Inland Paddler

The Inland Paddler: Live Life, Live Aloha Because You Can

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of “going because you can” or more to the point, “going because you should anyway.”

Many of us have been training hard through the long dark teatime of the winter- maybe for the Carolina Cup, maybe just to stay fit, maybe for something else. And now is the time in the training period when it’s easy to talk yourself out of your workout. “It’s too rainy.” “It’s still not warm enough.” “There’s so much pollen I can’t breathe.” Pick an excuse.

And that’s okay. We’re tired. We’ve worked hard. Here in North Carolina, pollen IS a thing. And it has many different effects on different individuals. If you’re working on a training schedule, or are lucky enough to work with a trainer, and the Carolina Cup is your objective, you’re no doubt being pushed pretty hard right now. If you haven’t been working over the winter and are doing a race like the Cup, you’re probably pushing hard to make up for lost time.

You probably just want to take a nap.

Last week, groups of four amazing paddlers and their supporters in several locations across the country and in Canada paddled for 24 hours in support of those who can’t. It was part of Monster and Sea’s 24 campaign, – a fundraising blitz to support families hit by cancer. They paddled in the dark, they paddled in a variety of conditions and in so doing, reminded us yet again of how special our paddle family is.

They paddled because they could. For those who can’t. Who truly can’t.

What if suddenly, something happened?

What if you instantly became one of those in the Can’t category? Or what if there was a heavy insinuation because of a test result or random, unexplained symptoms,that you shouldn’t? Perhaps you’ve overtrained and are told you need to back off or else. Or you’ve hurt yourself in some way completely unrelated to paddling. Or maybe, worst case scenario, you’re faced with a totally unexpected health issue that might sideline most people. Right before the objective you’ve been training for.

What would you do?

Lie down and take that nap? Or at least sit on the couch and quit? With a quart of Ben and Jerry’s, cause it doesn’t matter now anyway?

It might be tempting.

This is the first anniversary of my mom’s death- of the time when my dad’s recovery from a heart attack was not happening. So, I’ve been thinking a lot of my own heart health. And worrying. Turns out, there is something going on with my ticker.  It is something that hundreds of people live with, and don’t even know about it, even with diligent, regular checkups. I’m getting it checked out further but in so doing, I have also been doing a fair amount of freaking out, too. Which I am assured is natural.

But the freaking out is doing more harm than it is good. Sitting around worrying about every single pain and magnified ache, taking my blood pressure and pulse ox sats every other second – and reading about it on WebMD – is a one-way ticket to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Three good talks – one with an amazing waterman who has looked the worst, worst case scenario in the eye and then defined for himself what he can do and what is acceptable for his life; one with an outdoorsman and REI role model who might be one of the most spiritual people I know; and another with my physician who knows me and my body and what I do so well, set me straight.

I can go. And I should.

Inland Paddler

So, I got off the couch, and took the outrigger up to Falls Lake yesterday to do intervals….at the appropriate level for right now – until the picture is clearer – but intervals nonetheless. I felt good. Strong. It was hard not to go all out. So, there’s the new lesson. Learn to stay in moderation. Learn to control the heart rate and not let it run amok.


Inland Paddler

Hey! What if I can learn to be more efficient at a lower heart rate, and consequently go faster? That would be a neat trick, now wouldn’t it?

More importantly, the other lesson is to learn to value each and every paddle, no matter where it is and who you are with. Stop and watch the herons or osprey or pelicans, or turtles, or dolphins. Stop and smell the salt air or pines. Stop to listen to the lapping of the water against the side of your boat or board. You’ll be more connected to the water for it. And you might just be happier.

When I finished and was breaking down my boat, I noticed a young woman in a wheelchair, at the end of the dock, sitting there, staring out at the water. Her mother or friend, the obvious caretaker, sitting next to her, dangling a hand in the water.

I wondered what she was thinking.

I realized how lucky I am. On oh so many levels.

I’ve been incredibly inspired by some of the paddlers I am so fortunately to call my friends. I’ve watched them face surgery head on and come out the other side stronger for it. I’ve watched them face their fears – fears of having lost strength because of injury and not being able to tackle Mason’s inlet – and be victorious on the outside of that cranky section of the Graveyard Course. I’ve seen them adapt, and find another way to push hard or at least keep at it until they are healed. And I’ve watched at least one of them just freakin’ deal with a debilitating disease for which there is no cure, never letting it change her positive outlook, and never letting it stop her from attaining her goals and helping others reach theirs.  She, and all the others, are my heroes.

Inland Paddler

They are great examples, wonderful role models. And they are the ones I want in my corner if I find myself facing an issue that could force me to re-evaluate my goals and objectives, and pick new ones. It could happen to any of us, at any time, for any reason. What we have to remember is that it’s okay to change your targets,your dreams, your plans. As long as you continue to live life, to live Aloha.

You find a way.

You go anyway, because you should.

Inland padller


Related Articles