When I registered for my first SUP race, the Lone Star Paddle Fest, I had only been paddling for two months. Several people had been encouraging me to race… Though I thought the idea was crazy. But when there was race close to home, I decided to give it a shot.
July 12, 2014
Here’s how the day was supposed to go:
4:30 am – wake up!
5:15 am – drop son off at airport.
5:30 am – head to Little Elm
6:15 am – take a nap.
9:00 am – get checked in.
How the day actually went:
8:00 am – woke up in a panic!
8:15 am – booked a new flight for my son.
8:30 am – the first race of the day began with a quick stop at Starbucks for some breakfast and then off to Little Elm.
9:30 am – checked in, just in time!
As you can see, the day didn’t start off quite as planned. But even though I was running later than I would have liked, there was still plenty time before the races started.
The first race, a 10k, was late getting started. As I stood on the beach and watched, I remember being very thankful that I didn’t let everyone talk me into doing that race. I had ignored there assurances that I could do the 10k and registered for the 5k race. Not only was I still very new to paddling, but I also hadn’t paddled much over 2 miles either.
As my son and I watched the first race, he turned to me and asked if I was ready and was I going to win. My reply disappointed him. “I’m going to do my best. But I don’t expect to win.”
His response surprised me, “That’s not what I expected to hear from you! This is a race. You are supposed to say ‘YES! I’m going to win!'”
How many times had I had this pep talk with him before a football game, I wondered. He was right. This was a race. And if I was going to compete I needed to get my head in the game. Okay, this is my first race. I haven’t paddled this far before. But I’m going to win.
At the Starting Line
I stood there with my feet burning in the sand and my heart pounding waiting for the race to start. Thankfully, I knew what to expect the start to look like having watched the earlier race.
As we took off, I felt bad to keep running into people. Especially one girl in particular. We were neck and neck until we came to the end of the first lap. She took off in the chicane run. Me, I was hot, dehydrated, and not used to running uphill in sand. She was out ahead of me by the time I made it back to my board.
I took off, but knew at this point I couldn’t catch her. My focus turned from trying to beat her to just finishing the race. It got hot. It was straight up noon and it was the hottest day of the summer. The sun was beating down on me. I was thirsty. And I still had two more turns to go. At one point I leaned down to splash some water up over my head. I was so thankful this was the last lap. I would have never survived the longer race!
In my head I was replaying all the things that I heard just before the race started.”just keep pushing yourself.” “Don’t miss a stroke.” “Don’t stop.” I found a guy ahead of me and just tried to focus on matching him paddle for paddle. That seemed to help.
As I approached the last turn I started praying for some wind. I needed a breeze or something. And I had become pretty accustomed to paddling in the wind. And as I made that last turn my prayer was answered. A nice wind came up. The end was in sight. I jumped off my board and ran to the finish line. I was beyond exhausted. I felt like I might die. But I had finished the race!
I didn’t just finish the race. I finished first in my age division, second in the overall women’s division. Not bad for my first race.