Jan 17, 2014

Orange Bowl Paddle Champs: Florida Adventures

Slater Trout and ME with our BIG cheques and bowls of oranges!

Sometimes being flexible and going with the flow brings gifts and adventures that you would not have imagined or could have planned yourself. This Florida trip is an example of this experience. With the holidays and some last minute decision making there was a point where I did not think I wasn't going to make the trip to Florida. Then, a glimmer of hope came about when it was possible to send my board (or so we thought). I quickly bought airplane tickets and was pretty stoked about it all. I then had to figure out accommodations only to realize we couldn't ship my board. I had to try and fly with it!?!? Yikes! I was praying that the airline would take my very large piece of luggage...We decided to take the risk of it getting on the plane and move forward with planning the trip. So back to accommodations: I really enjoy staying with people when I travel rather than being by myself in a hotel room. I guess that means I am a people person of sorts:) Jojo and Bailey Rosen went out of their way to help brainstorm with me. Most people were up in Orlando at the surf expo leaving me with few options down south in the Miami area. At the same time team SIC in California were busy helping me find some folks to stay with. Then, the night before I was flying out (flying at 6am) I got a call from Braly saying Dave and his daughter were going to pick me up at the airport (at 1am by the way). Gosh I love the SUP community. What I hadn't realized was that they lived 2.5 hours away in Ft Myers. Hugs to this family. At 4:30amI got dropped off at Bill and Robin's pad. I said a quick hello (Robin infact was up getting ready to leave for work...) and dropped dead in my bed after travelling for 25hours... 

Although I was in good hands... another surprise happened my way. As I unpackaged my board I found 4 cracks. Bill was amazing and used his handy skills and patched my board up so well you really had to look to see there was tape on there. THANKS BILL!

Bill fixing my board 

After we cleaned up my board and patched it together we were off for a paddle (we wanted to paddle at 2pm but with our adventures, finding food, picking up Dave and Taylor it was now 3:30pm. We loaded the cars and we were off. We paddled for about 7 miles. Taylor joined us for the first couple of miles. Florida should watch out for this girl... a new SIC brand ambassador and she is rocking it. Infact she won her age group at the Orange Bowl!

The Ft Myers crew photo: Robin Blain

photo: Robin Blain

It was a beautiful paddle throughout Ft Myers. Dave was pushing me on his 14ft board. Robin took some great pics and short videos. Thanks Robin! So nice to explore a new place via the water with some amazing locals. I could not have asked for anything more. We finished with a nice sun set and along with these crazy bugs that started attacking us. We got out of there quickly headed home to shower and get some food in us. I got to experience Bahama Breeze where I failed to bring my ID and therefore failed to get a refreshing beverage of choice.. but I took it as a sign that water was better for me that night. 

Saturday we packed up, loaded boards and eventually made our way to Miami. Again people were too kind with letting me stay in their home without knowing who I was. Thank you friends in Miami for your open doors. 
We made it just in time to get to Taylor's Junior Florida team practice hosted by the just awesome Bailey Rosen, one of Florida's top paddlers. I got the awesome opportunity to be the special guest and help inspire and teach the youngsters. I loved it and have to thank Bailey for the invite! 

Sunday morning was an early start in order to get parking and beat the crowds in the crowded area. My whole sleep pattern and time change was so screwed up that the early morning didn't really seem to affect me. HA. I prepped my board with OnIt Pro a now tradition for me. It gives me time to just connect with my board and my thoughts. I love this time and now look forward to it before races. I had one of my first pre race interviews with Katie from Distressed Mullet... fun! Bailey lent me her smaller Gladiator fin by Larry Allison which despite not having trained on it worked out really well. I was on the X12 Pro SIC board. First race on it and it rocked it. Really the only thing that I had been paddling with for the last year is the S1000 Grand Prix Werner Paddle which I know I love. I have been wearing my Virus compression gear for training and raced in the Sweet Waterwear top and shorts. The combination of old and new proved to have worked out for me for this race:) phew.

registration photo: Robin Blain

prepping board with Onit Pro photo: Robin Blain

warm up photo: Robin Blain

I had a pretty good warm up and then the race started right on time. It is so nice to be at races which are on time. It allows for pre race prep to go smoothly. One less stress to think about:) I have to say the Orange Bowl is a very well organized race that I recommend to anyone! It was such a pleasure to be a part of the event. 
The race itself went well. The course was relatively flat with some minor chop. The start is tricky and I almost fell so then took the outside penguin route and that worked well for me. Out of the marina I found my pace and just stuck to it. I managed to just keep catching people. I managed to cross the line 1st woman and only 4 mins behind Slater Trout who won the elite mens race.

start photo: Robin Blain

out into the open ocean photo: Robin Blain

racers... photo: Robin Blain

on my way home photo: Robin Blain

passing man on my right photo: Robin Blain

woohoo! done! First! photo: Robin Blain

I decided to participate in the sprint event as well because it sounded fun. I didn't think I was into it but then totally got into it once we started. I love these extra little events that spice up the whole event. 
The awards happened and it was chaos but totally fun getting a big cheque, a bowl of oranges and some rum!

sprint starts photo: Robin Blain

sprinting hard photo: Robin Blain

new SIC BA Taylor... she is gonna rock this world! photo: Robin Blain

Bill and Robin were so kind and extended their stay in the area so they could drive me to the airport Monday morning. We headed to Key Largo where we enjoyed some of my prize:) as well as tacos by the river/ocean... so fun! I feel so blessed to have met these two as well as Dave and Taylor. What a solid group of people from Ft Myers! The next morning they drove me a little more south down the keys to check it out and we picked up the hugest and most delicious burrito from this little joint on the ocean. Then it was airport time for the long travel back to Vancouver. 
top three ladies photo: Robin Blain

When you are open to change, take risks, and believe in yourself powerful things can come your way.... I have experienced many amazing things and met some inspirational people since my decision to this full time and I am so grateful. 

Saw this quote on someone's facebook page and I am stealing it:)

"Every morning you have two choices: Continue to sleep with dreams or wake up and chase your dreams. The choice is yours..."  I know it is tough sometimes to do this but it is all about baby steps, the will power and desire to want to do it and probably a  little bit of luck. YOU CAN DO IT!

my florida crew Dave Taylor, me, Bill (Robin is taking picture) photo: Robin Blain
THANK YOU: SICMaui, Werner Paddles, Nikki Rekman Sales, OnItPro, Virus Action Performance Sports, Sweet Waterwear, Kokatat, Feed The Machine, MDrive, Ryders Eyewear, Crossfit Vancouver, Moveo, Larry Allsion fins, Surffur

Huge thanks to Paul from Ultimate Potential for helping me be the fastest I am possible to me.

Of course big hugs to my man for being okay with all of my absences! If only he could be there with me... that would be perfect.

live, love, laugh,...DREAM!

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