Well, I made it!
I can be a bit of a ‘worrier’ so if I said that I slept easy before travelling across the world with a three and half metre canoe on my own then that would definitely be a lie! But truth is (although not entirely without a hitch) my journey out here was silky smooth!
Unfortunately for my buddy Mike Tayler who I was meeting out here, his journey was not so smooth with a snow storm in Ottawa which resulted in a missed connection. He managed to get here a day late, but cue panic for me at Beijing airport when I found out that he wouldn’t be picking our car up and meeting me at the airport! ‘Just a bit more of an adventure’ I had to tell myself as I found myself negotiating with the car hire’s shuttle driver to take my boat in his minibus and as I drove 3 hours across the country on my own without a map and a fast emptying phone battery! But I made it safely to Mount Maunganui where I met with Kiwi paddler Ben Gibb to bring in the New Year with some friends new and old.
I really enjoyed my first few days here taking in the amazing landscape, swimming in the sea and the rivers, good coffee, and a little bit of surfing (I still need some practice though!). I kept my training fairly light for those first few days so I could adjust to the time difference (12 hours!) with the view to kick off properly (my Tokyo 2020 campaign!) on the 4th.
Training has been going well so far and it’s been so refreshing but also challenging to be in this more natural setting. At Lee Valley in London we have one of (the!) best slalom facilities in the world so in some senses it was kind of difficult to take myself out of that environment for a couple of months. I’ve had to adapt my bankside warm up/down to be ‘portable’ so that my body is as prepared for training as it is when I’m at home, but (touch wood) so far so good! At home I work with my coach Marc Domenjo on a daily basis, so being out here without a coach is very different! But we set a good training plan before I came out and we’ve been in contact over the phone to keep things ticking over. It helps that I’m working on some very specific techniques at the moment so I know exactly what I’m trying to create when I get on the water and how to assess myself. I’m also logging my training using an app that can be seen by Marc, Kath (physio), and Leigh (strength and conditioning) back home which helps to keep tabs on the intensity/volume.
So aside from the change of environment (to an AWESOME one) and some more exciting ways to fill my downtime, things are pretty much as normal… I’m training hard, drinking good coffee, recovering well, and I’m feeling very lucky in the fact that slalom make me travel…