Dec 6, 2016

Searching For Sero: When life does its thing and brings beautiful people into your world

Thanks for the lovely article... Check it out and all the other amazing stories...

These two are some pretty rad folk Searching For Sero doing some amazing things. Really glad our paths have crossed a couple of weeks ago. They have taken on a huge mission and have chosen to take the harder path to help spread a message they both feel so strongly about. The outdoors is very important in my life and has given me so much in life (physically, emotionally, and spiritually,...job, husband, happiness, adventure, beauty, the list goes on). Lets make sure we take care of our nature, and most importantly go out and enjoy it... 


Picture by John Rathwell SearchingforSero

http://www.searchingforsero.com/works/lina-augaitis-sup-vernon-bc/

live, love, laugh,..DREAM!

Nov 23, 2016

Keepin' the dream ALIVE in Fiji: 2016 ISA SUP and Paddleboard World Champs





 Photos by Ryan Knysh:) 

I am sitting in the Vancouver airport waiting for my last flight home to Vernon and it already all feels like a distant dream. Travel days are always funny as I find myself in the in between world where I cannot wait to get home and see my family but also kind of dread all the "real life" things that come with arriving home.  My mind is stuck in a sort of  semi dreamland where my brain is jammed pack with memories of all the amazingness that just occurred. My Fiji experience was filled with a mix bag of emotions that came to be through leaving a 10 month old at home, not winning gold, winning gold, getting scared, seeing beauty, meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends,...ah man the list can just go on....


I got to spend a whole lot of time with the race portion of team Canada and this rad crew along with Captain Adrian made my trip a truly memorable one. In life, I am learning, it really is all about the people you meet and the connections you make with them. I feel so lucky to have been able to travel the world and meet so many unbelievable people and share memorable moments with them.


Fiji does not have to do much to create the sensation of living in a picture perfect postcard dream.  If you are a water person then this is the place for you. If you like intense heat and sunshine this is also the place for you.... If you have a pocket full of cash (which I don't have...) this is also the place for you. hahaha....but seriously it is a pretty amazing little piece of paradise.


The Canadian team consisting of
Catherine Bruhwiler, Jeff and Finn Spencer, Alison Wood, Rob Kavcic, Ryan Knysh, Jason Bennett, MIke Darbyshire and myself were truly amazing people in every way. They created an unforgetable trip and made us all proud to be Canadian:) THANK YOU team for being your awesome selves:)



ISA Worlds
The technical race was windy and tough but I knew I could do it. It was a long day in the sun and on a crowded boat but it was all part of the experience of being there competing.  As an athlete it was important to manage all the inconveniences to the best of my ability. 16 athletes made it through to the final. In the final, I didn't have my best start but also not my worst so I just went with it and gave it my best. I could quickly see that spots 1 and 2 were out of my reach and likely 3rd as well but I wasn't giving up on it. I was battling it out with Karla from Aus for fourth. I would catch her on the upwind and she would distance herself from me on the downwind portions of the course. I could never get enough ahead so it would be a large battle for me on my weaker downwind leg into the finish... I lost, and came in 5th just out of podium and a little heart broken. Its always a tough one being the one who just misses the podium. I was starting to realize that my current life of mommy, work, lack of serious training was showing in my performance. Although I felt good I still have a ways to go to be where I once was.


The distance race was to be my specialty. Well in the past that is. I executed the perfect start and first 10 minutes. I couldn't believe it really....haha I was exactly where I wanted to be out front... and then I just started to fade and fade and fade and just kept on fading... it was unreal, such a thing has never happened to me and I can't really explain it. I just could not go any faster... Incredible.. it was hot and flat (which in the past was perfect lina conditions....) but now not so much.. haha... I crossed the line and just felt empty and slightly embarrassed. I couldn't believe that my body could have changed so drastically after having a child etc... and I was clearly undertrained and not recovered:) I took it pretty hard,.... in a fun kind of way;)


