And on the seventh day….we started with a 3k swim at the pier. The water was calmer than the past few days, so it was really great! I swam over a huge school of fish, so dense that at first I thought it was a reef. I managed to actually stay mainly on course for once, all in all a very satisfying swim.

While I was rinsing off at the outdoor shower on the pier, Anja and I were accosted by a Hawaiian dude who was very interested in flirting with her, and teasingly called me “auntie”. While I know that he probably thought I was also native Hawaiian (being quite tanned from all of the outdoor training by this point in camp!), and that is a respectful way to refer to one of the ohana (extended Hawaiian family), it was a funny reality check for me. Here I am, 56 years old (never athletic as a kid) trying to keep up with this hardcore group–very happy to be able to still play the crazy camp games!

We came back and had a quick breakfast in preparation for Tara’s ‘short’ ride of the day. She had changed the route a bit, and it ended up including a completely ridiculous amount of climbing–multiple trips up to and down from the upper highway (the scheduled QOM up the King Kam3 turned out to be the easiest part of the day!) As a special challenge, after the QOM, we traveled south (again) then north (again) through Hualaloa to tackle the notorious Kaloko climb (because we hadn’t climbed enough already by this point??!!). Kaloko is a snaking, 7 mile climb from 93′ to over 5,000ft up into a cloud forest…if you make it that far.

Only Anja, Tara and I were riding today, and T kept saying “And then there were three,” while I kept wondering what this old auntie was doing trying to keep up with them! (Anja insisted that she didn’t mind waiting periodically for me to catch up to Tara and her; it gave her a bit of a breather I think ;) ) but once we hit Kaloko, no one was waiting for anyone. It was unlike anything I’d ridden….or maybe more like a combination of ALL the steep and grinding stuff we rode this week, condensed into a few short miles!? I used my emergency asthma inhaler more times than I ought to have, and it barely helped. We later learned that the vlog (or volcanic fog/pollution) was significant, although I’m doubtful that was the source of my woes today. The road was beautiful, with lush tree ferns and Ohia trees all around, and few man made structures, especially the higher up you went. I took advantage of a driveway or three to attempt to catch my breath but I was not near the top when David drove the van down from further up the road, with instructions from T to turn around and head back. We each had reached our personal limits by then; I was both frustrated and relieved. The descent was pretty terrifying, and I’m fairly certain that my bike needs a new set of brake pads now. So Anja, T and I headed back to the house for the final training of the day, the 10k run. I stepped into the dipping pool briefly, then put on my runners and optimistically headed out the gate. Needless to say, my hips were not happy and a sizable amount of walking was involved. While I’ve been pleased to have woken up my cycling legs this week, running still is not accessible. It’s been almost exactly a year since my collision…and I was hoping for redemption at this year’s camp. So tomorrow will be a bittersweet last day (as all EpicWoman camp day8′s are for one reason or another)…I’m grateful to have made it this far.

It’s been an especially challenging week for Michele (who has made lemonade out of lemons), and Alicia (who has struggled mightily with undercarriage issues and decided to fly home this evening since she was unable to ride, and is starting a new job in a few days and could use the extra days focusing on the important things in her life). We all bring our hopes and personal challenges to epicWoman camp, and rarely unfolds exactly the way you’d imagined (or feared!). It’s a learning process for sure…you just never quite know what lessons you will take away from the week.

We’re all going to miss Alicia tomorrow, but bring on day8!

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