Today feels like the beginning of the hard slog to the start of the Race.
I went to meet Professor Greg Whyte of www.chhp.com , who are based in Harley Street.
Greg had been recommended to me by Charlie Pitcher, the guy responsible for building our boat, and who also happens to hold the world record for the fastest Atlantic solo crossing in a rowing boat.
The video below is of that first meeting, and in it Professor Whyte explained to me his background, so that I could understand where he is coming from.
I won’t go into everything that he talked about, you can watch the video for that, but suffice to say that he is a huge asset to have on board, having worked closely for two Olympic games with the team GB rowing squad, been an Olympian himself, competing in the Pentathlon, and also working with the likes of Eddie Izzard, David Walliams and John Bishop (to name a few…) when they took on their own endurance challenges to help raise money for charity.
Perhaps the best reference is that he trained the latest team to win the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge, team Locura rows the Atlantic. Locura did not just win the race, they aced it, finishing 7 days in front of the rest of the pack, a huge margin in ocean rowing.(I would also like to point out at this point that Locura were also using the only Rannoch boat that was competing in the race, the same design as is being built for Alex and myself right now….)
I was invited to come back today to take a cpex test. This is where you are monitored at different levels of physical exertion to see how your body is responding to the various demands being asked of it. I have to say that I was looking forward to it and dreading it in equal amounts, as I knew that it was going to be hard, but it needed to be done so that the results can be analysed and a bespoke training programme put together that will have me at my best come the start of the race. It has always been Alex and my intention to win, as this will give Alex more exposure to promote the benefits of exercise to those who are living with a chronic, degenerative neurological disease, and the training programme will help us to achieve that.
The video shows the cpex test, it wasn’t as bad as I thought, but that may be because I didn’t put enough into it!
It was conducted on an ergo, and essentially I spent 3 minutes at 2 mins 20 seconds/ 500 metres, then 2 10/ 500m, 2 00 /500m, 1 50 /500m and finally as long as I could at 1 40 /500m, which turned out to be about 1 15. Looking back on it now, I feel a little disappointed with myself for not squeezing out a little more, but it’s too late for that now. My muscles were still ready to give more, but I just couldn’t get enough air into my lungs to keep going, and I stopped when I started to get light headed…
Taking this test now means that we have entered the final stages of preparation, training wise at least, and I can’t wait to see the results and what the training programme is. Greg has promised that it’s going to be brutal, and that I will probably end up hating him, but there you go!!
We are still working hard at raising the much needed finance for everything that goes hand in hand with Ocean rowing. It’s such a huge task, and I think that both Alex and I have high and low moments. Luckily, we have an amazing group of people that are on this journey with us, and between them and each other, we always pick ourselves up and get back into the groove fairly quickly.
This is an amazing challenge that we are taking on, and if we ever start to waver, we just stop and think about all the positives that are going to come out of it. I am immensely proud that I am the person that will be joining Alex in this Race, and if I ever start to get down about the workload that we have chosen to place on ourselves, can someone please give me a (gentle!) slap to remind me that it is nothing compared to what some people have to live with every day.