Live Like Jay
The 17th of June the Jay Race took place in beautiful Santa Cruz. Jay Moriarity passed away years ago. The event was held for the 16th time in his honor. The race was for Prone-paddling, Stand Up Paddling and OC1 paddlers.
Last week Sunday, my husband had just mentioned that this long distance race was happening in Santa Cruz and if I wanted to be part of it. I got insta excited and said “YES!” He knew my long distance paddle juices were flowing. The beginning of June; the Vuelta Ibiza (a 5 day long distance race), a sister event of ‘my baby’ the SUP 11-City Tour took place and I had chosen to stay home. Jayden was still a bit young (10.5 months) to endure a bunch of plane- and country hopping in a few weeks time with an uber busy mum. Off course I would have loved to paddle the waters of Ibiza and hit up one of the best clubs in the world! And so …the fomo person in me (fear of missing out) just wanted it all; ‘the And… And… life’. And here it was: And be a mum, And be a wife, And be an athlete. That last part of me that had ‘sat a couple plays out’ for a few years (when it comes to racing).
The Monday before the race I paddled 30 minutes with the current and wind in my back working on some technique and interval training to get my speed up. The 45 minutes on my way back was pure ‘hammertime’ against the wind and current. My body felt sore and good afterwards. The following Wednesday I fit a 1.5 hr paddle in. The race being 2 days after that session, I had some time to recover and ‘carb up’. Training for a purpose got me all stoked! Thankfully, I had been on my 14”ft Starboard Race board a bunch to have an ok fitness base. They were more sanity sessions to be on the water in nature being a young mum than training for racing.
To complete my gear for Saturday, I bought a hydro pack mid week at the Big 5 for $22 (all my other race gear is either on Maui or in the Netherlands) and also that got me giddy. Wondering how warm or cold it would be on race day and what clothes to wear, I would bring some options from warm to cold and see what everyone else would wear. You know those butterflies… anticipation on something you don’t know exactly what it is, but figure it can only be awesome.
At 5:45 we got up (by Jayden’s alarm) to leave at 7 am. Having loaded up the car the night before, everything was ready to go except for our food supplies. This was going to be my first mission where Jayden was going to be with someone else than his dad while I was on the water for longer than he is used to. I had talked to Jayden a bunch preparing him that aunty Jacqui was going to hang out with him while mama would paddle. Knowing he wants mammy around I had 2 different kind of butterflies flying around in my stomach.
We arrived thankfully in time for the opening ceremony. Founder Linda is introduced and she started the opening ceremony describing the event she organizes as LOVE. To all that needs to be done “it takes a village” and everyone has come together from local to International paddle communities. Local surf figure “Frosty”, acting as himself in the movie ‘chasing Mavericks’, gave a speech about Jay Moriarity and encouraged us to be our best out there in his spirit. He talked about needing to be willing to fail, in able to succeed, because through failure you create opportunities to learn from. He encouraged us to paddle with our Angels as we gathered in spirit of Jay who, everyone mentioned, was around just as Jack O’Neill and people from the community who had passed. I loved it how much our Angels were welcomed and believed to be right alongside with us. It is something I always feel, but is rarely shared so openly by others. The Hawaiian chanting during the “pule”(“blessing” in Hawaiian) touched me deeply: to hear the soul of the islands I love so much, to be blessed with Aloha before the race. It was also powerful to feel that strong sense of “oneness” with my son Jayden, the athletes, organizers and community before racing a personal race.
All of a sudden time rushed back in perception; the prone paddlers had taken off and the Suppers were on in 10 minutes. Last minute things for me: grab hydro pack, attach nozzle with safety pins to jersey, clip on fanny pack with extra energy liquid, slab on sunscreen and attach my leash. Ready for action Jacqui, Jayden and I headed to the start line where the crispiness of racing excitement was in the air.
