I think one of the most invaluable things about training at Nottingham was the variety of people I was able to train with. Because slalom provides a vast range of sessions from which the prospective athlete can choose, favourite and least favourite sessions vary from paddler to paddler. In Scotland, because the geographical gaps between athletes are between half an hour and three hours in the car, we often have to train alone and motivate ourselves to push hard in sessions. One of my favourite and most inspiring things about training in Nottingham was just how much the other girls love canoeing. For me, it was incredible finding other people who love nothing more than getting on for a couple of hours and playing on the same wave, over and over again. I would say that 'constructive play' was probably one of the most valuable sessions I did in my new boat, as there are few better ways to get used to an entirely different model than getting kicked in a stopper for a healthy few seconds!
Lee Valley was a fairly temperamental week of training for me - in the first three sessions I must have averaged a roll every twenty minutes! Like in Nottingham, it took me a little while to get used to the boat's edges. However I think a lot could be said for my attitude, as constantly thinking about the fact that I was paddling a new boat and not being that successful in it, was definitely making me unusually nervous about the race at the weekend. Certainly that kind of attitude does not help you get the most out of your sessions, as it is a very outcome-based thought process. The most valuable thing I took away from two weeks of training was learning to focus only on processes. Its definitely a working progress, as its incredibly hard to stop thinking about other paddlers and even your own results, and focus entirely on the process that gets you there. My coach Neil helped me understand how to think during training, and the process based attitude definitely helped me during the race. It is an attitude I want to keep for winter training, and for the lead up to British selection.
The British Open is one of the toughest races of the year for me, as I obviously want to end on a high from which to dive into the pool of lactic that is winter training. London was a bit of a nemesis course for me in the past, as it punishes mistakes much harder than most other courses. Unfortunately some of my bad habits include leaning on strokes, which as most paddlers will know gets you a sound beating on the Olympic site. But when race day came, and I was firmly in my 'I don't care about anything except my plan' zone, I felt more powerful on London than I ever have before. Sure there were plenty of mistakes, but I felt like I had skip on the boat - that mythical feeling that I can see in other paddlers, and hear Neil talk about, but until just recently have never actually experienced. So that was a huge booster for me both days of the race, and I felt like I was finally making headway with my training. I finished 17th both days of racing, and it really was a joy getting to paddle alongside names such as Emilie Fer, Melanie Pfeifer and Fiona Pennie. These are women who inspire me at every international race with their results and their determination to win, and I felt like Lee Valley was finally a step in the right direction.