"Day by day nothing changes but when you look back everything is different" - C.S.Lewis
This time last year my blog rounded up my 2014 in numbers - as below;
880: average km's swam since the New Year.
53: kg. race weight
40: seconds taken off 400m swim (4.58)
28: flights taken
22: age this year. one more year as an U23
12: kg dumbbell weights in gym. progression from 4 at start of year.
10: hours spent asleep in every 24
5: a.m, alarm call for swimming
4: position finished in Elite British Superseries
3: new countries visited
2: alcoholic beverage consumptions (N.B. occasions not quantity)
1: bike crash. during transition practice in Portugal.
0: injuries or illness
I finished that joyful, positive blog with "bring on 2015", haha no wait! My 2015 resembles something tragic like;
km's swam: 0.25
race weight: 100kg
seconds off 400m PB: +9849865.87
flights taken: 4
hours slept: no wait, that ones still the same
Until now, I never disclosed the details of my crash in January 2015 due to legal proceedings. The driver of the 3.5tonne Renault Master truck was having an epileptic fit behind the wheel. The wing mirror hit the back of my head, knocking me out and wiping my short term memory. I was unable to drive and five months later was still suffering with double vision meaning the only thing i could vaguely master was putting one foot (or 2?) in front of the other out running. Even having revisited the crash site, to this day I remember nothing, nor the few days prior or the New Year.
For a year now I have been living on the South Coast in Bournemouth, working as a personal trainer, which has allowed me the money and time to experience normality as most know it. A gap year, if you like. However, as the rehab processes have progressed and begun to allow a semi-respectable training load again, I've felt that my lifestyle and dreams of a professional athlete have become incompatible with this way of life.
As the end of 2015 has drawn closer, I've realised and accepted that I'm not where I belong at this stage of my life. Amongst the confusion, one thing has remained strong and clear to me, and that is that I want to be an athlete. There is a quote; "dreams have no expiration date", sadly, the dreams of a professional athlete do. Things we lose often have a way of coming back to us, if not always in a way we would expect. In January shortly after the New Year I will be returning to Loughborough to resume training full time. Normality will have to wait!
My dreams have been on hold for a year now, though often the best way to appreciate something is to be without it for a while. The decision to change was a long time coming, which eventually built up and came down to literally waking up one day and knowing I didn't, and couldn't, want to feel like this anymore. So, I changed it, just like that. I was in Spain at the time, and knowing there would never be a perfect time, I flew home early, packed up my things in Bournemouth and drove home to my parents home (aka base camp) in Bristol at 1am the same night. Making a life change is scary, but as they say what's scarier? Regret.
Whilst I sympathise with those close to me (mum and dad), who despair on a regular basis at my inability to stay in one place (wonder where thats originated?), its brought so much good to life and so many opportunities that would never arise from being in one place. Alice in Wonderland once asked the White Rabbit, "how long is forever?", he answered "sometimes only a second". Be fearless in the persuit of what you love. If the van had been a few inches further to the left, I would have gone straight underneath. Aside from this meaning I still drastically swerve whenever I hear a large vehicle behind, now making me the most incompetent group rider in history, it has also given me an ability to really live. Chances are, you cant do a great deal about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth.
We must accept the end of something in order to begin to build something new. I for one am thoroughly looking forward to welcoming the New Year. To finish one of the most fantastic, educational, emotional, productive & 'year with events I would least like repeated', chapters of my life. Remember kids; “life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting “holy shit…what a ride!”
Happy New Year 2016 to you all - let new adventures begin.