Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Let The Games Begin!

Today is the Opening Ceremonies of the London Paralympic Games for 2012!  Although I won't be there, hopefully I will be watching them on French television.  It is so exciting to think that 3 days from now I will be in the Paralympic village!

I also get to see my family from Canada, mom, sister and aunt who are coming to watch, again...exciting!

But before I start writing about the next chapter of this experience I want to say a few thank you's.  Cycling Australia and more so our head coach Peter Day saw that it was important that the 3 wheel riders have somewhere good to train in the lead up.  Not to be stuck in the village with no where to go!  It was his fore thinking that has led us to France, the terrain being very similar to Brands Hatch where we will be racing.  No other nation has accommodated their 3 wheel riders like this so we are very lucky.  We have also been removed from all the hoopla and distractions that go with being in the village and been able to just concentrate on the job at hand.  So thank you from the bottom of my heart to Peter and Cycling Australia who have funded this.

Thank you also goes to Jenni Banks the hand cycle coach who found this amazing house to stay in, way back in June and has organized every aspect of our time here.  Without her organizational skills it wouldn't have been as smooth sailing as it has been.

Thanks to Dan Brent, our bike mechanic here in France. Not only has he worked on our cycles but has been a great person to ride with every day.  Most days I train by myself so it has been brilliant having someone around!

Also thanks to Alan Downes, the team massage therapist who Peter Day kindly let come to France for two weeks to treat us.  I haven't made mention, but on the 5th of August I had a nasty crash, coming off the trike at 40km/hr over the handle bars (not a great thing to hurts!). I was very lucky not to have broken anything, but was severely battered and bruised, and if it wasn't for Alan's daily treatments I certainly wouldn't be riding like I am!  I am more than healed and raring to race!

Last but not least, thanks to Nigel and Stuart my teammates, it has been a blast these last few weeks.  I really think we are all ready to take on the world!

Look out London, the last of the Aussies are on their way!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rest Day

Yesterday I had the day off from training so decided to explore St. Jean de Luz.  Not sure if it happens every weekend but the streets blocked off and a band was playing in the rotund with literally hundreds of people standing around listening. There were restaurants all around the square filled to the brim and what to me was a real French look, artists interspersed all around actually painting some really good stuff!

It was a beautiful day, a lovely 25, slight breeze, blue skies with white fluffy clouds, days like this I could handle every day!

I stopped and listened to the music for a little while then made my way through the crowds up some of the side streets out towards their version of a boardwalk.  It was up above the beach and the beach was full of sun worshipper's, people swimming in the ocean and lots of kids activities on the beach.  Feeling a bit peckish I stopped at a small hole in the wall and ordered a freshly made panini and a bottle of water, then sat watching the crowds as I ate my lunch.  I love people watching!  A lot of families getting in their last bit of holiday before the kids go back to school, older couples walking hand in hand and tourists from every nation speaking in their own language.

Of course no trip to the beach would be complete without a Glacé or ice cream as we know it! I figured I would just ride it off today!

I then walked through the little streets trying to partake of some retail therapy.  It's always the way, if you want to buy something you can never find anything!  I had just about given up hope when I saw the perfect shop and after trying on a few things walked out with a beautiful top.  The shops were starting to close up for either siesta or the day (I'm not quite sure), so figured it was time to indulge in a bit of siesta myself, so put in a call to Dan for a ride home.

After a short rest it was then a decision what to do with the rest of the day!  Funny when you are soused to a schedule then all of a sudden you have a day to yourself it becomes a huge decision!

Jenni, Dan and I decided to pay a visit to the Chateau D'Urtibie, which was just down the road.  This was built as a fortified castle in 1341 and still belongs to the same family.  It was originally built as a structure to guard the road to Spain and was commissioned by the English King at the time.  It has been added on to over the years and is a beautiful structure.  Even the chapel located on the grounds which was built in the 17th century is still used for mass, when the elder brother of the owner, who is a priest, comes to visit.  We joined in a tour, which was held in French, but we were given an English translation of the information.  The paintings and tapestries which adorned the walls were from every century, even including photos from now.

It was a really good day and took my mind off of my task at hand for a day.  But it was back on the trike today.  It is only two days until the Opening Ceremonies and although we won't be there we will certainly be watching!  And it is getting exciting!  But my mind is still on the training that I still have to do.  There is certainly no complacency because I know that my competitors will still be giving it their all?

Living with intention, discipline and focus is not hard at all, because it is a way of reminding yourself of the ultimate prize!

