As I began writing this post I realised that today marks exactly six months until I row out of Monterey Bay to spend three months pulling through the energy of the Pacific Ocean by myself. I’m torn between huge excitement and sheer panic at the amount there is still to do in terms of preparation. I know that logistics and funding will all get there in the end, and that things are moving faster and faster in the right direction recently, but I also know the length of the ‘to do’ list… The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Rowing Race started on Wednesday, and as well as wishing all the crews the very best of luck, I’m following their progress closely, imagining myself in their position in half a year.
This week is also notable in that I’ve done more public speaking in the last eight days than in the last eight months. The past few days have been a jumble of meetings, emails and training sessions, but the most constant feature has been presentations. Following the London Bitcoin Expo last week, I spent Tuesday morning at a presentation session, led by public speaking expert Dr. Margarida Dolan. Everyone who was there was filmed whilst doing a presentation and we were then able to critique our performances as a group. For someone who finds speaking in public a nerve-racking experience, this session was extremely helpful and I hope to do more work with Margarida in the future.
On Friday I was able to put my presentation skills to the test at the University of Bristol’s Annual Meeting of Court. I’d been invited to give a small presentation on my experience as a student at Bristol (of course also taking about the row) to a room of a couple of hundred of the major decision-makers of the university, including the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor. I was pretty nervous beforehand, but it was a brilliant experience. I had so much positive feedback and some really interesting conversations at the lunch afterwards. Hopefully there will be some photos from the day to follow.
I had my Health MOT and first personal training session at Nuffield Health this week too, and am really looking forward to getting stuck in to my new training routine! Because of my club foot I’ve always struggled with finding ways to train my legs equally. I have limited flexibility in my right ankle and muscle wastage in the calf, so am unable to do regular squats and similar training exercises. It can be incredibly frustrating, as I know how useful these exercises would be for my training. The good news this week is that I may have found a way around this with the help of Tom, my personal trainer. We tried a number of single-leg exercises using a TRX Suspension Trainer, and this is looking like it will be a good compromise as it doesn’t require me to flex my ankle as much. I’ll monitor how this goes in the coming weeks, but am pretty excited about it, and feeling really lucky to be able to work with Tom for my physical training.
I’m really looking forward to a short break at Christmas as I’ve been feeling absolutely exhausted and still have a couple of really busy weeks ahead. I’m also feeling really positive though, and happy with how things are moving. As ever, Steve is proving absolutely fantastic as my Campaign Manager. He is currently working wonders with a redesign of the website – have a look at it this week and see what you think.