I’m not afraid to admit it. I was whining. Whimpering. Griping. Complaining. It was early February in Tennessee, and I was four weeks out from the first standup paddleboard benchmark race of the season, and I needed those miles on the water. I’d been cross training with cycling, running, and strength work throughout the winter, but you know what gets you ready for paddling? That’s right. Paddling. And lots of it.
But it was 38 degrees. The water was 40 degrees. Now to be clear – I’d trained during my triathlon days in some pretty abysmal conditions involving freezing water bottles and snotsicles. but for some reason to me, the mental block about my proximity to the water (separated only by a relatively narrow race board and a 7mm pair of booties) and the temperature put me into whine mode.
With a look of disdain (and with my husband completely and understandably avoiding my bad attitude), I packed my hydration pack with Grape Fizz, and made a soft flask batch of Café Latte Perpetuem. I’d been a citrus loyalist but was eager to try something new. I stuck an emergency gel (and emergency ultralight down jacket) in the drybag with my phone, and we were off.
SHUDDER. Brrrr. Waaaahhhh.
Put the paddle in. Torque it. Pull it back out. Repeat. Keep going. Get warmer. I looked down at my Hammer wind jacket and began to think of all the other athletes out there that day – suffering in the cold, suffering in the heat, or just plain suffering to make themselves stronger. I had my first serving of Perpetuem. Delicious!! I paddled harder.
And then, the most amazing thing. I felt it. An ignition, like a rocket, lighting me up and propelling me forward. I began to laugh (which I am sure would have been amusing to passersby, if there had been anyone at all on the lake other than the one lone boat-bound and well-bundled fisherman we spotted) because I couldn’t believe how I suddenly felt so in the zone. “This stuff is like rocket fuel!” I screamed to Hal. I powered forward, focused on form, and focused on speed. I went out for 5 miles and ended up doing almost 7 – fueled by Hammer both physically and mentally. Hammer on, people. Hammer on.