Written by Ann Brennan
On Friday morning before I left for the Ocean City Games, I went for my eight-mile run. As I ran I listened to You Are A Badass by Jennifer Sincero. I seldom listen to self-help books but something compelled me to pick it up and in the vein of everything happens for a reason, I think I know why. The lesson that really stuck out for me Friday was to always think, “This is good because,” even when everything is going wrong. The next day this lesson would really come in handy.
Saturday morning, my son, Blaise and I took our kayak to the beach, checked on the kayak he would be borrowing for the day and became a little anxious about the sea. But. even as we stood there watching the waves pound the shore, we worried about getting our kayaks over the surf, not about what would happen in the next five hours. We have kayaked for years in all sorts of conditions so we had no reason to worry.
Unfortunately, that changed pretty early in the event. We split up as our swimmers began their 9-mile event, each paddling right beside our swimmer trying to row a straight line and guide them through the course. Almost immediately I began feeling the effects of seasickness. By the first mile I knew I was sick, by the third I was strategically planning how to puke and not break my swimmer’s concentration. Finally, because another swimmer dropped out there was an extra kayaker who could sub in for me and help my swimmer to the finish. This gave me the opportunity to re-assess my situation.
Unfortunately, having not kept anything down since the beginning of the race, I was not in a good position to make a decision and I continued paddling for another 2 miles. Luckily before we made it to the five-mile mark, Blaise, whose swimmer had also had to drop out, caught up with me and guided me in. With no strength left and still puking, I did not make it out of the water as gracefully as that might sound. I spent the rest of that day and the next trying to make the ground stop moving and fighting extreme nausea. In a nutshell, Saturday was a miserable day for me.
But, it was good because…
1. My swimmer finished – Thanks to another kayaker who immediately saw my need and stepped up, my swimmer was guided into the finish safely.
2. Blaise took initiative – Once Blaise realized how miserable I was, he took the initiative, made contact with the lifeguard on shore, cleared the beach and helped get my boat and me safely to shore.
3. Strangers stepped up – As I was sitting on the shore, still in my swimsuit, unable to get my legs underneath me to stand up and violently shivering, a mom and her daughter made their way over with towels and food. They wrapped me in the towels, helped me open a granola bar and try a couple of bites and encouraged me to drink more fluid even though it was the last thing I wanted to do.
4. Volunteers rock – Not long after we made it to shore, two volunteers made it to the beach, grabbed our kayaks, loaded them on a truck and took us back to the finish line, where more volunteers made sure that Blaise had food, I had Powerade and a blanket and helped us find out about my swimmer. My daughter Meg was one of the volunteers and did a great job the rest of the day encouraging me to eat, drink and rest.
5. Our bus driver was the best – In the morning, Blaise and I had dropped our kayaks at one end of the beach, driven back off the island and dropped our car at the Park ‘n Ride. This meant we would have to repeat the steps when we left the beach. In the morning this seemed like a great plan, but as I sat on the side of the road trying not to puke and just wanting to go to sleep, it seemed like a bigger feat than completing the race. Then suddenly, our bus driver saved the day. Instead of making us take the bus back to the Park ‘n Ride, getting our car, going back through traffic to collect our kayaks and once again leaving the island, he suggested we put the kayak on the bus. I could have kissed him.
6. Everyone was safe – Though the water was cold and rough and several swimmers and kayakers had to leave the event early, everybody, swimmers and kayakers, made it safely to shore.
Maybe I would have seen these positives in the day without Jennifer Sincero’s book, maybe I wouldn’t have. Whatever the case, I am glad the lesson was on my mind. I am glad I can look back on a day in which I was absolutely miserable and see the good in it. The Ocean Games have been around for just over a year. The event was created by my friend Corey Davis to raise money for John Hopkin’s Traumatic Brain Injury Program. It is a well organized event, with amazing volunteers, for a great cause. I am glad to have been a part of it and to have found so many positives even in the condition I ended up in.
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