No one lives “age is just a number” better than waterwoman, Jane McKee. As I am wrapping up my 7th decade at 69, I look for inspiration and “go-for-it” from people like Jane who live by this truth, “Anything is possible if you believe in yourself.” (from a 2015 Elder SUP article). Now at age 60 Jane keeps doing what she loves – and keeps looking forward for more adventures and goals.
I asked Jane, “Did your motivation to do the 2018 Kaiwi Solo – Molokai OC1 World Championship originate from within yourself or from connection with a group, a club or friends/peer paddlers?”
Jane explains it like this, “My motivation for doing the Solo again came within myself, as all my races are. I had a great race in 2010, coming in third place overall at age 52 and thought maybe I would leave it at that. But I turned 60 this year and thought I would like to train for the race again as a celebration of my benchmark year.”
Finishing 8th out of 22 women starters was definitely a celebration!
Before recapping her Kaiwi Solo experience, a full decade (or 4) older than the other women paddlers, know this: Jane is already planning her next adventure event, “I got into the M2O this year so have hung up the OC1 paddle for my Standup paddle. Really stoked to have made the start list. I’m doing a three person team with Jen Fuller and Kristin Thomas from California.”
I’d like to stay active on the water for another decade or two, so I asked, “What habits (eating training) and lifestyle contribute most to your “go get ’em” attitude at age 60?
Jane is specific, “I adopted a Keto diet last year and dropped about 25 pounds. I do ramp up the carbs before and during a long race, but then go right back to a high protein/fat regimen. I don’t drink alcohol, my guilty pleasure is a diet coke especially right after a race, I love the bubbles! I have a very simple lifestyle, up at 4:45am, at work at 7am, off at 3: 30 and either paddle or gym. I rest when I feel I need it, not according to a schedule. I find as an older athlete, you can still train hard but need more recovery time. Paddle smarter not harder. I am in bed by 8.”
I definitely find truth in her response about rest.
ES: What was your favorite moment of the race (or of preparing for it, a breakthrough or other)?
JM: I was understandably a little nervous about the conditions on race day. We thankfully had wind but it was very North and that made for a lot of work. After the race I posted on Facebook, “Did a Mack truck hit me? No, it was just the Channel of Bones reminding us that you never know what the Channel will dish up. Rain and variable winds gave way to a solid North wind that created a tough paddle with not much help in the way of surf. I was happy with my 8th place finish and I won my age group. Thank you to my coach, Guy Wilding, for keeping me focused in the rough moments. Congratulations to all the finishers and especially our mana wahine!”
ES: What abilities to read wind, waves, weather contributed to your successful crossing?
JM: The solo this year was a tough one. The wind coming so much from the North resulted in a side chop/swell that made it difficult to surf much. The tide was sticky also. I always do my homework before a race so I knew what we were in for. I had to make the best of it. I think if I had taken a more northern course I would have had more of an opportunity to surf down later in the race. After talking to some other paddlers after the race, this seemed to be the strategy. I am fairly good at reading waves but this race didn’t offer up much opportunity for it.
ES: What equipment did you use?
JM: I have an Ares Pro canoe and use a Makana Alii Paddle. I am thrilled with my Ares. I had great success in last year’s Olukai race when Kai Wa’a lent me one. I was in third place until I snagged a buoy rope the last 20 yards from the finish, which put me in fourth. The conditions that year were tough, we had to race twice around a rectangular course that was mostly side winds. The canoe performed amazingly in those adverse conditions. I know I can surf a canoe but its the off conditions that I need help with and the canoe was a rock star. I walked right up to Tom Bartlett after the race and said ‘I want one!’ I have used a Makana Alii paddle for 16 years and Les Look has always supported me. I love his paddles and appreciate his help all these years.
ES: What did you use for hydration/fuel during the event?
JM: I did a combination of just water and a Perpetuem mix. I have used Perpetuem for years and it works for me. Unfortunately when I packed I grabbed the wrong lid cover for my camel back so it was basically useless. I had my helper drop small bottles to me which was challenging to say the least. The first year I raced I used Power Bar pieces and Snickers bars as fuel. This year I used Gels and Snickers Bars later so I would have something solid. It worked fine.
ES: What was a roadblock or challenge during your prep for this event (or any other in your history) that was tough to overcome and how did you overcome?
JM: I really didn’t have any. My training program went well, I had a great race season, I was top three overall in every single race up until Molo Solo, so I was getting results.
ES: Any fun or funny story to share- in general – that you just want to share?
JM: I remember years ago paddling with some new girls in the six man in a race. We were getting water in the canoe after awhile When the steersman yelled ‘BAIL!” one of them jumped out. I love that story.
ES: A “word of advice” or mantra that resonates with you that might inspire others?
JM: I think it is really important that you paddle or do whatever sport you do, for the love of it. I cannot imagine not being on the ocean. It is my therapy, love, passion, lifestyle. Don’t let the pressure of racing take your joy away. I see a lot of young ‘sponsored” paddlers that put so much pressure on themselves that it becomes like a job to them. I have been paddling 26 years and I still get nervous before a race. Someone asked me once, after all these years why? I told them, because it means something to me. The day I stop getting excited before a race is the day I quit.
It is obvious that Jane is still very excited! Wishing her the best at M2O this year
We look forward to following Jane’s upcoming adventures on the ocean.