Friday, 20 December 2013

"Will you be paying cash?"

"London please Drive"
"Yes please Drive"
"You do know we're in York?"
"Yes. But I want to be in London"

"Let me ring my wife. I don't think I'll be home for fish and chip supper"

Absolute bawler. That's what the kiwi said. 
Outrageous. Was my brother's response. 
You need to document your ridiculous life more often. Was the advice of an old friend. 

So here's the story of the time the Drive said to me, at the end of a 5 hour drive from York to London, "Will you be paying cash?"

When you watch award ceremonies on TV, it all looks so glamorous. Everyone in their glad rags, sipping champagne, living the life. 
And it's true. You do dress up in lovely dresses, get handed glasses of the bubbly stuff and munch your way through 'jasmine truffles' and 'brie encased in exotic vine leaves from distant Bora-Bora, laced with Prosecco and finished with gold dust'. 
Yes it's very pretentious. But once in a while it's completely acceptable and unashamedly fun.  

What you don't see is the not so glamorous, pre ceremony, headless chicken, back seat changing room, simply mad, rush. 
I always try to be organised and avoid these aforementioned states of mild hysteria. 
But in true Stanford style, I always end up being late or lost, running across London in heels, dragging a bike box, and applying mascara via my reflection on my iPhone screen. 
Please someone tell me this is you too?
No?! Ah well at least I can laugh at myself. 

This time around however, I will not allow myself to be held accountable. Even if usually, I am completely to blame. 
I arrive for my 11.45am train from Leeds to London. 
Cancelled. Something about a stiff breeze?!
"Get the train to York and you'll get to London from there. No hassle"
So dutifully I arrive in York, still optimistic. 
Cancelled. Wakefield station roof has inconveniently relocated to the track. 
Turns out this stiff breeze is less stiff, more gale-force. 

And as I'm stood stranded at York train station. my well laid plans hashed by mother nature, I can't help but think this is going to be another one of those days.
After all, I have my bike box at my side, dress in my hand, and heels in my bag. It's the perfect set up for a typical Stanford scenario.  

My mind wanders to one of my finest 'moments' to date. It occurred whilst driving into London city centre last Christmas, already 30minutes late for wherever I was due. 
As I pass Harrods in Kensington, I'm sat at the wheel stripping my running kit off in a frenzy. The Drive in the adjacent taxi glances over as I'm sheepishly pulling off from the lights in my bra. At the next set of lights I'm grappling with my dress, which let me tell you is tricky whilst in control of an automobile. For once I'm very thankful for London's slow moving traffic. The dress certainly took a few attempts. I apply make up in the rear view mirror as I take the 'taxi only' lane past Buckingham Palace, with my driving instructor's first lesson resounding in my head 'this mirror is not for the application of mascara...'
I finally roll up to the Ritz, after driving past it a few times, and fall out of the car, shoes in hand. I throw my keys at the concierge and he glances at my old Honda Jazz and the devastation inside. Pretty sure this is not what he signed up for. 

Back in York, and after a few phone calls it's been decided I'll have to get a taxi to London. 
Half horrified, half amused by the ludicrosity of it, I jump in the nearest black cab. I soon realise that yet again I will be late, but at least this time I don't have to do the driving too. 
After 5 hours, a dinner of liquorice all sorts, a backseat change, and an all time low of brushing my teeth with a cold cup of tea,we finally arrive at our London destination. 
And a very bemused Drive turns to me and utters those words you never want to hear when the meter reads £420, "Will you be paying cash?"

True to form I exit the car, bike box in tow, back pack and helmet swinging behind me, dress on and heels in hand. 
How else would you arrive to a red carpet event?!

Maybe one day I'll arrive in true glamorous, Hollywood style. But until then I'll stick to the day job. At least I've been getting plenty of much needed transition practice!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

So I Guess I'm Non Stanford...World Champion...?!

It's all still very surreal. It's approaching 3 weeks ago and although London now seems like a distant dream, it still hasn't really sunk in. I'm guessing that it won't really ever. 

You spend you're whole life working towards something, dreaming of the unattainable, holding on to childhood fantasies of fairy tale endings, rainbows and butterflies. As you grow older your grasp on reality tightens and although you still have dreams of shooting for the moon, you mostly hope you'll land somewhere in the middle, maybe among the stars. 

So what do you do when your dreams actually become reality? I always thought it would be a moment of epiphany so to speak. I always held sporting 'stars' in such high reverie. Thought of them as super humans. Don't get me wrong I still marvel at the achievements of some of our greats; Mo and Wiggo to name but a few of late. They truly are amazing. But I also consider them to be true masters of their traits; all knowing, general 'Hercules' figures. 

Pretty sure Disney has a lot to answer for in terms of my childhood ideals. 

And then 2013 comes. And I'm stood there on a pretty miserable day in September, in a soggy Hyde Park, clutching a World Championship Gold, 'God Save the Queen' starting up, while someone gingerly hoists the union jack up its pole. 

Did I mention 'World Championship Gold'?! 
I mean, 'say what?!' 
That was pretty much my thought process during the entirety of that ceremony. Not very eloquent I know. But I couldn't quite grasp the reality of the moment. I wasn't sure I quite felt ready to be a World Champion. Not that I didn't want to be there. Far from it. I just didn't feel very 'all knowing' or indeed, very much like Hercules. I was shattering my own idealistic illusions.