We had a tough heat for the Team relays on Sunday so we all just paddled our best and enjoyed the ride.
The last race of the event was a new event. The 200m sprint. It was not worth team points but still considered an event. I wanted this win so badly but I have to admit my confidence was low going in. it was the people surrounding me that got me pumped up and motivated: it was their belief in my abilities and mind. I was focused and nervous but also just took it with stride. I got through my heat and in the final just gave it my all. I could feel the ladies close to me but I stayed focused on the finish line and keeping my speed. 200m is a funny distance as you just start to hit your max right before the finish so it gets quite painful in the last seconds and you  have to keep pushing and not make a mistake. Well,  I managed to capture that GOLD medal. It may not have been the most important race but it was important to me and I can now be at home with pride, motivation, and inspiration. Thank you team for the support.


I hope I can one day repay all of you that supported me.... THANK you from the bottom of my heart...


Thanks to the team sponsors: Vaikobi for the rad outfits and those that supported us and helped kit us out:)

THANKS first off to Andrew, Trish and Tav.... for making it easier for me to get away. THANK You to all my friends and family near and far for all the support. Lastly I could not have done it without Tourism Vernon, SIC Maui, Nikki Rekman Sales, Sun N SUP, Onit Pro, Dylan Walters, Yvonne and Kenta, Kalavida Surf Shop, Werner Paddles, Kavu, Ryders Eyewear, UB Super, ClifBar, Crossfit Vernon, SD 22.....to name a few:)

live, love, laugh,..DREAM!
lina



Nov 6, 2016

Fiji Bound: Heading to World Championships to represent Canada for SUP on Thursday:)

Its kind of mind boggling to think of what my life was like at 2015 Worlds in Mexico. How can life feel and be so different in such a short amount of time!?!?!



At the time of 2015 World SUP Champs in Mexico
I was living in Vancouver BC: now I live in Vernon/Coldstream BC a 5 hour drive east to the land of sun, orchards, lakes, and even more of an outdoor paradise...

I was contract outdoor ed teaching/living the life of a PRO SUP athlete: Now a PE teacher in the public school systems and slightly less feel of the PRO athlete life but there is still some lingering aspects that I hope stick around for a while yet:)

I at the time did not know I had a baby growing inside of me so with all do respects I was childless: now have a 10 month old baby boy named Tavas.  He just rocks my world in all the right ways:)

My hubby and I owned an apartment: we now own a house and Andrew did an amazing job on the new kitchen we renovated.

I knew a whole crew of amazing folks and now know an even larger crew of amazing folks:)


I digress...

Its been a roller coaster of a ride in all the right ways.... Following your dreams and passions and excelling at them is never easy: The training, the logistics, the team building, the life balance. I have had good weeks and tougher weeks.... Juggling the job, motherhood, being a wife, training, adventuring, friendship building etc its been a blast but definitely has had some challenging moments. I love it all...life is one fullfilling adventure and I would not have it any other way;)

Am I ready for Fiji? I have no clue.
Did I train enough? I have no idea.

What I do know is that I got out on the water when I could, I got to the gym when I could and I embraced as much creativity to make me feel as prepared as I could considering my circumstances. I bike to work, I run with Tav for one of his nap times, I work out in the basement, etc.

I am excited to represent Canada for my 3rd ISA. This is one of my favourite races of the year as there is so much country pride and it is about so much more than just yourself.... I am always so proud to represent Canada. I would love to hear the anthem once again...

THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to all of those that have helped me get to these world champs. I have had support from close and far and do not even know where to begin in the repayment of heart felt gratitude.

