapped and paddled down the course, forfeiting the session. And then I did something I am not proud of. As a man AND as an athlete. I bursted out in tears. Because I didn’t perform the way I wanted to. Childish? Certainly. Unprofessional? Perhaps. Slightly autistic? Yes.

After the paddling around a bit for the next 40 minutes I managed to put it in perspective. I don’t cry often, or at all, for that matter. I do see it as a good thing now. I was perhaps not the wisest thing to walk out on a session, and certainly disrespectful to my coach and fellow athletes. However, after a year of looking for motivation and questioning why I was even kayaking at all, it is good to know that even something as little as a Sunday afternoon session can move me so much. It means I care. It means I am not yet done with kayaking, and in fact, that I love the sport, however much it lets me down sometimes.

So that explains the title. After all this hipster gibberish about emotions I move onto next week. This week I will continue training at home, but also have a different challenge. I will be guest lecturing a history course at my previous highschool, the Willibrord Gymnasium in Deurne. To see if history, or teaching at all appeals to me. Furthermore it should be a good experience.

Check back next week to see how it went. For more regular updates, check https://twitter.com/JacobvdK. My 100th tweet will also be going out this week, for those who care about such highlights.

That Visit Weekend|2014: 2

After New Years, spending some time with my family and eating a ridiculous amount of oliebollen, I did a couple of sessions on the flat and in the gym. It felt good, and although they were not too intense,  the progress from the last months is showing off. I have also made some slight adjustments to my weight training schedule which now incorporates deadlifts. Still no squats or lunges, I am not an ice skater, I am a kayaker. #everydayisupperbodyday

before leaving to Büdingen on the 3rd of January. Büdingen, located near Frankfurt in Hessen, is the home of my girlfriend. Also it would be the first time I would meet her parents, so a daunting experience.Lucky enough for me, everything went great, and I hope I left a good impression. It was a great weekend with great people, in a nice atmosphere. One of the main highlights was the homemade marmalade I was given to take home. Apfel Hessisch is my new favourite.

After that, it is back to reality and time to put in some hard work on the flats in Helmond. Some nice events are coming up, so check back in a week if you want to read those. Otherwise, follow me for more regular updates on twitter: https://twitter.com/JacobvdK.

That Happy New Year Post |2014: 1

So this is what it is like living in a war zone. With the fireworks still mimicking artillery sound outside my bedroom window, I decided to go to bed after a calm night with my parents. Simply put, I am done with 2013. It was a year with some major ups and some deep downs. It was not easy, hopefully I learned something (since I am the most stubborn person ever, I probably didn’t). But I already discussed this in the previous post.

For 2014 everyone has their resolutions and things that they would like to do different from 2013. Shortly, do the whole year different. Study hard, eat well, train like an athlete and not an overworked middle aged woman, and so on.

Anyhow, enough pseudo-deep crap, happy new year! I will try to post a blog update weekly, for more frequent updates check up on https://twitter.com/JacobvdK

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That Long Overdue Blogupdate

So it has been a while… A while in which a lot has happened. Races were won, lost, new people were met, new places were visited. Because I cannot express all this in detail I will endeavour to make an interesting summary.

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The first race of the summer were the German Junior Championships hosted in Markkleeberg. The training beforehand with my coach Siegried Schulte went well. The race not so much…. I capsized the first run after making a beginner edging mistake. The second run was fast (enough for top 10) but the judges deemed me to have missed a gate. I didn’t think so, but it’s not about what you do, it’s about what the judges say you do. That was the end of the first and last DJM for me (next year I will participate in the Leistungsklasse.) It was however a sick experience and good to see the difference between German and Dutch national championships.

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I catched a ride to Augsburg with a trainer from a local club there (thanks for that, it was a major help). Upon arrival I was welcomed by Jeroen Knuivers with whom I would spend the rest of the week there to prepare for the ECA Junior Cup. We were coached by Jürgen Köhler, an experienced German trainer who lives in Augsburg, and preparations went well. The race went surprisingly well(I never liked Augsburg). I was placed 9th after my 2nd qualification run despite 4 penalty seconds. A clean run would have put me in 3rd. In the semifinals I made an error which put me outside of the finals, 13th place, but overall it was a good experience to see how I placed among other top juniors.

The next big event were the German Senior Championships also in Augsburg. Sadly I would not be competing individually, but I was allowed to do some practice runs. Overall they were well executed and I was happy to see some progress in my mental game. I would return to Augsburg for the KC Hohenlimburg Sommerlager a bit later. Overall a good summer, loads of whitewater and positive vibes!

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In the beginning of September I made a roadtrip to Metz with some fellow kayakers from the Volmolense Kano Club. We were to participate in a French national race there. The training went okay, but the race was a fallback to the old patterns of the start of the season. I did not get my focus straight, my race-prep was subpar and the results were poor.

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Some weeks after that I competed in the Deutschland Cup finale in Hohenlimburg, my homecourse in Germany. The racing was fast amongst a good field of competitors. I think I managed to sneak in some top 10 classifications, and I qualified for the NRW team which provided some free food and some coaching. All in all it was a good experience, but if I would have been clean, again I would have made the top three.

