I had my first panic attack this year. Surfing on the Outer Banks, I fell off of my board and couldn't get back on. I had waves pounding me, I couldn’t see which way to swim, I felt like I was out of control, I also have a massive fear of deep water and sharks. I lost my mind. I started screaming and crying, I couldn’t control my emotions. I felt helpless in an ocean, literally. I made it into shore where Snowy came quickly to my side, there I was, feeling ashamed.
Back up to three months prior when I was training for the Little White Race in Washington. I was terrified running every drop on the river, I never wanted to surf any of the holes that all looked terminal in my mind. I wasn't having “bad” lines but I was just holding on. My good friend Brad McMillan had been keeping the training light hearted and he just sat in the eddy while I bawled my eyes out because I wasn’t having fun and I was really scared. 20 minutes later, I found myself at the top of Spirit Falls, a beautiful 30 foot waterfall landing in a magical cauldron of bubbles. Of course I wouldn’t walk it, even though I was still shaken from the rapids prior. Coming into the drop, I knew I could have a good line, my past does not dictate my future.
I had the line of my dreams and all of my worries left like dust in a windstorm. I raced the Little White Race with less than 10 runs under my belt, a run that has 30+ rapids with a lot of spots you don't want to go. Why? Was it fun? I love a good challenge. Being able to get out of my head on race day is what makes it fun. It reminds me I am in control of my head, deep breaths and confidence get you far.
Fast forward to November 5, 2016, I had the race of my life at the Green Race. My time showed it, I tied John Grace and Andrew Holcombe, both men who I have paddled and trained with for over 10 years, and beat my PR by 3 seconds. Even though I had hit my head very hard at Gorilla only days before, I was confident at the start line. I had only positive thoughts flowing through my mind.
Photo by: Clark Merle Photo by: Clay Wright
The strength of positivity is more powerful than anyone could ever imagine.