We’re counting down the days to the race now and tapering off on the training. Well, I’m not exactly tapering off because I haven’t trained that hard this time. Someone who has is my son Christian, and this is a chance for a dad to brag a little. I’m very proud of all my kids. But, this is a blog about canoes and kayaks and marathons and such. So I need to write a bit about how proud I am of the effort he’s put in to this thing.
He started with no idea of what he was doing and on a very tight budget, and he’s put together a boat and all his equipment. As a dad I wish I could have been over there in Dallas to fuss over all his preparations; help him pick out the equipment, fix up the boat, and get everything ready. But I’ve only even been able to paddle with him a couple of times.
He’s gotten it together pretty much all on his own. I’ve tried to call and pump him for all the details but he hasn’t talked about it much and hasn’t asked for my advice on more than a couple of things. He wants this to be his own effort and his own race. In fact, he told me he wanted to do the MR340 last year – solo. He’ll be in the race with me but he’ll be racing on his own. That’s a wonderful thing and I’m busting with pride for him. He entered in the toughest division of the race – unlimited – and doesn’t stand much of a chance of even finishing in the top three, but he’s entered. My sense is that his friends don’t really understand what he’s getting in to here. He probably doesn’t understand fully what’s in store for him.
On the evening of October 6, when we’re in Port Barre and looking at all the other people and boats, and it starts to sink in that he’ll be paddling the distance between Dallas and Temple, or further than St. Louis to Columbia, he may begin doubting himself. At that point he may think he should have worked out harder and that he doesn’t have all the right equipment – and that he won’t be able to do this thing. He’ll probably sleep poorly and the next morning he’ll be out there in his boat facing the very real possibility of failure. But, he’ll still be out there because (as he’ll discover some time about noon the first day) it’s not about the winning, it’s about the adventure.
I’m betting that even with the old boat and the cobbled together gear he’ll make it to the finish. He’s done everything he can and I know he’s ready. Of course, I’ll still be out there trying to come in ahead of him. So will the other 100+ paddlers. That’s the nature of this thing. But none of us will come in first if we don’t finish and we can’t finish without putting the paddle in the water at the start. I hope he’ll discover what I already know – that he’s a winner – even before the starting gun goes off.
My daughter, Elisabeth, will be updating the blog with our progress each day. And she’ll be calling both of us to relay your comments. So make sure to leave some encouraging messages for the “kid” as you’re reading them.