Next big race: Dutch Championships, Sauheid, Belgium. Well, it was okay. In Jacob van de Kerkhof-fashion, I made a touch, which pushed me off the podium. I would have been 2nd without it. Regardless, Marnix, Jelle and I managed to become national team champions.

All in all, this summer, this year even, was a time of what could have been if…. If I had performed well at team trials, If I would have stayed clean… Focus and mental game play a big part in staying clean, and this is what will work on this winter. Winter training has been going well so far. I decided to step up and train hard like I used to do. Last winter I was a bit lazy and didn’t train as well as I should have. This winter I do all my sessions, eat healthy and study well and it pays off. So far I have shed off 6 kilo’s and I feel fit, productive, and overall healthy. During the first wintercup organised in Waalre I managed to sneak into 2nd place on a river that I flat out hate.

Still, lots of work to be done and lots of stuff to go through, however life is looking bright at the moment.

Be sure to check back or follow me on twitter: JacobvdK (twitter.com/JacobvdK)

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And so summer begins…

It has been a while since the last update, and as ever, there is loads of stuff to talk about. My last update had a rather negative tone to it, this one will be more optimistic.

I finished my second semester at Roosevelt Academy. As always, I had a lot of fun, and enjoyed my interesting subjects and the company of my fellow students. However, I was ridiculously lazy this semester, so my GPA made a free-fall. Bummer. It is now at 3.0, lower than I would want it to be, but oh well, it doesn’t count until next semester.

The first week of my holiday I made a last minute trip to the World Ranking race in Merano, Italy. First time kayaking in Italy, first time competing on a natural river rather than an artificial course, last but not least, first time on the road with exclusively members of the Volmolense Kano Club.

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After a couple of cheeky sessions getting used to the course, including a major fail in breaking my boat, it was race time! Saturday was not bad at all really, 2 clean runs, but the aggression was missing. I came in 18th place, not very far off the nr. 1, in a tight packed field with some strong Italians, Germans, Austrians and Swiss. The course was long and physically challenging, which shows in this picture:

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Sunday was a completely different story. I was still missing the aggression, but I made some major technical mistakes. The runs were quite poor, ergo poor results.
All in all, it was a sick week down in Italy and thanks to everyone involved for making it a memorable experience.

After that, Destiny struck. I came back from Italy with an infected knee, which took a 3-day course of antibiotics to heal, and after I suffered from a throat infection. Grand. Entire weeks of training gone.

For the past three weeks I have been working at DuPre Groenprojecten, a gardening firm in Helmond. It isn’t quite the ideal job for me, unrewarding work with ruthless hours, but it was nice to get some cashflow for the upcoming summer trips. In the weekends I did some small national races. Physically and technically the goods are there, just mentally I am lacking a bit. One bronze medal was a pity prize considering last years results…

A major highlight of the national races was the VKC BoaterX. I did partake in this event last year, but the cold and my own lack of awareness forced me to drop out (ergo, I had already changed unaware that I made it through to the next round, and with 5 degrees celcius, I’m not changing back…). This year, conditions were a lot better. It showed in the qualifying rounds (time trial), where I -wearing unlucky 13 – finished first.

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After a smooth run through the heats and quarter finals, I was eliminated in the semi finals by local boys Robin Knuivers and Martijn van Tuijl. Regardless, I was stoked to take part in this event, which featured a 5 meter starting ramp.

For the remainder of the summer, I am travelling to Germany, mostly. Coming week I travel to Leipzig for the German Junior Championships. I absolutely love the Leipzig course, and it will be great paddling there again. After that, I continue to Augsburg to take part in the Junior Europe Cup on the Eiskanal. Then it’s back to Zeeland for some proper strength and conditioning sessions to rebuild my shape. I still have to figure out the second part of my summer, because it’s dependent on the results of the coming weeks.

Can’t wait to get back on the road, all fired up!

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Losing.

Kayaking is not a fancy, shiny sport. Athletes have to endure extreme colds during training in winter, sleeping in very unorthodox places (think schools, cellars), camping far outside of the camping-season, dying inside during trainings and races when the lactic is slowly devouring your arms and having their feet hurt every time they step into kayak and at times having them infected or bleeding (although that is more me personally).

I can live with all this. I cannot live with something else. Losing. Losing to myself, when I cannot live up to my own plans and expectations. Losing to classmates, when they get a higher grade than I do on a subject that I value. Losing in a race. I have always been a very bad loser. That is why the start of this season has been difficult for me.

It all started off with an exciting series of races in Brittany, the Eurolympiques. Three courses, three races and an exciting international starting field. My goal for this race was to be top 3 in the junior category, and more importantly, put down runs that I could be proud of and that matched my expectations. Sadly this was not to happen, I failed to perform in nearly every race. What maybe hurt the most was losing to rival Marnix Teunissen, who was one of my main opponents for a spot on the junior national team.

After that it was off to Eitorf. It would be my first competition for my new club, the German KC-Hohenlimburg. The Germans have a far wider junior field than we have in the Netherlands, and this made the race quite interesting. After 2 poor runs, in which I made 2 big mistakes, I came in 3rd. Behind number 2, Thorsten Graubner from WKV Wiesbaden. But worse, behind training partner Jelle Tosseram, also an opponent for the junior national team.

