My board was loaded, and I was excited and ready to take off. I knew a race like this would take everything I had. Less than 100% would mean I wouldn’t make it. I’d practiced several crossings from Bainbridge to Edmonds and back, to get in some distance. I’d trained during the winter and in weather worse than the rain and wind of the event. But I couldn’t risk injuring the board with rocky landings and wasn’t so prepared for them.
After departing Bainbridge Island, I made a stop on the way to Port Townsend to make adjustments to my gear. In making my way to the rocky shore, I lost my footing on a rock. The rocks were slippery and they were big. My leg slid right into them as I got off the board for the beach. I felt it right away in my new hip and new knee and knew I was in trouble. I made it onto the beach and limped to a store for some ice. The ice got the swelling down in my foot, but the rest of me was hurting. Bad. After a day of rest, I tested myself by making a short paddle. My leg was still in pain. I was no longer 100%. I knew then that I wouldn’t make it across the Straight to Canada, which would be at least ten hours of paddling. I knew also that I wanted to be able to live and fight another day.
I keep remembering that the main reason I started this was to be able to tell my story to more people. I accomplished that, and very successfully. Extreme Sobriety and my rescue from homelessness got a lot of press.
I can have all the heart in the world, but my legs just refused to let me race. I’m home, I’m regrouping, I’m continuing to do all I can to encourage veterans and homeless people and anyone else who will listen to me. I’ll go to Odyssey School next week and tell the kids who have been part of this, that sometimes things don’t work out the way you plan.
Next year, I’ll hope to paddle the Seventy/48 from Tacoma to Pt Townsend, and then from Pt Townsend to Victoria. Maybe I’ll do one, maybe both. It’s not been done on a prone paddle board — yet. I’ll do it for the same reason as this year — to tell my story and to remind others that there are many veterans and mentally ill people still living homeless on the streets of our cities. They need our help. It may take a couple of attempts, but I’ll keep trying.