Throwback Thursday pictures on social media have become incredibly popular (and sometimes kinda scary.) I was posting photos of my past "life's"; looking at what I was, what I do today, and what I think my future is. Never would I have imagined I'd be paddling, much less racing, and trying to learn to sup surf and prone. All this reflection made me think about how irregardless of what our backgrounds were, and what our present is, paddling is something everyone can do. We start out as individuals with different backgrounds and then meld into the paddling community with ease.
One of the cool things about paddling is it doesn't require a certain type. It doesn't discriminate by gender, size or age. It doesn't matter who you are or where you come from; whether you're tall or short; what your job is; how old you are; man or woman; whether you're a professional or now a stay at home mom; how many children you have or if you are a cat person or dog. Paddling is paddling, we all started sometime and learned somewhere and end up doing what we do. Anyone CAN paddle.
When we started to paddle, we might have crossed over from surfing, kayaking, kiting or boogie boarding. Or we used to be runners, cyclists, triathletes or couch potatoes. We were overweight or underweight; married or divorced; happy or anxious; we were just drawn to start. We saw it; or heard someone talk about it and saw paddleboards in big box stores and Walmart. We watched a race, it scared us. We do a race, it scared us even more. We found we actually enjoy the thrill of good natured fear. We each "discovered" paddling and it fit us, we didn't have to fit to it.
We are still swimmers, runners, and cyclists but maybe not so much anymore. We start looking at people running and agree; "yep, they don't look happy." We prioritize our time to spend the majority of it on the water. We get muscular and strong; we hurt in new and different places. Men talk about board shorts that don't chafe and girls get boob bruises and thigh hickies. We lose "some" modesty as we walk right off the back of our boards. We tackle social media to connect to other paddlers. Their accomplishments challenge our fears and we suppress them as we try new skills; or try prone, or sup surf, or do a race. We step out of self-imposed and limiting comfort zones.
My personal throwback; I was an overweight and definitely unathletic teenager who started to run somewhere in my 30's when I was a business woman and mom. I ran, then started to bike and swim, ultimately becoming a triathlete. But it was always in excess and just chunking away the miles. Then……I bought a paddleboard, and another, and…..another. Now I run just to be fit for paddling, I might sell my bikes and I have more neoprene booties than running shoes. I describe myself politely as "middle-aged" yet I want to paddle more than anything, and I like to race.
There seems to be no limits to the variations available in this sport. There's flatwater and ocean and river rapids races. There's prone and unlimited and touring boards. There's downwind runs and channel crossings. Paddlers are pushing their limits to go farther or faster or just go. They're paddling for charities or to break records. There are recovering addicts learning to paddle for healthy natural highs, Special Olympic programs and Wounded Warriors standing up or laying down. There's so much to do and it's ALL good.
So what's your Throwback Thursday? Where did you start? Who were you? What are you now? What are you trying next?