There are a million different reasons why people do certain things. What drives you to paddleboard? I love to talk about things that “feed the soul”. Does paddleboarding do that for you? Or hiking? Or running? What is your passion? And is passion enough to get you out there doing it all of the time?
Having a passion for paddleboarding is one thing. But what is the difference between having a passion in your heart for it, and actually loading up your board and trekking to the water? If you live right on the water, you are very lucky, and you really have no excuse. But if you are like most of us, to spend an hour or more on the water, it can take an hour or more to get ready and get there. So what drives you to do it?
Last year we were training for the Cape Cod Bay Challenge, a 34-mile paddle marathon across Cape Cod Bay. Not wanting to end up riding the support boat was motivation to get out there every day and put in the time on the water (as well as training off the water). Some of the paddles were great, some were tedious, and we went out in conditions that we would not otherwise go out in i.e. small craft advisory…nah, we’re not that small. Training for an event like that can suck some of the joy out of paddling. But for some people this is what fuels them. When you are always focused on heart rate and intervals, you can lose sight of the sound of your board in the water, the wildlife that is around you, the fact that you are walking on water and you are connecting with nature and a force much greater than you.
There are paddling groups that focus on all aspects of paddling, some are social, some are race oriented, some are just about training. And there are groups online. I have joined a Facebook group called the 100/100 Paddle Challenge. Our fearless leader Julia Nicholls started the group to connect with people to keep her motivated to paddle during the “off season”. The original challenge was to paddle 100 miles in 100 days. Easy enough, right? Well, when it’s the middle of winter, and it doesn’t get light until after 7 am and it gets dark by 4:30 pm, it’s kind of next level. The group is now comprised of nearly 600 people now from all over the world. We share our progress, adventures, and accomplishments in an arena where everyone “gets it”. I truly feel like I have paddle friends all over now. They provide support and encouragement without judgment, which is kind of huge. And now if I visit NC, or SC, or Lake Tahoe, there will be someone in the group who is in the know and can tell me where to go to paddle.
We all have our “stuff”. We all have our own reasons for heading out to the water. And we all get something different out of it. In the end all that matters is that it feeds your soul- that you somehow feel better when you come off the water than when you went out. For me, the water is a place to shed all of the stuff that weighs me down. It’s a place to clear my mind and put things into perspective.
Until this year long paddles (and even some short ones) have been fraught with thoughts of “How much further? How much longer? How long have we been out here? My shoulder hurts. My toe hurts, etc.” Even though I have enjoyed most of those paddles and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, there was a measure of torturing myself. This year I just go out and paddle. The journey is the destination and there is beauty to be found everywhere. Perhaps I am growing as a paddler, so things that were once very challenging are easier now. Perhaps I am growing as a person, realizing how small each of us is, that the water doesn’t care about us, so we need to learn to work with it, and respect it. Perhaps it just has to do with need. I NEED to be out there, this year more than ever. When I can’t stand myself (or anyone else) I need to paddle…and paddle…and paddle until I feel better. I try to leave my troubles out there to dissipate. They are so small in the grand scheme, like a grain of sand on the beach. The water grounds me. Go figure. Paddling feeds my soul, and lots of days that’s motivation enough.
“Be not the slave of your past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson
That pretty much sums it up. Paddle on.
Tags: paddleboarding ri, distance paddling, paddle marathon, cape cod bay challenge, long distance paddles, sup training, training for paddleboarding, standup paddleboard ri, 100/100 paddle challenge, paddleboarding as therapy