But I survived
I discovered kayaking in the spring of 2019 and spent the summer paddling flat water most weekends with my husband. We enjoyed the sport recreationally, but when I saw the ad for a fun float and race in October, I signed us up.
We showed up at the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River in Kentucky for the 4-mile fun float and race and I’m still surprised to this day; I wasn’t laughed off the boat ramp.
I’m sure there were snickers and whispers. I had brought a 75 lb. monster of a kayak, and it was probably the biggest one among all the sleek boats. I consoled myself I was there for the fun float portion of the race.
My husband was there mainly for moral support in his canoe and when the gun fired to start, I was already in last place. He paddled along the bank nearby while I kept a steady rhythm, keeping my eyes on the yellow plastic inflatable in the bend a mile away. The goal was to paddle around it, come back, then do it again.
I reached the turning point and was ready to call it done. I had paddled over 40 miles that summer, so I thought surely I could do 4 miles, but it was just too much.
I limped back to the start line and told the official it was my finish line and dropped out. We paddled around on the sidelines and cheered the other racers.
Later, we attended the awards ceremony held at the Whistle Stop Cafe. When the 4-mile fun float and race winners were called, they awarded only 1st and 2nd places. Since there were only three people in the race and one dropped out… Had I stayed in and finished, I would have had 3rd place, by default.
But that wasn’t why I entered the race. I had been curious about that world and it scared me to enter, even at a novice level, and I wanted to see if I could do it.
There’s a quote printed on my racing bib, “Don’t live down to expectations. Go out there and do something remarkable.” — Wendy Wasserstein
I keep the numbers pinned to a board as a reminder it’s important to break out of my comfort zone and that sometimes when I do, remarkable things can happen.
This is the 45th story in the Objects as Waypoints Writing Project series. Stories 43 and 44 are out on submission.