This summer so far has been pretty busy, and it’s just starting to wind down. I am looking forward to being able to focus more on training and getting into the best shape for this coming season, while making strides towards 2014. I have a few things planned for the rest of the summer, but nothing like last year. Last summer was extremely busy, not that I am complaining cause I am grateful for every opportunity, but it’s nice to finally focus on what’s most important which is training.
I just arrived home from NewYork City, where I had the good fortune of doing a photo shoot with ESPN magazine. I am very excited that I was able to do a photo shoot for a major company, but I was just as excited for the shopping. All who know me are aware I love shopping and this is New York City, it’s the meka for fashion. I went with my mom, and being able to share that experience with her was a treat for both of us. The shoot was amazing, I had the best time, but can honestly say that I am now quite sore from the strain of the shoot. First off they had me slather baby oil all over my body (while wearing a sports bra and bottoms), and wet my hair so that it could be pulled back for a slick look. Then the photographer warned me it was going to be a workout, and even during the shoot I kept thinking, “ok this isn’t easy, but it’s nothing compared to my 5 hrs worth of training everyday.” We did all different types of shapes and I tired my best to make my legs look even more huge. Some shots were more focused on power and strength, others on profile, but overall I felt amazing. I did however feel bad for the assistants that were always having to help resist my pulling and pushing on their gym equipment. I don’t think they were quite prepared for me in that sense, but everyone at the shoot was brilliant at giving it their 110% ( or as I like to say they were very Olympic) in helping to make my photo’s look the best they could be. The day after I for sure can say that I used my muscles in a different way, and they thanked me for it. I am so excited to see what photo ESPN magazine will use, and knowing what kind of photo’s we shot, I am even more excited to hopefully get a few copies for my wall at home. Maybe one day when I get old I can look back and say “yes at some point in my life I looked like that.”
Before NYC the summer has been full of adventure, but also grounding and real. In March I was able to go to Liberia, Africa with my charity Right To Play. It was an experience I will never forget and has really taught me the value of making the most of every opportunity I am given, and the importance of giving opportunity just as freely. It was one of the most life changing experiences I have had, and I now feel like I understand completely the impact that RTP has on people around the world. The values that RTP has taught to everyone (children as well as adults), the empowerment, confidence, willingness to speak up, and just plain fun that is needed in life, was all very apparent on my trip. I was lucky to be able to experience a 3rd world country and see first hand how the charity I support is making this world better, and I only hope to be able to give back in so many ways.
This summer I was also fortunate to be apart of a first (and hopefully annual) Hero’s Tour, across Atlantic Canada. It was an initiative put on by the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) to help spread the Olympic Movement and keep it alive during our non-Olympic years. There was 9 of us athlete’s all spread from summer to winter Olympic and Paralympic athlete’s. The Atlantic provinces did an amazing job at welcoming us as athlete’s and really took the message we were spreading to heart. We visited all 4 atlantic regions, which was a first for many of us, and I even kissed a puffin’s butt in Newfoundland after a screeching ceremony. We did many events from a few Children’s hospital visits, “Mile Zero” where Terry Fox took his first steps towards his marathon of hope campaign, teaching an exercise class full of local athlete’s,breakfast with true military hero’s and getting to board the HMCS Montreal, while finishing the week with a stadium full of 6,000 screaming teens (and getting to know what Justin Bieber feels like) and the list of memories goes on and on. The best part of the whole event was getting to know the other 8 athlete’s as well as the COC staff, as they were what made this event so much fun. I can honestly say at the start of the tour I was a bit nervous as it was a week long event, and it could have gone either way, but I had a blast. The tour was followed by another couple days with everyone that took part in the COC’s Hall of Fame Gala (reasoning for us being in Atlantic Canada), and when it was all said and done I hope it’s something everyone from the upcoming provinces/cities to local people in the communities as well as the COC continues to adopt.
Directly after the Hero’s Tour I headed to L.A (California) and joined my coach and his new athlete’s for a week long training camp. It was the start of my training for the summer and a great way to kick off my new season. The weather was sunny / warm and getting to train with my coach and a great group of athlete’s was maximally beneficial. It was the kick up the butt that I needed. I am now a couple weeks into training and feeling better than I did at any point last year. I still have a long way to go and I know it’s a slow process, but every day I train hard and follow my diet it’s another grain on rice in my cup. I was told once by a very smart woman, the goals is to have the cup overflowing with rice by Sochi (2014 Olympics) so that I can have no regrets. The way I see it if I have a bad day (which happens to us all) and I slack, a grain of rice comes out of my cup. As long as I have more grains of rice going in then coming out, I’m golden.
The rest of the summer is focused around training, with a couple weeks planned end of July where I will be heading to the U.K and Holland to visit my coach and sled builder. I look forward to many more events this coming summer.