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Annabel's Blog / 3-2-1 Get Set Cruise Control

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - Annabel Anderson - Water Girl

It’s the height of the kiwi summer and I’m supposedly in my ‘off season’. Many would assume the inclusion of the word ‘off’ in this reference may infer ‘rest’, downtime, vacation or simply stopping for a bit.

Welcome to the concept of the constantly ‘on’ season of revolving summers. Let your mind drift for a moment and picture yourself enjoying sun kissed days from sunrise to sunset, nothing other than flip flops on your feet and the excitement of chasing pristine waves day after day and hoping that your body can keep up.

Yes, this is also a pipe dream of mine, one which I’m slowly but surely working at shaping and moulding into a reality.

Above: Hunter of wind and waves. Photo: COL/

From late January 2011 I’ve been working on making this a reality ever since escaping six weeks of ice, snow and slippery concrete in London. It’s not been without it’s ups, downs and once-in-a-lifetime moments but every year as the Californian waters start to cool and the sand starts to show the first signs of the winter berms, I get excited about my impending summer ahead, the kiwi one that is. The one I’ve known all my life that has implanted memories that will last forever.

The first couple of ‘summers’ it was as much a convenience as much as a choice. Our yankee friends only allowing me 90 day visits at a time and my northern competitive season coming to a close. But as the summers have ticked over, home has become my destination of choice and the most brilliant excuse to knock back offers of trips to tropical paradise and other whimsical places. Yes, you heard it right here, there’s no place I’d rather be at this time of the year.

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is,
‘where is your favourite place to go?
It has been without flinching, ‘home’.

I’ve now learned to embrace the concept of ‘home’ in the wider sense. Hailing from that pristine little mountain hamlet of Lake Wanaka, and the provider of all things one could wish for in an outdoor playground, the only ingredients it lacks are the ocean and waves. Add in the geography of what NZ has to offer, temper with ever changing weather and say hello to the mildly nomadic seeker of adventure, sometime double world champion, wannabe trail runner, lover of two wheels and now hunter of wind and waves.

I now introduce 3-2-1 Get-Set Cruise Control. A dichotomy of words, a paradigm of worlds juggled like hot potatoes.
As the rest of my competitive world takes their winter to give a proper meaning to their ‘off season’, it’s as though my world steps up a gear with the excitement and anticipation of what fruit a few months of ‘home’ will bear.

Photo: COL/

And while I endeavor to put boundaries in place to bring life back to a manageable pace, time after time I become a sucker for the lure of the wind and the waves offering up some southern goodness.

Yes, it’s official, I’m my own worst enemy in this department. My inner adventurer wanting to satisfy an insatiable craving, battling against the other side of my brain which is crying out for time out, and a period of settled predictability.

This summer I made a few decisions to help fight this war of inner yan versus yin.

    •    A self imposed international travel embargo
    •    to learn how to say no
    •    to spend time investing and reinvesting in those people and things that really matter
    •     to look within and rediscover my excited inner child
    •    to challenge myself with new learnings
    •    to immerse myself in the best that ‘home’ has to offer.

Photo: COL/

While the warm weather and consistent waves of November now seem a distant past with January and the first half of February disappearing into a vortex of road tripping around the country, I don’t know what I would have done without a newly discovered vehicular accessory – cruise control (the ‘yin’ in the yin versus ‘yan’ war)
What I failed to comprehend before embarking on a month and a half of road tripping was the following

    •    no less than 4,500km of driving
    •    15x events (I started losing count after 10)
    •    multiple days of coaching
    •    filming
    •    photo shoots
    •    contract negotiations
    •    meetings
    •    logistics planning
    •    board designing
    •    …..oh – and don’t forget training

It’s a life which has become somewhat diametrically opposed. Leading with the right hand to allow the left to do it’s job. Competing to fuel the appetite of adventure and discovery. And increasingly, the pressure of others to be and to do when it may not be in the best interests of my physical or mental sanity (competing in 60+ events per year as I have done for the last three years is not the most sustainable or strategic business plan I’ve come across – although it was a fun challenge in the process!).

It’s become an ever challenging balancing act of managing my never-sit-still mind with what is physically and logistically possible. I’ll go through phases like the present where it’s a flood of action and activity and while I live and thrive by it, I know that I need to allow myself the balance of the quieter times.

It was something that I used to lip service too, but after 3 years of non-stop sprinting, it’s been a conscious change of mindset to turn the sprint into a marathon and to stop at the odd aid station when and where necessary.
To take my own time getting from A-B, stopping to get lost in the view, altering my plans to make the most of the weather and the geography.

It’s doing this, and ‘taking 5’ when I can back in a land of familiarity that is allowing me to stop and smell the crisp fresh air that I lust after when I’m away.

So here’s to the journey, the challenge and the winding road of the path less trodden, if it was predictable,  you can bet – I’d probably be doing something else

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