In October of last year, Ken (HUNT USA Brand Manager) & Luisa (Product Engineering Manager), traveled to Kona, Hawai'i to test new prototypes & meet some of the most talented athletes in the world as they partook in the 2019 Ironman World Championships. In a way, things were simpler then. We could hug friends new and old, fly on planes to races and holidays, and enjoy the outdoors without feeling we'd be adding to the burden of the healthcare system. Little did we know, a mere six months later the world order we once took for granted would be a vastly different place.

While in Kona, we checked in with local legend and long time friend, Dan Gampon. By the time Ken and Dan met in 2016, he was already a seasoned athlete having raced the Kona Ironman World Championships the year before as well as several 70.3 World Champs. He's since added several World Champs under his belt and currently works for Hoka One One as a Brand Representative at Ironman events on the West Coast, Hawai'i, and Australia. 

As everyone adjusts to a new type of normal, we thought we'd check in with our good friend, to see how he's doing and how the home of triathlon is adjusting


Ken Rodriguez-Clisham: How are you doing? How are things on the island?

Dan Gampon: I’m doing well. Trying my best to keep the stress levels down during this time and have been taking care of myself and our family here. I’d say the islands are doing ok... for now. With this pandemic changing every hour, it’s totally a big question mark as to what’s going to happen tomorrow, next week, or next month. I feel like the islands of Hawaii is sort of behind because we are isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. But we do see our government and health care workers are trying the best they can to diminish/flatten the curve so that we don’t have a severe outbreak in our tiny islands. As for our locals, I do notice that our local residents are trying their best to beat this pandemic and listen to the rules.

KRC: How have you been doing to stay mentally & physically healthy?

DG: As the world has seemed to be on a "paused" state during this difficult time at first it was hard to stay mentally sane, honestly. But things have been feeling better lately with trying to adjust to this new "normalcy" to stay at home and mentally accept our current situation and do what we can. Some things I've been doing to stay mentally sane are keeping up with my fitness (riding on Zwift and running close or around the neighborhood) in more of a maintenance structure - so nothing hard that would stress the body and immune system - and trying new things to add more fun. I've also added walking to my routine with my better half, Mercedes, and her sister's puppy, Maybelle. The sunrise and sunset walks have been keeping us grounded and have been filling us with gratitude and appreciation for what we have more than ever before. Calling my mom and sister at least once a day to just say hi and check on them has helped a lot as well. Staying in touch with the people you love has a lot of benefits and I will for sure keep on doing it even when this is all over.

KRC: I know you were training for some of your "go-to" races like Oceanside 70.3, how has this changed your training?

DG: Coincidentally enough, I never really had a race plan/schedule for spring and summer. I recently came off of a half Ironman distance race in early March, IRONMAN 70.3 New Zealand, and have just been focusing on staying healthy physically and mentally. But, say I was in the same shoes as someone who had a massive race schedule planned and most of them have been canceled or postponed, I would keep a structured training program focusing on base fitness - just enough to maintain that fitness and to stay sane while doing what you love. Most importantly my mindset would have to change also. Yes, it's a bummer that races are being canceled/postponed left and right but we need to accept this, adapt with what we have, take care of ourselves and others better, and spread the aloha! In the end, it's going to be the journey that matters most anyways.

KRC: Although you may not be commuting or have typical life distractions anymore since your entire life revolves inside your home, what are you doing to make sure you have boundaries set so you aren’t working 24/7?

DG: The "Work From Home" order is such a new thing to most of us and does seem quite odd. I've been mostly liking it other than noticing how many times I check the fridge and pantry for a snack... or three. Other than keeping myself from gaining a few pounds, I've been trying to keep a routine for work Monday to Friday with doing what I can to keep up with emails and staying in touch with the team through conference calls and Zoom. I'm more engaged after a nice active session in the early morning with coffee keeping the endorphins high so I make sure to get most of my work done during the first half of the day. Ways I've been keeping myself from feeling like I'm working 24/7 is just to not take myself so seriously. Stress is definitely high during this time and doing what I can for work is helping me feel good. I also try to be a light to our team for a smile and a laugh. I'm blessed to have a job that I love which helps. Lastly, I can't forget how having our cat, Ollie, in the house while we work has helped to relieve stress with his cuteness.

KRC: How's life on the trainer been? Do you have any tips and tricks to stay engaged? I found it really tough in the beginning to stay mentally engaged while on the trainer, a perfect example is me calling you on Sunday during my session for help.

DG: Staying mentally engaged while on a tough trainer session is always hard. Zwift has definitely helped me stay mentally engaged in tough sessions because you're suffering with other people and get to ride next to them, virtually, from around the world. Zwift also has meet-ups with pros where you get to interact with them virtually and do a bike session together. Other cool ways to stay mentally engaged is to get in touch with your friends by doing a Zoom video call or FaceTime so it feels like you're "riding together" while sharing some funny "in the hurt box" faces through video. An additional way, I make sure to stay engaged is to keep my focus on my breathing, pedal stroke, posture, and core. Riding the bike on the trainer is a different beast and it requires the whole body to be engaged while riding hard. That's why I think many of us can achieve massive fitness gains through indoor sessions.

KRC: Last one, name your favorite post trainer snack and favorite show/movie you’ve watched in the last three weeks? Mine has been anything in reach that is Haribo & Ozark on Netflix.

DG: Anyone who knows me best knows I keep my snacks close and in stock. My favorite post-workout snack is always almond butter and jelly on a piece of toast and a Hawaiian Spirulina protein smoothie. I can't forget about a little bag of Annie's Bunny Fruit Snacks which are great before. during, or after a ride. My favorite shows I've watched these last 3 weeks are Jack Ryan (Amazon Watch), All of Jo Koy's Netflix specials, and Tiger King (Netflix). Movies that I've watched so far that were my favorite are Avengers: Endgame, Frozen 2, and Onward (Disney+).

April 14, 2020 — Ken Rodriguez-Clisham
Tags: TT/Tri