This past Friday I participated in an epic 26.5 mile paddle around New York City to help raise money and awareness for the SEA (Surfer’s Environmental Alliance) and autism. The task of paddling a marathon around the world’s most populated city was a little daunting but I was pretty confident my arms could handle the trek so I signed up, raised over $1200 and gave it a go. The views were spectacular, the water quality was what you would expect seeing as how we would be paddling up the Hudson River then down the Harlem River and finally into the infamous East River and overall it I found the experience extremely rewarding both mentally and physically. I chose to paddle the course in the prone position (laying down the whole time) on my 12 foot board and completed the paddle in under 5 hours, which I admit was much faster than I expected. My amigos Dan Callahan and Andy Carter crushed the course on their 18 foot boards (also doing it prone) and tied for 2nd place – a pretty damn impressive feat.
The physical aspect of the race was pretty grueling and a true challenge. Imagine paddling at 80-90% for nearly 5 hours straight without stopping – pretty brutal. The first two miles are tough just getting warmed up and loose, then you hit your stride from mile 2 through mile 8 then some fatigue sets in but you push past that before having your arms nearly go numb. A couple more bursts of energy are immediately followed by major physical walls but that’s were the mental aspect comes in to just keep pushing onward. And so it goes. There were a couple stressful moments as I dodged some serious tugboats, ferries, and barges in the East River – it was clear they were not going to move an inch for what I’m sure they figured was a dumb ass kid floating in the river all by his lonesome.
Mentally the paddle was awesome. Its filled with excitement and adrenaline out of the gates which then segues into surfacing thoughts coming deep from the brain which then turns into crazier thoughts driven by fatigue and ultimately a complete breakdown of the mind. In today’s fast paced lifestyle I find this kind of mental breakdown and expulsion of random deep thoughts a refreshing change. It is truly a great form of meditation.
After feeling lost and not really knowing where I was in relation to the finish for hours, I finally found myself creeping up on the Brooklyn Bridge which would be the finish of the paddle. After a final push through what felt like the longest 2 miles of my life I had made it. All in all I was super stoked on the paddle and glad to have helped raise money and awareness for the two great causes.
Thank you so much to everyone that donated for the paddle and supported my decision to get weird in the East River!!!!!