Sooo hoooo! Lotta cool stuff happening, lotta cool stuff to do, and seriously, it is now or never for a variety of projects on the burner. Number one, get organized. Seriously. This house reflects the many projects, interests, and loves of the four humans, two birds, one guinea pig, one dog, and now four plus five new baby mice… Looks like all hell broke loose, really, but hey, we live and we create here. Don’t judge us.
Before I get into this overdue blog about a crazy epic paddle/run challenge (including my first half-marathon ever!) a friend organized, I do need to make a pitch. It’s #cleanwaterwednesday after all. This year’s paddle, as a project of Blue Frontier Campaign, will have me going from Chicago to New Orleans via a little highlighted route, the Tenn-Tom Waterway. I’ll be leaving Chicago and paddling South, except I’ll break off from the Mississippi and paddle a bit into Kentucky and up the Tennessee River and into Kentucky Lake. From their I’ll hit the Tombigbee Canal and River and enter Mobile Bay. Then it’s repeat of a section of a paddle I did in ’09 in partnership with Natural Resources Defense Council and the Gulf Restoration Network. So I’ll find my way to Lake Pontchartrain and New Orleans (#CHI2NOLA). The relatively late in the season start for this paddle will hopefully have me avoiding high water and flooding. The anticipated starting date will be around August 10th.
I know folks will be all wrapped up in the Presidential election, but hey, what better time to do this and help impress upon our Presidential hopefuls to inform us about how they will protect and conserve what we CANNOT live without and which has NOT been given enough love, protection, and infrastructure attention? That valuable stuff would be our WATER, of course. You can’t live without it, and it all does go to the ocean, that other kinda big thing we can’t live without, either, and can’t afford to let fail.
In order to help our ailing ocean, please help me make water and climate change an election year priority. We need an honest debate and serious attention to these issues, as the consequences are nipping at our heels. To do any less is a dereliction of duty to protect the people and property of this great nation. We need to know now, before we cast those ballots, how our future President will address these crisis level issues. So cheers and paddles up, and please please PLEASE consider making a donation–no amount is too small!–so that we might raise our voices together and be heard by those who want our vote.
And now back to a bitty bit about the awesome break from the mundane courtesy the Epic Mulletkai.
During Palm Sunday weekend I escaped the sudden cold snap in NJ and took off to Wrightsville Beach, NC, to participate in the first ever Epic Mulletkai. This challenge created by John Beausang, aka Distressed Mullet, of “The Mullet” magazine, along with one of his friends, James Bain, of Epic Food Company (who also hosted the amazing pre-marathon dinner), involved paddling 13 miles on Saturday, running a half-marathon on Sunday, followed by another 13 miles the next day, plus for me, a nine hour drive home after dinner. Per my normal MO, I left Friday morning almost three hours later than I was shooting for. Since I was going to be camping that night, and needed to paddle to the spot where I anticipated camping, I was a little under the gun to get down to WB,NC, with enough light to figure my way thru unfamiliar marshes.
In theory it should have worked out perfectly, even with a two-three hour later departure. But by the time I grabbed dinner at a cool little local health food store, Tidal Creek Food Co-op, spoke to Barbara Link, one of the funny/no crazier than me 100mi/100days FB page members, who was also going to let me crash her place the night before the marathon, and finally found myself at the boat launch from where I’d paddle to my anticipated camping spot, it was getting dark, and my confidence in my ability to find my way through the marshes sank with the rapidly setting sun. I did speak to a nice local guy at the launch, who tried to give me directions thru the marshes, but my understanding of his landmarks was a little shaky. So it was with a top heavy backpack, supposedly waterproof (swag from a local NJ race) that I set out on my board, looking wobbly enough that the local guy pointed out how top heavy and unstable I looked. Poking a little bit around the marshes I realized, with the sun dropping out of sight, that I better cut my losses and look for the nearest best thing, which was the island directly across the launch.
