Last week Jason and I tried a new kind of race – a stand up paddle board race!
The Cape Cod Shark Paddle was a fundraiser for the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy to fund research by Dr. Greg Skomal (may sound familiar to Shark Week fans!) and others.
Having never done a paddle board race I really had no idea what to expect, but I quickly realized that it was going to be a very small and informal event (which was great for us first timers!).
We unloaded our boards and placed them on the tarps they had out…
…then stopped at the registration table and signed in for the 6 mile race!
The 6 mile course was basically three 2 mile laps around a small island:
I was glad to see it looked like a rather informal, not-too-competitive race since Jason and I have never really done anything more than go out for leisurely paddles sightseeing around the different bays, ponds, rivers and harbors in our area around the Cape.
When they announced for the 6 mile participants to get ready we all dropped our boards in the water and paddled around a bit to warm up.
And by ALL of us, I mean ALL TEN OF US.
Yup, there were only 10 people doing the 6 mile race!
And once all 10 boards were in the water I noticed that about 6/10 of them were racing boards (as opposed to the more generic all around boards Jason & I have).
**In the photo below you can tell the racing boards (all but mine!) are longer, narrower and have a pointed front vs. my more rounded front.**
A horn sounded and we were off!
Well, it felt more like everyone else was off and my board was stuck in quicksand!
I honestly had no idea what a difference the wing or racing style boards made, but let’s just say I figured it out very quickly as everyone else got smaller and smaller ahead of me…
I spent the first 2 miles paddling as hard as I could while getting more and more (and more!) frustrated that I couldn’t keep up with anyone. I kept yelling to Jason that I hated this and I should just stick to running (yup, I’m a big baby).
At the 2 mile turn around I told Jason I kind of wanted to stop. I just wasn’t having fun and didn’t see the point in even doing this. Had Jason said, “Ok, fine, let’s stop”, that would have been the end of our paddle.
Instead, Jason stopped paddling, let me catch up to him and said, “who cares that we can’t keep up with them! It’s a nice day, we’re on the water and we’re just out for a leisurely paddle like we do all the time! Forget it’s a race.”
So I did.
We kept paddling, but we stayed together, we talked and we just enjoyed being outside on the water. We waved and cheered on the “fast” people passing us in the other direction and we just kept moving forward.
(Except for when I stopped to take some mid-“not a race” pictures!)
We eventually finished in just about 2 hours and nine minutes (maybe 10 minutes behind the person in front of us), and came in a leisurely 8th and 9th out of 10.
Ahhh…so who came in 10th??
Well, the whole time there was 1 girl behind us. She kept moving along slow and steady the whole time and I have to admit that a few times I did think, “well if she’s not stopping, I’m not stopping”.
We all stood on the dock and cheered her in as she finished about 20 minutes after us. We saw her talking to the announcer and then he yelled, “Wow, what an amazing accomplishment, today was her first day EVER on a paddle board!!”
(And suddenly I was REALLY glad I didn’t stop!)
I found my friends Amy, who teachers the SUP yoga I go to up here, and Nancy, who teaches the yoga on the beach for a quick picture. (I think Amy came in 3rd and Nancy 4th maybe??)
It was great to have the two of them cheering us on each time we crossed paths (and seriously, they are both SUP racing machines!), but honestly, I never could have done this race without Jason.
There is a good chance I would have gotten frustrated and just called it quits if it weren’t for him. I hated being so far behind so quickly and not being able to catch up no matter what I did. I felt like we were handicapped from the start because of the type of boards we were using and I very quickly realized that paddling was a more relaxing activity for me, I didn’t really like the idea of racing.
Once I gave up on the idea of it being a race, I have to say, we had a very enjoyable morning out on the water and were quite proud of our accomplishment of paddling what we thought was 6 miles, but apparently according to someone’s GPS was actually 7! (It turns out that paddling that far isn’t exactly hard if you’re not really worried about how fast you’re going!)
As we headed towards the finish, I told Jason I couldn’t have done it without him encouraging me along and getting me to relax when I was frustrated to the point of wanting to quit.
And, I promised I would do the same for him when he runs his first half marathon later this month in Disneyland!