I am beyond stoked to finally have a full Canadian team at the ISA champs:) This is our first year of full representation among all disciplines. We have a rad crew with great talent and I can't wait to see what each athlete can do... but no matter what I am beyond proud of each of them and feel so lucky that I can captain such an amazing crew:) GO CANUCKS:)))))))))))))




What am I racing? I am racing an 18km distance race. Map below. It looks epic and stunning. Pretty stoked... it also sounds like there will be a whole bunch of different conditions, surf, open ocean, flat, chop, downwind.... interesting to see what it will shape up to be like... This is d=typically my stronger discipline but I think it will depend on the conditions and how my mind and body react. I have not had very much ocean time since moving to Vernon (lake country) and having a baby....


and a course race..... looks kind of epic... It was originally planned in a more subdued part of the ocean which was more of my thing but hey I will go out and enjoy the ride as much as possible:) Hopefully my surf legs come back to me pretty quick;) I do naturally have great starts and it seems like a fairly short course so it will be interesting to see how my mind and body react to the course presented below:)


So I am off on Thursday leaving my husband, Tav, and students at VSS in Vernon. (Lucky for Tav and Andrew, Andrew's mom is flying in from the UK to help out:)) I am off to travel to a warm paradise to continue to follow my passions, inspire, compete, live the dream:)))))

Thank you to family, SIC, Tourism Vernon, Werner Paddles, Nikki Rekman Sales, Sun n SUP, OnIt PRO, Kavu, SUPSkin, UB Super, ClifBar, Ryders Eyewear, Kalavida Surf Shop, and friends near and far.... I hope I can do you all proud, I hope I can do Canada proud:)

You will be able to follow the event on the ISA website at http://isaworlds.com/sup/2016/en/

live, love, laugh,..DREAM!
lina

Aug 29, 2016

August Life: Tav is 7 months, Vernon time, Hood River International SUP racing


Tav chillin at Sovereign Park at Kal Lake

After a whole bunch of travelling and racing most of August was spent at our home in Vernon. Andrew has been busy working on our little kitchen addition.. and the progress has been spectacular. I really love our home in Vernon, actually I can't believe its been just over a year that we moved here... feels like we have lived here forever.... it's a sweet little gem of a place. Having grown up in Canada (Ontario) I really do love this big empty country and although there are many wonderful places in the world, I love it here, I love the seasons, the mountains, the vastness, the people,... the everything... phew.

August, was mostly about teaching SUP, house renos, and mini local explorations. I would have loved to do more of the last (explorations) but work and housework sort of took over... Its a tough balance working, mom duties, "training" being a semi pro athlete, wife, and meeting new friends and seeing old friends... phew... I don't know how you "super" moms out there do it all:)...

Junior SUP club at Kalamalka Beach 

Kitchen renos and Tav

We also had a ton of visitors cruising through in August. I didn't manage to take many pictures:( Too name a few we had Tracy and fam, Barb and Kevin, Tom and Chuck, Chris, Meg, and Rosa, and a whole gang from Vancouver this past weekend. We got to bike, hike, run, SUP, swim, and have some good general hanging out on our new deck:) Oh and always plenty of good eats, drinks, and laughs...

We hiked up to Spectrum Lake in the Monashee Provinicla Park. What a beautiful place and this was just the edge of the Monashees. Great spot for family overnight hiking trips.
Spectrum lake hike
Spectrum Lake
spectrum Lake

I taught a clinic in Naramata with Sun N Sup. We love this low key beautiful community. Sun N SUP is a killer little shop that everyone needs to check out when in Naramata.

Tav chillin in Naramata

I raced in Hood River and Andrew got a few sweet mtn bike rides there. We enjoyed spending time with the SIC Ohana, the Werner team and the international SUP gang:)
Racing the course race photo Gorge Performance

Team SIC photo by Jeremy Riggs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXjkWYgbhgo&feature=youtu.be

I got to enjoy the Silverstar mtn bike park with friends

Lots of water time... Tav seems to enjoy swimming in the lake which is exciting stuff

Tav is babbling, growing teeth, standing with support, loves the jolly jumper, enjoys all kinds of foods and is generally a happy go lucky kind of baby...

