65 – Medicare and Water Athletes

My seventh decade - bring it!

My seventh decade – bring it!

Imagine the 65 year old woman on Medicare – and then throw away the image that is most often visualized.  Unless you “saw” a lean, strong, bold, fit, focused and fun-loving athlete you missed a trend that’s fueling many athletes above a certain age.  Runners, cyclists, skiers and “sporty”-women build more than hard abs or a toned butt. They build resilience by working through pain, pushing onward and knowing the hard work will pay off. They gain a social network and optimistic perspective on life and potential. Water athletes have another aspect to their active passion – water! Water in lakes, oceans, rivers and bays add a non-jarring celebration of the senses.

Each athletic endeavor enjoyed by the 65+ year-old can deliver amazing benefits when training and practice are balanced with good coaching, listening to one’s own body and a respect for current abilities. This is true for all athletes, but leaps in importance as we journey into those upper decades. But – WOW! – the benefits rock our world.

My primary sport of choice (when I am not skiing, hiking, cycling or playing outside) is standup paddling and surfing. In the course of meeting plenty of my peers at races, at the surf break and simply paddling in beautiful places I have heard so many stories of survivors – survivors of accident, disease, loss, life disappointments and challenges beyond measure. These stories were most often shared without a whine, but rather with a smile and sense of serenity. We water athletes know that regular and consistent exercise fights anxiety and depression better than drugs. The ability to cope with the stress is directly related to the endorphins we have in our body. Because we regularly tap those endorphins we are able to do it when stress hits. Research shows that highly stressful emotional events (which seem to come in quick succession as we age and simply live those extra decades) can result in a permanent suppression of endorphin levels. It just makes sense – stimulate those endorphins with fun on whatever incredible body of water you can find. Get the SUP Perspective instead of what the pharmacy can provide.

Who the heck is THAT in the mirror? Have you ever been shocked by the wrinkles and sags that are the inevitable surprise of aging? Plastic is not the route to increasing our self-esteem. Self-esteem is defined as being capable of meeting life’s challenges and being worthy of happiness. Grab your paddle and fuel a steady stream of oxygen and nutrients to your brain to improve functioning. After a downwind cruise with friends or a training paddle across a mountain lake you feel ready to take on the world. As we gain those decades we need our self-esteem. No matter where you live there are professionals, clubs, groups and water that you can tap into as you develop into a water athlete. Watch that self esteem soar!

Getting older is not for sissies – you’ve heard that one and I bet you’re nodding “oh yeah!” right now. There’s a world of freedom in the journey.  I recently threw my inflatable Naish ONE 12’6″ raceboard in a duffel bag and headed to Lake Las Vegas for the N1SCO World Championships. Was it because I am an elite racer and super -speedy? Heck, no.  I write and tell stories. Did I compete with the rest of the wonderful water athletes aged 10 and teens through all the decades? You bet. My trophy? I finished the races, often in last place. I had trained and practiced. I AM a water athlete and i had FUN! (catch the video below and on the Elder SUP YouTUbe channel)

Sweet paddle - and thanks for the gear Sweet Waterwear

Sweet paddle – and thanks for the gear Sweet Waterwear

Racing is not the only way to feed your inner water athlete and suer-charge attitude and well-being. Just being out in nature, balancing on your board and paddling with your entire being is a treasure. Check out a recent Fall paddle in Central Oregon – then go find your stoke! This article is dedicated to so many who have inspired me – to name a few Peggy K, Suzie M, Nansee B, Dagmar E, Steve G, Ed S, Randall B, Dennis O, Gerry L … and the list goes on!

Share your stories by e-mailing me at Elder SUP

Vancouver Island SUP Adventures

Sweet surfing off Tonfino (Vancouver Island, BC)

Sweet surfing off Tofino (Vancouver Island, BC)

If you have ever hopped off the ferry to Victoria, Nanaimo or any of the other stops along the coast of Vancouver Island you had to be craving some paddle time on the water.  Back in 2008, we did a “first crossing” in Clayquot Sound where local First Nation and kayak tour groups cheered and waved and asked a boatload of questions (What is that called? for the most part, then “Where can I get a board?”)

Awesome paddle in Clayquot Sound )beware of tides and currents!)

Awesome paddle in Clayquot Sound (beware of tides and currents!)

I recently spotted a picture posted on Facebook of a beautiful scenic river, partially frozen, with a long, glassy wake through crusted ice made by a guy on a standup paddleboard.  As luck would have it, I was able to connect with Paul Kendrick who created the scene via a great photo. The intrepid paddler cutting through the icy river was Paul’s friend, Darcy. If you are compelled to bundle up and paddle in winter, be safe and stay warm.

Winter SUP - paddle with a buddy and wear proper clothing (then take in the awesomeness!)

Winter SUP – paddle with a buddy and wear proper clothing (then take in the awesomeness!)

If you are intrigued by the idea of 12 lakes connected by easy portages, be sure to read this article as Paul describes his favorite rivers and lakes from the SUP Perspective.

Paul is relatively new to the sport, he bought his first stand-up-paddleboard in July 2012. A fan of both awesome adventure scenery and good exercise, it didn’t take Paul long to master the art of “boardpacking.”

What’s boardpacking? It’s a term I coined to explain how wonderful “backpacking via SUP” can be.

The area of Vancouver Island where SUP explorer Paul Kendrick adventures with his standup paddleboard and camera.

The area of Vancouver Island where SUP explorer Paul Kendrick adventures with his standup paddleboard and camera.

Paul has likely done quite a number of first crossings, as there are so few  up in his area exploring on paddleboards, Paul has a blog that’s informative and a very good read.

According to Pau, “I started this blog as a means of sharing and invitation for those who may be interested.We are so lucky to live in this very special part of the world, so let’s get out there!”

After touring the log, I am hankering to toss a few boards on the roof of the truck and head on up to Vancouver Island. Who else has some BC adventures to share?

Pristine launch spot from Paul's Paddling blog

Pristine launch spot from Paul’s Paddling blog

SUPers vs Plastic

If you follow standuppaddlemovie (awesome trailer here) on Facebook you have seen the powerful video they shared featuring Jenny Kalmbach.  Reading over her blog it was very cool to discover that she spent many of her early SUP days with Jack Gillen.  I was fortunate to meet Jack at my home here in Oregon, then paddle out to some crystal clear swells off shore from the  Honokohau Harbor for my first surfing – it had been 40 years since my last surfing in South Florida mush waves (WOW!).

It’s easy to get mesmerized by Jenny’s power and grace across some sweet little wave faces, but the message is clear. Because we have the SUP Perspective, we have an eagle-eye view of what’s going on in the world’s waters when it comes to the impact of plastics.

If you have participated in a cleanup or other event geared to reducing the use of plastic water bottles, bags or cleanup, please share a quick post or idea here. Note to Jenny: We’d love to share more, please contact us for a short interview. Note to standuppaddlemovie: How can we get your film to Central Oregon? We are a SUP mecca!