The main event the pre-season were the team trials, held in Markkleeberg, Germany. After a good week of training, I felt confident about my speed, capabilities and potential on this artificial course, and I had put the misery of the previous races behind me. After the first race, it was over. I had once again lost my focus and hit a number of gates.
I was heartbroken, everything I had worked for in the past winter had drifted away. After the second race, it looked that a poor performance of some opponents in the U23 category might have me placed in the U23 team. However, this was not meant to be, and although I was the highest ranked candidate for the team, I did not meet the time requirement. Funny. Things come back to bite you in the ass sometimes, as I was one of the strong supporters of this time requirement. I do however still support it, and I am not going to argue with our qualification system. Congratulations to Dirk Hermans, Leon Bosma and Marnix Teunissen.

I lost, something that I hate doing. I have however taken on the opportunity to still make something out of my summer, and I have some exciting races planned. I still carry on training, and I will not quit due to a poor start. I know where the problem is, now I just need to tackle it. More opportunities. Although only one small result, I hope my 2nd place at the West-German Championships will turn my season around. Onto the summer!

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Eurolympiques Preview

Only 4 days left until I depart for Brittany. Destination: Eurolypmiques 2013. Three races over three different courses across the French province. The stages will be: Roches du Diables, Lochrist and Lannion. Competition level will be ridiculously high. Many Olympic medallists, World Champions and World Cup winners will be at the starting lines. In this world-class field I will try to get some proper racing experience before the team trials in Markkleeberg, Germany. I have absolutely no expectations about the results yet. I hope to be in the top 3 field in the junior category, but I have no idea what quality juniors will be at the starting line. I will just try to make the best of it.

My shape however seems to be regressing lately. I sleep poorly, and this shows in the race-simulations. The technique sessions are going reasonably well on HohenLimburg, but I cannot quite get it together during the full runs. On the other hand, I do not like the course. Paddling tight is a must on the little course in Germany. But regardless, we’ll see how it goes in France. The most important races are in April and in the summer, so I trust I will be all fired up at the starting line then!

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2013, a fresh start!

After a relaxing break at home ending 2012, consisting of conditioning session on the flat water and some chores around the house, 2013 started off with some big events for the next season.

Prague

We left off for Prague 11:00 AM the first of January, much to the dismay of some. I personally did not bother too much, and was looking forward to an exciting training camp on the Troja slalom course in Prague. The course in Prague isn’t very wild, but it is a very technical course with a lot of waves in succession. Key was to use those properly, to get to the gates as smooth as possible. Aside from my usual coach Michael van den Boogaard, I got to work with Robert Bouten (www.robertbouten.nl), who was there to support Maarten Hermans (www.maartenhermans.com), and Jasper Fonteijn too. To work with three coaches provided me with different visions on the sport, which I consider to be quite beneficial for my paddling. Overall, the training camp went great. I hardly ever failed a gate combination, and most of the time I was able to execute fast as well, which strengthens my confidence for the upcoming team trials. The accommodation above the boathouse provided us with a decent place to sleep, and even do some core-stability workouts. Overall it was a great camp to start the year with.

New Boat

While in Prague, I used the opportunity of being near one of the biggest boat manufacturers in the world to test some of their products. Galasport is a Czech-based company making kayaks for some of the worlds best paddlers. I tested the Galasport Sonic, cut for 80-90kg, and after extensive testing, I drove home with a new kayak! In the many courses that I paddled with it, it came out to be more consistent and easier. It also provides more speed out of upstream gates, which makes it overall faster to paddle with on white water.100001808985680_1261146

Augsburg

After a short homestay, it was off to the German city of Augsburg for a week of training there. Rather than working with Michael, I was coached by German coach Jürgen Kohler throughout the week. We spent the week doing some weights training, conditioning sessions on the Jugendstrecke and some technique on both the Jugendstrecke and on the Olympiastrecke. Temperatures were dreadful, to say the least. -5C degrees, heavy snowfall and a nasty wind made our training not just a workout, but also a struggle for warmth and comfort. Despite the circumstances, I regarded this camp too to be very beneficial. Together with Jürgen I worked a lot on my stroke technique, and this is also one of the main points of attention for the coming weeks.  He taught me to make it a lot longer, with less frequency. Although in the end I sort of got the hang of it, I still feel quite uncomfortable using this stroke. I will have to see, film, analyse and feel what technique and rhythm suits me best. The thing is that there are few tall paddlers, and they all use a different technique, which also differs from Jürgen’s technique.

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 For the future….

The next major event are the Eurolympiques in Britanny in 2013. Until then it is down to Uni work, since the next semester starts the 28th, hardcore conditioning and weights training sessions on the flats, and spending the weekends in Hagen (GER), where I am now also a member of the KC-Hohenlimburg club, and where I will be receiving training from Siegfried Schulte. I am looking forward to the coming season, feeling in great in shape and cannot wait to get back to competitive action again.

The semester started …. and it’s over!

Writing this update on the train back to Mierlo, I feel as though I have just closed the first chapter of university life. The closing gala of yesterday evening was fantastic, but now it is back to training hard throughout the winter period/break.

The first semester at Roosevelt Academy was great. The courses were generally interesting, and I was lucky enough to not suffer from the infamous workload that many other students struggle with, which resulted in an excellent combination of training, study and relaxation. My grades overall are not too bad (I still need to, however, get back the results of the final exams this week), and I think I am at a B+ average at the moment. I feel motivated to up my GPA a bit next semester, since the international requirements I heard of so far are terribly harsh.