Tav adventures

Thank you August for all the adventures
The fam in Hood river photo distressed mullet

live, love, laugh,...DREAM!
lina

Aug 26, 2016

Champion of the Crescent: A family trip to the city (overdue blog post)


start sandwhich betwen Danny and Jarko


You know your life has changed when your trip to the city includes stops at IKEA and other house and baby needs:) When you meet your friends at the park at 430pm to have dinner and all leave by 730pm to make sure kids are in bed and you have time to rest:) Or you go to the shore to hike as a family instead of a 5 hour mountain bike epic:)

I am NOT complaining. Infact I kind of love it.... I have been able to do so much of the crazy outdoor adventure stuff throughout my life that I welcome the change. I LOVE being a mom and I LOVE our little family. and I LOVE going on hikes all together, or canoeing, or to IKEA... hahha..

We were in Vancouver so I could race in the Champion of the Crescent SUP race out at Crescent Beach in Surrey. I was still recovering from the Yukon, the travels, Tofino races, clinics, traveling but really wanted to be at this event, and I am sure glad I made it out.

It was like a SUP Pacific NorthWest reunion of sorts. There were a ton of the top PNW paddlers out and it was great to see everyone again. I wish we arrived sooner and could stay longer so I could have reconnected with everybody...

The race was set up as a fundraiser for youth suffering with mental health. They pulled off a great event and were able to incorporate a 10km race, 5 km race, kids race, and corporate team relays.

I was super nervous for this event.... I just was totally drained from travels, racing, being a new mom, working, etc... so was not sure what my body and or mind could do for this race. It was short as comparison to something like the Yukon which almost makes it harder as one has to push that much harder still for a good amount of time.

I had nothing to prove but still wanted to win:) haha the competitive side of me is NOT gone after being a mother its just that no matter what happens I have Andrew and Tav to come home to which is always the best prize there can be:)

I managed to have a good race and won the event with a solid lead which felt good both physically and mentally. I was on the SIC 12'6 X Prolite with my Werner Grand Prix paddle. Unfortunately, we had to leave right away as I needed to be in vernon teaching Monday at 9am and with a 6.5 month old driving times and just plain ol road trips take longer.. I am not one to miss award ceremonies but we had to hit the road so we took the necessary pictures and off we went back to Vernon.

all in all it was a fab little trip of accomplishing errands, meeting up with old friends, and winning a race to to it all off:)

champions of the crescent:)

live, love, laugh,...DREAM!
lina

Jul 20, 2016

It Takes A Village....From the Yukon to the West Coast

Picture by Tofino Paddle Surf
Picture by Tofino Paddle Surf
We just returned from a pretty epic weekend in Tofino. It was a matter of fate and not turning down open doors that got Tav and I to enjoy the beams of sunshine, waves, and the peacefulness out on the west coast. After a tree jumped in Andrew's way on the trails in whitehorse, Andrew has been out of commission as he suffered some torn muscles in his rotator cuff:( He needed a break from drving and camping to rest, heal and do some physio. This left myself and Tav in an interesting position.... For me, I was left in a state of indecisions.... I was feeling very over run post Yukon River Quest and traveling for 6000km in a car, so figured maybe it was a sign to take a break and cancel the tofino trip but I had a few clinics planned and really didn't want to cancel them..... SO, I was in scramble mode but in the end I felt like it was all too complicated and I should stay at home...Just as I started to feel okay with my decision the world opened its doors and clearly showed me I should be in Tofino. A viable and fun opportunity arose at the last minute thanks to Issy and Jeff from Penticton and the next thing I knew Issy, Jeff, Tav, and I were on our way to Tofino.


