No Longer a Rookie

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With surgery now less than a week away I wanted to do be as active as possible before being cooped up for a couple of weeks. So yesterday I participated in a 2.5 mile SUP race in Galveston, Tx followed by a 2.5 mile kayak race. For those of you who don’t know, SUP stands for stand-up-paddle one of the fastest growing water sports in the country.

Tired from a 5 o’clock start I spent my drive down wondering what I was getting myself into. I had bought a kayak years ago and recently purchased a paddle board but am no where near an expert in either. Besides a couple of trips in my free time I could probably count on my fingers and toes the number of times I’ve used either product. But in spite of my amateur status I was undeterred. What did i have to lose? Not a soul at this race was going to know me and coming in with no past experience my performance expectations were very low to say the least. Upon arrival I was pleased with number of people who fought the weather to compete in the inaugural event. After checking in and listening to the safety spiel it was time to make our way to the starting line.

The water was refreshingly cool but not uncomfortably cold, the perfect temperature for the competitors getting ready to take off. As I awkwardly balanced on my board at the starting line, it became quite obvious that I was no veteran to paddle-boarding in general, let alone competing in a race. I settled in anyway and gripped my paddle with tenacity waiting for the announcers go.

The horn sounded and we were off, any seeds of doubt were now forced to the back of my head. The only thing on my mind was not falling and paddling as fast as I could. Starting off the race was crowded to say the least, there were boards on every side as competitors jostled for position. But as the race went on racers quickly spread out when true talent began to separate itself.

Everything was going smooth and I was feeling good, my balance was on point and my strokes were fluid and clean, surprising even myself in my first competitive race. Unfortunately the success was short lived, when my arms and shoulders began to burn I looked up only to find myself less than half way done. It was disheartening to see other competitors pass me up who had clearly been pacing themselves, waiting for rookies like me to make the mistake of starting too strong.

My whole body hurt as I willed myself through the finish line. I felt a great sense of pride finishing something that was well outside my comfort zone. I think it’s critical for our growth to do things that may be a little uncomfortable or feel a little foreign. By doing hard things it forces us to look deep within ourselves and see what’s there when things get tough. It forces us to see what we’re made of. So when I finally jumped off my board into the cold bay water my muscles were temporarily relieved from the strain I had just put them under. This relief didn’t last long because just as I began to relax, I heard the voice on the megaphone announce, “All kayaks make your way to the starting line.” I thought to myself, “I won’t be making the same mistake again.”

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Categories: My Journal

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