This is the easy part. Training is done, mileage in the bank, hours and hours of paddling are over. These are the days to take it easy, put the legs up and rest. To appreciate how far you’ve come, to be grateful for the opportunity to race amongst the best paddlers in the world and to look forward to pushing yourself to your limits.

6 years ago when I was training for my first crossing I was given some really good advice. A friend told me not to go in with any expectations. He said, “Don’t expect to win, don’t even expect to finish, give that channel a lot of respect and whatever you do, don’t stop smiling. When you stop smiling, it’s over.” I’ve stuck to that every year and this year is no different.

Jenny Kalmbach talks about the Molokai 2 OahuThe channel doesn’t play favorites, it doesn’t follow the world rankings, and doesn’t care if you’re the fittest, fastest, strongest. It doesn’t know how many early mornings you woke up and pushed yourself, even when all you really wanted to do was sleep. It doesn’t know the hours you put in on the bike, in the gym, upwind, downwind, flat water.

It will teach you all the lessons you need to learn and if you think you’re going out there to beat it, it will teach you the hardest lesson of all. Respect the channel, enjoy its power, take it all in when you’re out there.

Be grateful for the experience and enjoy every minute. And whatever you do, keep smiling.

—Jenny Kalmbach on the M2O