The SUP communities around the world and in Canada are supportive welcoming and down right amazing. It is a huge reason why this sport continues to grow and flourish and stands out form the rest (above and beyond just being a great sport in itself)

This past weekend the SUP community once again blew my mind. From the amazing support we encountered in Whitehorse (to name a few Kalin at UpNorth Adventures, Colleen Segriff, etc) to how the community here in the Okanagan and on the island provided selfless help for Tav and I throughout the Tofino weekend. I could not have camped with a 6.5 month old, raced, taught without these amazing people.
Picture by Tofino Paddle Surf

On Friday I got to run two Surf Race clinics. I wanted to offer these clinics for those new to surf racing and get people a little more comfortable in this style of racing. We worked on beach starts, pivot turns, surfing our race boards and some surf race strategies. I was stoked with the groups improvements and the waves and weather were perfect for learning. Tofino delivered. Thanks to South Island SUP and Tofino Paddle Surf for organizing the clinics... They were a total success!

The races were a 3 in 1 package. Everyone won. There were points to be had for the Vancouver Island Six Pack Race Series, points for the BC SUP CUP series as well as it was our first Canadian Surfing Association sanctioned Canadian National Championships.
Picture by Tofino Paddle Surf
Saturday was surf race day. We had about 50 people participate. The waves were just big enough to provide the right kind of challenges yet provide smiles on peoples faces while coming off the water and running past the finish line. The buoy course provided 4km of fun:) I managed to pull off a win but really some of my fav moments were helping with announcements and watching everyone put themselves in a new environment and succeed!
Picture by Tofino Paddle Surf

Sunday was a 6km or 12km coastal distance paddle. This was a great course. I like distance races that offer variety and scenery. Throughout the course we encountered flatwater, ocean swell, and a pretty good mix of ocean swell/reverb off the rocks/current etc. The course also offered epic scenery the entire way, along the coast and throughout the rock islands..... I loved it. It again provided just the right amount of challenge to push those new to ocean racing, entertain those of us that have experience yet allow feelings of success for all:) I also managed to win which gave me the overall title of Canadian Champ but again not the highlight of my weekend... Many of the highlights were the clinics, the people, the camping, the stories, oh did I mention the people?
Picture by Issy venables. Jeff taking care of Tav

Picture by Tofino Paddle Surf
Picture by Tofino Paddle Surf

Thank you once again to Tofino Paddle Surf, South Island SUP, Coastline Shop, Issy and Jeff, and all the paddlers out there for making this an unforgettable and manageable weekend... You are all MY inspiration and motivation.

Picture by Jason B and Carmen M







Picture by Tofino Paddle Surf

live, love, laugh,..DREAM!
lina

Jul 5, 2016

River of Dreams: My Experiences of the Yukon River Quest

IMG_5680

Some Stats:
715km
60hrs 22min
First Women finisher of the first official SUP Yukon River Quest category
11 SUPs began 9 finished and 93 paddle crafts started the race.
Spent I would guess 3/4 of the race completely on my own (no kind of boats around me)
6000km of driving from home on Vernon and back
Tav turned 6 months old during the race!

IMG_5493

Support crew: 
Nikki Rekman and husband Mark: The main, the best, could not have done it without you, meals, drivers, gear, love, planners
Andrew and Tav: Obviously could not have done it without you, driver, father, gear expert, supporter, and everything in between, my men, my loves,.... the best of the best
Colleen Segriff (babysitter extraordinaire)
UpNorth Adventures (Kalin Pallett and Krista, hosting us in Whitehorse)

IMG_5697
IMG_5767

Sponsor's Gear:
SIC (board) 14ft X Pro. A great choice, worked like a charm. I added some gear loops and it worked like magic
Werner paddles: Grand Prix Paddle (M blade size)
SUPSKIN suit
Larry Allison fins and SUP Gladiator Fins
Ryders Eyewear:
Vitargo/Vynna
UB SUPer
OnIt Pro

Other Gear:
Kokatat PFD
Kokatat dry pants and Kokatat jacket
Zik shoes
Medela breast pump
LifeStraw
MEC drybags
Watershed dry bag
Garmin GPS

IMG_5670
IMG_5671

Favorite Food:
Vitargo drink (in hydration bladder)
Electrolyte was sometimes Nuun and soemtimes Skratch Lab
Before and at rest stops UB Super Whey Vanilla
Homemade energy balls (dates, choc, almond butter, coconut, seeds and nuts)
Nature's bakery Fig Bars, ClifBar organic trail mix, Clif shot blocks, Clif Protein Bar, ProBa
Banana, sliced apple
Almond butter sandwiches
Cold pizza

The Race!

