Sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time, and Friday was one of those times. I had just finished training my last client of the morning when, while scrolling through our MRTT Facebook page, I saw a post from someone I didn’t know asking if anyone wanted to join her on Saturday morning for some stand up paddleboarding on Beaverdam Creek Reservoir. She had two boards and would love some company since her usual SUP buddy was out of town. Since stand up paddleboarding has been on my bucket list for several years, I jumped at the chance!

When Bill and I got to the reservoir on Saturday morning, we followed the sounds coming from a whirling little motor to Crystal who was busily pumping up her paddleboards (affiliate link) using a car battery air pump (affiliate link). After quick introductions, she continued pumping up the board, and in a matter of minutes each board was pumped up and ready to use. With a quick snap our paddles (affiliate link) were assembled, and we took off with our boards and paddles to the launching area.

Bill positioned himself on a rock to take pictures as Crystal gave me instructions on how to get my board into the water and then kneel on it to paddle out into the deeper water before standing.


Photo credit: Bill


Photo credit: Bill

Crystal was a great teacher explaining to me what to expect, how to stand up, and reminding me that I could get back down onto my knees or my bottom if I got tired of standing.


Photo credit: Bill

After a few more instructions, Crystal stood, reminded me to keep my knees slightly bent for easier balance, and encouraged me to stand. She made it look easy, so I put my hands down, tucked my toes, got into a semi downward dog position, and then gingerly stood.


Photo credit: Bill

I was thrilled to stand up without falling and making a spectacle of myself since there was a small SUP class going on nearby and everyone seemed to be quite proficient in that group.


Photo credit: Bill

After a few minutes I got comfortable and shifted my gaze from the front of my board to the beauty around me. I was cautious, but as we paddled along I became more and more comfortable and relaxed into the steady rowing motion that propelled us along the top of the lake.

We tooled along chatting, getting to know each other, and sharing stories about our running adventures. Perhaps getting a little two comfortable, I shifted my weight slightly back onto my heels and found myself in the water before I had a chance to recover. I landed easily without going under and hopped back onto my board and stood like a pro. Confidently I thought to myself, “This isn’t so scary after all.” 

Once we started moving again, I told Crystal about the time I water skied in the Potomac River near the Northern Neck where the river is so wide you can’t see land on the other side. I was in college and it was my very first experience water skiing. When it was my turn to give it a try, I put on the old, and unbeknownst to me dry-rotted, safety belt and jumped into the water. After several attempts, I finally managed a half-standing position before hitting the water so forcefully that my belt broke and flew away. The belt, my skis, and I all landed in a rather spread out area – with the boat speeding away. Being a so-so swimmer I panicked, and started sinking…

As I sunk toward the bottom of the Potomac I realized that I needed to calm down, make my way back to the top, and doggy paddle, float on my back, or do whatever necessary to save myself. I popped out of the water, saw a ski nearby, and flailed through the water with my best attempt at swimming until I got to the ski. It gave me just the right amount of buoyancy and confidence I needed until the boat swung back around and picked me up. 

Shortly after my story, I found myself hitting the water again – this time hard. I’m not sure what I did, but I lost my balance big time and this time went completely under. All I could think of was, “Please don’t let me lose my sunglasses (affiliate link) or visor (affiliate link) in the middle of the lake.

I popped back out of the water looking like a drowned rat and flailing about much like the time I found myself in the middle of the Potomac River. My board was floating away as I clung to Crystal’s board coughing our future drinking water back out of my lungs while wondering how the heck I was going to swim after my board with my paddle in tow. Luckily, Crystal had dropped to her knees so I didn’t flip her off her board, and she let me calm down before swimming (and I’m using that term loosely here) to retrieve my board while she carried my paddle on her board. 

Unfortunately, Bill did not capture the fall, but noticed that I was in the water and snapped this picture of me as I headed back to my board. Once I got to my board I clung to it huffing and puffing more than I did at the end of my fastest marathon, and once I got back on that glorious board, I flopped down on my belly happy to be alive. I’m thankful at this point Crystal didn’t fall off of her board laughing at me because I must have been quite a sight! 


Photo credit: Bill


Photo credit: Crystal

Once I regained my composure, I stood on shaky legs and managed to turn and smile for a picture without falling off my board for a third time.


Photo Credit: Crystal


Photo Credit: Crystal

Finally with my composure in check, I felt comfortable on my board, and had a delightful rest of my time on the lake. As we got back closer to shore, Bill picked up on us and started snapping pictures again as we made our way toward him.


Photo credit: Bill


Photo credit: Bill


Photo credit: Bill


Photo credit: Bill

Once safely back on shore, we posed for a final picture before carrying our boards back to Crystal’s car to be deflated. 


Photo credit: Bill (iPhone)


Photo credit: Bill (iPhone)

I had an absolutely fantastic time, and can’t thank Crystal enough for including me on this adventure. I really appreciated her patience as I learned this new skill, and would go out again in a heartbeat! Thank you, Crystal!

If you’ve not tried SUP and have the opportunity to, definitely give it a try. It’s so much fun!


  • Questions:
  • Have you tried SUP?
  • What’s your favorite water activity?
  • Do you have any close-call water stories to share?


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