I like to congratulate all the finishers of this year’s Chattajack!. Every year Tennessee River stir up the gorge like you won’t believe it but we do it because we love what we do.
No further due enjoy my blog and hope to see you all in Chattajack 2020.
6month ago my iPhone alarm rings for the “Black Friday of SUP Racing”. Without a hesitation I sit front of my computer with Chattajack Registration page ready to go.
Registered and committed to myself for the 3rd year to chase that 5 year consecutive buckles.
Now and Between
This year was the transition plan for new 14′ from 12.6 and also registered as age 50. I didn’t celebrate my 50 till end of the August. As everyone know I’m under Coach/Friend Larry Cain’s training programs thru Paddle Monster, I spend lots of time in Canada this year and few races during the season. Training regiment for the past few years has been the same for Chattajack.
Load up all my boards and gears headed to Chattanooga, TN to stay with my friend. Wednesday in Chattanooga, it means there is a social paddle at the island. You do not want miss this gathering at the island if you ever stop by during the seasons. Lots of great times and adult drinks.
Danny Ching clinic. Been on my watchlist for like 2 years and finally able to take his clinic. Limited to 3 paddlers for the clinic made even better to learn some skills that he offered us. We spend good amount of time on the during the 2hrs clinic and we all got something to take home to digest.
This year I decided to do the volunteer work for the Chattajack Tent setups. After my clinic I was off to some cross training. Spend good amount of time packing the swag bags. It was nice to help event and I guess I don’t have to setup alarm in 2020.
Thursday night is a busy night with Pre-Chattajack party!. Usually it happens at two locations and this year I was able swing by both. Cindy/Theo Party and Dotties/Hal Party. It’s great way to meet and/or have reunion with your friends. What a blast to see everyone from Danny Ching to Jim Terrell.
Day before the Chattajack
This year was all day rainy day on Friday. It was definitely soaking day to unload your board at Ross Landing and dropping of your vehicle at Hales Bar. Everyone was starting to line up by tent in the rain before 3pm to check-in. It was raining so hard everyone was getting soaked.
I particularly did not have where to go after my check in process because I was going to stay one night on the boat at marina about 5min away. I was little homeless so I had to find my friends to hang out and way to dry myself out. It was an epic day none the less.
I had late lunch feeling cold and trying to warm up at my friends hotel lobby by the fireplace. I change my soaking wet shirt and hoodies to Chattajack swag shirts and hoodies. I had my back against the fireplace to warm up and talking to my friend. My friend John Kippers calls me on the phone asking me where I was and he also told me he was not feeling 100% getting all wet. Be honest I was little worried about myself If I was able to race. When you are chasing for the buckles you can not quit or reset to do all over 5 consecutive!. After bringing my body temperature up I met back up with friends staying with and ate some dinner before it gets too late.
Boat sleep was rather comfortable than I expected. Although rain never stopped and I heard heavy rain dropping all night long until the early morning. In the middle of the night barge must went by because wave shook the boat heavily. Would I do the boat again or choose to stay in hotel/AirBnB? Will see for the 2020 Chattajack.
6:15AM Chattajack Day
First thing in order is to boil the water for the two oatmeals I need to consume , run down with some OJ and banana. I found eating two oatmeals is rather tough task to do each year but it’s been working. If you follow my “Chattajack Nutrition blog” you know how much of calculated carbs I take to run my body.
This year we were very lucky to have warm weather starting in mid 50’s and high as 70F. Only factor we were facing was gust wind of 36MPH and South East wind. I dip my feet to the Tennessee River feeling the water temp and air temp to make last min decision. I left the boat with barefoot. No point of return on my decision but I knew what I wore was perfect.
8:30AM Time to dig 32miles
What do you go through in your mind walking the down dock ready to get on the water and paddle 1/4miles upstream between the bridges as you warm up? Do you get the butterfly or just simply thinking it’s going to be washing machine? Or maybe this is my first time “Holy shit, shit is real”!.
I know for most of us thinking about strategy of the start location. I have been thinking about since I landed Chattanooga on Wednesday. When Chattajack becomes part of your life each year you learn your mistakes and make sure you do better each year. This year I picked center left as my position and stayed away from all the way to the left like I done in the two previous years. I was setting up myself inside the of the left pylon with rest of SUP and huge group of kayakers. Few minutes before the start I had a urge to pee so I already wet myself standing. Wash up my board and my shorts but water was warm. I knew then barefoot was really a good idea.
As we got close to the 2min warning we were line up between the two bridges. This year I roll out towards the front much better then ever almost reaching 3/4 way to the bridge when the loud horn blasted.
As we paddle through the mess the direction changed with kayakers crossing front of me going toward the left and making wake in that directions. I was hoping to stay inside the pylon but I was redirected outside of pylon yet I stayed completely away from left side.
I punch through the rough section and start looking for the draft train to pick up. It was about 3miles in the race I end up leading the draft train when I noticed. Current at start is always great and I was pulling 6MPH + speed and cranking. Soon I found my buddy Adrain and I hook up on him for a bit. Off course he didn’t know we were drafting off of him. As he took break I was leader of the draft train again. I took my breaks during the draft but our pack was keep going strong. So after 12miles in 2hrs I totally broke from the train and went into pacing mode. I was little worried about my nutrition since it was pretty hard to take my gels and drinks during this first 2hrs and missed my schedule.
