Friday, June 26, 2020

Vakava Updates: Roster and COVID-19 Mitigation

If I’ve counted correctly, this is now my seventh season on Vakava! Time sure goes by fast. There’s a good group of us around my age, and over these seven years we’ve gone from upper twenty-somethings to late thirties! Of course, the whole group has aged with a fair number of members in their fifties and coach Dave has entered his eighth decade of life!

Most of our Vakava members are returning this year. We have a few who have taken a hiatus from Vakava and are rejoining after a year or two. And we have three new members- although one of them has been tagging along for the past few years giving us sage technique and training advice and regaling us with her stories of racing on the World Cup.

With our new additions, the Vakava group is the biggest it’s been in years with around 30 racers!


A group photo following one of our time trials. Photo: Xena

Vakava meets weekly, on Wednesday evenings, for a workout from May through March (or until the snow is gone). We usually do intervals, time trials, or video technique- and sometimes all three. This year, we delayed starting our workouts until the second week in June due to COVID-19. We are starting back cautiously. A few of us got together for a Google meeting to discuss how we should proceed with Vakava. Given our robust membership, we decided to break into 3 groups for the foreseeable future (likely the summer and perhaps into the fall and winter if needed). Our Wednesday groups will thus be smaller and will help decrease our exposure and risk of transmission of COVID-19.

We divided Vakava into groups based on geographic location and speed. The feeling is a bit different, not only because the group size is smaller, but also because we live relatively close together and have a much smaller range of speed. It feels a little more like our own community and a bit less diverse. It’s much more intimate.

I’m currently the fastest woman in our little group and one of the fastest overall. Thus, it kinda feels like Vakava has been turned upside down for me where I’m usually one of the slowest. This must be how the fastest in Vakava usually feel!


Two of the three speedy ladies in this photo are on Vakava- they aren't in my group:) Photo: unknown


Some of us are more hesitant than others about training together during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, we’ve decided to forge ahead. It can be so easy to forget about COVID-19 when we finally get together or when breathing hard during our intervals. We aren’t wearing masks but are trying to keep our 6 feet from each other. We also added something to our waivers about not coming to practice if sick or recently exposed to COVID-19.

It’s hard to know if these measures are enough. My employer, a healthcare organization, considers a “high-risk COVID” exposure if you are closer to someone than 6 feet for more than 15 minutes without both people wearing a surgical mask. So I’m kind of using that as my baseline.

At some point, we will have to get back to normal. After all, germs aren’t new. They’ve been around forever and will continue even after COVID-19 resolves. It’s too hard to live in a bubble, not very practical, and definitely not fun.


Photo from our annual fall camp in 2019- it was a cold year! Photo: Bonnie

And fall camp from a warmer year- 2018?
And it’s quite likely that we will be racing this season. So for now I’m enjoying a bit of a mix-up and my similar-speed teammates pushing me hard in intervals.