Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Familiar Path - "A Walk to Remember" ..

A Familiar Path by Doug Miller:

[..] A single step repeated hundreds and thousands of times would eventually arrive at the end. It did not take superhuman strength or a talent that most do not have. It took a steadfast commitment. Step by step as the miles added up and the challenges slipped by. Today just like those days on the trail, is another step. Tomorrow yet another. I walk this journey in anticipation of the end, but I also know that there is much to learn in the process. It is the process, no matter what the hardship where great beauty and adventure can be found.

Jenny and Joanne - Main Range Walk - Path to Blue Lake - 06 Jan 2002

Around New Year, each year for the last 10 years we have traveled to the Snowy Mountains area (around Perisher Valley and Jindabyne) to get away from the Christmas/New Year Crowds, to relax and take in the sights of the Snowy Mountains.

Each year we would take the opportunity to challenge ourselves to the 22km Main Range Summit walk, to not only witness the beauty of the mountains, but to test ourselves and to benchmark our fitness to the previous years effort. This was particularly important for Jenny. She and we could see what effect her cancer and treatment was having on her physical body, for the previous 12 months.

Wild Flowers - Snowy Mountains Main Range Walk - 29 Dec 2005

Some years were easy, while others were more challenging, particularly the long and steep uphill leg from the Blue Lake to the Summit of Mt Kosciuszko.

One of the more difficult years for Jenny was January 2008 when a side-effect from one her treatments, which caused soreness and tenderness of her feet (Hand-Foot Syndrome), made it very difficult for her to walk even a few steps. This did not stop her and she did the 22km walk, one painful step at a time. I was so proud of her, though, in typical Jenny style she thought it to be nothing unusual.

Snowy Mountains Main Range Walk - 29 Dec 2005

On the first day of this year, we did the Main Range walk, for what would turn out to be our last time together. While temperatures in Sydney were the typical balmy 30's, the weather in the Mountains had turned and there was a wind chill factor of -15 deg C. This was our last day to do the walk, we were prepared with Jenny and Joanne wearing seven layers, with beanies and gloves. We decided to at least walk the first 6 km to the Blue Lake and make a decision there whether to continue on for the next 16km or return.

For all of us, the conditions were challenging. However, for Jenny the extra challenges which revolved around dealing with the many issues relating to her cancer, the most obvious for this higher altitude challenge, being the tumors in her lungs. Little did we know at that stage the cramping in her stomach she had experienced a few times over the previous month or so, would be the early signs of countless tumors in her liver, which would be diagnosed in early March 2009. On top that, was also the embryonic stages of a tumor in her brain, which would manifest itself as a 4cm tumor in early June 2009.

Jenny and Joanne - Lake Albina - 29 Dec 2005

Needless to say, this was the most difficult Main Range Summit challenge for all of us, and for Jenny in particularly. She was short of breath, even on the small downhill sections. As we reached the Blue Lake, we waited quite a while and we left it up to Jenny to decide what we should do. Eventually, she said she felt she could do it, so off we nervously set, in very strong head winds, to the Summit. We stopped at Lake Albina on the way.

Jenny & Joanne - Lake Albina - Mt Kosciuszko Main Range Summit Walk - 01 Jan 2009

Every step was a struggle for Jenny and she did amazingly well to make it to the Summit. As usual we would take our Summit top photos - this time there was no one there (usually there would be 20-30 people) as we had taken twice as long as normal and we had reached the Summit hours after everyone had headed back to their starting points.

Jenny and Joanne at the Mt Kosciuszko Summit - Mt Kosciuszko Main Range Summit Walk - 01 Jan 2009

When I read the little story (it was a few weeks ago now) from where the above quote comes from, I thought of Jenny initially, and later Joanne and myself. I think it has helped me understand, that we were not only doing this walk each year (with each year being a "step") for the physical beauty and challenge of the Mountains, but also for the beauty that can be found in the "process" of doing something like this each year. I think it also helps me appreciate the difficult "steps" that Joanne and I take each day, without Jenny's physical presence in our lives - but knowing we are "getting on with life" with the support of our family and friends, and knowing many great experiences and adventures lay ahead for us and those in our lives. We know this to be true - we have already witnessed this in Prague in late August 2009 - "Touched by Jenny".

