Finding Pleasure in the Pain
A lot of people ask me why I do the things I do… why I paddle 32 miles in the middle of the ocean, get in the ocean when it is freezing cold, or push myself as hard as I do… The answer is simple… its truly because I love it. I find a pleasure in pushing my personal limits and seeing where not only my body can go, but most importantly my mind.
Ultramarathoner Dean Karnazas takes the words out my mouth. I just replaced the word “runner” for “paddler” to relate it to my sport. He says,
People think I'm crazy to put myself through such torture, though I would argue otherwise. Somewhere along the line we seem to have confused comfort with happiness. Dostoyevsky had it right: 'Suffering is the sole origin of consciousness.' Never are my senses more engaged than when the pain sets in. There is a magic in misery. Just ask any [paddler].
Just a few months ago I had the chance to really experience these personal limits when I traveled to the island of Bora Bora for the Ironmana Liquid Festival. This isn’t just any ocean festival, but one where you know you are going to be paddling and swimming a total of about 60 miles in four days. The thing is you don’t know how this will done… As race and event director Stephan Lambert says best, “Expect nothing, be ready for everything.” Stephan does not tell you what the event each day will be until immediately before. All you know is that there will be one long prone paddling day, one long swimming day, one combo day, and one extremely long SUP day. The challenges have an element of adventure to them as they become much more about the personal challenge than racing your competition.
I was fortunate enough to go with my best friend and business partner Jess Rocheleau who decided beforehand she was going to complete all the challenges, even with hardly any paddling training. Jess is a tremendous athlete in her own sport of swimming and triathlon, but knew she would be relying on her underlying fitness and mental strength to get through this event. I had been training a fair amount for this event, but Jess’s support became a major reason that I was able to push through those times I wanted to quit.
The first day was one of the hardest… a 22 mile prone paddle around the island of Bora Bora in every condition you could ask for… pouring down rain, wind, and some sun. After finishing this paddle with spaghetti arms we knew that three more days of this would take more than just physical strength, but even more mental and psychological toughness.
That night we even had a second challenge… a sunset/night SUP paddle… but this became so much more about taking in one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.
We woke up the second day and were greeted with sunshine! It was the swim day and Jess was especially ready for this. The swim ended up being a little over 6 miles completed in four stages all around the island. Thankfully we had a little break to swim with the sharks during this!
It was during the second day we really got to know the local Tahitian competitors. The Tahitians are born and bred water people as the ocean is such a part of their history and daily lives. Outrigger canoe paddling (also called va’a) is the most popular sport in Tahiti and this translates extremely well to SUP paddling as well. Still the Tahitian competitors were extremely strong in the prone paddling and swimming events and most importantly did it all with a positive spirit.
The third day we woke up again to rain in paradise and were greeted with a challenge that involved both forms of paddling, swimming, and running up a motu (small island). This event really allowed those to shine who were good at a wide variety of crafts. We were all still holding our breaths for the final day…
The fourth and final morning we all knew would be the most challenging. We were greeted with a 30 miles SUP paddle (at least it was broken up in 3 different stages!). For me this was the most difficult by far as SUP is my weakest craft of the three we competed in. This was also BY FAR the longest I had ever paddling on a stand up board. But when the physical pain became real, I couldn’t think about how much longer I had to go, but come back to the moment and focus on each stroke at a time. This intense focus allows one to go into a state of FLOW which is a very peaceful psychological state to be in and almost like a meditation. Nothing else matters accept that PRESENT moment on the water. For me, this is why I find so much pleasure in the pain.
Well… Jess and I both made it… and it couldn’t have been any better moment to complete such an intense journey with your best friend. Bora Bora will always have a special place in our hearts as this experience really showed both of us who were really are and why we do the things we do.
I want to give a special thanks to Jolyn for always supporting me in my adventures and keeping me looking and feeling great in the best swimwear out there. Thank you also to all the people who made this trip possible and helped out along the way including Stephan Lambert, Air Tahiti Nui, Sofitel Bora Bora, Surftech Tahiti, SUP the Mag, Donald Miralle, Tim Mckenna, and Tahiti Fly Shoot.
DIARY OF A FIT MOMMY // SIA COOPER
Sia Cooper is the NASM certified personal trainer, nutritionist, creator of the strong body guide, and mommy behind Diary of a Fit Mommy. Through her Instagram @diaryofafitmommyofficial and her website diaryofafitmommy.com, Sia gives fitness and nutrition advice to aspiring mothers, pregnant women, and women who have already have kids that want to be in the best shape of their lives. She posts workout videos regularly, as well as a glimpse inside her life as a fitness and nutrition guru. What is truly unique about Sia is she is not scared to share her imperfections with her followers, although she's super ripped, she often posts normal pictures of herself alongside her fitness photos, to show her followers that she's still a normal person and a little cellulite is absolutely normal. Sia is definitely a woman who inspires us.