This little island had a nice sandy beach on the lee side. On other side, I unhappily discovered, it was all marshy and stickery and walking on the dry land spots was like wading thru a sea of briars. It seriously annoyed me, more than it should have, to be stomping around this briar patch of a miserable island with annoying gnats and mosquitos buzzing in my ears. Where was my sense of adventure and humor, I asked myself. All I wanted to do was pitch my tent and crawl inside my sleeping bag with a book and a beer and enjoy the quite and sound of the surf, which I could totally hear even if I was on the wrong island. Somehow I found a clear spot just big enough for my tent. Too late did I realize I really should have taken my flip flops, provoking another torrent of cursing, as there were little cactuses and stickers all over. Not good for middle of the night potty breaks in bare feet! Once I plucked off a huge sticker from my wetsuit booties and scooted inside my tent, a mercifully bug-free zone, I stripped down into my comfy clothes and rooted around for my book. Except, that too, I had apparently left in the car. Ah well, at least I was in my sleeping bag by 8:30, it was warm, it was not New Jersey, I had a very tasty beer, I could listen to the ocean, and the next day I’d be paddling with friends. Once again, I found my bliss!
The next day I woke up early and leisurely packed my bag and tent, gathered up my belongings, slugged my gear thru the brambles and cacti, hopped on board at the perfect little sandy beach, the only truly perfect part of the little dredge spoils island, and paddled myself back to the launch. I was still half a sleep and when I sort of drifted into a pylon, not a huge deal, it would be a little bump, that’s all, and it should have been, except I had this ungainly, top-heavy supposedly waterproof bag throwing me off balance. Into the water I went, in slow motion. Fortunately, while the bag turned out to not be truly waterproof (hey-it still served its purpose and was free swag at a race, after all!), I wasn’t in the water long enough for it to soak my stuff.
Back at the car I quickly tossed my gear inside and went in search of coffee and food. Thank goodness there are gas station stores all over the place in the South. Then it was beat it back to the launch, because by close to nine I had decided I wanted to paddle to my friends from the boat launch instead of meeting them at the designated spot on the barrier island of Wrightsville Beach. This would have been a great plan if I had actually done the milage beforehand so I could better gauge when I needed to leave. My launch was five miles south of where they launched from. Fortunately, I caught up to John on his prone and Julia, the creator of the 100/100 challenge, and a few others as they were closing in on the Masonboro Inlet. So the last couple of miles I got to paddle with friends and then it was a quick, cold rinse off with the neato little pressurized water thingy Carl picked up and off to grab my race packet and catch up with the folks at Epic Food Company.
That night, after our wonderful dinner (thank you James and Epic Food Company!) I hightailed it, as much as I could with being stuck in a military parade, to Barbara Link’s home. I wish I could have spent more time chatting with her–such a fun lady! I’m sure I’ll be paddling with her at the Carolina Cup–hope so anyway! She has the cutest family of little dachshunds and one rat terrier ever. She says she failed at fostering. Can you blame her? My husband would never agree to foster out dogs. We’d be the same way.
The day of the marathon and half-marathon it was truly miserable. Truly miserable. It was so cold that I had to seek refuge in a little office vestibule until the organizers called our heat. It was super cold. Fortunately, you do warm up quickly when you run, so it was only chilly for the first mile or so. Since this was my first half-marathon I figured I’d run it super slow. I ran it too slow. This wasn’t a bad thing because I could chat with other slow runners and we had some great conversations. I ran with a lady sorta local to the area, and a guy who was going a lot slower than his one time Olympic hopeful wife. He was from Ireland originally and we had a great conversation. Probably the only time you can talk politics in this country is when you find a person who is not US born and who came to this country as an adult. So we had lively conversations and I had plenty of energy at the end for our next round of paddling.
Poor April Zilg, local SUP champion and ambassador, broke her foot so she outrigger paddled both days, as I did but minus the broken foot. April resorted to a scooter for the half-marathon part of the challenge. I never caught up with our lively group on the run, but at least we all got to paddle together around the island and miss the storm that looked so imminent on the weather apps. I really hope that John and everybody do this again next year. It was a crazy little adventure–I mean, I had no clue what to expect with sleeping accommodations or anything, really, and it all worked out, minor irritations were only minor after all. It was a pretty major accomplishment, I think! And getting to paddle with others and just hang out with crazy like-minded individuals is definitely a bonus, as is not puncturing your tent on a cactus!