If this is your first time in the beautiful Kualoa Valley, you are about to experience something amazing!
There are only a few days left before you put yourself to the test for this year’s XTERRA Trail Run World Championships. You’ve seen previous years’ pictures of runners as they made their way through the lush jungle of Kualoa Valley and it probably made the nerves and jitters rumble in your belly!
Growing up in Hawaii, I always had a deep appreciation for what our ʻāina (land) provides. I didn’t play video games; I was too busy hiking on the trails or challenging friends to see who could hold their breath underwater the longest. Unfortunately, I always lost. But even though I’ve spent countless hours running on the muddy trails of these islands, I continue to be amazed by its awe and beauty.
If this is your first time in the beautiful Kualoa Valley, you are about to experience something amazing! Be prepared for the smells of the humid rainforest as you make your way through the single track. The mud under your feet as you attempt to maintain control down the steep hills. And the cool salty breeze from the ocean as you make your way towards the finish line. When I close my eyes I can picture it now!
However, don’t think this race will be an easy walk through the park. There’s a reason why the World Championships are held here year after year. Along with the unbelievable sights, smells, and sounds; Kualoa Valley can make you feel very small and quickly humble you. There will be times when you want to give up and think to yourself “why am I out here” or “how is that person still smiling”, but believe me, you’re not alone and everyone has those negative thoughts. You’ll see some people that look as though butterflies and rays of sunshine are carrying them along the trail; but believe me, they’re in just as much pain as you, but they’ve learned to create a relationship with that pain.
For example, in preparation for the Spartan World championships in Lake Tahoe last month, I knew I would need to complete a short swim in the lake, which is at a balmy 45 degrees. So for 6 weeks prior to the race, I poured 50lbs of ice into my bathtub and forced myself to sit in it everyday. The first few times, I screamed like a 4 year old that just fell out of their bunk bed; but overtime I was able to sit in that ice bath and pleasantly read a book. And come race day, I breezed through that lake swim where many others DNF’d due to shock.
Why do I bring this up? Because there may be times when you want to give up, but I want you to think back to why you signed up for this race and why you spent those countless hours training hard. It’s because you set out to do something amazing and prove to yourself that you are capable of anything!
My favorite definition of endurance is “the struggle to continue against the mounting desire to stop.” You will face some struggles this weekend, but I promise that when you think back in the years to come, it won’t be the struggle that you remember most; it will be those amazing smells of the jungle, the smiles on your friends’ faces as they pose in front of Jurassic Park, and the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment as you cross that finish line! Those memories of Kualoa Valley are what you will remember for years to come. Have fun and embrace it all.
Jono Blodgett is a long-time XTERRA trail runner and he’s fast too (he finished 20th overall in last year’s 21K). He’s also a certified Functional Strength Coach, and Precision Nutrition and Obstacle Course Specialist. He’s pictured up top, and will be out there smiling with the rest of the XTERRA Trail Runners at Kualoa Ranch this Sunday, Nov. 24.