Why I'm Not Racing in the Round the Rock 915

Since about 2009 ish a few SUP colleagues here in the Seattle area have run a well attended 13 mile SUP race around Mercer Island on Lake Washington.  Even in the sport's infancy nearly 100 showed up to race. In later years that number doubled and even rose beyond.  The last one I attended, to take pics for the mags, the starting line of the 13 mile race was in the 175 range. An impressive sight.  In recent years significant cash prizes have brought in the pros from California and Canada.  Vendors line the grounds for visitors to demo boards, talk shop, etc.

With this year's race in a few days, in certain circles of SUP paddlers there's a lot of chatter about what folks are doing for training.  Several have done the course 1-3x this week.  An out of towner is requesting a boat to circumnavigate the island to determine strategy. When it come around to me, many are surprised I'm not racing.  I do put on a weekly summer race, so I do race, but not this one.

Ultimately it comes down to two factors for why I'm not racing this weekend.. One, I've been teaching SUP daily, 5-7 days as week since June. We had a fabulous summer with temps in the 80's nearly every day so business has been great.  But the result of such success is I'm burned out.  Not from SUP, but I'm exhausted physically.  I was glad when we had a full week of wind and rain last week as I got no calls and a few cancellations.  I spent the week sleeping, taking it easy and getting caught up on business.

I'm also nursing a few minor injuries - a re-occuring shoulder injury which is probably from over use.    Aside from rubber band exercises, I find rest works well in reducing pain, even removing the problem on occasion.  When I race, despite an efficient low stress stroke, my shoulder gets sore.  I've been lucky thus far to not have shoulder surgery as many of my colleages have done by my age. I know when to rest, many don't.

Adding to my shoulder, I have a mysterious lower calf and archilles tendon ache that comes and goes. I've been nursing it the past 2 weeks with ice, rest, hottub, light yoga and Advil.  When it re-occurs, i get a sharp pain in my mid calf, then it finishes its cycle in my ankle, where it currently is.

Lastly, I'm more of a surfer personality.  I surf every ripple, wave, bump and boat wake I see.  Knowing there's one of our last summer/fall daytime low tides this weekend, which with good timing ends up in a surfable freighter wave - my eyes are on that ride, not on huffing and puffing in the forecasted 80F temps. I don't have the personality for long distance racing (but prefer a touring pace) and prefer my prize or goal to come a bit sooner.

It's easy to get sucked in to the hype and peer pressure of participating in our region's biggest race.  When I came back from a group paddle with a bunch of friends doing the RTR last week, my partner Christy nearly fell out of her chair when I said I was going to do the race.  I had spent years telling her why I'm not fit for the race and/or why it's not my cup of tea per se, suddenly I'm doing it?  Sleeping on it, I realized she was right, I know where my priorities are and I'm sticking to them. Talking to other paddling friends, I realized there are as many paddlers not doing the race there are those attending. Alternatively, one of my instructors and I paddled 15 miles that day at touring leisurly pace across Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island and back. I was in search of a petroglyph on a shoreline rock. That's more my style!

Staying healthy is a priority, so I can paddle another day.

Check out the Round the Rock! 

If you do go...
- You can demo boards and gear from the vendors. Great opportunity to try new stuff!
- The 13m start is pretty awesome. Definitely worth checking that out.
- Fun to see all the pro racers, though they make me feel I need to work out more.
- Great time to talk shop and check out all the participants gear.