Tuesday, September 23, 2014


We did it, to me a huge feat, a great big deal, and something that I'll remember forever and a day, "The day we paddled across the Kaiwi Channel".  By the time we reached mile 41, above, I was in tears, a long time dream was about to become reality and it was so much better than I ever dreamed it to be.  For being a girl who likes to dream it up then go do it, I often fumble with my patience and lack of "being in the right place at the right time".  Well, this was the perfect time, the exact moment in my life when I needed to be on Molokai, team up with Kai 'Opua women, paddle Na Wahine O Ke kai (From Molokai to Oahu), not back in 2003...

Dear Life, thank you for teaching me (again) to hold my horses.

The race is the Ironman of paddling.  It's a huge deal that paddlers all over the world spend the entire year gearing up for.  I got to witness my Big Island sisters working so hard for it this season and was part of their special journey, it became my journey too.  Sunday our crew landed 7th in the world, just breaking the 6hr mark. It feels unbelievably special knowing I get to be part of two Championship races this season.  Paddling has been such a beautiful part of my world, enhanced everything about triathlon, and softened the blows on some difficult days.  The women I got to paddle with have won the race in previous years, they are all so experienced in the ways of the water, it was so beautiful working with them & an honor.  

The morning of the race.
The event reminded me so much of being in the transition area of an Ironman, except we set up our seats in the canoe instead of our bikes.  We checked our paddles, not tires.  We got our nutrition all set (I used the exact same stuff I fuel with in an Ironman), it was a really good day to test out my nutrition for October 11th!!  The start of the race was the same too, full on emotion for a big day that holds so much unknown and so many opportunities.  My key words were the same as Ironman race day, "Stay humble, stay confident".  You just don't know what Mother Nature can do out there in the middle of the ocean!  

At the end of the race the emotions of crossing the finish line were identical to that of Ironman.  Raw joy that is difficult to put into words or understand unless you experienced it yourself.  You are tested physicall, mentally, and emotionally all day.  You sacrificed to be there, you worked hard to be there, you want to be there.  That's the beauty in all of this, it really is a choice, our gift.  Physically the Ironman is more of a challenge to me, but mentally, I was so much more exhausted in the channel.  You have to work as a team, hitting the water at the same time or you mess the entire boat up.  In triathlon, when our minds wander we notice, bring them back, but rarely does it completely throw us all the way off track.  We still move forward.  In the canoe, it is 100% focus all the time, the entire time, or you mess it all up, you mess up every one by not following entirely what's going on in front of you. I truly believe paddling has helped me focus in triathlon more this season than anything else I've tried.  More than my quotes, my books of advice, my self talk, none of it.  I can now ride bike and not even notice I forgot my ipod!  I suppose paddling has played a bigger part in my Ironman journey than ever expected.

Molokai was so beautiful for so many reasons.  I wish we had more time there to collect shells and run the beaches.  To explore and get lost then found.  The people were as gorgeous as the little island.  It was so tiny, not even a movie theater!  Molokai taught me to do a better job of being in the moment.  My mind always seems to be on overdrive, it took a big breath of fresh air over there.  For the first time in a long time I didn't think about anything at all...I just lived.  

Being home now is prettier than ever.  I was welcomed to all things Ironman.  My paddle is hung up for a while and my lessons are sitting close.  Splish sent me some fun practice suits to keep the swim motivation going strong these final weeks.  That Wonder Woman suit is the absolute best!  And a box of fruits were left for me at swim practice along with Red Bull from Natascha Badmann herself, you know, to keep me going. I love home and having left it for a place I once thought I'd like better made me love it even more...

Training is still in full force for me this week, loving it, embracing it, and still remembering how this time last year I was not part of it.  Unbelievably thankful, for all of it, the journey and moments leading right up to that start line and all we worked for to get us to the finish line.  

One more paddle picture, because I am still just so happy to have lived through yet another dream come true.  And I miss those girls already.  Night, night, Ironman miles await me bright & early.



The Padre said...

The Aerial Photos Are Awesome!! Keep Paddling & Stay Strong!! Cheers

Lucy Francis said...

I’ve heard about this race in some adventure program on tv and how people train for years to get into one of the canoe teams/clubs in Hawaii
That must have been a wonderful change from the usual training and with great cross training benefits.

Racing like that as part of a team , I can only imagine it to be like riding in a group in a criterium or long road race. You cannot let your mind wander for a single minute. The concentration that that takes requires a lot of mental energy, phew.

That sea is so blue, the colours so vibrant and the water so clear. Absolutely beautiful

A Manolescu said...

Bree, that is so cool...thanks for sharing :)

And the photo of the coastline of Molokai with the mountains? Wow, wow wow.