Molokai Afterthoughts 2010 by Nicole Madosik

Our good friend and awesome supporter Nicole Madosik crossed the Molokai Channel for the first time this past sunday. She did awesome, and wrote a bit about her experience…We couldn’t be more stoked and proud for her. Congratulations Nicole, we knew you could do it!!!….

It’s the day after the race and every time I think about it my heart races and emotions run wild. To my friends and family who are curious, these are my thoughts.

After completing the race as a team in 2009, I decided it was the best day of my life. Mostly because I had accomplished something that I never thought I could do. All it took after that day, was just a little encouragement from my friend and training partner Morgan to get me to commit to going solo this year.

I completed the race this year, and I am so happy. It was so different from last year though…and that is the story. Not to take anything away from those who do it as a team…because to accomplish the task of crossing the Kaiwi Channel is a great feat in and of itself. But for me, crossing as a team did not come with the gambit of emotions that came with crossing it solo.

I landed on Molokai with 100% confidence. I even told myself I think I can finish 4th if I have a good race. I had a 17′ Naish board that I know goes well in the open ocean swell which only added to my confidence. I also had a great Escort Captain Noah and good friend Holly who would act as my support team. Little did I know just how much I would need them.

I began getting nervous the night before. But I tried to hide it…I told myself that this is where the mental game begins…HERE and NOW. Control your thoughts and your emotions. I tried to remind myself that I had trained hard, had good support, good board, and that I was ready.

Just before the race start, I used the information at hand in regards to the conditions to make a call. I told Captain Noah to draw a rum line to Lanai Lookout and keep me North of it. That was it…the plan…for better or worse.

I paddled to the start cool, calm and collected. It was funny watching Riggs jump from his escort to his board with so much excitement. I wasn’t even thinking about what would soon come. The green flag raised and we were off. Oahu was not visible anymore so I followed the mid line of the crowd. Some paddlers went North, some South…I stayed in the middle.

My first contact with Captain Noah and Holly confirmed that I was north of the rum line and that was awesome news! I was starting the race right where I wanted to be. I felt good, strong and in confident. I was happy.

Faced with a large North East swell, I decided I was north of the rum line enough to take advantage of the swell and surf south. This was awesome and enabled me to catch some good runners and make up some ground. Then I hit the rum line. Time to fight north again.

The winds picked up…and so did the swell. Fighting to stay north became harder and harder. My emotion had changed to frustration. I told myself to relax into it…had fun. But with the wind and waves from my side, with few rides to be found, the frustration kept it’s grasp for a while.

After about 3 hours, Holly was feeding me and Noah gave me an update. I was North of rum line again and was 16 miles from Lanai Lookout. Okay…doing good. Frustration disappeared, and determination kicked in. I was making good time, atleast for my own personal goal, and all I needed to do was keep the pace. I was mentally “in it” again.

I turned to surf south. It was fun…good runners…feeling good…then the four hour mark hit. I stared to hurt. Fighting north again, I was feeling tired. I was only half way there. If I completed it, I would barely make it under the 8 hour cut off.

At hour 6, I fell, one of many good wipeouts, but when I kicked, my legs were like jello. Unresponsive and exhausted. I hauled myself onto my board, forced myself to stand up, and then I spoke aloud to my body…and promised my legs that if they would get me through this, I wouldn’t do it to them again. I looked at my boat captain and asked him to please kill me now. It was no longer fun. Koko head was clear but it seemed I was paddling forever and it wasn’t getting any closer.

Seeing my mounting exhaustion and frustration, Noah and Holly kicked into high gear. Holly was in the water with me telling me how proud she was and how this would be the best day of my life and how she know I could do it! Noah would yell from the boat and make me laugh. I wondered if they knew how much those moment meant to me and how they are seared in my brain. I hung on to them as I continued.

7 hours…Everything hurts now. My arms, by legs, my abs, my feet. But I am happy again because I know I will finish. I can see portlock point…and I am fighting to get there. I can’t reach the wall. Holly jumps in for one last nutrition and forces some vanilla pudding tasting stuff down my throat. Thank goodness she did…because it gave me what I needed. I rounded portlock point on the inside. I can see the finish! I am stoked…cut through the reef and am right on track. Then the headwind from hell arises. I see the building next to me with a red roof…I put my head down and paddle…I look up and the building is in the same place. I am not moving forward. I want to quit. I think of Morgan, and tell myself “if you quit she won’t be your friend”…I keep padding. I want to cry.

Somehow, I am able to pull myself to the far east wall. There is a lady paddler in front of me. I must pass her…because I realized that time is ticking…we may be the last two paddlers to cross the line and I just don’t want to finish last. I am protected from the wind now and this is my back yard. I know how close I can stay to the wall and stay protected. If I can find some strength, then maybe I will pull head. I put my head down and paddle. I pass her. I am now giving it all I have…I can see the finish…and she is right behind me. I think to myself…I hope she can’t sprint because I am giving every ounce of what is left.

I cross the finish line. 7 hours 52 minutes. 5th place female. Barely holding back tears of happiness, exhaustion, accomplishment, and love. Greeted by some of my most favorite people on earth…the welcome to land made it all worth it.

It’s Monday and I feel like I was hit by a truck. But I am so happy I accomplished it. I had no idea what I was facing when I set out to do it alone. It was a bigger challenge that I anticipated and the roller coaster of emotions was something I never imagined I would feel – elated, exhausted, frustrated, angry, tired, hungry, happy, determined. I feel fortunate that I was able to paddle with a group of some of the most accomplished paddlers in the world. My personal accomplishment was what made it worth it to me…it is what I had hoped to gain. I have now accomplished crossing the “everest” of ocean channels. And I know for sure, this isn’t the last time.

To my friends and family…thank you for all the love and support. Special thanks to Holly…for jumping into the deep deep waters and swell despite your fears to keep me nourished by physically and mentally throughout the race. To Morgan…you know I wouldn’t have done it if it weren’t for you – you are an inspiration. To Jared for being a huge support and training partner, even when you had to sacrifice your own training for mine. And to Jenny for your support and helping me find the board that would be the magic that would help me cross the channel. Jeff Chang…thank you for including me in all of your training this year! It made a huge difference.

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