So, the title of this blog post, 'It's all about the journey', probably sounds a tad extra or even a tad tumblr, haha! 2018 has been a strange one for me to say the least. It's easy to reflect on all the negative and bad things that have happened over the last 8 months, especially as 2018 perhaps hasn't been the kindest of years to me. But, with another CP Teens UK Ball just around the corner, it is a time to celebrate all the good and positive things that have happened over the past 12 months. Every year, as well as the charity's achievements being celebrated, the achievements and the little, or even big, triumphs of the 'CP Teens' and their families are celebrated.
This is going to sound extremely big-headed, so I mean it in the least big-headed way possible! But, recently, I've been 'forced' into situations which have made me think of the road I have took to get to such achievements. Some of these have been small - for example, since Andy's (my late coach) passing earlier this year, I have finally got off of my bottom and reintroduced strength & conditioning (a very key part of training) into my training programme with thanks to Richard at S40 Personal Training. I am currently squatting with a 12.5kg weight - first & foremost, I can almost hear Andy howling with laughter at my pain! But, also, I know how he would find it incredible how I'm now on 12.5kg - I was on 5kg back in January, and I used to give him such a headache at that, haha!
And, then, this summer I managed to win Double Gold at the World Cerebral Palsy Games! Obviously, a very unexpected road was added to the journey to get to this point in January, which in a lot of ways made the win even more amazing (again, don't want to make this sound big headed!). In January, it was tempting to 'hang up the spikes' and to just concentrate on the charity's RaceRunning instead of my own. I had no coach and I had lost my partner in crime, but with the help of Jess we muddled through - right to the start line of the 2018 World Games. On the start line, I was pooping bricks, but couldn't help but think of the journey I had took to get there.
6 years ago, I was sat in school dreaming of being a Para Athlete. I went to the EIS to a Taster Day, following this Andy came forward to be my Coach. 5 years ago, I started training. I had no strength whatsoever. 4 years ago, after being so inspired by what I was doing with Andy, I started on a Sports course at Sheffield Hallam Uni. It transformed me as a person and greatly improved my confidence. I also started competing competitively in the Club Throw. 3 years ago, I discovered RaceRunning. It became my life, I had finally found a sport that I could compete in on a level playing field. I could run, and fast. I also used my degree to setup RaceRunning Clubs for CP Teens UK in Sheffield with Andy. 2 years ago, I became the fastest RR2 female on the planet that year. 9 months ago, Andy very unexpectedly passed away. I could either give up or try and push on to the then upcoming World Games. I knew I had to push on. I then became Double World Champion!
But, to me, it wouldn't have mattered if I hadn't have won Double Gold or any colour medal for that matter. For me, it was the journey to that start line in Barcelona. I was there and that in itself was an achievement; I had been selected and sent to the World Games to represent my country. Ellie sat at her school desk 6 years ago would be absolutely over the moon, the stars and the milky way to be out on that start line representing England. Andy would have been so proud, he had coached me for that moment and a big thanks to Jess who took on the challenge to keep me on track (literally!) to get me to that start line over the past 9 months.
The journey, especially the last part of it, made the medals a lot more meaningful.
Another moment in sport that made me really reflect on the journey was only last weekend - I did my Level 1 Athletics Coach course. It was 2 full on days and at the end of day 2, to pass you had to successfully plan and deliver a session. 6 years ago, this would have sent me into absolute meltdown - no over exaggeration, I would have been paralysed with fear. Even starting a Sport Development with Coaching course 4 years ago I would have refused to do anything like this. In fact, during my first year at University I did a coaching qualification as part of my course and the coaching assessment had to be adapted because I just couldn't get the confidence together to do it! However, as I progressed through University, my confidence grew.
I continued to work on it. University, combined with running CP Teens UK and RaceRunning, has done me wonders. When it was mentioned on day 1 of the Athletics Coaching course that the following day we'd be finishing off by coaching a session, my stomach had a few butterflies but absolutely nothing compared to what it would have been a couple of years ago. One of my Lecturers always told me of the 'panic curve' where sometimes it's good to have a bit of panic until it becomes too much and goes into overdrive. We often used to use it for my assessments. For the first time in a situation like this, my panic was 'good panic'!
The following day, I just went for it and coached my session. An hour later, I passed my Level 1. But, it wasn't the pass I was mostly proud of, again it was the journey I had been on to get to that position and point where I could pass. Pass or fail, it didn't matter.
It is also really important to not to compare your journey to others around you. It is so easy to think you're 'failing' in comparison to the speed that others take their journey or in the way that they take it. This has been something that I've had to remind myself of a lot and especially this week. My younger sister has moved out to University, which is something that I never was able to do yet I longed to do. Knowing what I know now and knowing the people I do, it could have been done, but isn't hindsight a wonderful thing? At the time, it was an absolute minefield and no one could even remotely point us in the right direction. Getting support to turn up to lectures to take notes was hard enough without finding who would come in and wash my knickers, haha! It has been easy to slip into the 'I have failed' thought process this week with my sister, who is 4 years younger than me, flying the nest. But, then, you have to remember everyone is on different journeys. Sometimes, like this week, my journey is frustrating and seems so far behind others because of my disability. But, it's so important to remember that this is simply mindset. Everyone is making progress. I could have never imagined being in this position 5 years ago having been to University, running a charity, and competing and developing disability sport on an international level. Although the journey to get here at times has been frustrating, especially this year, it is that journey that has made it mean something - possibly the most tumblr thing I've ever said, haha!
I've tried my best to make this post not sound big headed, but I've just reread it and I feel I've perhaps failed on that one, haha. But, I was definitely trying!
As another CP Teens UK Ball approaches (how?!) it is time to reflect on the journey of 2018 (at least two bottles of gin please and a bit of Chaka Khan!) and look forward to the journey of 2019. If you are coming to the Ball, I am really looking forward to seeing you. And, if not, there's always next year!