…and I cannot lie. It takes a certain degree of mental fortitude to get down with the notion of being Back of the Pack in anything. That self-awareness coupled with a healthy dose of reality gives an individual a certain degree of freedom that is welcome in any sport.
I should know.
Having spent the better part of my 30’s going from a vaguely outdoorsy type to multisport “athlete”, I was utterly amazed to see what I could accomplish with a little hard work and dedication. I could register for and complete a 5k. I could register and complete a sprint triathlon. Then an Olympic. Then a half ironman. Oh there was the occasional award due to my age group competition getting an overall award, but generally I was a middle of the packer on a good day – and damn happy about it.
After a few years away from – then uninspired by getting back into – multisport, I found SUP. GREAT, I thought. I love the experience, the community, the training, and the general feeling of being at home in a sport. I spent my first real race season pulling long courses on a surf style, and thought, oboy, I can’t wait to get a 12’6” so I can keep up with my fast friends.
Well guess what. I was still slower than my friends, and certainly slower than my husband. I spent the early part of this season happily sitting at the (very) Back of the Pack in the so-called “elite” distance races. I have been on the water a ton. I have a nutrition sponsor in Hammer so am perfectly fueled. I have the perfect board for me in a BARK 12’6” that is the perfect combination of glide and stability. Sure, I have gotten a little faster – and by miracle of miracles have even passed some folks in these later season races – but, still.
When I knew I wanted to make the journey of training for Chattajack this year my primary focus, I had to wrestle with certain realities. Sure, I get to train on the course all year long. BUT. I run a small consulting firm. I have a 5 year old. I have other family, I have friends. I am kinda wee –at 5’3”, so much so that a random pier spectator at a New Smyrna Beach race saw me digging towards the finish and yelled “GO, LITTLE ‘UN!!!!”.
Turns out, I am not alone. There are others that are proudly raising their hands and saying – whether at the literal Back of the Pack or not entirely – “HEY. I am not the world’s fastest! I need advice! I need comraderie! I need community!” And it’s working.
As our sport grows larger, this will keep happening – the larger community will develop into niches where people find those most like them for support and advice. Distressed Mullet gets that – and provides an umbrella for the sport as we all strive to find our place in it.