The Inland Paddler: Lucky Number Six – Reflections on Chattajack

Chattajack 2019 – Lucky Number Six

Holy crap! It is hard to fathom that this year, I will have paddled up to the start line of the Chattajack river race six times.  In a row.  When I did that for the first time back in 2014, I never would have imagined that I’d do it five more times.

And here we are, just days away from a race I call the “inland M2O”…and I won’t lie, it’s different.

Not sure why. Is it experience? Is it routine? Is it training? Is it my mindset and feelings about racing? All of the above? 

In a word, yes.

CJ, as we call it, will always be a special race. And it’s one – the only so-called flatwater race – that I cannot imagine ever not doing. Ben and Kim Frieberg have created a remarkable, racer-friendly, hella-stoked event that has a cult following. And once you’ve drunk the chocolate milk, you’re in it for life.

But the six years of doing this race have taught me a few things. 

Trust your training.

Believe in yourself.

Relax.

Let the mind win first.

Love and Use the conditions.

It’s just a race. 

Don’t look at the weather or the TVA web site.

Have fun.

That last one is a given. That’s because of the people.  I have made life-long friends because of Chattajack. 

Friends that I have gotten to know exceptionally well and call ohana. Friends that I have been able to pull over into the “dark side” of sup surfing and downwinding and will be headed home to Maui with just mere weeks after our time in ‘Nooga. 

Friends that I only get to see this one time of year but who I “talk” to almost everyday on social media. Friends who will share hugs and “horror” stories at the finish line and then a pint or two later at the after party. 

And two friends in particular who are mentors, coaches and like the brothers I never had.

If I have one regret about the last six years, it’s that my mom and dad never got meet this ohana. Dad came so close. Both he and my sweet mum would have loved you all.

Just writing this, the tears are welling up.

You lot – you are the reasons I do this race year after year. 

And until that changes – and I don’t see how it would – I can’t imagine I won’t be signing up for this race year in and year out.

Sure, I am a little nervous. But if I wasn’t, something would be wrong.  Life – ie work was crazy this summer and my training could have been better.  I coud focus on what I haven’t done and what I should have done, but why go down that bunny hole?  I know the caliber of work I have done. I am also about 30 pounds lighter than I was last year. I am more comfortable and relaxed than I have ever been before.  That counts for something.  

And this year, I have just one job and one job only:

Get Dana across the finish line in the OC2 so she gets her five-year belt buckle. We are a great team and I know we will do well.

The pressure otherwise is off. No need to worry about anything. Just share the experience, again. 

And think of the stories we will have.

See y’all in ‘Nooga!

Lisa
Lisa is managing editor of PaddleMonster.com and is an avid paddler of all the things - including sup, SurfSki, outrigger canoe and prone, though she especially enjoys paddle surfing and downwinding. She is a former journalist with more than 30 years experience in print and broadcast journalism and in government communications. She is a six-time Chattajack finisher, racing both sup and OC2. When not paddling, she is an outdoor instructor.

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