Image from PhotoFlyNC.com
Image from PhotoFlyNC.com

I started writing this post last Saturday when I got back from the Colonial SUP race. I really had the best time. But I was tired.

Back in June one of my friends said to me “It’s so important to have something that makes you feel good about yourself when you do it.”

She didn’t say “something that you’re good at,” but, rather, something that makes you feel proud and accomplished and satisfied when you do it.

There’s a difference.

Motley Crew

I love the top picture with the article. Thats (left to right) Julie, Bill, Eric, and me on the podium (well, I’m in the grass) at the Colonial SUP race. Julie is my chatterbox social butterfly badass friend. Bill is her crotchety training partner. He’s in his 70’s–the oldest competitor at the race and competing in a sport he took up a scant three months ago after having back surgery in February. (So also a badass.) He is a retired recovery diver. Eric beat me fair and square after falling off 87 times in the race. I’m fat and I have an air cast on my leg.

After the race we all sat up on our boards next to the timing boat and cheered our friends in. (We did the short course so we watched the long course finish.)

Sitting up on a prone board is harder than it looks. I always sound like I’m falling off when I do it. KERSPLASH. “Oh, you’re still on. I thought you fell off,” is a frequent reaction to that.

We figured out that the four of us were technically in different divisions.

Bill: Over 50 Men

Julie: Over 50 Women’s, Stock Women

10580168_748303285237481_8096300548850746652_n (1)Eric: Unlimited Men

Me: Unlimited Women

What does that mean? IT MEANS WE ALL WON! YES!

The WPA rules state that for official points and such you must have at least three people.

Charley Lewis, race director for the Colonial SUP, don’t care.

“We are happy to have some new craft in the race this year, so even though they’re all different sizes and ages and sexes, we’d like to call them up and recognize them,” he said, and he did and we stood there like third graders getting spelling bee medals.

And that’s one reason I like going to the Colonial SUP race.

You don’t have to race to race

I sometimes use the phrase “Beat a dead horse until it’s jerky.” I kinda feel like I’m doing that now.

When we redesigned this website so that it would be easier to find things and we’re still working on that. We wanted to embrace all aspects of paddling and we’re still working on that. We cover mostly what we do, and right now that includes pretty much every aspect of stand up paddling and prone, or traditional paddleboarding. While we might like to cover outrigger or kayaking or other paddle sports, we don’t have much on those areas because we don’t know a lot about them, we don’t have a whole lot of experience with them, and we don’t have contributors to cover them, mostly.

There’s a lot on this site about races, but not because they’re races. You won’t find a lot of results on here. What you will find are the stories of what happened during the races. Every race has 100 or 200 or 600 stories, depending on how many paddlers there are in the race.

My story from the Colonial SUP would go something like this:

HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH I’m doing a prone race!!!!!! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!

*gets board off car* *gets stickers out of car*

Now I can race! I have Mullet stickers on my board! Where are my water bottles?

*Eat second banana of the day*

“Julie I’m gonna burp bananas for an entire hour.”

*paddle over to start line*

WHOA the river feels WEIRD. It’s moving in all different directions. UNDER MY STOMACH.

*horn blows*

Please don’t hit me with your paddle. Please don’t hit me with your paddle. Don’t fall off Katie. Please don’t hit me with your paddle. “HI!” “HI” “HI!” *waving at other racers*

Oh look. There’s Eric. If he falls off I can probably catch him.

*Eric falls off.* *Eric falls off again* *Eric falls off again*

“Hi Eric! How’s it going?” *looks at Eric* He’d better not fall off next to me because then I’ll fall off.

10 strokes with right arm. 10 with left. 10 with both. 25 alternating. Repeat.

Throw shaka at the photo boat next to the second buoy.

Paddle paddle paddle. Almost done.

LOOK! The drone is above me!

Katie prone aerial

Paddle. Finish. Chat.

*Go into gourmet grocery store/gas station next to race. Pick up cookies and chocolate milk and a candy bar*

“What. I’m trying to replace calories. If I eat breakfast before I prone I’ll throw up.”

Take selfies with friends.

Take pictures of people at event.

Take pictures of Sharna, my road trip buddy, with her winners check.

Watch the kids race.kid's race

Refuse beer. Drink Skratch.

Assemble the 100/100ers.

Compare calendars. “When will we see each other again?”

Stand on the podium.

Text friends “I came in fourth!” “Out of four but who cares! I didn’t fall off!”

Give hugs and say thank yous.

Load boards; fill car with gas; make Sharna drive home with Safe and Sound by the Capital Cities on the stereo

I could lift you up
I could show you what you wanna see
And take you where you wanna be

Family family family family

How many times do I have to say my paddle friends are my family before someone believes me?

How many times do I have to say that paddling changed my life before people stop asking me why I do it?

How many times do we have to say that races aren’t just races to see where everyone stacks up in comparison to everyone else, but are really a convenient way to get everyone together?

How many times do I have to say it feels like a party because it is a party because what is a party if not an excuse to get together with your bestest friends and do the thing that you love the most under the sun and wind and fresh air?

The truth is that putting on these events is mostly a labor of love on the part of the people who do it. They might break even. They might make a few dollars to jump-start next year if they’re lucky. Nobody’s getting buy-a-big-yacht-and-keep-it-at-St. Bart’s wealthy from putting on paddle event.

But what you do get from hosting events, whether a big race or a weekly meetup or an adventure paddle is a community. You have to put in the work, though. We can’t make paddling big in Missouri. Someone from Missouri has to do that. But we’re here for you along the way, to answer your questions and encourage you, and we’ll celebrate your successes if you tell us about them.

My sincerest thanks

The Colonial SUP was almost double in size this year to last year. That’s because Kate and Charley Lewis have put in an incredible amount of work. They’ve visited other races, gone to events, made friends. They’ve seen what worked and didn’t work and tweaked things from year to year. They’ve incorporated the best of what they’ve seen and eliminated things that don’t matter. Their event is one that I Will. Not. Miss.

I appreciate the time and effort they’ve made on many fronts and I challenge all of you to do the same.

Put in the effort to build your community. Put in the effort to make your friends and meet people and get others excited about paddling. We are just a website. You are the boots on the ground.

Prone Buddies for Life

I got an email from Julie last week. “Check your mailbox. Bill and I sent you something from Walmart.”

Here’s what they sent:

photo (12) photo (11)

(We were giving Bill moose ears.)

Julie is the most relentless builder of community that I know. Last winter when it was cold she started the 100/100 group to get herself out on the water. It’s grown to almost 300 paddlers who post daily about their paddles and provide support and encouragement to each other. There are members all over the United States. Flat water, whitewater, saltwater, fresh water. Experienced, professional, recreational.

She saw a void and she filled it.

Do the things that make you feel good about yourself.

Don’t apologize for them.

If you want something to happen, don’t tell me you want it to happen.  Make it happen.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Katie, this is a terrific article. I enjoy the sense of humor but most of all can truly understand what you are saying about paddling changing your life. After moving my wife and kids halfway across the country, we weren’t sure what we would do with our new lifestyle of living so close to the water. We found paddle boarding and it has been amazing. Meeting people like yourself who enjoy a sport, win or lose, we all celebrate, we all have fun! Paddling has given me an energy and passion that even my boys are into! As you saw at the Carolina Beach SUP Challenge today, my wife and boys have just as much fun and love the sport as much as I do and they aren’t even in the water (yet)! Thanks for sharing this and I look forward to reading many more great articles!