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Rochelle King of Channel Islands Fitness.

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Tales of the Paddling Pink Toes - by Rochelle King, Channel Islands Fitness; Photos by Jason MacMurray

rochelle king, channel islands fitnessThursday afternoon I sat in a massage chair after picking out a nail color for my toes. A work function dictated that I have neat polished nails to mingle with some successful ladies of business, but on a selfish note, I also wanted to go into my weekend with a little flare. Scheduled for my weekend of fun included a 10 mile paddle race which would finish almost simultaneously with the start of my surf final if I was able to qualify. The surf contest held at Malibu always proves to bring stiff competition and I hadn't been able to surf in a few months. My surf groove hopefully wouldn't be that far off from when surf season ended in Santa Barbara. On the other hand, the paddle race from Zuma to Malibu brings a whole different set of nerves and challenges. During the flat Santa Barbara summers, I have started to paddleboard with friends and recently started to do a few races looking to test my physical and mental strength. Going with the theme of wilder adventures, I chose a hot shimmery pink polish simple enough for work, yet possessing enough spice to carry me through the weekend.

So my weekend started with shimmery pink toes, a cute bikini and determination to achieve the unthinkable, finish a paddle race in time to surf in my surf final at Malibu.

With nervousness similar to a freshman starting high school, I sat in the car on the ride from Santa Barbara to Zuma. Checking the water for wind changes, watching the fog roll in and out along the drive I consulted with Jason, my husband, about the conditions of the paddle race. Sipping coffee and making sure I had enough breakfast but not too much that I would be full, I started to accept that I would be racing. Pulling into the lot at Zuma, I realized that this was really going to happen. Lifeguards ran around the parking lot with more energy than I have on a given day and I started to have doubts about my Sunday adventure. But with my number written on my hand, I had committed to completing the race to the best of my ability. With my new racing outfit on, toes sparkling, water bottle filled and sunscreen slathered on, I was about as ready as I would ever be.

Ten miles to Malibu and I have to be there by 11:30am for my final surf heat kept running through my head. I looked back at Jason on the beach knowing that he would have lunch and my favorite Gatorade waiting for me at the end. My first obstacle became negotiating the shore break at Zuma. Santa Barbara doesn't have waves of size all summer, so moving a 12 foot paddleboard through the waist high shore pound for the first time was no easy feat. I waded in, eyed the water and everyone moving through the waves effortlessly, then plunged in on a lull. At that moment I focused on staying on the board and trying not to be flipped over by the waves as I paddled to meet the other competitors. As I joined the cluster of other racers, I started to question even why I wanted to race 10 miles down the coast. I had little time to even debate this, as instructions were given, places assumed and then the whistle blew. Reacting quickly to the whistle I glanced at my watch, 9:15am, and took the first stroke of many as I began my path to Malibu. I began chasing a paddler on an unlimited, a board that is 18' in length, immediately knowing that I could hold the pace he set for two hours.

Comfortable in my rhythm now, my thoughts returned to the challenge I had set for myself. I knew that I could paddle ten miles, but would I make my heat at 11:30am? What had I been thinking when I signed up to do both!? Would I get hungry? Would I see a shark like they did last year and I didn't want to be the only one out there if I did! By the time I finished the race all of these questions would be answered, but I had to finish first!

Paddling by knowing that juvenile white sharks were swimming down below me, I paddled faster by that area! The logical side of me knows that the sharks are everywhere and the probability of being bitten is slim, but I have an active imagination.


Rounding the bend at Point Dume, I could see the massive bay in front of me which I would be crossing. In the car the bay doesn't feel that large, but looking across all I could do was put my head down and paddle. I checked my watch and continued to go. I stayed close to the unlimited paddler till Latigo Canyon, about half way through the race, where I caught up to him. We were about to pass the shark holding tank for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Paddling by knowing that juvenile white sharks were swimming down below me, I paddled faster by that area! The logical side of me knows that the sharks are everywhere and the probability of being bitten is slim, but I have an active imagination. We chatted about the sharks, the Catalina race that I had no intention of doing at that point and then I explained what I was attempting to do. He responded with "You are on a good pace and will make it". With a boast of confidence, similar to the thrill of biting into a fresh chocolate chip cookie, we parted ways as I continued to pursue my goal.

I knew that I had to keep my head focused on my goal, and my arms moving if I wanted to reach Malibu and in to the surf in the contest. Who wouldn't want to surf playful Malibu with a few other ladies? I debated about having a snack of Gu, but decided against it. Unlike some of the more seasoned paddlers, I didn't have a set up for food and trash yet established and I knew that I could wait till I arrived at Malibu for my lunch. I already found drinking water on my tummy a challenge, so trying to eat would have been even harder. Eating also would mean that my arms would stop moving and I had to keep them in the rhythm. I was getting tired but I could see Pepperdine University and I knew that around the corner was Malibu. Head down, I paddled on. Alternating between paddling on my knees or laying down every fifty to sixty strokes I reestablished my rhythm.