Check out these shots of Sia in her favorite JOLYN'S!
Show a JOLYN addict you love them with one of these JOLYN themed Galentine's Day Cards!
MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY // KRISTI FALCO
What keeps you motivated to be active and healthy?
I feel best physically, emotionally, and spiritually when I eat clean and live an active lifestyle. I’m addicted to endorphins and love the feeling that a good, hard, fun workout gives me, whether it be running the beach, surfing, or paddling. I’m a vegetarian and it makes me feel good eating sustainably and close to the earth.
What is your favorite dryland workout? (If you have a specific circuit or Cross Fit workout you like, let us know so we can share):
I love a good mid-distance run in the sand on Wrightsville Beach, with callisthenic stations at each lifeguard stand (approximately every ½ mile). Finish the workout off with 5 sets of 30 abs exercises and a sun salutation to cool down.
What is your favorite water work out i.e. swimming, water polo, ocean swim, surf session, SUP (if you have a specific swim set you like, please share):
When the waves are up, you’ll find me in the water all day long. I love to longboard and I am learning how to ride a short board. If it’s flat, I’ll be on my SUP board paddling the waterways and ocean side of Wrightsville Beach. And if the water is really clear and calm, a long ocean swim can’t be beat.
What activities do you do in JOLYN:
Absolutely Everything. Lifeguard, Train, Swim, Surf, SUP, Scuba Dive, Run, Paddle, Surfski, Beach Volleyball, Sail, Free-Dive, Hike, Snorkel, Travel….should I go on? I honestly do not leave my home without a JOLYN suit in my bag or car for whatever the day might bring!
What's your favorite JOLYN color:
Cabernet, followed closely by Army. Love those Earthy Tones!
What's your favorite JOLYN style and why:
The Weston Bottoms are my favorite! Seamless, cheeky, and a drawstring for security. So flattering and cute!
If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would they be?
- Sharp Machete
- Snorkel Mask
- Potato Seedlings
What's your favorite beach that you have been to and what beach is on your list to go to?
Favorite Beach: Hatteras Island, Outer Banks NC
To go: The Galapagos Islands
Who is your favorite athlete?
Mia Hamm was so inspiring when I was growing up! She helped lead the USA women’s soccer team to victory and was largely responsible for the huge surge in popularity for women’s soccer.
What are 3 things on your bucket list?
- Free Dive with Humpback Whales in Tonga
- Dive the Galapagos
- American National Park/West Coast Road trip
If you were 60 years old, what would you tell your children?
Follow your dreams; you have the capability to do or be anything you want to be. You may not have the same ideas as your parents, peers, or teachers, but your heart and the universe will guide you in making important decisions in your lifetime. Work hard, but find ample time to play, too. Travel. See the world. Take risks, but be smart. Be thrifty, and save your money for experiences, not things. Throw 100% of yourself into everything you do.
What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
Sailed to Columbia from Panama on a Tiny Sailboat with a Frenchman and a British guy. We had all just graduated as Scuba Instructors and went on a rogue scuba adventure trip diving on uncharted reefs off the Columbian Coast, living off of Lion Fish Ceviche and fresh Caipirinhas. It was an unforgettable adventure.
What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
Hummus, Carrots, Red Stripe, Grapefruits, Speckled Trout (Caught right off the backyard), Brie.
What nail polish color are you?
None- I bite mine
What motivates you?
My Peers and friends; I’ve been so blessed to be surrounded by women who inspire me every day. My family also; I would do anything for them.
If you had to be an animal, what would you be and why?
Any bird of Prey for the flying aspect, but I would love to travel around the world’s oceans like the Humpback whales. Imagine what those creatures see in their lifetime!
What book would you recommend to our readers?
Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
What is something that nobody knows about you?
I’m really, really good at Super Smash Brothers the video game (N64 and Gamecube version)
What would you spend your last $10 on?
NY Style Pizza and Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin
What is your signature dish in the kitchen?
Spicy Thai Green Curry with Fried tofu
What is the hardest thing you've ever experienced?
The death of my Grandmother
What is your favorite holiday destination?
I love to travel and try never go to the same place twice, but Koh Phayam in Thailand would have to be up there on my favorite travel destinations.
What is the most important part of a sandwich?
The Bread of course
What is your most embarrassing moment you're willing to admit?
I was going to make a rescue while lifeguarding and jumped off the stand and completely face planted after mis-stepping. The entire beach was watching me, but at least they all clapped when I brought the guy in.
Any last words or testimonial?
I am so thankful to work for JOLYN and with all of the inspiring women who make up our team!