SUP Women | Terrene Black
Australian Terrene Black saw great success early in her SUP career, winning the coveted Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championship (M2O) in 2013, only a couple years after picking up a paddle in response to a series of serious health issues. Shortly after, the professional lifeguard from New South Wales faced further health problems that put her racing career on hold. Now, Black is back and she’s giving us a peek inside her life. --Shari Coble
SUP: In 2013, after only two years on SUP, you won M2O. Looking back now, what did that win do for your SUP career and mentality as a competitor?
TB: Winning Moloka’i in 2013 was my greatest achievement and, possibly, will be my greatest life achievement. I can hold onto that for the rest of my life. Early in 2013 I was recovering from an injury and some health issues, but as I got better I put everything into winning Moloka’i. Every morning I woke up thinking about it. Winning M2O cemented myself as a serious standup paddle athlete and it also gave me the confidence to have a crack at more big international races the next year. Unfortunately, for most of 2014 I suffered from chronic fatigue, which resulted in having to pull the pin on M2O and many other races. My confidence took a major blow and I’ve found myself trying to regain that confidence through 2015. Initially, I kept having setbacks, but I’ve managed to round out the year pretty well. There were no major wins, but I was pretty satisfied overall and my confidence has returned.
How has SUP strengthened you as a lifeguard?
Being out on the ocean paddling the stretch of the Central Coast where I live has certainly helped me become more orientated with what direction each beach faces and how it’s affected by the wind. I’ve become more familiar with each headland rather than the stretch of beach itself. I know where all the bombies are and where the swells stand up to catch better runners. This is great if I have to respond to an incident on the JetSki, because it’s more often in dangerous seas offshore somewhere. (SUP has) also earned me respect. I’m not just known as 'the female lifeguard who surfs,' I’m now known as ‘the chick who paddles the Ka’iwi channel.' Having that kind of respect makes my job that much easier.
Tell us about your favorite downwind run back home.
My favorite downwind run back home would have to be the 18-kilometer Mac’s to Toowoon run in a southerly wind. We're lucky that we have many protected locations to start and end at, although I wouldn’t say Mac’s is protected--it's probably one of the more hectic places to start from; there's normally a rip to get out through the surf, but the headland only offers a short stretch of protection from the wind for the paddle out to get on your line. It's very intimidating once you turn downwind, and is not for the novice downwind paddler.
What are the top items you have to include in your daily diet?
My diet received an overhaul a few years ago after I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune condition of the thyroid gland. My doctor recommended a paleo diet, but initially I just went gluten and dairy free, which eased most of my symptoms. It wasn’t until I'd been struck down with chronic fatigue and gut issues a year later that I started following a strict paleo diet and cut out all sugar for four months. This healed my gut and I then started including more carbs in the way of fruit as I became more active. I still follow a kind of paleo diet, but I allow myself to eat oats, more fruit, and occasionally rice.
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