Team Spotlight: Kristi Erin ~ SUP Racer
“Kristi, it only gets better from here.”
Those are the words owner Brian Meyer said to me after I fell into Spa Creek on a biting 39-degree day in March. This was day one of race training…
My journey with Capital Sup began two months prior with my unintentional polar plunge. It was New Year’s Day, and my second time ever on a paddle board. I just moved to Annapolis, and one of my clients was kind enough to invite me out for a paddle. That day I was placed on a large cruising board, and enjoyed a leisurely paddle down through the waterways of Annapolis to celebrate the new year.
During the paddle, I learned about Capital SUP’s race training program. I wanted to become involved in a water sport, and thought to myself how hard could it be? I used to be a competitive gymnast, diver, and now I teach Pilates for a living. After one day of race training, I learned the answer, really freaking hard.
The ground was covered ice, the wind was whipping, and the air was chilling. The conditions were less than ideal for the first day of race training. However, that didn’t stop the team from training. We lined up on the dock and started heading out one by one. There I learned the large cruising boards that I previous paddled on were not the boards used for racing. The ones used for race training are much smaller and less stable. So, I had that going for me as well.
As we ventured away from the dock I started to doubt my decision to start race training. I managed to make it from my knees to a standing position without falling into the water. I considered that a small win given the conditions. From there, I hesitantly began to paddle further out. Coach Scotty could tell how much I could use assistance. He was kind enough to paddle over to help me. I am not sure if it was the fear in my eyes or awkwardness in my technique that led him to help me. Either way, I am happy he was there.
Scotty led me to a pier where I could hold onto while he went over the basics of the stroke technique. Part of me wished that I could climb onto the pier and walk back to the shop, but I knew that wasn’t an option. When the wind settled, it was time to head back out into open water. Within a few minutes, the wind picked back up. I lost focus for a moment and felt the board slip out from under me. Within seconds my body was submerged in chilling water. I quickly climbed back onto my board laughing. I looked up and saw Brian. That is when he told me it only gets better from here. He was right.
The worst thing that could have happened that day just happened, and it didn’t kill me. Often our fears become greater than experiencing the thing that scares us. Fear only exists in our minds. Yes, the water was cold, but I had a wetsuit on. Yes, my fall was embarrassing, but I am still in one piece. Falling is part of the sport and I am happy it happened on day one. It freed me from my fears and forced me to be present in the moment. Brian Tracey expressed how I felt perfectly- You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when trying something new. The process needs to be respected and embraced. All you can do is show up every day and give everything you have during training.
After practice, I went home, took a shot of whiskey, had the longest shower of my life. I spent the rest of the night watching SUP instructional videos on YouTube. With a warm body and a new mindset, I was ready for training season.
Now I am over a month into the training program. I have a newfound respect for the sport, and I am thrilled with the progress I have made. Joined the team thinking what did I have to lose. I had no idea how much I was about to gain. I am now part of a dedicated team that supports one another day in and day out. We are all pushing ourselves to be the best athletes that we can possibly be, yet we still have time to help one another grow. Joining the race training team was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I am excited to see what the future holds. Thank you, Capital SUP.stand up paddle, stand up paddleboarding, sup, water sports