As I was on my paddleboard this afternoon, I thought to myself, "seriously, where did this summer go?" And I kept paddling away as I was enjoying how fast my Boga board tends to go when the winds gives us a bit of a push especially on overcast days like today. A good Labor Day weekend, no doubt.
You see, prior to this summer, I had no experience of the paddleboard. I've always had an affinity for the ocean and I've always been partial to swimming having loved it deeply since the early years of my childhood as I would frolic in the Mediterranean. But other than the snowboard, I had no experience of being on a board on the water.
So, the day after the Vancouver Triathlon, literally right after I completed the race, I went home and announced the following, "I want to learn how to paddleboard. Going to buy one at MEC tomorrow."
And this is how it happened. The first part of the race was swimming in the ocean. It is quite a thing to enter the ocean at the same time as hundreds of people. The first 5 minutes were tough. Very tough.
I remember feeling claustrophobic at the thought of so many people swimming competitively so close to me. Plus, my wet suit simply felt too tight in the cold water and I started to think that I would perhaps, in a matter of seconds, start to hyperventilate. But I didn't. You see, I had a choice. I could not complete the race, turn around, and go home or I could look around me and take inspiration from all the people in the ocean who had chosen to do the same thing that Sunday morning at 7AM as me: swim in the Pacific Ocean and finish a race.
And right after that thought, I was fine. Really fine. I enjoyed the swim. Immensely. I even started to feel a little melancholy at the thought of not getting to use the wetsuit for that many activities after the race. "Wait, there's more you could do in the ocean. You don't need a triathlon to serve as a pretext for you to be by the ocean, do you?"
And then my mind went to paddleboarding. "I'll do that. I'll paddle board. Yeah. Now, let's finish this."
And that's exactly what I did the very next day. I got a paddleboard. I actually tried a few different ones till I found the perfect board for me, the uber-awesome orange and white Boga!
And since that day, I have not looked back.
What I find most interesting is that boarding keeps me even more focused on my running. I now run every day as I cover at least 5k-8k a day and 10-15k over the weekend. My practice on the paddleboard is keeping me focused on running races now. Funny how things inform one another. And my mind is clear as the body keeps getting stronger and stronger. Plus, I get to experience this thing called "a runner's high." And, holy cow, what a great thing it is! I can't compare it to anything else I have ever experienced. All I can say is that you have got to work hard to get to experience it. But, when you do, you will not be the same. You will be so much better for it! Trust. You will.
Paddleboarding has added so much to my life and my regimen of fitness that I cannot think of not practicing it. When I look at my board, whether it's mounted on my car or in the garage, I feel happy. And I know why that is. There's a feeling of quietude, happiness, and belonging that I feel when near the Pacific Ocean. And I always felt it. It's the reason why the West is the only place in the planet that has truly felt like home.
I do think that just like we choose places, place choose us as well. And the West is my home. It's where happiness feels real.
The thing is, I would not have discovered this great new addition to my life, if I hadn't signed up for the Vancouver Triathlon. I met some great people training for the triathlon and the day of the race was sheer heaven. The feeling of being surrounded by people who are after the same pursuit as you and who want you to do well and encourage you on is the stuff of beauty.
As soon as I moved to the West, I immediately signed up for the triathlon. And the very next day I started to train heavily, at times for 4 hours a day. And what great dividends it yielded! Once the triathlon concluded, I felt the urge to keep racing and I signed up for different local races as well as the marathon which will be in 6 weeks now. One race begets the desire for another and yet another after that.
In sum, as I was taking stock of this summer while on my board this afternoon, I was overcome with a feeling of gratitude and happiness that I get to do what I do and experience what I experience in the place that I love best.
And sometimes it takes a little board to put things in perspective.
Today, right as I was getting closer to the shore, a fellow on a windsurf said to me: 'Hey, how about this wind, eh?' We got to chatting for a quick minute and I asked him about his surf board. I left that experience feeling the need and desire to transition to that sport next. He looked like he was having so much fun. "You look like you're having a lot of fun on that thing," he said to me as he sailed away. "Oh man, say that again! It's awesome!" I said. And perhaps he will now practice paddleboarding as I get myself the perfect windsurf for me.
Naturally, I will. This is what I will be doing next.