First Morning – I Am A Grumpy Old Bear

Our minds are pretty amazing. They provide us some strong feelings anytime we encounter something which is painful or unpleasant. These feelings generally cause us to take actions to make the thing that is causing us the unpleasant feelings to go away. A lot of positives have come about because of this aspect of our behavior. A lot of inventions have came about out of actions to make a task easier and less difficult. These feelings can also cause actions such as avoiding and quitting. Unfortunately in an endurance event avoiding or quitting will not help an individual reach their goal of completing the event. This is where mental toughness comes into play. For me the first morning of any Watertribe event is a real test of mental toughness and the first morning of the UFC was no different. I slept very soundly through the night. In fact so soundly I missed hearing a major storm that came through the night. Glad I have a great tent because I didn’t hear a thing and the tent withstood the winds just fine. Nothing like waking up with one side of the tent being pushed down from the winds and rain. I guess I was a little tired. As I indicated in my past post I had worked at getting my mind accustomed to waking up early and at various times so when the alarm went off at 4:30AM it really didn’t bother me. What did bother me was realizing that I was sleeping in a tent on the ground versus a nice bedroom and in a very comfortable bed. That I was having to go out in some wet, windy conditions and walk around on a ground covered with these little seed balls with sharp points versus stepping on a nice carpeted floor and walking to a nice clean bathroom. That I was having to put on cold, wet, clammy paddle clothes versus nice clean crisp clothes. That I was having to break down and pack a bunch of wet gear into a wet boat, versus just getting up, going into the kitchen, grabbing a yogurt out of the refrigerator, getting a nice cup of hot green tea out of the Keurig and jumping into a clean dry vehicle. Oh and then there is the muscle soreness, aches, and pains from the previous days paddle. You know, I don’t remember hearing a peep from the camp of those three teenagers as I was getting up. I can only imagine the conversation they were whispering.   “Psst, hey, you know that scary guy that came in last night?  Well listen to him now. Don’t say a word and don’t make a sound, we REALLY don’t want to upset him. He sounds like a bear and a grumpy one at that. I hope he leaves SOON.” Another amazing thing about our minds is that our minds can adjust and start to accept that an unpleasant situation is the new normal and the feelings to take action to make it go away are not there. Some Watertribe veterans take the week before an event and do a trip that has some light paddling and camping in it. They call it climatizing their minds. Since I am still working I have never had the time to be able to do that so my first morning is like jumping into cold water. It usually takes me three mornings to get to the point where my mind realizes this is the new norm and just accepts it. Funny, on fun trips this is not the case and my first morning is normally kind of nice. I guess the difference is not having to paddle 15 plus hours and getting more than 4 hours of sleep. Well I got everything packed, drank an Ensure and ate an oatmeal cookie, and got into the boat. The positive for the day was that now the winds were coming from the north which meant I could actually use my sails. Wow what a relief. The other positive was that Lisa let me know that Chief had relaxed the deadline for CP1 due to the weather. I had only covered 33 miles the first day which meant I was 7 miles behind the minimum 40 miles I needed to cover each day. I was also 37 miles from CP1 which meant I needed to work hard today……….

2 thoughts on “First Morning – I Am A Grumpy Old Bear

  1. Bill,
    Thanks for sharing your experience and insight. I monitored the EC and UFC events closely. This is the first time I’ve been aware of or followed an event of this type. Yours and others challenges and accomplishments during this event provided me with many things to think about.

    My initial instincts had me thinking that this event is for young men. Now I realize that age is a less important factor that is overshadowed my experience, maturity, grit and determination.

    Your sharing of your experience is stoking my interest in river adventures that was kindled by my following of the EC and UFC.


    • SailorBob

      Don’t think this is a young man’s game. if you look at it most of the folks that finish are above 50. I personally feel that the most important thing in these races is mental toughness. Most folks over 50 have had to deal with some hardship in their life and caused them to develop a certain level of mental toughness. Lets face it life can dish out some pretty difficult things for folks to deal with. So don’t let age hold you back.


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