As for my paddling, I am happy to report that I have seen a lot of improvement over the last months. I have been making a lot of strength progress in the gym, which is starting to transfer to my paddling. Also my technical ability has been making leaps forward, which gives me hope for next season. Key for the rest of the winter is to keep up the training at the level I do now. A lot of training in Hagen (GER) will hopefully enhance this.

Although it may seem that way, it has not all been sunshine and roses so far. The Dutch Olympic committee has announced her financial plans until the Olympic Games of Rio de Janeiro 2016, and they appear to have forgotten canoe slalom. Every kayaking discipline will from 2013 on not receive any funding from the NOC*NSF, which implies the disbanding of the coaching structure we now have. It is back to basics from now on, really. Although I am of course quite sad that we lost our funding, I cannot neglect that there is a bright side to the whole issue. The loss of our funding gives us the chance to build up our sport in a better fashion.

All in all, the future still appears to be quite bright to me. For me personally there will not change much, the process towards the team trials of 2013 is going fine, and I am eager to start building up our sport in a better fashion. Let’s go!

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Autumn Update: No carbs, Ceské Budejovice and goals for the winter.

Although it has only been 2 weeks since my last update, quite a bit has happened. After the race in Sauheid, in which I, due to corrected results, finished faster than I thought I did, I went into midterm exam mode to make those as good as possible. Rhetoric was average, World History went well. In this week I also tried a different diet, inspired by NBA basketball player Steve Nash (https://www.facebook.com/notes/steve-nash/the-nash-diet/91414362951). This meant eating second to no carbohydrates, a big change from what I used to eat (loads of pasta and rice). I survived the week on mere salads and yoghurt. It was atrocious, I have never been that hungry in my life….

After my somewhat dull (I nailed a group lecture and a World History exam, but that’s it) birthday it was off to Ceské Budejovice for some nice technique training on decent whitewater. After a 9 hour drive we arrived at our destination. A first playing session on the course marked the start of what went on to be a both great and tiring week of training. On the last playing session I felt my muscles a lot, but it didn’t really hurt me through the week. Technique training went with ups and downs, but mostly ups, so that’s a good thing =). Got a tad bit of an insight in what paddling full runs is all about, and this also influenced my thoughts on the upcoming winter season.

The upcoming winter season will prove to be busy, heavy, tedious and exciting all at the same time. My coach Michael van den Boogaard has added loads of long conditioning sessions to the schedule, which means paddling all on my own on a never ending canal for 90 minutes without rest, not once, but 3-4 times a week. This will hopefully lay a solid base for my anaerobic conditioning sessions in the spring.

Also a change in a way is the regular appearance of weights sessions in the schedule. 3 times per week I am to kill my muscles completely by looking for the boundaries of what I can lift. This will hopefully make me a lot stronger for the next season.

My goals for the winter season are the following:

-Smoothen lines across whitewater (jumping over stoppers, not catching waves). This is something that I really have to work on, because due to my size (a combination of height and weight) I tend to have water over my deck a lot more quickly than some of my lighter opponents. To help this losing a few pounds might help, but seeing the amount  of weight sessions, that’s never going to happen.

-Be tight consistently in every upstream. Although this was quite decent in Ceské, I still feel that I can perfect my consistency a tiny bit more.

- Do 100 – 200 full runs on whitewater to improve consistency before the Dutch team qualifications. I really feel like consistency is the key to winning. Everyone can put in fantastic moves once in a while, but being consistently good is something completely different.

-Huge strength progress to be able to be powerful all along the race, at the start, but also at the beginning.

It appears that I have my work cut out for me, and I’m ready for it! Let’s go!

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Coupe du Belgique 2: Belgian Inefficiency

This weekend marked the end of my competitive season this year as I now take 1 week rest and then start preparing for 2013. The scene of this race was the Royal Mava Club Sauheid, sited in a suburb of the Belgian town Liège. We arrived there at 10:00, and with the race starting at 11:00, we had a bit of time to practice the course. Due to heavy rainfall last week the water was definitely on the high side of good, so the course proofed a daunting challenge, especially with the gates hanging practically in the water (normally the gates are 20-30 centimeters above the water).

After some practicing to figure out the fastest lines, I thought that one would be able to get away with one or two touches if you would have a smooth line through gate ten, a tricky upstream in a very small eddy. However, in my first run, I hit no less than 8 gates, mostly due to high water levels and low gates, but also due to some unneeded clumsiness. Luckily I wasn’t the only one having problems with the course, because the competition too was having quite some difficulty nailing the gates fast and clean.

In the (traditionally) long gap between the first and the second run the water level rose even more, but this time in our advantage. Gate 10 seemed to have become quite a bit easier, and the organization also managed to put the gates at a correct height. Although I hadn’t seen any results yet due to the traditional inefficiency of the timing system, it became clear to me that I would have to go quite a bit faster and cleaner the second run. The gates had become easier and that meant paddling harder!

