Support, Friendship and a 32 Mile Journey.
Long drives. Work days. Or daunting tasks. Have always challenged me. Not in a physical manner. But the mental aspect. Stumbling through them half heartedly. Or mentally removing myself. As if my body is a machine, systematically going through the motions. Rarely I quit. And not complete the task. But these actions are quitting. In their own way. On October 1st. I was in Florida on a work trip. And spent time with my good friend, legendary lifeguard and watermen AJ Defilippis. After a few Modellos, I looked at him and said. I'm going to do Chattajack on a prone board.
Without hesitation. He looked back at me. And said Fuck yes you are! This comment took me back a bit. For the simple fact that I have never paddled more than 5 minutes on a prone board. Yet alone do a race. As we high fived and cheersed. We began to build the plan of getting me ready for the 32 mile paddle down the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, TN. The event, is called Chattajack. And to some it is a race. But to the majority it is a challenge, journey and experience. One that asks us to look inside. Believe in ourselves and push through the obstacles created by Mother Nature and our mind.
What brought me to this decision was what I described in the first paragraph. I found myself getting to a place where this event, was becoming a task that I was going to check out of.
For the first time in many years. I was on a regimented training program. Paddling 3 - 4 days per week, thanks to my good friend Travis Grant. I was feeling strong. Times were looking good. But the desire and drive. Was fading like the daylight of the New England fall. October rings in the ninth year I have been competing on my stand up paddleboard. And the eight year working in the industry. However something was missing. The fire and passion to attend events has dwindled. I began to look at this event. As just another one. Even though it is much more. It is the definition of community. Camaraderie. And the sole reason I started this journey nine years earlier. Tomorrow I board a plane for Nashville, TN. Where the reunion begins. Meeting my dear friends Neil Newton and his wife Cindy of Paddle Up Nashville. And then the legend himself, Joe Bark accompanied by his daughter Gemma and world class videographer Chris Aguilar. As we make our way to Chattanooga on Wednesday, we connect with the rest of the family. Joined by the likes of AJ, Bill Kraft, Chad Hinkley, Joe Scatturo, Heather Frogge, Chandler Bold, Ben Roth, Dan Michaluk, Loraine Gruber, Wally Buckingham and a host of others. The gang will truly be all there, all 600 of them. Smiling. Excited. And a bit nervous. And I carry those same feelings.
As I made my switch to paddling 32 miles without a paddle. I have felt the transition in my energy. And in my life. It has inspired me to make difficult decisions, life changing ones. To challenge my comfort zone and society's views on what I am supposed to do.
This journey will be humbling. A physical ass kicking. And a mental awakening. But one I am beyond excited for. And one I feel more supported than any other decision I have made.