We came up around that 15miles point when we pass the pontoon aid station to our right in the middle of the Tennessee river and crossover to the right shore. It was getting closer to the predicted gust wind as we cross over. You start to feel the strong wind coming straight towards you. I was doing pretty well between 15-16miles point but lack of nutrition intake start to show some signs of clamping on my right arm triceps and left lats. I had no choice but to get on my knees to rest and let my group pass by. It wasn’t most greatest feeling but when you have half way to go you need to quickly come to the sense of the reality. In Chattajack, you got to earn those miles and not only finish the race but if you want that 5 consecutive buckles you really need to earn it with everything you got. Took the full gel, waited for 2-3min to rest and I had to get back up. I felt okay but felt little bit under power for awhile. I was definitely in a pacing mode and thinking about my next move on how to last my 14miles safely without loosing times and stay strong.
We all new tail wind is coming before 20miles mark and definitely did. Current was little sluggish prior to getting that tail wind to pick up but once it did Tennessee river was moving. I moved toward center of the river and speed was picking up but you had to work with it. It wasn’t free ride but definitely it was time for me use my board to the fullest and let ease my body for a bit. I was able to slowly catching up with the groups I was loosing prior to my clamps.
That 20miles mark comes along as I look at my garmin watch. Here it goes with another head wind. It wasn’t bad as last year compare to the early 15miles gust winds. At this point I saw two of my fav girls Cindy Massa/Lindsy Ford and gave me a shout out. I end up following their line since last year with a different board I flip and hit my forehead so I played safe.
Finally passing the Sullivan hearing some shout out. You know you are coming close to the end when you pass Sullivan. I hug the left side as usual and soon passing the last aid station. Ladies on aid station yelled ” 4miles left!”. What a relief to hear that, eh!. It was home stretch but I also realized that I only had 3 gels to my disposal and plus hydration left on both of my pack. Gel was the only thing that was helping from not getting the clamp. I had to make smart decision to take half of the gel to last much as I can. 3miles left to the finish I had second clamp on right tricep. I took quick few min rest and get back up. Rest of the miles to the Hales bar I had gel in mouth sipping through.
The last left turn, view of Hales bar, hoping to make that turn to the finish was rather brutal. I took my usually line towards center but almost 3/4miles to the Hales Bar the gust winds was so strong it was white capping and making a washing machine. As I came to the turn for the finish line I was trying to see where is the best line. Wind coming from 45 and side chop force me to punch through more then I was able to make the turn. Once I made the turn it was just short home stretch to hear the cow bell and Melia on her mega horn calling out my name over and over.
Every year I said to myself I’m going to kill the sprint. Each year I come to the sprint line , I’m home I’m going to paddle strong to the finish. Glad I came home to Hales Bar in once piece this year.
If I sums up in a short paragraph, this was my race day.
“ I started really strong but I may have chewed up more than I should with a draft train I was on for long time. Time to time I felt strong enough to push hard but when I felt the weakness I played smart and let the body recover while I’m in pacing mode. It became so much mentally and physically this year to make it to the Hales Bar. This year many of us has suffered in pain but I was able to control the pain to the finish line.”
Post Chattajack anyalsys
There is no lying with a raw data looking at how you were performing. Clearly see that 15-18miles was my worst areas where I had major clamp. HR chart suggest how much we were taxing first 75mim. After 75min to 150min this was where I found new draft train but after 150min the race I went into pace mode and definitely shows bringing my HR zone to pacing mode. Every race is never perfect but let say that this years Chattajack I had to pull out all my knowledge to keep myself safe from not making to the finish line.
Chattajack After Party
It’s a rough day on Chattajack day from waking up early in the morning to finished the race then you need clean up and head back to the Base Camp. It is non stop activity till you go sleep. Get you beer, order food at food truck, find places inside the tent to eat, more beer and mingle with friends. I have to say the vibe inside the tent is always an awesome time catching with more friend who you might only see once a year.
My friend Erin told me I took the most selfie pics at Chattajack. I think she was right. It was something around 60 selfie photos. Old and new friends. I probably missed more but it was EPIC week for sure. I will put all the collage of selfie pics at the end of the blog.
Post Chattajack Sunday
Last year I stumble Julieanne White at the brunch so I decided that this year we should plan for post Chattajack brunch party for her. I gather around few invite list with few others and meet up all the friends at “State of Confusion”.
I thought at end of the Saturday night it was going to be like 16 some people but once I secure the seats in the morning it just went almost doubled. It was an awesome day to see many of the friends showed up and have a great brunch. Some just showed up and had to leave but definitely it was success and everyone had a good time
Extended bonus boat ride
So we spend about 3hrs for the brunch and got invited to Jerry Jones and his new boat he just finished. So myself and few ladies went on afternoon boat ride going north of Tennessee River and went through the lock. It was first time I experience the lock for me. Once we were on the other side of dam we pass the Booker -T where Southern Stoke series race was held. As we keep going north we stop by the taco joint and dock the boat. Little bite to eat and head back to the Ross Landing where the journey started. We enjoy the sunset from the boat and definitely a highlight the day for all of us. Great way to end the Chattajack week!
Reunion collages Photos