I started paddling in July 2020, I could barely stand and struggled to get back on my board. The feeling of freedom, connection w nature, general sense of well-being it brought spurred me on.
I connected with likeminded souls through excursions & clubs, little did I know the overwhelming encouragement, support, achievement & journeys that were to come!
Flash forward 2022... I have entered my first race... gulp! Do I know what to expect? No! Have I ever paddled 10km in total? No! Do I have a supportive group of experienced friends? YES!
Head of the Dart... the buzz was amazing, people travel from all over to attend & there are world rankings, it's so much bigger than I ever imagined & a little daunting.
There were several categories, 25 Ladies were in my 14ft group. I knew I wasn't going to set any records except for myself. I sorted out a play list, hydration & energy to keep me going for what would be my longest paddle to date.
It was a very windy day, head winds along the course, but I've trained in head winds & oddly enjoy it. The wind was incredibly strong, but I remembered my training & every time I pushed into the wind I would gain a little bit on the girl in front... that was amazing satisfaction.
The male category whizzed past causing a huge patch of chop, I stayed up... more progress! There was no let up in the head wind, I was pushing myself like I've not done for years, I was tiring, having to find energy to keep going. The atmosphere kept me going, I was spurred on by the encouragement of the marshals and other paddlers, I was catching & passing people from earlier groups... I could feel how far I have come, so much progress! As I approached the finish line, the cheers & buzz was wonderful as a recognition of the achievement.
Was it easy? No! But the sense of achievement is awesome, and I am already signed up to the next challenge, & plan to beat my time next year. It's so important to find the right community with people who have your back and build you up. Try new things, back yourself and step out of that comfort zone!!
I am learning all the time, I can go at my own pace and push myself by joining others, its a fantastic mix.
Recently Saviour from the SUP School ran a 6 week course - train2gain, which was all about how to improve your technique - stroke efficiency, race starts, turns, balance etc... Initially I was unsure I was at a suitable level, but I was encouraged to join my fellow Rebels as preparation for the races we have ahead. It was so beneficial, I've grown so much in confidence with my technique, I understand so much more & know the areas I still need to work on.
SUP is so much more than just paddling, it's a full workout, by being stronger & more proficient I will be able to venture further & challenge myself more. I would recommend anyone wanting to grow in confidence, generally develop their skills further & challenge themselves this is a course for you!
One thing people will always say about me, I'm beaming when I'm on my board, it's my happy place💚