Was I ready? Not really in some ways and yes in others. I was slightly stressed the few days before the start with knowing if I was bringing enough food or too much or the right food. Same thing with clothes and gear. The weather patterns really change throughout the 715km course. As I would have few chances to breastfeed Tav during the race, I figured out how to use a breast pump and paddle at the same time – bur would it work?

We had a beauty of a day to start the race off. The race starts at noon but the whole process begins earlier with a gear check in the morning and placement of boards/boats etc. Then there are introductions and talks. Noon is go time and its a Lemond start where we run/jog for about 400m to our boards. Our support crew are there holding the boards in the water. Its a funny thing starting a race that is days long. I chose to jog with Bart and Norm and some of the other SUPs. No need to sprint and get out of breath. Nikki was out there holding my board and I had a great little start. I was up there with Bart and Norm for a wee bit :) Eventually I found my place amongst the SUPs which was about 5th or 6th.

IMG_5675

It is about 3 hrs on the river before you enter Lake Laberge. I chose to wear my Kokatat dry pants with booties, with thin ski socks and Zhik shoes as my bottoms and a thin white long sleeve top with my Ryders sunnies and SIC visor. I felt tis would provide me with the best chance of not having to change. I have to really protect my feet from cold and wet hence wearing dry booties for the entire race. I also know I get cold very quickly so dressed for that. The lake happen to be very warm and sunny but my outfit was perfect for me. We were sooo lucky on the lake with the conditions. There was a thunderstorm just over the mountains but it never moved over the lake. We had slight headwind, followed by no wind, the slight side/headwind again with some stronger gusts and then a slight downwind to finish off the 60km of lake paddling. I just paddled hard the whole time knowing that conditions could change quickly and wanted to get as far as I could with the stroke of luck we were given. I arrived at the checkpoint at around 10:15pm or so. I got off my board quickly to pee and out on some warmer clothes for the night. I didn't change my pants but I put on a merino top and made sure my jacket was handy and put on my buff and took off my visor and sunnies. I also pumped for the first time. I wanted to wait until I made the checkpoint and time cut off after the lake before pumping. I could really feel the need by then as it had been over 10 hours without any kind of release.

The next 30 miles is a beautiful part of the river, the flow is quick and the scenery beautiful. For awhile I paddled amongst other boats and eventually caught up to Andres on a SUP. Then I took a slightly different route around an island then those in front of me and potentially behind me. After this I saw no one for hours and hours. At some point I was a little worried I somehow managed to get on a different river or something. I was making sure I was still heading down river, and hoping that the race was still on and I was still on course. Luckiy before I got too crazy and worried a kayaker popped out of the woods. He was a nice man who I got to paddle with until Carmacks. He was definitely faster than me but was so nice to always keep an eye out for me and make sure I was okay. Eventually I made it to Carmacks. I got in at about 3pm on Thursday.

