I looked at this Endurance Challenge with both intimidation and excitement. This would be my biggest physical challenge of the year but also one that would take a great deal of time; during a summer where I was already struggling with balancing everything in my life. With an inflatable non-race board, I was not confident that I could put in the hours necessary to get this one done. But, stubbornness and intrigue in my capabilities made me push myself more than I thought I could.
Day 1 – This one a treated like a normal Saturday out on the water. I chose the local reservoir near my house – I have spent countless hours paddling on. It was a beautiful sunny day with a light breeze. I thought it would be two laps but quickly learned that was not enough. Kept paddling the buoys until I hit the 15k. I struggled with preventing my feet from falling asleep. I was happy with the time – always happy to hear my watch say “Distance Complete!”.
Day 2 – I didn’t have the time in the weekend to drive the hour to the larger reservoir, so I stayed at my local water. I also knew that I was not going to be able to come back for the second 15k of the day later that afternoon, so it was going to be a 30k morning. The fear of boredom set in pretty quickly… the water was glass so no challenge to keep the mind alert. The sunrise was beautiful, and the birds and fish were out in force. I was pleased with my first 15k. After a thirty minute refuel, I set out for 15k #2. This one was harder, my back hurt and the water was crowded with boaters and casual SUPers and it was HOT – Colorado is experiencing another heat wave – almost 100 degrees by 11 am and the sun was brutal. Halfway through I wanted to quit – I wanted to be out of the sun and away from people. It took a long mental talk with myself to force me to push through; I was not crazy with the time, but proud that I got through it.
Day 3 – Out on the same reservoir, about thirty minutes earlier, though mentally not excited for more of the same route. I paddled into a beautiful sunrise – this re-energized me and pushed my through. The water was like glass the whole time but it got hot fast! I was able to finish strong and sprint the last 1.5k.
I will cherish the lessons I learned about myself this weekend. I am grateful to live so close to water on which I can paddle. My calloused hands will remind me of my accomplishments all week. And, the high five and kudos of admiration I got from my teen daughter when I finished this challenge will be ingrained in my soul forever.
Maybe I will have a race board before 2023 League starts back up! I am in awe of the times you all are putting in! Congrats to all who took this big one on! You are all my inspiration!