Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Looking forward to Christmas with new plans for 2015

It was a swimming morning; I stumbled out of bed just before 5am in the pitch black and freezing cold. I had these mornings down to a tee, programmed into automatic pilot I was all ready to go in less than 10 minutes and walked outside still half asleep. First thing I noticed was a couple of Christmas bells attached to the outside of my front door before my eye caught fairy lights hanging up around the window sill slowly changing colour. This must have been Michael I thought to myself and it made me smile inside. After I had spent more than a decade hiding from the festive season, this year the Christmas spirit had made its way well and truly back into my life. “It is time to make happy Christmas memories” was Michael’s response when I protested against the idea of taking part explaining that the confrontation with too many sad memories made it a tough time of the year. For a moment I stood there and watched the pretty lights Michael had put up as a surprise, he had none of my adversity to Christmas and was determined to show me a loving one this year. Whilst I was enjoying the Christmas decorations for the first time in many years I realised, life is so ever changing, goals can be redefined at any time and dreams are allowed to be dynamic. The choice is ours.
fairy lights decorating my cottage

With Nico Lebrun as my coach I had found someone who looked at the whole picture, not just the ability one has as an athlete. Nearly 18 months ago I wrote a blog http://www.marathonmtb.com/2013/03/28/taking-the-next-step-going-pro/  after which I quit my job and pursued the dream of becoming a professional athlete. It was this journey  which had brought me to Scotland. It was this journey which had put my life upside down. Nico kept on reinforcing that I needed to work on finding a balance, that I needed to work on being happy with my life and that only then I would be able to excel in the sport. In my head I saw things differently and didn't feel the need to address things, I thought that if I would do the training and the hard work, results would follow. This meant I stubbornly never missed one training session, living to train. It also meant I would race while sick or injured and kept on pushing until finally mid season the wheels came off. http://nienkeventures.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/and-then-wheels-came-off.html

Never imagined sharing the podium with some of these girls

The hardest thing for me to accept was that I simply didn’t have the resources or support network I needed to be able to throw myself into the deep end and to give racing at the highest level a real go. And as much as I loved the feel good clip “if money was no object” and would encourage anyone to follow their dreams no matter what, unfortunately for many people money is an object and certainly for me, I learned this was a big one. I learned that I am someone who needed to know where the money would come from on a monthly basis. That I didn’t function well not knowing where I would be or what I would be doing in the nearby future. Due to family circumstances I had lived my life without a safety net from a very young age. This had made me hugely independent and had forced me to take responsibility for every move and every mistake I made. Relying on other people or finding trust in them wasn't my strong side. And living with insecurity did not make me happy
One of the many great people I met through the sport, and now team mate Helena Erbenova
 I learned this year that there is so much more to being a professional athlete than training and racing alone. I had to accept that at this point in my life and the way I was internally built, this dream I had was not realistic. It was time to alter a few things before I ended up vanishing into my own negative head space. And although part of me still feels like I am giving up on a dream, I also know that it wasn’t because I didn’t try, my body knows I did!! But simply put;  taking into consideration I am in my late thirties, my personality and my present circumstances it  felt less than ideal to keep on pursuing a future as a professional athlete and therefore I chose to let this dream go. This decision didn’t mean I stopped racing, or stopped having goals and dreams related to the sport. It just meant my expectations had become more realistic with where I was at in life; a full time veterinarian with a very expensive hobby! Instead of regretting not having found the sport at a younger age, I had now learned to appreciate and be proud of the opportunities I had been given in my veterinary career and what I had been able to do because of it; having worked in state of the art Equine Hospitals all over the world alongside the best in the equine profession.

Racing elite for the first time in 2013
In 2015 I have a very exciting racing season ahead of me. Going back to my true love I will be racing a lot more on the mountain bike trying to qualify for the UCI Marathon MTB World Champs held in Italy. My new goal for next season will be racing the Inferno Triathlon, an endurance race held in Switzerland consisting out of a 3.1km swim, 97km roadbike, 30km MTB and 25km trail run with an total elevation gain of 5500m. I will still passionately be part of Xterra races all over Europe and hopefully I will end the season with the Xterra World Championships in Maui. I will do my utter best not to put myself under a lot of pressure, but select my races wisely and try accept my results for what they are. Instead of criticising myself for not finishing at that pointy end of the field I will embrace the fact that I have a full time job to go back to, that I don't need the prize money to survive yet I am still able to race at elite level lining up with some of the best athletes in the world.
Proud owner of my first ever Christmas tree
 It was Sunday morning and Scotland had made it very easy to get into the Christmas spirit supplying cold snowy conditions. For the first time in my adult life I looked at my own Christmas tree in the living room. Before heading out training in the bitter cold conditions, Michael and I spent the morning decorating the tree engorging on chocolate, whilst Fynn watched us from a safe distance with an inquisitive look on his face wondering why we were decorating his toilet inside the house. After a very rocky year, I couldn’t be happier with how things had turned out. I lived in a rather cold but beautiful country, I loved my job and the people that came with it and I had found someone who made such an effort for me to fall in love with Christmas again! Chasing a dream led me back to Europe and although things didn’t quite unfold the way I intended it, my life had become so much richer in so many ways because of it.
“it is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air” W.T Ellis







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