As I sit here writing this nearly a month after the race I am sidelined with a back injury. I hurt my lower back in my early 20’s and it never really returned to 100%. It bothers me time and again but this time was different. It was a sharp pain keeping me from bending, sitting and doing just about anything and it’s been 9 days with no letup. I haven’t had it this bad in a long, long time and I keep thinking in the back of my head if maybe the attempt at this race aggravated the long lost injury. I will never know for certain as the pain set in weeks after the event doing a shorter paddle race but nonetheless my eyes are wide open to listening to my body and training harder before I do any serious distance races in the future.
The 100 Mile Race
The 100 Mile paddle race is a exactly that, 100 miles of ocean paddling over 2 days split 50 miles each day. That’s a whole lot of ocean miles in a short amount of time so you can count on paddling from dawn to dusk if you wanna finish this beast of a race. Day 1 starts from Redondo Beach Harbor to Dana Point Harbor & Day 2 leaves from Dana Point Harbor to Mission Beach for the finish.
I first heard about this insane race from a video I saw online for the East Coast version. The East Coast 100 Mile Paddle Race NYC starts in Kingston, NY at the Hudson River Maritime Museum and ends at the Intrepid Air Space Museum covering around 100 miles.
Upon hearing it was coming to the West Coast with an LA to San Diego version I had to do it! The most I ever attempted to paddle was a 12 mile downwind race in Santa Barbara that turned out to be a 12 mile upwind race in 80 degree heat and bumpy seas and it opened my eyes to the challenges of distance racing. But to complete 100 miles didn’t even seem possible?
I opted to sit out the first leg from Redondo to Dana Point and start on Day 2 covering the 50 miles from Dana Point to Mission Beach.
My Training Leading up to the Race
I am an avid paddler and i go for several 2-3 mile distance paddles weekly and get in the surf daily with the surfboard or paddleboard. I never really attempted to train any long distances before the race and I think this would have helped me immensely in hindsight. I would train on the Isle 12’6 Race Paddle Board for my flat water and ocean paddles. This board is great in the ocean as it has a nice bit of extra rocker helping to grab those swells easily and give you a little boost.
The Morning of the Start: My First 50 Miles
After getting a last minute entry I made the hour long drive from SD to Dana to meet the 100 mile support crew at 6 am near the harbor enjoying at Pre Day 2 race breakfast. I was rested and ready to go and couldn’t imagine how the original crew was feeling from paddling a full 50 miles the day before. With clear skies and calm conditions they assigned me a support boat, GPS tracker and the racers piled with our boards to assemble for a water start just outside the Dana Point harbor to start.
Growing up in southern Cali and driving this stretch of coast countless times this would be the first time to ever paddle it and something I was really looking forward to.
Mandatory Support Boat Required
Coming into the race I figured I would just strap my gear, food and water to the top of my board and wouldn’t need a support boat. This is not the case and the extra weight of all my water food and gear would kill me over a long distance especially in choppy seas. Turns out every extra ounce of weight is a huge burden over distances this long and luckily the race coordinator hooked me up with a support boat last minute to watch over me during the race. Without them I wouldn’t have had a shot in in the dark of making it as far as I did and I want to extend a huge thanks to the support crew for all the help along the course. They did an amazing job on keeping me hydrated and stoked along the 50 mile route.
So how many calories do you Burn in 50 miles?
Never doing a paddle of this length I did some research into what to prepare in terms of hydrations and food to stay fueled up. After doing some research its not uncommon for a paddler to burn 400-600 calories per hour during a race of this kind. Experts say a leisure paddling pace burns around 100-200 per hour and this would be anything but a leisure pace as I had to use everything I had to dig dig dig for every mile.
I figured Averaging about 5 miles an hour and 10 hours of paddling to complete the course I would need at least 4000-5000 calories to get me to the finish line so that being said here is what I packed and ultimately ingested along the way.
