Taking one for the Team
To do the longer, tougher, bigger, gnarlier races; I have to be able to go in and out of the surf zone without fear, without hesitation, without screaming for my mother. I started working on that and ended up literally “taking one for the team.” Yep, I hesitated getting in the water, had my board between me and the ocean, got knocked down and my board torpedoed right at my teeth. I ended up sitting on the shoreline saying “uh, I think I lost a tooth.” I didn’t lose it (yet), just knocked it sideways and had to pop it back in. Driving to the emergency dentist visit, I had dollar signs swimming before my eyes and the thought; maybe I’m too old to be doing stuff where you can lose teeth? I did a stupid thing and made the BIG mistake of putting my board between me and a wave, but it was a badass day. Box checked.
My Greatest Obstacle-Fear
Cousin Mullet is one of my biggest motivators and I think maybe even conspires to make me be better than I am? She does Tough Dudette shit all the time! She gets on the water whether it’s prone, standup, surf, whatever, whenever; she is up for it, broken leg and all. So when she tells me to “grow a pair”, I take it to heart. Or when she says to look at your greatest fear and address it, I say “crap.” But, I try to do it.
One of my greatest fears is being out by myself and seeing a shark. I KNOW they’re not after me, have my name on a secret kill list, or know my training plan for the day. It’s an unreasonable fear, but I have to acknowledge it before I can address it. So, I’ve started training in water I’m not super familiar with. I’m crossing deep boat channels and going over shoals where I know that’s probably where I’ll see a shark. I’m getting out of my comfort zone where there is no choice but to just keep paddling. My friend, Danielle Cubberley Goldston says she sings “I’m a Little Teapot” when a little freaked out, I use a lot of expletives intermixed with “hurry, hurry, paddle, paddle.” If anyone was ever within earshot they’d be hearing “f**k, f**k, hurry, hurry, f**k, f**k, paddle, paddle….and repeat.” How can I be a Badass Paddler when I’m just a chicken? Working on it!
(Pictured right: My new training partner Sloan.)
It’s so EASY to talk about training and races and what I want to do; it’s another thing to belly up to the bar and start the work. Wannabe Badass Paddler or POSER is not what I want to be, so I’ve started a 16 week Riding Bumps long distance training plan in prep for Chattajack in late October. The plan called for intervals on Tuesday. Darned if the weather here wasn’t so “close,” I could barely breathe and walking out the front door was like getting into an unpleasant hot tub. My goal was 2 minute intervals x 6-8 times, no sweat (hah.) OMGoodness, it almost kilt me! I could not hold the intervals and my heart rate didn’t drop between intervals. This was not an issue of being dehydrated or being over-trained, it was just plain HARD. It was a badass workout!
Training partners; I’ve long hoped that paddling would take off in my area so that I’d have more buddies. I wanted people who would push me a little bit harder, faster, and help me be better. Well, the monster has arrived. I have a new training partner (or perhaps partner in crime) with Sloan Freeman. Sloan has a background in whitewater canoeing and even sea kayaking, but who knew that within 2 weeks of trying my old Bark Competitor, she’d be buying a full composite SIC 12’6” racing board from Stand Up Outfitters in New Bern. She’s already signed up for the 6 mile Colonial SUP race in August and when I showed her my version of a pivot turn; she nailed it almost perfect on her first try. I now have what I wished for and that scares the beejeebers out of me. She will be pushing me to be better, because she IS better. She is a tough dudette and badass already! CRAP!
To cross-train but still be on the water, I bought a Bark Commander 12’ prone board from Carolina Paddleboard Company. Prone is hard. Prone and people who prone are hard-ass. It is definitely tough stuff with a steep learning curve, takes time to build up endurance and mileage, and there are techniques that take practice in getting to your knees and getting back down to the prone position. I may not look like a tough dudette when I’m paddling prone, but let me tell you, I FEEL badass!
I really don’t know why I want to be a badass. It really is silly, I’m oldish, and often times still a huge chicken. I still drop to my knees if my legs are jelly and 10 boat wakes from 20 different directions hit me all at once. If alone and I see fins, I don’t work too much on moving around on my board and pivot turns; if I’m with a group, I’ll just say “dolphin.” I’m still afraid of the surf break and getting hit in the teeth again. On the flip side, my adult children tell me my life is cooler than theirs and that makes me feel badass. And there’s been a change in my attitude and voice. Last time I was running a distance race in the middle of the night, in the middle of the woods, I did sing (to scare the bears away), the ABC nursery rhyme, in a very scary voice mind you. Now my nursery rhymes are replaced with full on f-bombs and expletives. Maybe I AM on the way to being a Badass Tough Dudette?
Are you a Badass paddler? A Tough Dude or Dudette paddler? Have you had a Badass adventure? What’s your marker for being one?