“Those who have never been to the edge and looked over will never understand that it is better to live one day as a lion than a lifetime as a sheep…”
- British Royal Marines
I recently came across this quote through a new Twitter follower and it caught my eye immediately for a number of reasons. I promise I will become more insightful than this but speaking of lions, the circus is in town! During the latter part of July, the striped tent was pitched signifying the biggest event on Vitoria-Gasteiz’s annual calendar was about to kick of, ‘La Fiesta de la Virgin Blanca’. The fiesta officially opened last Sunday, the 4th of August and runs until the 9th, a great opportunity for the Basque population to have a few more public holidays! I am fully aware this is a July monthly report but I just couldn’t help myself, as it was so unbelievably astonishing!
We arrived into the centre of town just after 4pm and it was much busier than your usual Sunday afternoon during scheduled siesta time. Within the next hour, the crowds had quadrupled comprising of large groups of people with copious amounts of cheap champagne (Dubois) and vino tinto (red wine). There were; garbage bins, shopping trolleys, 4L plastic containers and water guns , all filled with alcohol awaiting Celedón’s (a rag doll with an umbrella) arrival via a thin wire above the crowd.
It was definitely an experience that I strongly encourage everyone to attend if they get the chance even if you are the foreigner shying away from the central commotion holding a bottle of water.
While the fiesta was electrifying, I also received some very exciting news during July. I was selected as part of the U23 World Championships team to race in London in September. Last year I watched as my training partners prepared for Worlds and while I knew I wasn’t up to meeting the demands of competition, I was still envious, promising myself I would do everything possible to be there in 2013.
Returning to my original quote which is very fitting as it originated from the British Royal Marines, I have learnt this year more than ever that in order to succeed you need to be your own person which involves being selfish and taking calculated risks and learning what works for you. Sure, it is easy to float along in a training group and be satisfied, completing the content of sessions and failing to deliver any intent but that is what the Marines would label as a sheep.
Following my recent races, I felt a little bit of complacency creeping in and a little bit is already too much! Over the past few weeks I have ensured I am acting as the lion and I definitely feel like my training and confidence has already picked up which I am looking forward to testing out in the Tiszaujvaros World Cup in Hungary this weekend.
Now I am not going to go and do anything crazy like canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah in a similar fashion to Aron Ralston (‘Between a Rock and Hard Place’, autobiography) but I am focused on performing to a high standard in London, constantly challenging myself to be my own athlete.
I would also like to say thank you to Amelia Tregear who has graced us with her presence here in Vitoria over the past month as our masseur. Not only has Amelia been treating us superbly and doing everything possible to help us out, her company is remarkable as well.