Joanne, David and I will do the Main Range walk this year, probably on the 1 January 2010. We know Jenny will be with us every step of the way.

Jenny and Joanne - Main Range Walk - 06 Jan 2002

Just another little story of perserverance and determination from Jenny.

Jenny near Mt Kosciuszko Summit - 06 Jan 2002

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Molokai Hoe Bump

From Rambo's Locker - Love watching this one and dream one day to catch something like this and to paddle Molaki. Watch the steerer and seat 5 (around the 30sec mark) who work together to keep the OC on the right line just before taking off. Just shows how important an understanding of steering technique is for all in the canoe, particularly Seat 5, who can help out a lot, particularly in big conditions.

Seat 5 working with the Steerer in Seat 6

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tahiti Nui 2009 - Day 1 - Mahina to Vairao - 70km

TAHITI NUI 2009 - MAHINA - VAIRAO 70km race DAY 1 by tahitian689 - 6 person crew change at 4m:23s - unbelievable - all out and all in, and paddling in 5 seconds.

Six Man Change

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kanalsprint Potsdam 2008

Our own Torsten Lachmann. Wow - this is the way to race. Check out the start and watch for the "Swosh" finish. Thanks for the link Gav.

VAA Training in Tahiti with Paddling Connection

Trainning with the team Paddling Connection V6 TAHITI by tahitian689 - Can see them racing here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jenny: The Scrap Book Photo Album ..

About a month after Jenny had passed away on 30 June 2009, Joanne and I received this amazing gift from her friends at the Dragons Abreast Sydney Craft Group. They had collected various photos and thoughts from people all over, who knew Jenny, and spent a few days putting this magnificent album together. Jenny was a member of this group and really enjoyed her time at their regularly get togethers (pretty much every month or so).

A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone involved, from Joanne and I.

The Cover of "Jenny: The Scrap Book Photo Album"

A collage of "Jenny: The Scrap Book Photo Album"

A High Resolution version of the Collage is available from here (just use the Download menu option there).

This Time Last Year ..

One year ago today - 18 Nov 2008 - Joanne, David, Geoff and Jenny

Coach Approved Ice Creams - 23 Nov 2008 - Geoff, Jenny, Grant, Lynn, Joanne, David, and Thomas and Grace (front) belated B'Day celebration.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Feel the Boat

I really enjoy steering an OC6 and I often find myself steering an OC6 at my regular training sessions. I try to pickup useful tips from the various Outrigging web sites - and Found the following question and responses very informative.

Ender writes on the ocpaddler forum:

"I paddle OC-6 and my coach suggested I work on feeling the boat. [..] Honestly I really have no idea what he is talking about so I just keep paddling hoping one day the mystery will be solved. Any clues?"

When I steer an OC6, in certain sections, I ask the crew to feel the water. Anyway, some nice responses to this question and the whole discussion is worth reading. For me, the following response by Hiro C. resonates the most:

"when sitting in a car or a plane, you can close your eyes and you can fell when it goes faster or slower, you can feel if it is turning. In the canoe, try to get focused on those feelings. You should feel when a wave is pushing or pulling the canoe. You will feel when it’s gliding and when it’s not."

Port Stephens Changes Race - 29 Mar 2008

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Keokea 2008

Some fantastic OC1 downhill action from KeoKea 2008 Race by J. Outpaddlin.

Definitely, the best huli recovery I have seen just around the 4min mark ..

Some other great action just after this.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I feel I am so lucky and have a wonderful life .. Jenny P

Jenny would often say how lucky she was to have experienced life with cancer. Indeed, it was how she finished her talks ..