The second run was in my opinion a bit better, hitting less gates and being a bit smoother through all of the gates. I was curious to see whether I made the podium or not, since especially the locals seemed to go quite a bit faster. After waiting for 2,5 hours the award giving finally began. I ended up third, behind local Maxime Desgeves (BEL) in second and rival Dirk Hermans (NED) in first. The margin between me and nr. 1 however surprised me, since it was too big in my opinion, although history proves that the timing system in Sauheid can’t be trusted. Overall I am quite happy with the way I paddled, but there’s still some

Coming week I will ‘enjoy” my resting period with midterms and most likely a lot of tediousness, since I hate not being able to train. After that it’s off to Ceské Budejovice (CZE) for some good technique training!

 

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Holland Cup season wrap up

Writing this on the train on the way back to Middelburg, this weekend marked the end of a long Holland Cup season. The Holland Cup series are mainly raced on flat or slightly wild water, and therefore many people regard them as not ‘important’. However lots of people still take proud in winning in these series, especially me.

Last weekend a Holland Cup race was held on my ‘homecourse’, at HWC de Helmvaarders in Helmond. This is the place where I started kayaking and therefore this race meant a lot to me. The Helmond course is completely flat, except for the start, which is a 2 meter long slide into the water. This slide is possibly the most typical thing about the Helmond race, for it causes most competitors a bit of trouble, because you need to go down in a very atypical way. My first run was decent, 96.8 seconds, however I touched the very last gate. I knew there was some time to be gained at the start, and I would also need to keep it clean. My second run was quite a bit faster, with 95.0, and in my opinion clean. However, like always this season it seems, the judges weren’t quite agreeing with me. I was awarded 52 penalty seconds for a touch and a missed gate. After some research I found out that I was deemed to have hit gate 5, but nobody could clarify why the 50 second penalty was lighting up on the scoreboard… The gate judge had, as apparently the only person on the banks and on the water, regarded my tight line through gate 20 a half head. A pity, since I had really hoped to win this year. I did however put down the fastest running time of the day, which motivated me to do well in the next race. I namely had 2 goals: winning and being faster than my coach Michael van den Boogaard, the self-proclaimed king of flatwater. Although I was faster, the 50 second penalty ruled me out. I finished in 3rd, behind Dirk Hermans and clubmate Jelle Tosseram.

This weekend the Holland cup race was hosted in Eindhoven, at the Genneper Molen. The Genneper Molen race is the biggest Holland cup race of the year, since there is quite a bit of international competition, as it is also a popular race in Germany and Belgium. I didn’t feel in the same great shape as last weekend, but I was confident I’d do well. My first run was a 93+2, which put me in 4th place, a though spot for the 2nd run, because I knew I had to pull a flyer out to make the podium. After going over the run with my coach, I knew where there was time to be made, and how to make it. I managed to run a 92.3, putting me in 2nd place, a decent result, however I still wasn’t on the level as I would like to be, since nr. 1 Dirk Hermans pulled out an extraordinary running time of 89.1+2. My C2 partner Leon Bosma completed the podium in 3rd place.

The C2 race went reasonably well, as we finished first out of 8 (mainly German) crews. We also managed to roll a couple of times during our training, a big step, since rolling in C2 isn’t as easy as in kayak. It involves quite a bit of teamwork and planning beforehand.

All in all it has been a decent season, making the podium regularly and being a favorite to win at nearly every race. Goals for next Holland Cup season:

-          keep it clean

-          Beat Michael van den Boogaard

-          WIN!!

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Summer wrap-up!

It’s been too long since I have posted. I would make a lot of excuses, about being busy, but I just didn’t do it, or postponed it untill another big event happened. So hereby the summary of my summer.

 

After work my days were mostly filled with training and relaxing, nothing special. I was looking forward to my first training camp of the summer.

On a sunny Saturday we set off to Augsburg for a decent week’s training on the ‘Eiskanal’, the Olympic course of 1972. It’s also the main training location for the Germans, so there’s never a lack of expertise in the German city. Although I went there together with the ‘Jong Oranje’ training group, I trained on my own and made my own plan. It worked out fine, I felt more and more at home on the water, and felt that my physical form was excellent, since I didn’t have any sore muscles throughout the week. After my own sessions I spent time helping outfellow clubmember Joris Otten, a young C1-prospect, by coaching him from the bank. Camping, cooking and generally living on “Camping Augusta” just outside Augsburg was excellent and the group-atmosphere was good.

I came back Friday evening, to leave for our traditional ‘obligatory’ family holiday to Zeeland. Since we were going for quite a long time I brought my kayak with me for a lot of decent training sessions on the sea. The first week was really special, with nothing but big waves and heavy winds. This made paddling on the sea nearly as much fun as paddling whitewater.
Between my sessions I managed to work quite a few hours at Strandpaviljoen Neptunus, as I had done last year.

After three weeks in Zeeland I arrived back home in Helmond, staying at the Tosseram family, only to set off the next day to Augsburg. It was race time again!

After a good week of preperations and supportive coaching by our Senior C1 coach Jürgen, I felt ready to race. The international competition there was of high level: the Junior World champion and a lot of top finishers of the Junior World Championships were there. For me a nice chance to see how I’d square off against them.

The course set on the race day wasn’t really hard, so I knew I would have to race really hard to  make the cut for the semifinal.

