Baby got Back (of the Pack)

…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.

Endless Mountains Triathlon

That’s a youngish me on the left, with JoMarie, minutes before the swim start of our first tri. Yeup, trying not to puke with nervousness.

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.

Atomic Man

Look at me! Doing a Half Iron! They kept the finish line open for me (true story).

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.

Stand up for the Hooch: Willett Photography

Look at me now! In this race I actually beat a few people – including some on 14’s – and was ecstatic.

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.

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