Race Report: Paddle At The Park

Welcome back endurance racing fans! We’re taking a different approach today and you’re getting my race report for a stand up paddle boarding race. I love endurance racing but some days its good to swap it up. And when you live on the beautiful Florida panhandle, you learn to love paddle boarding!

By this point, you’ve read all about my last training cycle, my successes at the Bear Bait 25k, my semi-failure at the BUTS Bearly Heavy half, the pain of training in times of COVID, and the ups and downs as I chase down that ultramarathon goal, and the fact that I finally finished an ultramarathon. It was a long journey: four attempts with three failures over five years, an ER visit, and enough self-doubt to sink a person. But I finished the race and immediately did what all endurance runners do, swear I will never run long races again, which is a filthy dirty lie. I also ran in the Charlotte RaceFest back in June and have signed up for the Rock and Roll NOLA full, but that’s when the wheels started falling off.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I have a new superpower: growing extra bones! Unfortunately, that comes in the form of bone spurs in my feet. Combine that with inflamed Achilles tendons and arthritis in my feet, I needed to back off run for a while. But my competitive nature remains, so a group of friends and I decided to try out the world of stand up paddle board racing.

Today you’re getting my full race report for Paddle at the Park – Stand Up Paddle Board Race (1 mile)

Check in:

Easy peasy. I decided to skip checking in the night before and get my packet at the park. No biggie, was done in minutes. The biggest wait was on weather! The night before, the beaches were listed as double red flag, which means no one can enter the water, even on a paddle board. The race director had put out a message stating they would make the call at 6:30 on race morning but by 6:45 there was still no word. In order to make my start time, I needed to leave the house before 8 which meant I was gambling a 40 minute drive that it wouldn’t be canceled. Fortunately, it wasn’t and we did race but it was choppy out there.

Starting line:

One of the most picturesque starting lines I’ve seen!

All race distances started in the same location, Henderson Beach State Park, and it was a run straight into the surf.

The course:

This race offered 1, 3, and 6-mile options as well as a kids race. Since I have never raced a paddle board before, I opted for the 1-mile course. One of my buddies joined me on the 1-mile and two were brave enough to attempt the 3-miler.

Full distance ended up less than a mile

Due to the weather hold, all the races started late and it was chaotic. So chaotic that I started a full minute behind the pack. The horn went off as I was still hustling my board to the starting line! However, the pounding waves made many people slow and strategic in starting, pushing through after the break, so I ended up not being too far back by about 5 minutes in.

Weather: Perfect temperature but the wind made for some chop and breaking surf at the shore. A little daunting for a new racer.

Did I hit the Pain Cave?

Hahaha. Nope! But, had I done the 3-mil course, I probably would have. Both my friends who raced that distance described it as “brutal.”

Crew:

No crew for this race, just a few friends from work. The Running Crows were the Paddlin’ Crows that day.

The finish line:

This was a wild experience for someone who’s never raced SUP. To finish, you ride your board in as far as you can get, then ditch it. (A volunteer collects it for you.) Then you *sprint* up the beach, paddle in hand, to the finish line. Why? Because you have to hand a paddle in hand for it to count as a finish!

Hauling it!

Final time:

15:26 for slightly less than 1 mile. I had no goals other than finishing and not losing my board! I did not think I did very well with my delayed entry and left once I’d packed my board and said goodbye to my friends. Of course, not one minute after I’d cross out of the park and on to the highway, one of my friends called to tell me I took second and to come back for my medal. Since I was already out of the park I asked him to collect my medal and hang on to it for me. Thanks Kenny!

Overall thoughts:

I had a blast! Hung out with my group of friends, took in the sun, and enjoyed a new experience. Even better, I got a cool medal for it!


The Gear List:

My gear lists so folks can see what I’m carrying and how it changes between courses and weather. As usual, some affiliate links, most aren’t; I am not sponsored by any specific companies.

Clothes:

Swim Suit: I’m a disaster here, I have two different brands on! My top is the Tyr Durafast Diamond Back Workout Bikini. Great top for swimming and SUP if you need more support than their tieback tops. The bottoms are the Nike Essential Cheeky Swim Bottom. Doesn’t cover much but it stays in place and I like the freedom of movement, especially as I’m running of popping up on the board.

PFD: I’ve just switched to the Drift Belt since my bulky kayaking PFD impeaded my movement too much.

Leash: Uni Gear 10′ Coiled. I’ve never needed a leash before but damn I needed it on race day!

Hat: My trusty finishers hat from the River Cities Tri a few years ago. Lost it to the waves on turn 2, but a kind race watcher found me and gave it back after the race.

Nutrition:

Snacks, self carried: None because, duh, water. I did pack myself a nice bagel with peanut butter that I snacked on while watching the 3/6-mile race.

Other:

Board: Bote HD 12′ – It’s big, its bad bass, its versatile, and my daughter loves riding it. That said, she’s heavy, turns like a pig, and it’s a great racing board.

GPS: Garmin Forerunner 945 – Y’all know I love this watch and I’ve talked about it before, the good and bad. I didn’t have any tracks walk-offs today and I’m confident in the recorded distance/time accurately.


Happy trails!


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