My first run was mediocre. I messed up the last section of the course and made 2 unnecessary touches. I finished in 21st position, just outside the top 20-cut. I was fired up to better my performance, and I did………. yet it wasn´t enough. I again didn´t manage to stay clean and the 4 penalty seconds proved very very costly. I finished in 22nd position, with a time fast enough  for the semisand full of potential (a lot of time to be gained on the last upstream). I wasn´t as devastated as I normally am when I lose, because I then I knew that I was able to race among some of the best paddlers.

The experience of an international race like this one has fired me up for the next season. I really want to be at my best next year, but a lot of whitewater training sessions are to be made in between!

After that I went back to Zeeland for a real holiday of resting, relaxing and evaluating. I sort of missed training, but I also enjoyed the fact that I didn´t have to think about canoeing during that week.

Now I´ve been home for one week, training hard on my home course in Helmond, and tomorrow, I´m leaving for Middelburg. This will be the start of a new life full of challenges and possibilities. I´m nervous, happy, and sad at the same time. Happy because of the new possibilities, sad because I sort of liked the way it was. The first week there will be an introduction week to get to know everybody around, and the next week serious studying will begin!

 

 

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Shame, but that’s the sport….

After two weeks without competitions it was time to get back in the game! The course for the 4th leg in the Holland Cup series was the VKC course. It starts with a piece of flat/slowly flowing water, then a short paddle under 3 bridges and then through the ‘Volmolen’ which is a drop of about 50 cm to 1 meter.

Preparations throughout the week went pretty good, and I felt fit Saturday before the race, when we went to practice the course. I liked the course setting, lots of open pieces and the idea was to keep the speed going, and don’t stop paddling. The only flaw in my preparation for the race was the fact that I went to a graduation party on Saturday evening, but since I was home relatively early I suppose this didn’t really influence my race.

The day kicked off with a C2 race together with Leon Bosma (www.leonbosma.nl). We missed a gate in the first run, but we managed to paddle all of them in a relatively fast fashion in the 2nd run, which eventually landed us in 1st place, winning with a 20 second margin.

The real race was yet to come. My first run in the K1 felt rather good, and I felt just as strong as Saturday. But for some reason my time was somewhat off the pace. I paddled down the course in 105 seconds, whereas the fastest time at that moment was 102. I spent quite some time thinking where I’d lost the time, and my conclusion was: pretty much everywhere. I wasn’t aggressive enough throughout the course, and I made a slight mistake in the last gate sequence.

Due to the mediocre first run, the pressure was really on in the 2nd run. I was focused on paddling aggressive and this worked out pretty well. I lost some bits of time, but nothing really dramatic, as I finished in 101 seconds, improving 4 seconds on my first run. Unfortunately I, according to the judges, hit 2 gates, and they awarded me 4 seconds worth of penalties, which bumped me down to 5th place. Although my plan was to win, and I was disappointed not to do so, I’m happy with my form and also happy that I put down one of the fastest running times of the day (the fastest was 100 seconds by my coach Michael van den Boogaard; 2nd fastest 101 by Leon Bosma; mine would be third). This would have put me up by 2 seconds above the rest of the junior field, so enough to build on for the next race! This time the win would go to Niek Hendriks (the only one who stayed clean without penalties) , followed by Leon Bosma and Dirk Hermans. Congratulations.

This also spices up the Holland Cup junior ranking a bit; results thus far (top 3) are:

Dirk Hermans: 1st-3rd-1st-3rd

Leon Bosma: 4th-2nd-2nd-2nd

Jacob van de Kerkhof: 2nd-1st-3rd-5th

At the end of the day I also paddled in the teams’ race together with Jelle Tosseram and Marnix Teunissen. We put down a solid run, nothing special , which landed us in 2nd position.

The race was ended by a traditional “Loopfest”, which means that everybody tries to backloop as much as possible in a disorganized atmosphere, just for fun. Also big thumbs up to Sander Berkers and Stijn Leenders (www.stijnleenders.nl) for lending us their C2, and to Arnold Otten (www.comtext.nl), who helped me out with an “overboating” problem (we had too many boats to take back to Helmond).

I have also been busy planning my summer lately. Since I failed to qualify for the European Championships in September I was sort of lost untill now, not knowing what to paddle for other than 2013 selections. But lucky enough I have found a new season goal: The Vajda junior cup™  in Augsburg taking place the 4th and 5th of August. We will travel there a week early to get enough training time on the “Eiskanal” whitewater course, which hosted the 1972 Olympic Games. To prepare optimally, I will also go there for a week of training the first week of July.

In addition to all this kayaking activity I have also made a big step in my educational career, passing my VWO exam. I achieved fairly good marks, so I will try to build on that in my next studies.

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Holland Cup 3: “Killing”

Another weekend of racing finished. After rounding of my exams on Wednesday my focus shifted to the Holland Cup race in St-Oedenrode. A busy weekend was coming up.

I decided to race downriver on Saturday. This was the first ‘classic’ downriver race I’ve competed in. Despite my lack of experience, things went quite well. The course was terribly long. I am used to racing at 90-100 second courses, yet this one lasted (for me) 23 minutes. It was quite interesting to paddle to places in St.-Oedenrode where I hadn’t been before, yet the duration of the course was killing. After my race my shoulders were completely burned up and paddling wasn’t an option anymore. I finished 3rd, 50 seconds of the pace, but I am sure I lost a lot of time due to my boat, which was a leaking wreck with the stiffness of a wet paper.

