For the last twelve months my life has been consumed by rowing the Pacific. It became the norm to only get about 5 hours sleep a night (if I was lucky) as my mornings and evenings before and after work became row admin, row prep and training time. If anyone is ever thinking of rowing an ocean, working full time in a stressful and often long hours job up to 3 days before you leave is not a good idea. DON'T DO IT!! I was so in need of money to pay for the adventure due to the ridiculously short time frame we put it together in that I didn't have any other choice but it meant my entire life became about the row. Then I did the row itself and I may have mentioned once or twice but... I BLOODY LOVED IT! Even the days where my bum was being rubbed raw by salt, rain and waves caused a never ending cycle of being drenched and my legs turned more blue and purple than skin coloured due to constant impact from the oars I still loved it. I was happy, I was in my element and there was no where I would have rather been....
Then we got to Hawaii. Now don't get me wrong, this was pretty exciting but the last night rowing I spent most of it wanting to turn the boat around and row as far away from land as i possibly could. The saving grace was that my boyfriend Gareth was on shore and we had grand plans to hire a jeep, explore O'ahu and go swimming with sharks which seemed kinda worth getting off the boat for - plus one of the reasons I actually wanted to do the Great Pacific Race in the first place was to visit Hawaii (yes yes, I am aware there are easier ways to get there than rowing the ocean, but where is that fun in that!). What I hadn't prepared for was the following weeks post row where i felt entirely confused and lost as to what I was going to do (apart from work... I had 1 day at home before having to go back full time!) and the state my body was in. I wasn't allowed to train properly due to an increased risk of stress fractures in my lower legs and hips and I didn't have anything to aim towards. Going from 2 1/2 months of 12 hours a day minimum of rowing to not being allowed to train properly was enough to send me insane but I kept at it for 8 weeks, doing body weight / strengthening / accessory work in the gym daily, slowly building up to low impact (with a 5.5 mile open water swim race thrown in to stop me going completely mad) and eventually back to loading and impact work.
I've spent the last few years jumping from endurance challenge to adventure, always training hard but for a different goal every year whether that be swimming the channel, running ultra marathons or rowing oceans. I love training, I love the gym, and I tend to prioritize it over most things in my life (sorry friends) and I've decided now is the time to still adventure but to actually train properly and hard with a number of goals in sight for the same thing.
So on that note I'm super stoked to announce I have joined the Loco crew as a team rider for their 2019 SUP Race Team!
I first got introduced to Stand Up Paddleboarding many many years ago when I worked as a windsurf instructor, and it became the perfect activity for days where there was no wind. It soon became my preference over windsurfing and I've carried it on over the years and love it, but have never had the time or opportunity to fully commit to the race circuit until now. I'm so stoked to be riding for Loco next year on their new 2019 14' race board (and have their Motion Air iSup to adventure and explore on) and have some big plans and goals in place.
There is a UK based race circuit that I will be competing on, and I'm really excited to get to race alongside some of the UK's best paddle boarders. My goal is obviously to try and podium at races and it's going to be a steep learning curve going into my first season racing against people who have raced on the national and international circuit for a number of years but I'm up for the challenge! I've also got my eye on a few European races which attract some of the best paddlers in the world which would be awesome to race at! My confirmed race calendar so far looks like the following:
18th/19th May - 70km Norfolk Broads Ultra Race (UK Paddle Endurance Series)
15th June - 50km Thames Ultra Race (UK Paddle Endurance Series)
11th - 15th September - 220km 11 cities SUP Tour (Holland)
21st/22nd September - 92km Great Glen Ultra Race (UK Paddle Endurance Series)
I'll also be adding the GBSUP race circuit to the above once the dates are announced (which consists of much shorter races around the 16km mark) and potentially a few more independently organised races through out the year as well.
Alongside the racing I've got a few small adventure plans forming in my head of places I want to go and explore.. more info on that soon!
I'm now back to full training (I was allowed to start running this week which has massively excited me although I'm keeping the distance low and pace slow still) and I'm loving being back in the gym. My endurance is pretty good post row (I'm still not going to run a fast 5k, but I feel like I could happily run an ultra) but I've lost so much strength, so it's frustrating at times not being able to lift what I could 6 months ago but I've found ways to keep it new and interesting and push myself.
I'm back training at NPC Gym and Fitness Centre (which is still the best / most fun gym I think I've ever seen...) and try and go 5 times a week. This is usually at 6am before work for one of the 4orty classes which I love as I can push myself as hard as possible during them but they are varied and tough which is exactly what I need! All the equipment I could ever want is here (I'm talking Rogue echo air bikes, ski ergs, 25m track, tractor tyres, prowlers, monkey bars) and I felt in amazing shape both pre channel swim and ocean row having trained here, so I know what Spencer programmes and does works for me and gets me ready for big races.
On top of training 5 x a week at NPC I've also joined the local Crossfit gym 4 x a week which is something I've wanted to do for a while. I love the crossfit mentality and values (plus we all got a bit obsessed with the crossfit games documentry on the boat) and there is so much involved that I've not done before or could get much better at, so its really helping in keeping me motivated and engaged in what is usually my second gym session of the day. I've only been going for 4 weeks but I'm already seeing some great improvements in my strength and overall conditioning so I'm pretty excited to see what happens over the next few months!
Regarding on the water training, I'll be picking up my race board in a few weeks and then getting out on the local rivers and trips to the coast as much as I can, working on technique and endurance ready for the start of the 2019 race season.
A big thank you to Loco for the support and the trust in me to become part of the team. Super stoked to see what I can achieve next year! If you want to find out more, head over to their website here and have a read from when I caught up with them the other week and then go browse the boards and see what should appear on your Christmas list!!
If anyone has any fun SUP adventures planned and wants some company hit me up!