September 2019 - Jungfrau Marathon, beautiful pictures and Advisory (boat) Inspection
Thanks to Levuro, I spontaneously get a bib to start at the Jungfrau Marathon and use this participation as a mental test. Only 5 training runs in the last 3 months are tempting to panic in the days leading up to the race. But somehow I manage to bundle my nervousness and use it to finish 4 minutes faster than 12 years ago. I am also surprised how well my calf and shin muscles react to discussions and new workload distribution with the help of glutes and abs. A great event!
The approaching autumn brings the most beautiful morning skies and the Balgrist communication team meets me for recordings at the lake. Rarely has getting up early been more worthwhile and I don't just capture these moments on pictures but store them in my heart.
At the end of the month, Atlantic Campaigns, the organizer, will inspect the boat. Again I travel with 70kg luggage by train to Holland. The first days are still suitable for further training hours on the water. I seem to have a subscription for strong winds and spend the rest of my time in the marina putting together the food packages and snacks. The day before the inspection, I go through my entire boat contents again one by one, laid out on a tarp and am happy to know exactly where each item is stored in the boat, what it is used for and where any necessary spare and repair parts are.
The inspection is a concentrated affair and afterwards I notice how my body shifts the controller towards relax mode for the first time in months. I can even accept the compliments of safety officer Ian Couch and spend a relaxed moment together with my parents and the whole team of Dutch Ocean Expeditions at the Atlantic Campaign event for future Atlantic rowers by the beach.
End of August 2019 - Matters of the heart
Full of impressions, I return to Switzerland and seamlessly move on to all the medical examinations that are still due for the prerequisites.
The performance test on Monday is okay except for a wave in the EGK, which doesn't behave as it should or expected. A further examination should ensure that my heart is ready for the big challenge. Never before have I been in a situation where my state of health raised concerns. I have never smoked, I eat very healthy with the exception of the amount of chocolate, I am very active and take care of myself. What is going on?
On the same day a basketball falls on my head (a story to be told another time…) and my nights interrupted by pain are back. Fortunately I still have appointments scheduled with the osteopath!
This heart thing occupies my mind more than I would like to and my campaign stands completely stll for 2 days. That feels really good. I breathe deeply, read and enjoy time with my sister and her sons. 3 days later I’m all cleared comes and the cardiologist recommends an Apérol Sour as an "umbrella drink" on my arrival in Antigua. I make a note to try this option in the coming months.
Another matter of the heart is my new medical partner, Balgrist University Hospital. From the first contact, to the contract negotiations, to the support during the above mentioned bump in the road, I feel very comfortable and well accompanied. Every individual contact leaves positive traces and motivates me to keep up the pace.
August 2019 - Training in The Netherlands
WOW. Just WOW. On all levels. I have a great boat, sleep like a marmot in the small cabin, which even feels spacious after the first 10 nights. The learning curve is steep, the energy level fluctuates between astronomically high and almost non-existent. Dutch Ocean Expeditions, above all John Schouten and Debby Kloos with their sons, are very patient and understanding and always give me courage to keep going.
Nadine is also there for a few days, gives a wonderful christening speech and surprises me with a self-designed etiquette for the bubbly. Miss Universe is officially named and is ready for her adventures with me.
What I learned in England in February can now be applied in practice. E.g. how to handle getting into a thunderstorm. Check that no boat is on a direct collision course, throw the anchor, dive into the cabin and inform the friends about the situation via VHF. Somehow I am super proud to have kept my peace, and yet I somehow feel that this was only an light meal compared to that I will experience on the Atlantic. Often the wind blows from the "wrong" side and I row with a lot of power against 15 knots (almost 30km/h) side wind and/or head winds. I grin a little when I think of the wind conditions on Lake Zurich, which I considered to be almost too strong at 10km/h until now.
If it’s too windy to go out rowing, I use the time to remove and rearrange my equipment, to familiarize myself with the individual components of the equipment over and over again and to optimize my cabin. Miss Universe and I grow together to become a unit over the weeks, a feeling that is completely new to me and that I enjoy very much. In a strange way I am never alone with her on the water.
July 2019 - A concert and first sponsors
Daniel Fueter and Erika Kagawa, two amazing pianists, put together a wonderful concert with other musicians on the theme "La mer en concert" and play for free for a fundraising event that my father organizes for me and his birthday. In the end my whole family is involved and the people who listen to the sounds with me feel just as comfortable as I do. After the evening, my “miles” team has grown and I feel the support through words, gestures and statements, even in the weeks after the event.