1. Stephan van Reen

2. Ivo Lamers

3. Jacob van de Kerkhof

Sunday was the real important day. Winning the last Holland Cup, my hopes were to repeat that performance, yet I was confident that it would become quite a challenge, due to my heavy race on Saturday and the fact that I didn’t like the gate configuration which was so tightly packed that there was no space to accelerate whatsoever.

During training on Saturday I decided my lines, doing everything forward, since that’s the ONLY OPTION. I had to change them at the last moment, since I thought one of the gates was moved. This made the gate a whole lot trickier than it was at first, resulting in me hitting it both runs.

My first run was reasonable. My lines were good, except for a combination I had to spin, although I hadn’t planned for it. My shape was disappointing, since my arms felt empty all the way down. Picking up 2 touches, I placed 3rd after the first run. There was still some time to be gained in the second run.

This was not meant to be. My 2nd run was somewhat sloppy, and I hit almost every gate on the way down which resulted in 10 penalty seconds. I did manage to pull of the forward move I planned for however.

To make a long story short, I finished in 3rd place:

1. Dirk Hermans

2. Leon Bosma (www.leonbosma.nl)

3. Jacob van de Kerkhof

Also to spice things up a bit, I raced in the C2 together with Leon Bosma. We finished 2nd in a field of nearly exclusively seniors. Things didn’t always go to plan, but it was good fun.

1. van den Boogaard/Berkers

2. Bosma/van de Kerkhof

3. Teunissen/ Schönhage

Overall  a decent, but also very tiring and “killing” weekend.

 

 

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Exam week 2 update

Exam week 2 is officially over since last Friday. I wrote six exams, which all (fingers crossed) went quite well. I had one incredibly heavy day with math and Greek on the same day, yet I managed to do well.

Although I have exams, training has been going well. Weather’s been great, so the circumstances for training were excellent. This week focus was on conditioning, with some running and loads of GA2 training. I just came back from another day at Hohenlimburg.

  The great weather today didn’t go unnoticed. Loads of paddlers from different German clubs came, together with some plastic boaters. Because the paddlers were mostly little kids, it was difficult to paddle a proper course. They don’t always notice you want to negotiate a gate in a certain way. Can’t blame them, yet it may sometimes be a little annoying.

Second training of the day were full runs as usual. Being blocked by plastic boaters 3 of the 4 runs, It didn’t go very well, yet my 4th run was quite fast and I felt good.

To benefit my training I recently bought a new watch, the Suunto T3d. Using my new heart rate monitor, I can easily see whether I need to speed up or slow down in a training rather than relying just on feeling. You can track my progress at http://www.movescount.com/members/jacobvdk.

 

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Exam week 1 update

So last Monday exams started. I kicked the week off with Dutch, just like every Dutch VWO student. Dutch went pretty well, although the text chosen by  CITO wasn’t suited for an exam, as stated by the author. I got lucky because she also found an error in the correction form, which made my at first false answer correct.

After a day off on Tuesday, Art History was coming up on Wednesday. We were to study a whole range of subjects from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Modern Period (1900-1940) and Mass Culture (1950 up to now). Because of the wide range of subjects it was quite hard to study for the exam, but I got quite lucky and no difficult questions were asked. I considered the exam to have gone pretty well.

Because of Ascension day I got Thursday and Friday off. On Thursday I went to the HohenLimburg white water course for some quality training there. On the program were a GA2 (conditioning) and WA (full runs). Personally I hate GA2 at HohenLimburg. As I stated earlier, the water there is quite shallow and you easily hit your paddle. During a session where you become very lactic and have to keep on pushing this can be very frustrating. Hitting rocks unable you to keep a pace, which makes paddling there even more tiring. The full runs went pretty well. I made no major errors, which is a sign of improving consistency, yet my pace at the end of the run wasn’t very good. Paddling was also made more difficult because there were loads and loads of freestylers, club boaters and other plastic boaters, who are constantly in the way, oblivious of what we were trying to do. I was especially happy with my  third run down the course, where I, despite being blocked by a plastic boater and having to spin and wait for a couple of seconds, managed to clock a time just as fast as the other runs, so my actual running time without the hinder would have been lot faster.

Another novelty is that I have recently started picking up running more regularly. I enjoy running quite a lot, especially in the exam period where your head is mostly stuffed with information, running makes a nice opportunity to clean your head. Also I use running to lower my fat percentage, which I consider to be higher than desirable. I started in the sport as a chubby kid. Meanwhile, fat levels have come down a bit due to training, but it still needs some improvement. Canoeing isn’t a sport where you burn a lot of calories, because you mainly use your arms and your back. Those muscles don’t use a lot of calories, in contrary to your legs. That’s why I find running a very decent method to achieve a lower fat percentage.

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Thoughts and Whereabouts

Last 2 weeks have been quite difficult to me. Starting my VWO exams tomorrow, my focus was to be mainly on studying, so that I could write my exams well prepared with maximum results, yet this was not meant to be.