IMG_5703

Carmacks is our 7 hour mandatory checkpoint. Nikki Rekman and her husband Mark were my support along with Andrew, Tav and Colleen. I got in in a surprisingly good spirits. I think I was glad to finally get off the river. I remember thinking how utterly ridiculous this whole thing was and couldn't really figure out why I was doing it?!?!? Anyways, I saw Tav and my body needed to get him on my boob. So we made it to our area and I fed him and at the same time ate a pre ordered chicken burger and fries along with cantaloupe and water. One of the most entertaining moments was when I held Tav after he had lots of milk... and likely unknown to me at the time too much milk and literally did a shower of a puke all over some of the clothes I was going to wear for the second half of the race. Haha - quick thinking and amazing support had me under an outdoor camping shower and my clothes in Carmacks getting washed. I then headed for sleep but for some reason the quiet and hotness of the racer area just didn't do it for me so I headed back to our truck and climbed in there with all the bustle around me and slept a little but to much was going through my head to really get a good sleep so I decided to feed Tav in stages rather than all in one go again to avoid some major puking. Before leaving Carmacks again, I ate some pasta, fed Tav, brushed my teeth, and got my food organized for stage 2 of the race. 350Km to Dawson. I left at 10pm and my first challenge was to get through Five Finger Rapids without getting too wet :) It was pretty hard to say goodbye to Tav and Andrew but I had to do it and it was a weird thought to think I would see them in a day and a half and I would be paddling that whole time...


Five Fingers was smaller than last time I went through due to the lower river level, but I still played it safe down on my knees. Being alone etc I just didn't want to even think I was going to fall in :) That night was cold, and lonely. It was the beginning of the the maze of islands we had to navigate through and I was starting to get annoyed that I was so alone all the time. From time to time for a few hours I saw some boats but then truly did not see anyone in front or behind me for a really really long time. So if you are wondering, I peed on my boat, easy as no one was around to see me :) I sometimes would catch myself just lilly dipping lost in clouds of thoughts and lala land.. then at some point would snap out of it and realize that if I paddled harder I would get to Dawson quicker and the pain would be over sooner :) hahaha. I didn't have anyone to follow or push me so as time went on it could tougher and tougher to really stay on top of paddling with any kind of intensity.

My moments of crazy truly began between Fort Selkirk and Coffee Creek (3hrs mandatory rest and about 180km from finish). No major hallucinations just yet the real deal unbeknown to me were on their way, this was just the preamble to the real crazy. Lots of self talk, self doubt, telling stories to myself, funny feelings of euphoria followed by feelings of dread and doubt and fear. I didn't feel like I was learning or growing as a person I was just feeling like I was beginning to go crazy and was nervous that I was going to permanently be a little woopy for the rest of my life:) I took a 5hr energy shot about 2 hours before arriving to coffee creek at the same time finally some boats popped out of nowhere and the crazies started to dwindle and eventually the coffee creek stop appeared in the nick of time.

At coffee creek, my strategy was off. I thought what I should do is just rest right away. But as I was trying to rest I was thinking of all the things I needed to do before I left and couldn't fall asleep. So instead of wasting time trying to sleep I got up and prepared myself and my board for departure. I found a new spot to rest and tried again. But... it just wasn't in my cards to sleep. Maybe I took that 5 hr energy shot too close to the rest time, dang it.. So, I decided to pump my boobs instead. I found a chair in the med tent, set up my pumping system and tried to get some shut eye whilst pumping. I pumped each boobed and then it was time for me to go.