After the start signal ‘the pack’ headed out to the buoy straight out to sea, left of the Capitola pier. I noticed how some people overtook me quite easily while I felt I was paddling firm. Oh well… being rusty in this game, I was humbling accepting the matter. The first girls battling it out in the 12’6″ class were gone. Way past the first buoy I checked how my tale was sitting in the water as felt weird and I saw my “curly race leash” dragging on the side of my board from the start. The not so curly leash anymore had stretched out hanging in the garage. Readjusting the leash, the underdog (me) could focus on the ‘catch up race’. A challenge gets me going and I liked to feel my fire burning. Getting thirsty and needing some fluids, my hydro barely worked. I sucked mainly air and some drips of water that offered me a sip of water. I stayed positive; ‘at least I get SOME hydration and the distance is only 12 mile’. Not 32 miles like the Molokai to Oahu race; or 32 miles 1 (of the 5) day stage in the SUP 11-City Tour…
From the Capitola buoy, we headed north. I absolutely loved being out there! I thought about the images I saw in the movie “chasing Mavericks” and how the Big Wave surfers train prone paddling on this open ocean. I had not been out here by myself with all the great white sharks being present. The Jay Race offered me a chance with some Jetski safety. Looking to my right past the kelp beds, I saw all the surf spots I normally surf from Privates, Trees, Sharks, The Hook, Pleasure Point… So rad to have this view on a glorious sunny day! And there were two groms; the first prone paddlers to overtake. I encouraged them to keep going. Shortly the OC1 paddlers were overtaking me (who started 10 minutes after us). The vibe amongst the racers was great, being ‘all one’. The winds were light and there were some small chops hitting my board sinking the nose every once and a while. I was in a great flow and did what Frosty encouraged: I connected with my Angels. When I invited my twin sister Valeria and my baby Angel Malia to join me, I saw feathers floating on the water. I feel they (and many more) are with me a bunch. That human part of me still likes a confirmation and in their own way they give their signs. This day I saw feathers on the water and I asked them to help me fly instead of battle. When I race, there is barely time to dwell on pain; When I race I like to feel empowered and turn the challenge around towards gratitude and the MANY gifts I have been given. I also think of the inspirational Barney from Santa Cruz, my Dutchy friend and Ocean athlete Peter Volwater. I also think of Jay Moriarity and his legacy that lives on, embracing all he stood/ stands for which inspires and strengthens me.
My main focus was ON the water though. Chops from all angles had my legs working hard. The fisherman boats, Jetski patrols, the wind and a little south swell created a nice ‘chop salad’. The rounding of the one-mile buoy was a mental point to work towards, because the wind shops were finally going to help me with some glides from that moment on. In need of more fluids and energy, I reached for my “jabroni” screw top bottle. Sometimes it is worth it to paddle a few strokes less and get more fluids and energy. Still annoying losing speed and that many strokes, because when I race, I race! The screw top bottle will go to the list “let’s not bring that again next time you race”.
The wind was too light to give long glides and in my mind I am back on Maui. Back when I did my first down winders in 2008 on a 10.5” Surf – SUP board. Back when I would enjoy discovering chops and glides like these. Paddling back towards Capitola I made up some spots. I could hear the speaker already from miles away. Wanting to finish my very best, I powered the last miles and overtook a few more paddlers. I just couldn’t wait to see my boy! Mama dove deep in her tank of energy and found some more juice before she crossed the finish line. Wow! That felt beyond words… being empty, having given it all for myself and everyone else. And what did feel even better? To hold Jayden in my arms! And he was ecstatic as well. It had been a challenge for him that I had been away for this long; and for Jacqui to keep the slightly unsettled fella at ease being an ‘insta single parent’ that morning. Looking at the scoreboard that was already up with the results (great job Organization!), I saw that I had gotten 1st in my division; women 18-48, 14” ft SUP in 2 hours and 28 minutes. It put an extra icing on the cake for the three of us and I was able to bring a beautiful trophy and reminder home. With 20-pound Jayden in the Baby Bjorn on my chest, pushing the packed stroller with one arm and carrying my 14 ft board plus paddle in the other hand, the mama life just continued and I could not be happier.
Live Like Jay
Driving home and spending time with Jayden the rest of the day, I was just so stoked to have gotten a dose ‘Live Like Jay’. Jay was an amazing waterman who pushed his boundaries in the Ocean (and I am sure others by doing so). He was also loved ‘on land’ caring much for others and the environment. His legacy lives on in full force through The Jay Mariarity Foundation that offers support towards Junior Lifeguard Support, Community Support and newly created: The Angel Warriors for Kids; a program designed to provide support for families of children with pediatric cancer.
“Don’t take anything for granted, because one minute it can be there and the next minute it can’t.. and it happens so quick. When the negative stuff comes around, just let it go. It all leads to the positive as long as you keep a positive attitude. Enjoy everything you get. One of the most important things in Life is really appreciating it, because we only get to do this once and it’s not for a long time” – Jay Moriarity