The 2014 season starts today...
So the holiday is over, the alarm went off at 6.15 this morning closely followed by the pitter patter of Jasper's feet running in to make sure I was up for the day. We have a bit of a morning routine where he gets up with me, we eat Weetabix or porridge together then, as I leave the house he goes back up to bed with his mum. He was eager to get this routine back after my attempted lie-ins which were invariably unsuccessful for me and boring for him.
So with the routine back in place it was off to Caversham for the start of the 2014 campaign. As usual I have mixed feelings about starting the year. In one way I'm excited about getting back to the lake, being amongst the guys again and getting stuck into a focused activity which gives me direction every day of the year. But on the other side of things it feels as though we haven't been away. The three weeks since I said goodbye to my crew mates at Heathrow after Korea has absolutely flown by and as I set foot into the changing room and meet them all today it's as if we haven't been separated.
I returned home from Korea to find Daisy was already 7 days old. To me she was a beautiful, tiny (Jasper was NEVER that small!) baby girl but I felt strangely unattached. I had missed an important and emotional time - her birth and so in a way to me she was just a baby, not necessarily mine. It took a couple of days for me to really bond with her. There was a distinct moment however when I was giving her a bath. While holding her tiny helpless body, and with her looking up into my eyes, everything clicked and she was suddenly mine. That was a wonderful feeling and to be honest something of a relief!
Time was short, a quick camping expedition, then I was off again, this time to San Francisco, leaving the family behind and heading out on my first 'business trip'. With my suit stuffed into a kit bag I made the journey over there to give talks to a company in a motivational, inspirational capacity. I don't know if I did that part but I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and although I didn't see anything of San Fran other than out of a car window I gained a lot of experience and confidence in presenting my story. Five days later I was back with the family and entertaining the most energy filled Jasper I have ever known -exhausting!
The last few days just flew by and so today I found myself rowing through pea soup on the lake with blisters very quickly forming on my palms. I'm always so surprised at how quickly we start to feel unfit, in three weeks it can feel as though you haven't ever done a jot of exercise and as though this is the first time ever stepping in a boat! Thankfully i still felt ok physically and as though I hadn't lost too much raw fitness but in terms of body positioning and posture I was definitely unfit. Aches and pains, stiffness even after a couple of short sessions, but I know this will be short lived and in a week I'll be back to full training fitness. Rowing is such a strange sport. We train pretty much every day of the year, the miles we cover and the time spent exercising is enormous, we must be some of the fittest people around and yet when it comes to anything other than sitting down in a boat or on an ergo we are utterly useless. Even at my peak fitness just before the World Championships a couple of hours out at the shops would exhaust me and stiffen up my back - frustratingly useless!
All in all I had an exciting break getting to know and welcoming the new addition to our family. That's all over now, I must be ready for the attack on this season, I must get boat fit, harden up my hands again and start to clock up those watery miles. There's no short cuts, no time to wish i was still on holiday, no replacement for the hard graft ahead. Set the alarm, hit the pillow and wake up fresh and ready for whatever presents itself tomorrow.