This weekend I participated in the SEA Paddle NYC, a 25 mile standup paddle race and fund raiser for the SEA Foundation and Autism non-profits. The entire event was absolutely incredible. New York City is one the most unique places I have ever paddled and what a way to see the city than from the water going 6mph. The race was well organized by passionate and wonderful individuals who care more about this event than words can describe. The energy of our collective efforts to paddle our asses off for 25 miles and at the same time raise over $250,000 for a more than worthy cause, was truly felt by all who were involved.
The race started under the Brooklyn Bridge where there was lots of excitement and buzz from participants old and new about the course, the weather, and the challenges ahead. A group of recreational paddlers departed at 930 am and the elite race started at 10am. The course started by going up the East River and through a section of the channel called "Hell's Gate." This part of the course I was familiar with from my old sailing days when we spent a month in NYC each year. In Hell's Gate, the current can get up to 5mph!!! We fortunately had the tides in our favor, but there was a slight head wind. The wind combined with several boats wakes and the rapidly moving water was enough to create some very steep chop that we had to paddle through. At least this part went by fast. My average speed was over 8mph. Kai Lenny took an immediate lead and we never saw him again. Behind him was a group of about 6-7 guys in 2 draft trains who I stayed near or just in front of. I decided early on I was going to have to be "one of the guys" if I was to have a competitive day of racing. Even though I couldn't be in their trains, I was determined to not let them pass me.
Then we veered left and headed up the Harlem River. this part of the course was flat and hot and the current, which I had thought would be traveling with us, switched to be unfavorable. I put my head down and hammered up stream and actually enjoyed this part because I was able to put a gap on the men's leading draft train.
By the time we reached the Hudson River with 10 miles left to paddle, the current started playing tricks on us. It was seemingly in our favor so the majority of paddlers took a wide line and headed for the center of the river. The lead men started to pass me. Oh no! I paid close attention to my gps and started looking down the river at the moving water. The current was in fact against us. I headed left near the shore and watched as slowly the mens train near the center of the river broke up and slowed down and I once again took the lead. Looking ahead, some rain showers started moving across the city and coming down on us. This was my favorite part of the race. Getting cooled off by the rain and cloud cover. I felt great and motivated me to keep pushing hard. The wind was pushing from left to right with the mini squalls, so once again I was in a better position already being on the left side of the channel and all the paddlers who were now trying to head left and get out of the current were hitting head winds.
The closer we got to the finish, the wind and rain died down, but the boat wakes from all the city water taxis got horrendous and a few times I was terrified of getting run over at full speed. All the safety boats for the event stayed close so I felt safe. I took one fall during the race about a mile from the finish due to a boat wake and tired, shaky legs. My left forearm started to cramp. This is the first time I have experienced cramping during a race. I adjusted my wrist position and it eventually went away.
We were met by cheering fans and volunteers at the finish line at Chelsea Piers. I ended up finishing in 4hrs and 15mins, 1st female and 2nd SUP overall. I was very happy with that. The showers at Chelsea Piers were open for us to shower and the after party was on a large party boat docked at the pier. Lots of hugs were given and stories were told about everyone's adventure paddling around New York City. Drinks and dinner were provided as well as a DJ although I couldn't find anyone with enough energy left to dance with me except the DJ himself. ;p
The awards were tear jerking. Richard Lee, Chris Macioch, and the SEA foundation volunteers are so incredible! The prize purse was $30,000, so I walked away with a really big check and a Tag Heuer watch! But the real winner was the lead fund raiser, a man who raised over $40,000 in donations by himself and did the 'recreational' 25mile paddle. (I can't remember his name.) WOW!
Definitely put this event on your calendar next year!
A HUGE thank you to all my donors who helped me raise a little over $1300 in donations.
And as always to my Thank you to my AMAZING sponsors who make all that I do possible.
I drove myself to NY just so that I could do the paddle on my Mistral SUP Vortex 14' board. My World record setting board, as I couldn't imagine paddling on any thing else.
To Carbonerro for my winning blade. (after a huge fuss about getting a new pro 85 blade, my usual choice, I ended up using my 75 for this race and loving it.
To Sweet Waterwear, my trusty compression and quick dry gear.
To Vest Pac for the new prototype hydration pac, which fit 2 full bladders in one pac, giving me over 3 liters of water for the race so I never had to stop and fill up!
To VMG blades for the mako 37, for extra stability in those choppy conditions.
To Remedy's Nutrition for long-lasting energy, good sleep, and a healthy body. You keep me rockin!
Keys Mobile Chiropractic
and a special guest Thank you to a friend who helped make this race possible, Florida Veterinary Cardiology <3 <3 <3
Love and Blessings and Gratitude to ALL!
to be continued... the ride home ...