Closer to Malibu, at the base of Pepperdine University, I had an unlimited paddler catch me and I wasn't too thrilled about that. I was determined not to let this group of guys, who were slightly behind me, pass me. We paddled parallel for awhile with a pod of dolphins and seals chasing bait fish between us which provided a perfect distraction to the exhaustion that was starting to set in.

Would I ever round that bend and see perfect Malibu peeling along? The point seemed far off, but so close and time was ticking. Trying to stay focused, I started to do intervals fast and moderate until I reached the point. I rounded the red buoy that signals the surf contest area, noticed the ladies beginning to paddle out for our heat, and the unlimited paddler that had passed me was about to round the white buoy by the pier. I took one look at the heat, the waves and the beach and sprinted around the white buoy. The exhaustion that my arms and shoulders felt didn't even register as I sprinted hard to the beach, out paddling the unlimited paddler in the process. Eyeing my orange jersey laid on top of my surfboard and Jason at the shore, I aimed for Jason so I could pass off the paddleboard. My husband grabbed the paddleboard as I ran to the surfboard. With both of us running up the beach, I put the jersey on, as he carried my surfboard up to the point. In about one minute, I had a jersey on, surfboard under arm and was out of breath from sprinting up the beach to the surf contest.

Arms dead, breathing hard, and unsure how to paddle a surfboard suddenly I finally made it out to the peak to join my heat. I quickly asked how much time was left in our final, but the girl I had asked didn't know! Yikes, I had no idea where I stood time wise and I needed three waves to at least be better than sixth! I paddled to be out here, so there was no way I would finish without a fight! Turning on a small wave my shaky legs and unsure feet almost didn't make it up, however determination set in. Next thing I know I planted a nice little nose ride and started off to a good start. Relieved that my feet remembered what to do I began to relax and enjoy the few moments of a quiet surf at Malibu. My second wave also proved to be fun but then my third wave came to me. With less than five minutes left, a set started to build. I could see the red buoy rise and fall as the first wave was smaller than the second. I passed on the first wave, because I knew the second wave of the set would be better. My arms and legs were dead at this point, and my balance was off which caused a late takeoff as I slipped into the face of the wave. Shortly after I stood up, the horn blew signaling the end of the heat. As luck would have it, I caught the best wave of the heat sealing my spot above sixth place! I pulled off a few nose rides, followed by several cutbacks with tired legs and hung on till I hit the sand. Thankfully someone took my surfboard from me as I started to walk up to turn in my jersey. My day of competition was complete and all before 12pm.

Walking back to the paddleboard tent to check out of the race, the reality of what I had just accomplished hadn't set in. As the day wore on my peers would share their congratulations and awe of my accomplishment, which meant more than the awards that I would later receive. I ended up third in the surf contest, and winning the paddle race since I was the only girl. The combination of the paddle race and finaling in the surf contest had been done in the past, but I don't think that a lady had ever done both. Enjoying a celebratory chocolate chip cookie, I looked down at my feet and noticed that I had ruined my shimmery pink toes. So much for keeping that girly flair while I paddled and surfed, but the adventure was worth every chipped piece of polish.

Special Notice: Tales of the Paddling Pink Toes originally ran on

Channel Islands Fitness, Rochelle King

Channel Islands Fitness
(805) 455-6060

About Rochelle King and Channel Islands Fitness
Rochelle's training is a unique combination of an intense workout, self discovery and understanding of the movement of the body.

Rochelle's program guides clients through lifestyle changes to reach an achievable goal such as completing their first 5K race, increasing balance to soar across a dance floor, or improving endurance.  Her programs are geared for an individual that seeks an alternative from a gym based workout.  Workouts are conducted outdoors which offers clients the opportunity to explore Santa Barbara County.  As a student at UCSB, Rochelle studied aquatic biology, and enjoys sharing little nuggets of information about our local ecosystem during workouts.

Whether running the local trails with clients, paddling in the ocean, or teaching Pilates Rochelle has been fortunate to create a balance between her athletic pursuits and her professional goals.




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Additional Resources:

Channel Islands Fitness, Rochelle King

Channel Islands Fitness
(805) 455-6060



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Caption Index - Photos by Jason MacMurray

1. Round the buoy...check. Smile for the camera...check. Rochelle King on the home stretch of her amazing paddling adventure.
2. "Ten miles to Malibu and I have to be there by 11:30am for my final surf heat." Rochelle King accelerating.
3. Rochelle King noseriding through Malibu's inside section.
4. Rochelle King cross-stepping between noserides.
5. Even small waves are fun when the shape is good. Rochelle King on a clean, lined-up Malibu right.
6. All smiles after a marathon of a day. Rochelle King.



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