In 2010, on our way to the hotel in Kansas City, we drove across the Missouri River. I looked down at it and realized I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t really paddle 340 miles in four days. I very nearly suggested we turn the car around and give up on the whole idea. Of course there was no way I could really say that, so the next morning I was in the boat ready to start the race.
The first checkpoint was Lexington, 50 miles from the start. I was tired, sore, and scared when I pulled in. I was grouchy and snapping at my crew and, knowing I still had 290 miles to go, was even more convinced that I was in way over my head. I watched much younger racers loading their boats and giving up and it started sinking in that I couldn’t go the distance. The next checkpoint was Waverly. It was “only” 23 miles further and I figured I’d at least do that before calling it quits. So I let Sharon,Tim and David prep me and the boat and pushed off again. They told me later that, after I left, they all agreed I’d never finish the race.
A funny thing happened on that leg. I started thinking about Miami – 32 miles from Waverly – and our planned stop for the night. If I could get THERE, I’d find the tent and sleeping bag ready. I was in a lot better mood when I pulled in to Waverly and told my ground crew to rig the lights on the boat – I’d push on into the night. When I got to Miami I was thinking about Glasgow and wondering if I should keep it up for 32 miles and maybe sleep there. But, Tim and David were settled in so I crawled in my sleeping bag and slept better than I had in a long, long time.
From then on it was one stretch at a time, one boat ramp at a time. Just paddle to the next bridge, around the next bend in the river. I threw away the maps I’d been carrying of the whole distance. I’d pull in to a check point and ask Tim “How far to the next check point?” I quit worrying about the entire race and just took it one bite of 30 or 40 or 50 miles (or less) at a time.
I’ve already blogged about how motivating it is for me to see the numbers of people who tune in by subscribing to the blog (about 30) and liking the White Rock Navy on Facebook (we just passed 50). It’s a kick for me every time I see the numbers go up but I’m greedy and want big numbers! When I’m out on that river and it’s 105 degrees I need to know there are lots of people behind me. So, do me a big favor and help spread the word.
One person at a time from now until July 23. Then it will be 1 mile at a time for me.