The last 6 weeks of my life have been akin to a scene from Alice in Wonderland. I feel like I have been drawn into a big rabbit hole and every breath I take is laced with paradoxical perfume that smells like fresh frangipani yet stinks like gorgonzola cheese, all in the same whiff. Nonetheless, here is how I have soaked in the fragrant highs and gobbled up the pungent lows as best I can.
After a charming holiday in paradise, where I had fun running and swimming in warm tropical weather I returned home to find that my mojo was held up in customs, quarantined to Wonderland. I was happy to return home and get back into training like the White Rabbit on a mission, but nothing seemed to satisfy me.
The Mad Hatter’s advice – ‘Sometimes I have believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’ With the Olympics starting during this time and the stories of athletes overcoming adversity, shouldering the pressure of a whole country, dealing with disappointment, acknowledging sacrifice and support, celebrating success and being so appreciative of ‘just being there’, I started to return to my more whimsical daydreamer, extrinsically motivated self. And, of course (like I do every four years) I started researching what sport I could enter in the next Olympics. Hey, it’s only impossible ‘if you believe it is!’ and don’t tell me you haven’t had the same secret ambitions?!
Just like Alice’s growing and shrinking episodes, so have my training numbers. One moment I feel as though I am on track for the World’s race in Mexico, hitting the progress markers only to eat too much cake (this metaphor is a little too close to reality) and brought back to a point where the key to the next level is out of my reach.
The Mad Hatter’s advice – ‘You’re entirely bonkers, but I’ll tell you a secret, all the best people are.’ It frustrates me that it takes sooooooo long to see the improvements that I want to achieve. Yes, yes, I know if I reflect on where I have come from, to where I am now, it’s all rainbows and lollipops, but just like a small child lost in a fairy tale, I want to be faster and I want it now! My hair-brain scheme to improve swimming was to reduce my 100m time by 1 second per week over the course of 11 weeks (that equates to nearly a three minute improvement across the 1500m Olympic distance swim. It’s not exactly working out that way, but I’m still hopeful that my body is yet to catch up with my mind, or is that just bonkers?
I generally eat very well, but and the BUTT is always involved when it comes to food, I have been indulging in a few too many tea party treats. After silently (yes, that is a miracle) sitting back and listening to all the hype of other people completing FTP (Functional Threshold Power) tests on the bike, curiosity sucked me in and spat me out with a random number, that I’ll likely never use in practicality as I don’t own a power meter or wear a heart rate monitor when I race. However, apparently, it really isn’t about how big it is, rather how you use it (to calculate your power to weight ratio and, apparently, it directly correlates to how big your butt really does look in that lycra outfit ;P). So, keeping the literal and numerical figure in mind I worked out I can improve my power to weight ratio by simply (hmmmmm, simple?) losing some of the little goodies that are parked on my podge.
Mad Hatters advice – ‘It’s always tea time!’ Yes, I have both momentary genius and will power (sometimes in direct proportion to each other), the latter tends to last approximately four and three quarter days. I then fall into the trap of gorging my senses, undoing all the goodness. So, I have supplemented my sweet ‘wants’ with a cup of tea. It’s not fool proof but it makes me speculate whether my salivating for refined crystals of terribleness is thirst rather than craving. Maybe I just need to have someone threatening ‘off with her head’ if I shove in any more cake!
It startles me how grief can impact every aspect of your life, however it does afford you the gift of perspective. My long time, avid gardening, bright bloom of a neighbour, Bill, wilted terribly in the last few weeks of his industrious, friendly, cheeky, helpful, hilarious, loved and cherished life. He had kindly told me he was proud of me and also said the same of my kids. What more motivation do you need to do all you can to be your best?
Mad Hatters advice – ‘In the gardens of memory, in the palace of dreams that’s where we’ll meet.’ The true spirit of people shows itself in the love that surrounds them. I was so lucky to have known Bill and even more so to sense the palpable love of his beautiful family who tenderly cared for him in his final days. I can guarantee a piece of his spirit will be with me in the coming weeks of training and while I’m racing in Mexico.
Lately, my perception of the world has been challenged and frustrated by reality. My own little Wonderland is not always perfect, in fact it’s more often a paradox, but I try to remember to ‘be who you were born to be, follow the call of your dreams, see what you were born to see, your magic is more than it seems.’ Always trying my personal best!