Food & Drink Consumed During Race:
- 1 Supersize Almond Milk Chia Seed Protein Shake w/ Organic Yerba Mate Protein Powder & Oatmeal for Breakfast
- 2 Extra Large Coconut Waters
- 4 Packets of Pure Acai
- 2 Sambazon Acai Drinks
- 3 Sambazon Protein Acai Drinks
- 16 Bottles of Water
- 2 Cliff Energy Gel Packs
- 4 Cliff Bars
- 6 Peanut Butter Banana & Jelly Sandwiches
- 10 Salami & cheese Crackers
- 1 Ice Cold Corona Beer at the Finish!
All these items where packed up and ready on the support boat and every 30 minutes they would ask how I was doing and hand me over a snack or drink to keep me going.
In the End I completed around 47 miles in around 9 hours of paddling and when I crossed the line I was starving! LOL
The Race is on – Don’t give UP!!!!
The race started in calm seas with a nice light cross wind at our backs for the first 4 hours. I felt I had a solid pace but the fatigue started to creep in around hour 3. The distant landmarks like the big nuclear power plant at San Clemente would never seem to get closer but almost further with every stroke. It was odd staring and paddling in one direction for so looong and the focal landmark just seemed always out of reach! After finally passing the nuke plant it was time for the next landmark in Del Mar.
This would be the large smokestack tower off the freeway south of Oceanside. It was a long long way away and I would lock onto this thing with my eyes for the remainder of the race cursing it again and again as it was getting seemingly further away with every stroke.
The Pain Sets In
As hour 5 & 6 set in the wind picked up with a nasty cross breeze forcing me to do most of my paddling on one side. This put a huge strain on the body along with the bumps of cross wind and choppy swell. The pain finally set in on all joints, muscles, fingers and toes and the cheers from the support boat and watching and trying to pace with the guy paddling in front of me kept me going. It would be like I couldn’t go another stroke and I would have another Acai, Peanut butter sandwich and water and then I suddenly would feel the energy fuel back up in my body and be put at ease for a short while until the pain would once again set it. The last several hours 7 and 8 where a touch and go struggle of the mind to keep going and make it to the end…
The Final Countdown
After leaving the harbor around 630am in the morning it was now getting close to sunset and approaching 5pm. With the nasty crosswind all the competitors had slowed to a crawl just before La Jolla and no one was making it to Mission Beach before dark. We had covered close to 50 miles and the race organizer decided to do an ocean finish and get everyone back to the after party before dark at the resort in Mission Bay.
After close to 9 hours of paddling we called the race stoked to finally sit down and rest and the support boats placed icy cold Coronas in our hands as we boarded the vessels. I later saw the picture of us right after we crawled in and I was clear I had my head up and threw a shaka but looking at the pic later im not even looking up or holding a shaka. I was so tired I thought I couldn’t even lift my arms or head! LOL
It was an accomplishment to make it this far and one thing I will never forget is after paddling into the direction of the sun for so long I was able to watch the sun rise and arc across the entire sky slowly to its near setting position. Something you don’t really every notice unless you stare at the sun for 9 hours !
After Party At Paradise Point
As we pulled into the calm water of Mission Bay the event organizers had assembled a large party on the beach complete with a dinner and awards ceremony. To tired to partake I said my goodbyes to the fellow racers and organizers some of whom had done the full 100 miles and headed off to rest.
Post Race Interview:
Just want to give a huge shout out and thanks to the entire 100 Mile Event Organizer’s and Support Crew for a great event and after I get over this back injury im ready for next year and the full 2 Day 100 mile Experience! Time to heal my back and start training!
Not Just A Solo Race: Teams Also Enter
The race does not have to be done solo and can be completed with a team who switch off during the course and is a really cool way to see the coastline of Southern California without trying to kill yourself by taking on all 100 miles on your own! Until Next Year!
If you think you are ready to test your limits visit the 100 Mile Paddle Race website for more info on the 2015 event!