Friday, August 16, 2013

Kona Camp 2013... Blood Sweat and Tears

Writing up all the details of Kona Camp this past week would simply be too daunting! So much awesome happened I wouldn't even know where to start with that... so instead I'll do some bullet points about the highlights from my perspective...

~We had an awesome group this year. It was different from last year in that it was bigger (double, actually, at 12 of us vs just 6) and there were some boys along for the ride which also changed the dynamic slightly. Not in a bad way, just different. There were several couples who were there together and that was good I think for them because in a group that big they knew they always had a steadfast partner serving as a bit of a safety net... But then I'd go out on a limb and say that the girls who came alone got some good solid bonding done and are probably now friends for life!

~We had a huge awesome house rented this year and it fit our group perfectly as the couples all had rooms upstairs and the single girls had their own private space downstairs... the well stocked kitchen was big enough for several of us to work at once, the lanai allowed nice sunset viewing, and the pool in the back was warm and perfect for floating around and socializing after each session. Overall I'd say the set up was perfect because the house allowed us time together as a group but also had ample space so folks could step away from the group dynamic to recharge/regroup on their own when they wanted to! I could see myself reserving this house again for next year for sure.

~Highlights of the training should probably start with the 10K swim... This was logistically the most challenging part of the camp planning for me because I was figuring out escorts and renting kayaks and transportation for the one-way swim down the Kona coastline... 
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about this and I'd also be lying if I said it went 100% smoothly. Not everyone finished and that was a bummer- the wind picked up unpredictably at ~9:30AM which was ~2 hours into the swim. Prior to that we had postcard conditions with glassy clam clear warm water... We stopped to play with 2 pods of dolphins along the way and during this part my little group and I were in our happy places.
It was as if Nalani and Lynsey and I had practiced swimming in the ocean side by side for years... Ok so Nalani and I have done exactly that and Lynsey is simply an accomplished enough swimmer that she was able to jump right in. I felt like I spent at least an hour of this swim in a meditative trance and for the first time ever understood the mindset of an ultra-swimmer. It was oddly peaceful and absolutely awesome. But then the wind picked up and really out of nowhere it got pretty choppy and we were OCEAN swimming. It was at this point that I started to worry about the groups behind us.
So it was unfortunate that the final 2 miles of this swim had to be so hard fought, but that's probably also what made it even extra special for those who dragged themselves to the finish at the pier. Anyone who finished this swim should know that they can indeed swim through just about anything! And going through something like that together allowed for a bond between swim partners that couldn't be formed in any other way. This moment between Kelly and Kimberly was what camp was all about for me... helping each other do something they did not know they could do. So cool.
~And of course the riding on the Big Island is special and a highlight of camp for sure. We had Nalani's husband, Kurt, along as sag and he also happens to dabble in photography so an added benefit is that everyone now has super cool pictures of themselves riding on the Queen K. It started off really fun and all smiles for everyone...
Of course we had sections where we were working hard... this was our first ride of camp and I think some athletes were chopping at the bit to drill themselves (and me!) so we waited for the appropriate time (climb to Hawi) before it got hard, but it did indeed get hard!
On the whole I'd say we had really good conditions, but everyone did get at least a taste of what the wind can be like up at Hawi... just that final stretch got pretty ugly and the wind was ripping enough to send one of our smaller riders into a guardrail... This was not the first time at camp we saw blood and it wouldn't be the last. What to say other than that's part of it, right? Part of the risk we take in sport... sometimes we fall off our bikes... but in good news the spills we had at camp were not the kind that sent anyone to the hospital. We had scenarios that posed challenges that we could overcome, and we overcame. It was good.
~Of course along with the highs in a 5 day camp come the lows... Not every session was rainbows and puppies... riders got grumpy after ~170 miles in 2 days... when it rained on us, when they were low on fuel, when body parts started hurting, and when the coffee shop was closed.
But that's part of it too, right? When you're pushing past where you thought you could push, when you're tired but finding that your limits aren't where you thought they were... sometimes you cry, but you get back on your bike and finish what you started and in the end you learn you're capable of just about anything you put your mind to. That's what we learn at camp!

And in the end, after an awesome long run along Ali'i Dr, we drink a lot of beer. That's the other thing I learned at camp. This group was full of champion drinkers. I was impressed!
Until next year... I think we will all smile with fond memories. :)

1 comment:

Run Gunn Run said...

Awesome write up! Makes me tear up...missing Hawaii, training camp and the athletes dearly! Thank you so much for all you did for us. Memories for life :)