I feel I am so lucky and have a wonderful life. I have had some great opportunities through breast cancer to meet some very inspiring people. Geoff and Jo have been a constant source of support for me. Breast cancer has totally changed my life but for the best.

Seems to be common sentiment, though definitely not universal, amongst some people who have been told they have Cancer. We feel lucky to have shared Jenny's journey in life with her Cancer. I will explore this a little here over the next few weeks.

Joanne, Jenny and Geoff - Paddling on Fitzroy Island Far Nth Qld - 26 March 2009

Joanne and Jenny - Paddling on Fitzroy Island Far Nth Qld - 26 March 2009

Part of our "Little Paddle" around Fitzroy Island Far Nth Qld - 26 March 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


FAATI MOOREA 2009: Va'a racing with 86km Tahiti race around the island of Moorea by tahitian689

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Jenny’s Gold Medal


Jenny’s Gold Medal

Prague was an amazing experience. Winning a Gold Medal and singing our National Anthem is something I don't think Joanne (Jenny's younger identical twin sister) or I (Jenny's Husband) will ever be able to explain or describe.

World Champs!! – “Thank You Jenny”

Anyway, I should try to find some words about our Prague experience .. The thing I will remember most about Prague is ..

.. We met Mike Haslam (IDBF Executive President) a couple of times and we spoke initially for quite a while at the end of the third day. We thanked him for his ”Tribute to Jenny” and the wonderful article for Jenny in the July 2009 DBI Newsletter. It became apparent in talking to him that he was truly “touched” by Jenny and he spoke quite openly about the positive impact she had had on his own life over the years and in particular since her passing on the 30 June 2009.

Just before we parted, I asked him whether we could have a photo together, as this had become a bit of tradition with Jenny, Joanne and Mike over the years. This time instead of capturing the moment, I would be in the photo, taking the place of Jenny. After the photo was taken, we all became quite emotional and I asked Joanne to give Mike a comforting hug. As we parted, I was happy, we had said “ thank you” and I had the photo of Mike and Joanne, and thought that would be it for the Regatta. Well, maybe not ..

Geoff, Mike and Joanne - Prague/Racice - Day 3 - 28 Aug 2009

Mike and Joanne - Prague/Racice - Day 3 - 28 Aug 2009

The following day, the Australian Senior Mixed Crew, which Joanne and I were team members, won a Gold Medal in the Mixed 500m Event. For all of us, particularly Joanne and I, this was an amazing experience and a “Dream come True”. We all gave it everything we had and we got off the Dragon Boat onto the Lane 1 Pontoon, not “Wondering, ‘What If’?”. Jenny was our “our Guiding Light and Inspiration” and this was just one example of how Joanne and I are trying to live our lives in Jenny’s “Afterglow”.

Senior Mixed 500m Final - Day 4 - 29 Aug 2009 - "Don't Wonder 'What If?'" Jenny P

Australian Senior Mixed 500m Team – Prague/Racice - Day 4 - 29 Aug 2009

On the last day of the Regatta during the lunch break, Mike came over to the Australian tent to handout copies of the latest DBI Newsletter (the one with Jenny's story) and he again spoke to Joanne and I at length.

We talked to him about winning Gold and how everyone in the Mixed Crew and Squad felt that we had a 21st paddler in the boat when we raced the final. I told him about the wristbands we were wearing with Jenny's "Don't wonder ‘What If?’" quote inscribed on the inside (we all raced with the wristbands inside out).

Finally, I told him how we all went into Prague the evening of the day we won” Gold”, to quietly celebrate a truly amazing experience in our lives - as the German Team told us after the Final - "we made the impossible, possible". Everyone, except Joanne and I, wore their medals out that night (indeed, some are still wearing them :-). When asked on numerous occasions where were our medals? - We said “back at the hotel room with Jenny's photo”. I think everyone understood.