Friday, August 24, 2012

First week of Staging Camp

First week of Staging Camp

Well we have well and truly been on our staging camp now for a week in France and have become part of the local community.  We have found some great training ride areas and also our local coffee shop where we stop everyday after our ride for a cuppa!  We have even bought lottery tickets in the hopes of winning the "Big One"!  But unfortunately so far all we have won is $7 euro and that was on  Dan's ticket which he bought for $10 euro!  But I guess you have to be in it to win it.

We have all found houses on our rides which in our dreams we would like to purchase, renovate and live in6 months of the year!  Yup, in my dreams!

But seriously my training has really been coming together.  I have had some great effort pieces and done some great hill climbing, all which will certainly help with the Brands Hatch course.

I think that one of the most important things I have learnt here is to expect the best out of myself each and every training ride, to accept what comes on those rides, learn from the outcomes and then repeat the next day!  I certainly have been living a very blessed existence while here in France as my days have just been about the final outcome.  So I get up, eat breakfast, go for a ride, jump in the pool, have lunch, have an hour and a half massage (yes every day!), have a rest, eat dinner then head to bed!  Not a hard life to get used to!  I know it won't last forever but I a very appreciative that I am being given the opportunity to be at my best for my races and ultimately fulfill my dream!

There is a great quote from Ralph Marsden " Keep expecting the very best, and keep working toward it, especially when circumstances tell you otherwise. Keep expecting the best, no matter what, and you will make it happen."

13 days until my ultimate dream comes true and I give it my very best!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Staging Camp

We arrived at London's Hethrow Airport at 5:10 am and were met by Alan our masseuse with a van.  He took all our gear and Dan, our mechanic and they headed off, driving to meet up with us in France.  We (Jenni, Nigel and myself) then had a car waiting to take us to Gatwick airport to catch our next flight to Bordeaux.  We were a tad bit early and had a 4 hour wait for our Easy Jet flight.

Upon arrival in Bordeaux Jenni had a rental car ordered and we then had a 2 hour drive south to where we are staying in Urrugne, which is only 2km from St. Jean De Luz, which is located right on the ocean in the Payes Basque area in the bottom of the Pyrenees.  It isn't far from where we stayed in June Witt eh while team before the World Cup.  So it kind of feels like home, especially because we know how to get everywhere.

It was a very long trip and I think I travelled for a total of 44 hours, from the time I left home till the time we walKed in the door here, with 5 hours of sleep. So needless to say I was a tad bit tired.  But we had a few things to do when we arrived, like shop for some food for the next days breakfast and then go get ourselves something to eat before sleep.  I think we ended up getting to bed at about 11:30 pm!  But what a great sleep, 10 hours through and felt great the following morning.  Alan and Dan arrived about 1pm with our gear and it was time to put the trike together.

We have now been here 3 full days and had some great training rides.  I have been going out on the road with Dan, which is great to have someone with you.  I'm sure that he has never ridden so slow but I'm enjoying his company.  The weather has been unbelievable, with the temperature today hitting 37 so far!  Needless to say we went out for our ride at 9am this morning!

We are expecting Stuart to arrive tomorrow, the last member of our small group.  It will be great to catch up with him and hear about all his experiences in Europe over the last month or so.

Life certainly isn't very tough right now, get up, eat breakfast, head out for a ride, shower, massage, lunch, pool, stretch, dinner then bed!  What a life!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Journey Begins

As I was packing everything into my suitcase, trike bag and backpack it still seems surreal that I am about to fulfill a life long dream and when I say lifelong I mean it! As I have said in earlier posts this dream has been the culmination of 35 years, through 2 countries and over 3 sports!  So you can understand why it seems surreal.  But it really is happening.

I am writing this post sitting on my Qantas flight #9 on my way to London via Singapore where I will meet up with Nigel (hand cyclist) and Jenni (coach) (Dan our mechanic is on board with me). We will then fly to France from London for 19 days of a training camp before we head back to London and the games village.  I decided to pay for an upgrade to Premium Economy and if I could have afforded Business Class I would have done it.  What a great decision I made.  Larger seat and literally 1 metre of leg room, with only two of us in a row of 3 seats! (Mind you those beds in Business Class look good!). But this adventure is too important not to travel in comfort, I need to be able to get off this plane and be able to train right away.  It is 3 weeks and 2 days to my race and I want to be in the best possible shape ever getting off a long haul flight.