Thoughts

I went to Hohen Limburg last sunday, for some training at the ‘Wildwasserpark’ there together with my coach and training group. The training there went well, and I can feel some real improvement in consistency on whitewater. However it was between the 2 sessions that I got confronted with reality. I plan on studying in Middelburg next year, at the Roosevelt Academy (www.roac.nl) there. I knew that training would become more difficult, due to the lack  of gates there, but I deemed it to be far from impossible. Yet some people had a different opinion, since they believed studying at RA would mean an end to my sporting career. Suddenly faced with a whole new kind of reality, I didn’t know what to do with it and I struggled to handle it mentally. I was in doubt if I should go to Middelburg or stay at home and focus on training even more. This thought occupied my mind for quite some time, but in the end, I decided that I can’t drop my neither my education or my sport, so I will stick to my plan and face the challenge of combining those two.

In Middelburg I will study Liberal Arts and Sciences. Middelburg isn’t the best location for practicing my sport, but it isn’t the worst; far from. I will have training opportunities on the canal system of Middelburg, which will probably work out fine for conditioning and strength sessions. The extraordinary long holidays and every Wednesday off will be extremely suitable for whitewater training abroad, since I will have a lot of time to travel. Also I plan on travelling back to Helmond in the weekends, since it is the best starting location for travelling to training and racing.

Also this weekend the Olympic Qualification Trials where held in Augsburg during the European Championships. Approx 6 countries, 1 of which the Netherlands, battled for 2 Olympic spots, yet the Netherlands failed to claim the spot. This also showed me another kind of reality. Hard work may not always pay off, and as an athlete, you will also face big disappointments. You will always need something to fall back on, which in my case, will be my 3 year studies at RA.

Whereabouts

As I mentioned I went to Hohen Limburg last week. This week’s schedule showed Holland Cup 2 at the MKV Oss. Since the course there is known to be very shallow, I was preparing for a very physical course. Arriving at the course, I was somewhat surprised by the course. The gates where hung … strange … to say the least. The course was quite technical and could be paddled in many ways. After a quick training session on the course I found the best way – in my opinion – to paddle the gates and made a decent plan. However, the course was build thusly that there wasn’t a lot of open space to really put down a decent sprint. Being fast and keeping rhythm was a bit difficult.

My first run was a decent one. paddling down the course in 97 seconds, I ranked first after the 1st run. My run was okay, no touches, but also nothing spectacular and a bit sloppy around the 3-4 gate sequence. The competition had paddled a 96 second run, yet they did touch/miss gates. I was fired up to paddle faster and be really aggressive the second run, to secure my 1st place finish.

My second run was even sloppier then the first one. I wasn’t able to be aggressive as I’d hoped and also messed up some gate combinations, finishing in 99 seconds. I would come down to the competition whether I would win or lose, yet they didn’t manage to stay clean or paddle faster so I took this race by a 1 second margin.

The results were:

1. Jacob van de kerkhof

2. Leon Bosma (www.leonbosma.nl)

3. Dirk Hermans

Also, to spice things up a bit, I raced in C1 today. Since I do not practice this at all, and I feel very uncomfortable in a C1, I was suprised how well I paddled. trailing only 5 seconds behind team mate Joris Otten, and 6 behind Hugo Hermans, I was quite content, since in the training  I did earlier in a C1 with Joris, I paddled 10 seconds slower than him, so I made some progress :). I finished 4th, because I had touched 2 gates.

Overall it was a good weekend, both mentally and physically. Tomorrow I will start my exams, for which I feel pretty confident due to earlier results. I start off with Dutch then a day off and then Art History. After this the first exam week is already over =D

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Coupe du Belgique 1

Last sunday, the 29th of april, a race was held in Sauheid, near Liège. I had been at Sauheid once before. The track consists of a piece of flatwater, one major drop and then a couple of small waves. The course they set this year was really difficult. Because the drop, while it runs next to a “barrage” , offers very few options for the gates to be hung, the course was somewhat like the course last year, only a bit more challenging. I focused on beating 2 Belgian juniors, who live in Sauheid. I knew that, because they had the homecourse advantage they would be difficult to beat. Furthermore I racedagainst a couple of guys from the MKV Oss, and another Belg of whom I hadn’t heard before.

My first run started of really well, going very fast through the first 7 gates. Gate 8 went pretty well, but I was a bit low in gate 9.  Then came the tricky move, where you had to surf the wave to gate ten and then immediately go the other way to gate 11. Unfortunately I never got that far, since I capsized at gate 10. After a rather spectacular “kickflip eskimoroll” I floated down the course, deciding to save my powers for the second run, since the first one was already lost.

My second run again started quite well, I was a bit low in 9 but I nailed the move from 10 to 11 perfectly. I believe I was one of the only, if not the only, who nailed it in forward motion. The bottom part of the course was a bit shaky, and after the massive final sprint I finished in the believe that I had put down a rather fast run. Due to the Belgian organization skills I only saw my results a long time after the finish, 5 minutes before the award giving. It turned out I was quite a bit slower than the competition, finishing in third position.

I am still in disbelief that my finishing time was my actual time. I don’t trust the timing system, especially because I overlapped someone at the end of the course, making it even more difficult to properly measure the time. However, I am pleased with my performance and the recovery I made from 1st to 2nd run. Overall a reasonable race day.

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Hello world!

Hello world!

From now on, I will inform you of my whereabouts and activities via this blog. You can read about me in the “About me” menu.

Enjoy my site!

Jacob