In less than two weeks, I will be in the final hours of preparation for a long awaited race day in Hawaii. This will be my second time to participate in The Pailolo Channel crossing race, a 26 miles, solo outrigger canoe competition that begins on the Northwest shores of Maui, crosses the Pailolo (“Crazy Fisherman”) Channel, to finish in the harbor of Molokai. A week later, with my buddy, James, we will compete in a 41 miles relay across the Kai’wi channel, paddling a solo canoe and switching out for intervals from Molokai to Magic Island on Oahu. Through the lens of a voyage, I will have paddled from Maui to Oahu in these two single races.
The amount of training and preparation for two Hawaiian island channel crossing races has been significant, requiring a lot of focus, discipline, and time. Logistics aside, since October, when I set spring race goals, my weekly training has averaged between 15-20 hours, time distributed to core & gym, 4-15 miles run/cardio, and 29-53 paddling miles with a focus on speed, endurance and strength. I use a training log and a Garmin to track my progress and data. Though my overall motivation has been consistent, I do have days when getting out the door to train takes an enormous amount of energy, effort and inner dialogue especially when I am training alone. This is when my discipline is truly tested. In these moments, it helps me when I set a clear intention for that workout and connect with the scope of my Pacific Ocean challenge. I have a deep respect for the Hawaiian waters and our San Francisco waters and understand the scope of commitment needed to have safe and successful channel crossings. The added benefits are that being on the water is healing, keeps me feeling the canoe, and serves as a reminder of the divine.
Keeping the momentum going and being consistent with training have been key. Here are a few take aways from this past year:
- Finding a good rhythm with training has been connected to my motivation- well timed rest and recovery. I do this by listening to my body especially my shoulders, key indicators that guide my training choices. Rest and recovery have been essential for the long haul for injury prevention.
- Mixing it up with training by doing fun and different things. Examples for me are taking advantage of windy days and doing a downwind paddle or simply hiking up our local Mt. Tamalpais for a bird’s eye view. I also like changing up my gym training with more functional and dynamic circuit training- box jumps, tootsie rolls, different variations of pull-ups. I like to challenge myself in new ways.
- Finding people to train with has been essential for me. This winter, I have been grateful for my three weekly training groups that have added elements of community, friendly competition and fun. Training with other paddlers helps me with overall increased performance, effort and technique because I am always trying to get ahead of the canoe in front of me, looking for faster water and checking on my form. It adds another element of awareness and fun. Also, I have a couple gym classes – Yoga and Core- that support good body alignment and a solid foundation.
- Seeking stories of people or just being with people who inspire also helps.
One of those people is Traci Lynn Martin who began her 8,600 mile epic paddle this month that launched in Michigan and begin by paddling the 5 Great Lakes this spring and into summer months. By August, she”ll be paddling east along the St. Lawrence river to Nova Scotia and south along the NE coastline in October. Then she paddles up the Hudson River to loop back to end on Lake Eerie. From her website, “Traci Lynn Martin, an experienced expedition kayaker and successful ultra endurance competitive kayaker, will attempt to set a new World Record in kayaking. She will attempt to set a record for the farthest documented non-stop paddling trip by kayak in one year.” Surprisingly, she has Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Very inspiring. This is the first kindred spirit I have encountered with RA. Though I do not know her personally, we share the mission to “Inspire Others” through outdoor adventure and each of us have RA. I am following her journey.
Another inspirational encounter this month was with Lia Ditton, an amazing ocean adventuress training to row the Trans-Pacific in 2018. I went to her presentation at Spaulding Wooden Boat Center in Sausalito. She’s a delight with her witty, humorous and serious epic ocean adventures ! Incredible adventurer. Rowing from Japan to San Francisco. She is living and training here in Sausalito. I saw her the next day on the water heading across to San Francisco’s AT&T Park while I was on my morning paddle training from the Golden Gate bridge. From her website, “Lia Lia Ditton, 36, has more than 150,000 nautical miles of experience – the equivalent of 8 laps of the globe – and has competed at a high level in some of the world’s most challenging ocean races”. She is a professional sailor, writer and artist. If you have a chance to hear her speak, Go!
One more ocean goddess that I have followed for a few years now is Roz Savage. Ocean rower extraordinarie. Roz Savage is notable for holding ” four world records for ocean rowing, including first woman to row solo across three oceans: the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. She has rowed over 15,000 miles, taken around 5 million oarstrokes, and spent cumulatively over 500 days of her life at sea in a 23-foot rowboat. In 2010 she was named Adventurer of the Year by National Geographic” Currently, she has been teaching an online course on Courage and sharing widely. Her blogs are inspiring and a worthy read. Courage has been a theme that has re-occured for me in my personal and professional life. Connecting with courage, speaking my truth, facing my fears and taking calculated risks have all been ongoing themes in all aspects of my life- physical, relational, professional and emotional. There is a lot more to say here but for a later date.
For embarking on this next endeavor, paddling from Maui to Oahu in two race events, I return to the basics: believing in myself, my competence and strength. No Escort boat this year for the Pailolo channel! I have been training for this race, not just in the past 5 months but in reality for my whole life. It is the sum of my ocean and water experience as a young ocean sailor, sea kayaker, river kayaker and now outrigger canoe paddler that has prepared me for these upcoming races. I am now in the hands of Mother Nature. May the conditions on these upcoming race days bless us with fair winds and waves that carry us swiftly across the channels of Hawaii.