The first time I saw paddleboarders, they reminded me of the Venice gondoliers without the striped shirts and skinny, long canoes. Then I learned it builds core, leg, and upper body strength. I’m all about exercising while outdoors. Being landlocked in Colorado, adopting a new water sport intrigued me so I reserved a paddleboard. I wondered if I would spend more time in the water than on the board. I didn’t know I would learn some life lessons too.
Union Reservoir in Longmont only allows power boats to put around and fish, so it’s a paddleboarders’ paradise. I rented a board and grabbed a paddle. I set the lifepreserver on top of the board where it taunted me. I wondered how many times I would spill and if I should put it on. I looked around at the graceful paddleboarders gliding across the lake and tensed, knowing grace was a gift given to other people. I must have been sick that day.
Ask questions and learn from instructors.
Since I took whitewater canoeing for one credit to become a junior in college, I knew the strokes. J-stroke is performed like the letter looks when paddling on the left side and it is mirrored on the right. C-stroke is the same. Holding the paddle behind me against the board would turn it quickly and slow it down. The paddle had a slight bend. I assumed it should be held to scoop the water.
“Nope,” said the instructor. “It’s counter-intuitive, but you hold the paddle so it angles away from the water with the scoop inverted.” Good thing he was there. It would have been a pretty frustrating day.
I walked into the cool water and stepped onto the board. It wobbled so I hung onto both sides. Since I had knee surgery, I couldn’t kneel with both knees. I stood in a squat and hoped I wouldn’t flail around and fly into the water in the first few seconds. Using my core and leg muscles, I stood up gradually and then inched my way to the center where there was a grab slot. I placed my feet on either side and let out my held breath.
Being an observer, I watched others paddling around. I bent my knees and kept my back straight. After a few tentative strokes, I felt pretty confident.
Then, I turned my head to look behind me. The board tilted. I almost fell in.
Life Lesson #1: Never look back.
With all the death our family over the last two years, I have learned to be more aware of what is happening now. We can’t change the past and there’s no way to predict the future. We only have the present in which we are living.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we got warnings, like falling off the board into the lake, to remind us to focus on what we are doing? Regret and worry are time sucks. Both of them prevent us from enjoying life. And who really wants to fall into cold water? Okay, if it had been ten degrees warmer, I would have taken the plunge.
Life Lesson #2: Work hard, play harder.
I paddled along the shoreline into the wind. Although it was only a light breeze, I still had to work at making any headway. Little by little, I stroked toward the opposite shore.
After ninety minutes of paddling around, I was done. I sat down on my board, aimed at the boat house, and coasted. There’s nothing like relaxing while enjoying labor’s just reward.
Life Lesson #3: Don’t judge. Try it, you might like it.
Will I go again? Definitely. My upper body felt the burn. Next time, I’ll paddle harder to work on my core. I love the exhausted feeling of exercised muscles.
With the sky above and the water below, it is a meditative sport, if you can block out the yapping dogs playing on the beach. Maybe I’ll take my Bichon, Roxy, sometime!
Have you tried paddleboarding? Would you like to try it? What’s your favorite way to exercise?