Because the fact of the matter is I'm just Non. 
"That kid who runs a lot?"
"Yeah in form E in St Jo's"
"From Swansea?"
"Bit of a funny name. Is it short for anything?" 
And without running the risk of sounding like a J.Lo cover, in my head I'm still that girl; 'Non from the block'. Okay definitely not from the block. More like 'Non from a detached red brick in South Wales'. But you get my drift. 

Far from feeling like a master of my craft, I still feel I have a lot to learn. Have more progress to make. And with this probable plenty of mistakes and mishaps. Hopefully less broken bones, and visits to the penalty box, but I think I've realised over the past few weeks, that nobody has all the answers, or knows what it is to be perfect. Even World Champions. Without conducting much thorough research, I wouldn't mind betting that many an athlete has stood atop a major podium and felt a little inadequate. A little less 'hero' and a bit more 'rabbit in headlights'.

It's only when you give yourself the chance to step away from the celebrations, 5minutes of alone time to really consider what it is you're being congratulated for, that you can appreciate it and maybe even give yourself a little bit of credit. A small internal high 5. Not an external high 5 though because then you'd just be clapping yourself and thats a bit much really isn't it?!  

And although I can't still quite believe that I'm a World Champion, I can now appreciate that maybe I do deserve it. I'm not an overnight success story. I've had my fair share of trials and tribulations along the way. I might only be 24, but it was pretty much 24 years in the making. And although this is starting to read like a Brother's Grimm tale, and some might say I've had my fairy tale ending, I'm hoping that this story is more of a chronicle, or at least there are a few more chapters remaining. 

Monday, 24 June 2013

The Result of a Sofa Day...

I'd love to say that my motto in life is quality, not quantity. But being a triathlete I'd probably struggle to convince the majority that this is the case. 
I do however, seem to apply this principal to blog entires. 
They definitely lack quantity, and working on the premise that there is a relationship between the two, this should mean the quality is in abundance?

Maybe not then?! 

The writing of a blog is usually enforced by an extended period of sitting down; when my brain can no longer process all the details of Holly Willo-booby's latest diet, or Kim's shit choice of baby name. Kirsty and Phil are usually great at aiding further procrastination; but when I start enjoying the company of four self labelled 'Loose Women' I do have to check myself and reach for the trusty type writer. 

So yes, a long over due sofa day is upon me, and fortunately for you guys, yet another triathletes musings. 

A couple of months ago, I was asked to write a piece about what inspires me for a junior audience. I wrote it as promised, but never sent it in as I wasn't sure my sarcastic undertones were suitable for inspiring the next generation. It did however get me thinking about it. 

Inspiration. It's a bit of a buzz word in sport. 

‘Inspire a Generation’ was the legacy of the London Olympic Games.
And ‘Who inspires you?’ is probably the most frequently asked question any sportsman will ever be asked.
I personally dread it. I don’t know why but I always crumble under the pressure of that one liner. Against all best intentions, I always end up rattling off the names of some generic sport superstars, exactly like the last person subjected to the question did.
It’s not that I’m a cynic, doubting the powers of mighty inspiration. Of course I’ve been inspired by other people and other events over the years. I can’t think of anything less PC, and therefore less British, than pedalling around the idea that one is not inspired by the endeavours of others? It would not float well on the BBC that’s for sure.
I think the first problem in my predicament lies in the fact that there isn’t one single person, or one sole event that inspired me to a) start sport, b) keep at it, and c) eventually make a career out of it. No I’m not being controversial here; I mean there wasn’t just one, there were many!
The definition of inspiration, as offered by Wikipedia, is as follows; a supernatural, divine influence OR breathing in.                                                                                                                                      
Think I got the wrong inspiration.
However, I do agree, partially, with the first definition. Influence. To me that seems like a much easier question to answer; ‘Who’s influenced you? 
Answer: “Unless this is an Oscar acceptance speech, more people than you would care hear about." So back to square one in terms of answering the question in an interview. But a step closer to fulfilling my brief for that overdue article. 
If I'm honest though, the origin of my inspiration varies on a daily basis. My own internal drive is the only constant. There has however, been a reoccurring source of late. 
Madrid provided a number of first's for me. 
My first WTS win being the most desirable. 
My first run in with a Campo De Caso 'loose woman', being the least. 
It was also the first time I'd been overwhelmed by the number of people that made contact, to tell me how they'd been inspired by my performance.
It was quite surreal. 
One lady told me how her kids had been playing 'triathlon' in the garden after watching me race. Another said that I'd made her weekend. 

But ironically enough, the thought of inspiring others, has in turn inspired me to continue pushing out the miles over the last few weeks. 
If I've had a tough day, those messages of gratitude have kept me going. 
So thank you if you got in touch. You've inspired me when the rain has poured, and when bed was a far more inviting prospect than a swimming pool. 
Hopefully we can continue to inspire each other for some time yet. 

In the mean time celebrity gossip has concluded on the TV and apparently a far more intellectual programme is beginning. 
Something about 'The Big Bang Theory'?!