The next significant memory is of likely the most memorable part of the race for me both in a good and  slightly frightening way. It was at about 1:30am where  the White River joins the Yukon River, the water turns a shade of grey/brown and the current picks it up a notch. Here I wish I was either a writer or artist and could better express what was going on within me. If you can imagine: It is the darkest part of the night so everything is a blended shade of grey, I am completely on my own, no other beings or boats around, I am standing, my GPS is not functioning which has made me quite distraught, I had just taken a 5 hour energy shot and the hallucinations were at an ultimate high. I could not decipher between what was real and was a hallucination. I knew if something was going to go wrong it would be then and it would be bad which made for a very frightening situation to be in. In my mind though I had no choice but to keep going. I was struggling fighting so hard to focus on objects to make the hallucinations go away and see what was actually in front of me so I could make choices of my route. In fact it was really hard to decipher sand banks versus water in a normal state so in my crazy state it was even harder when giant animals made out of trees were poking their heads out and giving me a wink, or the rocks and trees turned into cartoon style jungle themed protruding objects, when dead people were floating just under the water along with white faces and dead animals? I saw yellow canoes everywhere, I saw western/gold rush era style of people posing on the shore banks, random objects like white sci-fi spaceships floating out of the side of rocks and green army objects hidden in the forests. The feeling was so strange I felt like I was having a full out of body experience, not really aware of what I was doing, where I was, and why I was there yet still managing to stay standing and most of the time paddling. I so badly wanted to see somebody, anybody to know I was still in real life. THEN, I saw in the distance a voyager canoe. It was just a dark figure of a boat but there it was. So, I sprinted, I sprinted like I was doing a short course race, I sprinted as hard as I could to keep the canoe in my sights, I sprinted for about 1.5 hours before I lost them. I was so scared of being alone again, I didn't eat, I didn't drink, I didn't do anything but keep my eyes peeled on that shadow and paddle hard. When they finally disappeared I sat down and cried a bit. I thought it was over... I could not handle it anymore, alone again and still seeing things. Eventually I talked myself into standing again and paddling, I needed to get of the river and the only place I wanted to do that was in Dawson City.

When I finally reached the last manned check point. I did get off the board and talked to a voyageur canoe to keep an eye out for me when they pass me. I also talked to the lady at the checkpoint and when she told me it was 8 more hours to the end I almost lost my sh*t. I didn't know if I could do it.  I figured, I must keep going, stopping would be the worst so I got back on my board and knew even if I just floated I would make it there.

So, I paddled, and fought the urges to stop, just tried to set a rhythm to it all. In the end I had pumped my boobs 7 times on each boob on the water and once at coffee creek layover on land plus when I got to breast feed Tav at Carmacks 300km into the race. I was nearing the end,  could feel it, I was starting to remember things from the last time we paddled back in 2011. My brain was not totally with it and I started to paddle hard thinking Dawson was around this one bend, and when it wasn't I totally collapsed mentally and physically. I wanted off the river... hahaha... I couldn't believe I had been so wrong. Then, I saw it, the mark to show Dawson was near, just around the bend and it took everything I had to paddle and go. I was so out of it, I had no idea where to go at the end :) hahaha but I made it to a cheering crowd, to friends and family. I made it 6 months post Tav being born, the first woman to complete the race, the 5th SUP paddler overall, withe 60 hours on the river. Who would have ever guessed thinking “Yes, only 10 hours more of paddling would get me to this point which is nothing compared to the 30 hours I have already done :)”

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What a journey, what an experience. I proved to myself I can do it all by myself (literally on the water), make choices decisions out in the wild on moving water.  In times of desperation I could get myself to where I needed to be safely... and get myself back with family and friends. We all made it, myself, Tav, and Andrew. We survived the challenges that come with a 6month old and a mom wanting to paddle the yukon river quest. THANK YOU to Nikki Rekman Sales for supporting me through this journey, you are one hell of a support crew (I think I had the best of the best out there). THANK YOU to my sponsors especially SIC, Werner Paddles, SUPSKIN, Larry Allison Fins, Vitargo/Vynna, UB Super, Ryders Eyewear. THANK YOU to family and friends for following and supporting from afar, the notes, messages, calls meant the world to me.

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Congrats to all the SUP paddlers and ALL the paddlers. It is a long, hard journey. Its one of those races where getting to the start line is the first challenge and getting to that finish line is a whole other beast that only a few will ever want to take on.  Thank you to Yukon River quest for finally believing in us the Stand Up Paddlers, I look forward to watching, and cheering on the future SUPers that take on this challenge:)

What is the next challenge? That is yet to be determined but am sure there will be one. Got any ideas?!? I am game ;)

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Live, Love, Laugh,..DREAM!
Lina