The Carolina Cup, a prestigious open-seasoner elite SUP race, took place last weekend (April 23rd) around the active town of Wrightsville Beach N.C.
I have been training for this race, imagining myself in the race, visualizing pushing my abilities and picturing how far can I mentally keep telling myself to put the paddle in the water for just one more stroke. Now, I am in the race. I have hit the seven mile mark and one woman has just passed me. The other women who has been drafting me has just pulled ahead. It’s just me. I’ve gone from sixth to eighth and I am just over half way through the race. Little did I know that I was in first place for the 17 and under junior division. From now on, it is a mental race. I would slow down, then kick my butt in gear and paddle harder, then slow down again. It was an endless cycle that I couldn’t break myself out of. Now I am back in the ocean. I have paddled off the start line, through the first inlet, up the flat water section, out through another inlet, just to end up back in the ocean.
Entering the ocean, the waves have broken over my board, refreshing my toes after being glued to the same place on the board for eleven miles. Only two miles to go. I tell myself I can do this. It dawns on me, there are seven women ahead of me. Seven women ahead of me, that are at least 13 years older than me. I am a seven-teen year old kid competing against women that are full time athletes. By no means am I making excuses, because I want to be up and in the front of the pack.
I can see the pier approaching, I am almost there. There are a couple of other men around me but pretty much everybody is bonking. I hit the wall a long time ago, but I just wanted to get to that finish line. I caught a wave to the finish but fell twenty feet short of the beach. It didn’t affect my place, but I came up hat lopsided, dripping wet and ready to be done. Now, running up the beach, I can’t help but smile. I am done. The 2014 Carolina Cup is over.
I am a seventeen year old girl, who has paddled 13 miles, finished, and I am happy. It was painful, and I did ask myself what I was doing out there, multiple times, but in the end, crossing the finish line, accomplishing something, no matter what place, is what matters. That feeling is what stays with me after a race and pushes me from the inside to keep trying and improving. So, I will do just that; keep tying and improving, because that is all I can do.
No matter what age I am, or the age of my competitors, we are all on the same course and in the same race.. All trying our best. That is all the anybody can do, your best.
With another contest on a very near horizon, I put myself to the test and reach just a little bit further than I did this time, and time will only tell me what results will be produced.
Till next time,