Jenny with Joanne and Geoff's Medals – Prague/Hotel Duo - Day 4 - 29 Aug 2009

Just before Mike left the tent, he said to us he felt that we should have a "Special" Gold medal presented to us for Jenny, in her honour, memory and contribution to Dragon Boating. Obviously, we were quite touched by his thoughts and this gesture. As he left he said he would arrange it all, though we were not quite sure how.

During the afternoon Mike came over twice to the Australian Team Tent, from the Official's Tower (a good 10 min return trip). Joanne and I were not around both times - either racing or watching races (my only chance the whole Regatta). When I got back to the tent I had numerous people tell me an IDBF official was looking for Joanne and I - little did they know it was the President of the IDBF.

Since the Senior Women’s Team were racing the 500m Final, I decided not to find Mike until I could "round up" Joanne. Our Women's Team placed a close 4th in the Final and just as they started coming off the water, Mike appeared from behind me (yet another 10 min return trip for him) and said he would wait until Joanne came through. Being a Final, it took some time to get all the Crews off the water and through all the celebrations, back slapping and hand shaking that goes on, particularly for the final race of the Regatta for all the Senior Women’s Teams.

When Joanne was finally free, I grabbed her and then Mike presented us a “Special” Gold Medal in Jenny's Memory and Honour. As you can see from the photo below, Joanne has used Jenny's paddle since she passed away on the 30 June 2009. We all had a few tears in our eyes, including Mike. An amazing gesture and a memory I will never forget.

Geoff, Mike and Joanne with Jenny's Paddle and Gold Medal - Prague/Racice - Day 5 - Sun 30 Aug 2009

Later that evening, as the sun was setting at the Regatta’s “After Party”, which was being held at the Regatta site, Joanne and I scattered some of Jenny's Ashes on the water from the Lane One Pontoon, where we had raced the Final from and celebrated the Victory. Below, you will see some photos of the serene and peaceful sunset as we reflected back on Jenny's life and the whole Prague experience.

Joanne and Geoff scattering Jenny's Ashes - Prague/Racice - Day 5 - Sun 30 Aug 2009

Jenny’s Gold Medal from Lane 1 Pontoon - Prague/Racice - Day 5 - Sun 30 Aug 2009

Death may have ended Jenny’s Life, but our Relationship lives on. Prague has shown us all that.

Thank you Jenny, you would often say that you felt Lucky (more here) to have experienced life with Cancer. However, I consider it us to be the “Lucky Ones”. You have given us the knowledge, strength, hope, guidance and inspiration to continue to live our lives to the full. We live on in your “Afterglow”.

You will be with us, Always ..

Don’t Wonder “What If?” – Jenny P

.. just one story from Prague.

Geoff Eldridge - Jenny’s Loving Husband - 30 October 2009

Postscript: The essence of the above comes from an email I wrote (high in the French Pyrenees just 10km from the famous Col du Tourmalet of Tour De France fame) to Julia Ryall, my Club Dragon Boat Coach at Pacific Dragon’s and a truly Great Friend. I wanted to thank her for all of the effort she has put into me as paddler (four years of hard work actually and still a "work in progress") and as a friend. As I said to her before we left for Prague, she has made me the paddler I am, and indeed has helped make me the person I am. It’s not just about the paddle. Since Jenny’s passing, she has shouldered much of the responsibility for keeping the Dragon Boat community informed and coordinated (as well as her beautiful tribute). Indeed, it was Julia I asked to inform Mike Haslam about Jenny’s passing. She has also provided a “shoulder to cry on” and has helped to keep me “pointing in the right direction”, when it all seems like it has become too much. I am not sure how to really thank her, but maybe her contribution to us as paddlers and people (there were seven PD’s on the boat that day), and as a result this Prague story, will go some way to do just that ..

Julia - Thank You.

"Triple J" - Joanne, Julia and Jenny - AusDBF Nationals - After Party – Kawana/Qld - Sun 26 April 2009