A year on and lots has changed. Like anything and my journey I described in my book Climbing Back, this year has been a rollercoaster. So where am I now?
So I now work full time as an engineer and have achieved my chartership. I got promoted at work to manage quite frankly a rather awesome team. It is safe to say I feed off them as much as they feed of me in terms of motivation and positivity. The energy my team have is quite phenomenal. It is once more a pleasure to walk into the office and there is always at least one person smiling if not many. I still work with some schools and it provides me with some grounding and I am in awe of the work many of the teachers do day in day out to work with the young people. Then there is the matter of my 'little' adventure this summer. Little is quite frankly an understatement.
I was not to know a year ago I would be approached by the Skipper of the Rannoch Womens Challenge team to see if I was interested in trialling out for the team. I am glad that carrot was dangled as the more I thought about it, the more the dream and desire to cross the North Atlantic by human power grew inside me. It got to a point of the selection in January 2016 where I just couldn't think of anything else I would rather do. The little points of getting sea sick, never having really rowed before became minor details. The self belief to succeed grew in me and my new goal was born and in a matter of a few weeks, I taught myself to row on the concept 2 and well as they say the rest is history. I got selected end of January and then on the first day of my new role, I walked into the office with a big grin on my face. Was I in a dream, no, I had just signed up to row across the atlantic.
Then in June after I knew I was mentally and physically ready, testing myself by doing a gruelling 2hrs on 2hrs off x4 on a concept 2 ergo, trying to keep a similar average for each 2hr slot achieving 2.11 per 500m split. I knew I was ready. It had been some of the hardest and most compact set of training I have ever done, but I had become the fittest I have ever been too. I enlisted support from my family, something in the past I had kept separate from my athlete journey, as well as my work colleagues. With so many people behind me, I was overwhelmed and felt a need to succeed and not consider failure. However, I knew the risk I faced by crossing the Atlantic as a team of 5 women with no support. I just couldn't dwell on it and just perform at the tasks I was given as my role in the team.
After 49 gruelling days, some of the hardest I have ever had. Overcoming sea sickness, feeling hungry constantly, 60ft waves, friction burns on my bum and infections on my hands, heels and bum. We as a team came in to Falmouth on the 27th July, having left New York on the 7th June. It is quite frankly, the most proudest event I have ever been a part of. It felt a pinnacle of my athletic career and a monumental achievement. As I sit here right now, I have to pinch myself to tell myself I did actually do that. To now sit here and think I am World Record Ocean Rower, is well just wow. Our crew set 5 World Records and 4 World Firsts. How mad is that. We were one hardy, task focused crew of all females. We now have the title of being the first ever womens crew to complete the North Atlantic Crossing in a quite a phenomenal time of 49 days!
So how and what do you do as a come down after that... well when out on the Atlantic Ocean get nominated by a friend to do a Ted Talk! So on my return, there was no rest, as it was a wee race to get material ready to get through the numerous rounds of the selection process which I was successful in talking at Tedx Leamington on 19th November. My talk was on Success - Choice or Chance?
It feels obvious to me, success is through choice. Take every opportunity and make that first step. Your true success comes from your want and desire to succeed and not be scared to fail and learn from it. Now to wait for the video the talk to be released.
So what did I learn from being on the Atlantic and the other speakers at the Tedx Talk?
A lot! Being on the Atlantic made me reassess what my dreams were, where did I want the next stage of life to go? I did make the decision to finish my competitive white water canoeing career. Time for change. It made me realise how easy my life was at home compared with the ocean, simple things like going to the toilet in private, sleeping for more than 1 hour at a time. However, the biggest learning was learning to live and enjoy the moment and that life does not need to be lived by goals all the time.
From the Ted talks, well very simply, I need to learn how to Rest Hard, to choose resilience club over stress club. Smile and enjoy the moment, what are you waiting for. It made me think about those I manage at work, why should they think linearly about their progression, or more so why should I? Make your own rules up and don't try to use other peoples, remember your gut instinct and more than anything believe in your own abilities. You are unique and that is something to be proud of. Finally, it re-invigorated me to push and create my own opportunities when I really believe in something. Which goes back to my light bulb moment in my book - you have to want to get better -so very very true.
Lastly, as this is a long blog post, plus I have not written in a while, I will post my ted talk when it is out in the public domain. Note to self: when you feel a little uninspired and a little energy depleted take inspiration from those around you. Friends and colleagues can be real sources of support at the most unexpected moments.