Chattajack 2018 – Tennessee River, October 27
Every year I always say, “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” This was my third year competing in the 31 (more like 32) mile race and once again, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Chattajack is an event that truly is for those who love paddling but that’s what makes it so great. Everyone is out there because they absolutely LOVE to paddle!
Chattajack training for me starts in June and continues through the Florida Summer until October. I won’t get into my training regime though… that’s a whole ‘notha blog post. Sign-up for Chattajack is in May and closes within hours of opening due to the amount of people registering. Racers around the world have set times to secure their spot. This is how awesome this race is!
Chattajack has so much to offer to every kind of paddler, from newbie to elite. Every year you learn something new about yourself, about your training, and about your abilities. This race will make you feel like you can achieve anything and you better believe it! This year I felt ready. I trained how I normally train and rested prior to the race for over a week. I was feeling good and at this point just wanted to get on the water! Here’s a look of how Chattajack 2018 went through my eyes.
Mile 1 – The start of the race is tricky. When they say “GO!” the water becomes a washing machine! Many people fall at the start and when it’s cold outside, it’s not the most fun thing. I fell last year when it was absolutely freezing so this year, I felt pretty tentative at the start. I think this put me in a bad position because I did not start how I wanted to. I was very cautious but at least I didn’t fall. But that
would come back to bite me.
Mile 2-10 – These miles are the easiest for me. I really wanted to find a girl to draft with but unfortunately, I could not close the gap between me and the other woman in front of me. So, I was left to paddle the whole race alone.
Mile 11-15 – This is when the people who started too fast, start to slow down. And this is when some negative thoughts may run through your head, this is the first time it’s happened to me in 3 years! I began to think about how 15 miles isn’t even halfway yet!
Mile 16-20 – You must push through these miles! This is when you can start to countdown to the finish line, which is all you need! Once the number of miles left to go starts to get smaller and smaller, your energy starts to pick back up! Trust me! Thankfully, I had a burst of energy here to keep going strong!
Mile 21-25 – The race starts to feel very long at this point, especially if you are alone. The river widens up and the wind starts to pick-up. You must dig deep here and trust that you have done everything you can in your training to prepare you for this moment. I also like to think about how much training I did for this race and in just a few more miles it will all be OVER… just like that. So, I make sure to enjoy the
scenery and look around, especially at everyone else working hard. This is a huge motivator.
Mile 26-28 – You think about how there is only one corner left and then, you’ve done it! There’s not many miles to go from this point. It’s the homestretch!
Mile 29-31 – The biggest corner EVER! And when there’s a strong headwind like this year, this corner may break you down mentally. I’ve always been one to try and finish strong so thankfully, I had energy left in the tank and just put in the work! The quicker I paddled, the sooner I’d be done with the wind!
Mile 31-32 – IT’S OVER! 100 hours of training completed over months and months, and then, the race is over in just a few. I start to think about the chocolate milk they give you at the finish and everyone on the docks cheering!
Once I finished the first thing I said was, “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done!” and I can’t wait until next year.
This year took me 6 hours and 12 minutes, which was 30 minutes slower than last year but with the conditions including 50-degree weather, misty rain, almost no flow, and strong headwinds, I was so happy with how I did. Also, can’t be mad at getting second. I’m so grateful for everyone who helps organize this race every year and all the volunteers. I look forward to this event the moment it’s over and it’s have made so many friends because of it!