I am so excited I think I could fly this plane myself!  I just want to get over there, if I could wiggle my nose like 'Bewitched' and be there now, I would!  But the one thing I am conscious of is being overwhelmed by the experience.  Yes I want to take it all in, but I also want to be able to race at my best.

Before all the excitement builds I just wanted to say "Thank You" to all those people who have supported me and been there through the good times and the bad! 

My husband Russell who has been my biggest supporter, cooking amazing food, looking after the house and doing the odd massage when required, I couldn't do it without you.

The Victorian Institute of Sport - who for the last 5 years have backed me in my quest to make this dream come true, through my rowing and subsequently my cycling, Crooksy in the gym, Dani in nutrition, Arnaud and Jim in massage, the entire physio and medical departments and finally Nerissa and Paul in the athletes admin area.  Without all of you this wouldn't be possible.

To my coaches Helen and Bob Kelly, you two are amazing and have taken me from a really raw rider to one who knows a little more now!  I still have lots to learn! But you have given me the guidance I have needed.

Cycling Australia - Peter D, Tom, Muz, Anouska, Peter G and little Tom, you have all guided me from start to finish and believed in my ability to get me to where I am now.

MS Australia for supporting me through my rowing career by providing me with a boat and support in the way of friendship (sorry I'm not rowing at the games! :-))

Sponsors - Chris Peters and Jim Morey, CBD Cycles and Xxxxxx, your support has been greatly appreciated.

My family, mom and dad, Cindy, Lea, Chris and extended family, in Canada and Australia, who I am sure worry about my health and am I doing too much! Being so far away is hard for them! 

And last but not least my friends who have had to put up with my training regime, missing out on celebrations, parties or even just every day things because I am either away or training. Thank you Margo, Rosie, Naomi, Heather, Clare, Deidre, Jacqui, Judy, Kirsty, Jenn, Mischa, Carolyn, Lynne, Flick, Annie, Jus, Tina, Emma, Carley and a host of others, your friendship and support means more than you will ever know!

I am more than ready for this challenge and I will give it my all!  I recently received a beautiful bracelet from my friend Jus and inscribed on it is:

" IF YOU CAN DREAM can achieve it". 
I am about to prove it!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Excitement Builds

With one week to go before I head overseas and only 23 days until the start of the London 2012 Paralympics the excitement of what is about to transpire has been building!  I think that the fact that I have been watching so much of the Olympic games has made it all that more close.

My training has been going very well, I am trying to stay focused but relaxed.  I have been relaxed so that I can enjoy the hard training and I have been able to give it my best. I have been training on Kew Blvd. which is very similar to Brands Hatch and I feel that I have made large gains, especially in the hill climbing area!  Even my testing in the lab has gone extremely well and I am hitting targets I never dreamed of.  I actually now realize how great it feels to be calm and able to relax into a powerful, authentic focus.

I had a wonderful moment last week when I was asked if I could attend the Coburg West Primary School for their own "Olympic Opening Ceremonies".  The school has 500 children who were divided into 26 different countries.  Each group put together flags, country signs and costumes of their country and walked out onto their school yard to music from that country.  The parents were there to cheer them on and the kids cheered, waved, made noise, blew whistles and enjoyed themselves like any true athletes would walking into an opening ceremony.  They even had their own torch relay where 2 children from each class where chosen to carry the torch half a lap of their track, with the school captains the final torch bearers.  They ran a quarter of the track to where I was with my trike and I followed them in my Aussie gear around the track for a lap!  It was a fantastic feeling having those 500 children cheering and clapping as we passed by them.  A cauldren was then lit and I was asked to say a few words.

As I won't actually be at the opening ceremonies in London I felt like I had my very own private opening and I told them that!  I also told them that it was very exciting to be representing Australia and that if I won a medal that was just icing on the cake.  It was more important that I give it my best shot and that even if I didn't come home with a medal, I would know I did everything in my power to do my best.

I think the way the media has been protraying our Olympic athletes has been abismal!  As far as I am concerned not one of our athletes has not gone and done their best!  I don't believe that winning silver and bronze is a bad thing!  It is amazing how many young children now believe that it is bad to not win!

True success is being able to live with the knowledge that you have given your all in whatever you attempt.  I think that athletes have to stop striving to impress others and do those things that will genuinely impress themselves.  They have to live true to their own highest standards because they are the only thing that matter, to know that you have performed to the best of your own ability, win or lose!

Within a week I will begin the adventure of a lifetime and I intend to push enthusiastically forward every chance I get and to fully live this adventure!