I break out of my daily routine, make all the sacrifices it requires to get here and my only goal for the day is to not get caught on the inside. The others can make it out with ease and while they are catching wave after wave with big grins on their face, I'm usually trying to catch my breath in the impact zone treading water fighting to get through. I have one goal - to get out with out getting pounded by a set.
Facing the inside as I shuffle in ankle deep water towards the impact zone, I'm anxious for my breakthrough. I've been successful with most things in my life, my career is testament to this, so this is just one more event to overcome. However, the difference here is that I'm not only dealing with my own physical ability and my psyche, but I’m dealing with something that is totally out my control - Mother Nature. Rather than getting frustrated and angry, I'm approaching it this time with my analytical mind, if I'm patient and time it right as I've been instructed, I should be able to get through. I'm told that if I get caught, I need to take note of my equipment, hold on to my paddle and wait for my break. Easy enough, right? Deep breathe. Big grin passes by just ahead of me, water splashing behind his board, I need to do that, what do I need to do? Gotta get out, my adrenaline is starting to fuel me.
I've identified the break in the set and head in, once I'm chest deep, I set the board in the water, paddle is in place, last wave rolls through, perfect. This is where my training and physical ability should help me, gotta get out. Jumping on the board, eyes on the horizon, I grab my paddle and paddle, the perfect student, with a determined mind and hours of physical training. Another grin in the distance, I'm next. Time stands still for a moment, keeping my balance on the chop, this already feels like a breakthrough, I'm not a looser. Feet are balanced as I've practiced, small step towards the front helps me over the roller, I plant my paddle slightly ahead of me, shift my balance, re-adjust my position on the board and paddle forward. The others are setting up, increasing their cadence ready for the next set in the distance. Panic sets in as I see the wave building, just when I thought I had won, mother nature has yet another lesson on humility for me. Loosing my footing on the board, white water catches up to me and throws me off, I envision the routine of underwater inversions I’m going to be submitted to, nothing I can do but observe safety as I eat it in front of yet another grin. Fuck.
Treading water while analyzing my position, I notice I'm not done. I can make it, flip the board, real it in and jump back on, mine will be the next grin.