Say yes. Say yes to invitations, and to meeting new people, and stepping out of your comfort zone, and to trying new things, and hugging family members of your friends, and gravy on your whole plate, and peeing in the woods, and say yes to sunscreen, because sunburned lips are too painful to be allowed. Say yes to favors, and help from people who know better than you, and then do what you can to help them in return. It is so crucially important to be open to experiences, because then sometimes you get to have amazing adventures that the faint-hearted will never have.
I met my friend Wendy last year when she ran the Boilermaker with my dad, her brother, and me. She had just started running, but she gutted out an awesome 15K, and loved it. We both ran the Buffalo half marathon this past May, and afterwards she and her brother (who is one of my dad’s best friends) came over for post-race beers. We were all sitting around, chatting about this and that, and somehow the subject of the 90 mile canoe race came up. The two of them did it last year, but he couldn’t this year, and she was looking for a partner. I didn’t volunteer. I believe I said “That sounds cool”, and my dad ran with it and told Wendy that I would love to do the race with her, and that because I rowed we should enter in the women’s competitive devision. (For the record, I don’t really canoe. I like it, but before signing on for this race I hadn’t paddled in about four years.)
The race was awesome. The first day was rough, we started in the tenth wave, which left an hour after the other inexperienced paddlers (who we belonged with), and had to be towed across the lake, and then across another lake, and then didn’t make the cutoff time, so had to stop early and catch a ride with a nice volunteer couple. It was tough, but we hung in there, and moral was high. The second day was better- we got to start in the first wave, and stayed with a lot of other paddlers. We were even in front of some boats! Things were going really well, but we had some steering issues, and ran into a lot of trees, which eventually resulted in a small capsizing incident. It was on a river, not in the middle of a lake, which would have been really bad, and we got right back in, but it cost us, and we wound up finishing second to last. Second to last isn’t last though, and we were really proud of ourselves. We were paddling really hard, and couldn’t stop for little things like eating, or peeing, so we were totally exhausted at the end of the day, but it was so satisfying. We really improved by the third day, and finished in pretty good time. I got super sunburned on the first day, which was rough, because being out in the sun all day meant getting a lot of sun, but it’s already turning to tan. It really was a great experience. I totally want to do it again next year, and Wendy is already peer pressuring me to run another half marathon with her in October.
I wore my Smith Crew uni on the last day!
This guy did the whole race on a standing paddle board! And he beat us. But that’s ok!
We met this lucky couple who have three Irish wolfhounds. They’re like ponies!
Post-race chocolate milk on the second day.