SUPing On the River
The great thing about living in the Pacific Northwest is that there are numerous events and activities one can participate in which could fit under the title, Racing the River. Two weeks ago, I went SUPing (Stand Up Paddleboarding) with some friends for three and a half hours down the Spokane River from Coeur d’ Alene to Post Falls, Idaho. It was gorgeous. And while I wouldn’t categorize it at racing (except for the last 90 minutes when we realized that a supposed two hour trip was going to take much longer and I was about to miss a swim session!), it was a fantastic way to spend a summer morning. We paddled down the river, which lends itself to the illusion that you are walking on water, looking at beautiful homes that you can only really see from this vantage point, some of which look like they should be on an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. We all decided which one each of us would buy (right!) as we propelled ourselves along the water. I also had a chance to pass through the section of river I’d be racing down a week later.
Race the River Triathlon
Race the River sprint triathlon is in its 6th year and is now a qualifier for the Sprint National Championships. Not that I am a candidate…..ever. Unless of course, they open up a Turtle division, which I happen to think is a great idea. It’s a fun race, catering to all ability levels. The day would turn out to be one of inadvertently winning the odds for me, but that had little to do with my actual race. The swim is a .5 mile jaunt with the current, followed by an 11 mile, 3 loop bike course, and finishing up with a 3.1 mile run. I had been juggling a number of things and was feeling like I had thrown everything together for this one but I didn’t mind. My big triathlon for the year was done and I was ready for a laid back, fun morning with hundreds of athletes. I still couldn’t shake that feeling that I had forgotten something but I went with it. This race sells out every year and is always packed with that electrifying triathlon energy. We walk the .5 mile up Centennial Trail to the swim start where we wait for our wave to launch. I walked and chatted with a spectator. Turned out his wife has severe asthma and couldn’t make the trek down to watch their nephew race. Boy, did I have something to share! He seemed dumbfounded when I told him I have it too. “But you…..are doing this?” After watching his wife suffer for so many years, he wanted to know how it’s possible for an asthmatic to do something like this. His wife doesn’t want to participate in triathlon but she does want to breathe freely and participate in life. It absolutely made my day to share and I’ll never forget that smile. It was a great smile.
What are the odds?
I was one of the few who decided not to bother with a wetsuit. The water was 72 degrees which feels like bath water to me anymore; a side effect of training in low to mid-50 degree water temperatures. As I was mingling, someone reached out and commented on my jersey. I was wearing my FCA Endurance jersey that morning. As I responded to her, I realized that it was my long-lost friend, Leah! Wow! She and her husband moved away from this area about 15 years ago and we lost track of each other. I literally had come across a photo just two days before that she sent me when her two kids were toddlers and I wondered once again, where my friend could be. And there she was standing in front of me! That usual long wait before my start time was reduced to what felt like a couple of minutes as we hastily tried to get caught up. I was amazed to hear that those two kids have been joined by five more. We have so much catching up to do.
What are the odds?
Everyone PRs on this swim. Except me. Honestly, this is my third time at this race and every time I manage to botch it. Granted, my first twenty minutes of swimming is generally miserable as my lungs slowly warm up but still, you’re swimming downstream! Even just letting the current carry you gives you a PR for crying out loud. Geeez, Cathy! Our wave started and I don’t know what happened but somehow I inhaled a gulp of water that went straight down my pipes. I gagged, coughed, choked for about a minute and then it took me another minute just to be able to swim. I don’t know what it is about THIS race but every time, my goggles leak. Today was no exception. Uuuuggghhhh. They don’t leak during any other race or swim session. Just this race.
What are the odds?
Still, it was fun. I’m not afraid of the swim anymore and that’s progress. I crossed the timing mat into transition as my colleague crossed to head out on his run. Great timing! Odds?
The bike course is described as “technically challenging” on the website. This is because it’s a short 11 mile course, with three loops. This means a LOT of racers get bunched up along the way. Plenty of turns, hills and flat stretches, rough and smooth road surfaces; a little of everything. As I began my ride, I realized I didn’t have my Garmin. In fact, I now distinctly remember leaving it on its charger on my kitchen counter. I knew I had forgotten something. Eh….so I would race without it.
I made quick work of my ride and started looking towards my finish. As I crossed the timing mat onto the run course, I was greeted by a couple of friends who had already finished. I love starting my run with high-fives.
While on the run, I came upon a woman who was struggling a little bit. I asked if she was okay and she said she was fine, just needed some of “this.” She pulled out her inhaler. I pulled out mine to match, although I didn’t need to use it. Another great conversation with another new friend.
What are the…..well, you know.
Enjoying the River
The Spokane River is about .5 mile from my home, in Riverside State Park. It’s gorgeous. I frequently run and ride along the river and have recently spent more time trail running. I am positively addicted. I constantly take pictures but they never really seem to do the scenery justice. This area promises numerous adventures. I’ll have plenty to share in the near future.
Rafting the River!
Two weeks from today, I get to fulfill another wish item on my list. White water rafting! I’m so excited I can hardly stand it. We’ll be driving out to Superior, Montana for an all-day rafting trip down the Clark Fork river. I’m pretty certain I’ll become addicted to this as well. In fact, is it possible that I am already? Is that weird? Full AR (adventure report) to come!
Also Coming up…
“My First Lung Collapse,” followed by, “My Magic Formula.” Edge-of-your-seat stuff; bring the popcorn.
And in the not-so-distant future, I want to introduce you to someone who inspires me. I’m certain he will inspire you too. In fact, I’m betting on it.