These are the moments that give me the strength and level out all sub-optimal aspects or events of the campaign. A single candle has often illuminated an entire hall.
The first sponsors come forward that evening. I am thrilled to be able to inspire and motivate not only with the athletic aspect of my challenge, but also with my message regarding the protection of our oceans. Mäder&Partner, Syntropia - The Other Coaching and Paititi Lab bring real enthusiasm and power to the team and my training is even more fun.
Meanwhile my boat is almost finished in The Netherlands and Durch Ocean Expeditions is working with a lot of energy and dedication on the last settings. I am looking forward to finally being able to do my first rowing strokes at the end of the month!
June 2019 - A boat, a scam and a growing team
Through other nice people and friends of friends etc. I buy my own training boat, which even gets a place in the marina for the summer. In 15min. by bike I am with Nalani and enjoy the early morning hours on the water with her. The aching hand also has something good as it doubles as an alarm clock and gets me out of bed at 4 in the morning regularly.
A GoPro will take many good pictures of me and my life on board on the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately I fall for a scam and spend a lot of time with the police for a complaint and try to see the frustration about the financial loss as another learning exercise. It's not really the lost money that annoys me, but my gullibility. That's the way I see it, even if the police officer doesn't attest this to me and speaks of a very perfidious scam.
My action "come on board with one mile" is slowly taking off. Everyone who covers one or more of the 3000 nautical miles of my journey (one mile costs CHF 100.-) crosses the Atlantic with his or her name on my boat. Already 200 miles are covered and the number of fellow travellers is growing.
March - May 2019 - Training on all levels
I'm turning my living room into a training center. The ergometer of First Degree Fitness can be tilted vertically and saves space at the wall and the TRX and rubber bands in all sizes and colors find place in a wooden wine box. My yoga mat is also used regularly and the extra mirror found on the street allows me to see and correct even the smallest misalignments from all angles. It's interesting that as an ultramarathon runner I can cover 180km in one go but can't do a minute of sideplanking. I am definitely not a friend of muscle exercises, but I believe in the benefits every day. Experienced rowers have confirmed it to me. They certainly know better. I keep going.
The temperatures are slowly getting warmer and I can do more rowing sessions on a coastal boat on Lake Zurich and with Mark Slats on the canals in Holland. My hands are still suffering. Blisters, open or bloodshot, come and go with the regularity of a Swiss watch. At some point I can no longer wear my finger rings. My hands have become strong. Moving ahead.
Admin-wise, spring is an extreme challenge. Research in connection with the search for sponsors, time-consuming visits and sometimes somewhat special ways to be turned away are further moments of learning on my path. I always have the choice to change my perspective and find the good component, which I manage to do quickly in most cases.
My family and immediate surroundings are wonderful and support me where and how they can. Two articles are published about my project. The first counter-reading is always a light blow to the stomach, as words can be read and interpreted in so many ways. I am made aware and shown where and how I can further grow as a person to have a solid foundation for my endeavors. I recognize myself well in the lines of the “Coopzeitung”.
Unfortunately, I slip on a reusable shopping bag on the floor and land with my knee and elbow on the tile floor. For a while squats and climbing stairs are painful and my nights are interrupted every 1.5h-3h by neurological pain in my right hand. The osteopath also needs some osteopathic help, but waiting 6 weeks before making an appointment is definitely not ideal.
February 2019 - Maritime radio, sea rescue and more navigation
A prerequisite for the TWAC is the completion of various courses on life at sea. These are also obligatory for the radio licence and the flag licence. In Teignmouth, in the south of England, I spend a week with other Atlantic rowers and learn in theory what I will also put into practice and train on water in summer.
It's good to talk and exchange ideas with other teams. The reasons for such an adventure may officially be very different for each rower but in detail, everyone has similar ideas, concerns and expectations. I realize that as a solo rower you can fell a bit lonely and that I miss the contact with like-minded people at home.
I would never have thought that such a project could so quickly dictate my everyday life. There is little time to think about it though because the website wants to be further optimized and other tasks are lining up.
January 2019 - First steps and first challenges
The euphoria in following the boats of the TWAC 18 keeps the energy high and lets me feel like the days have 36 hours. I would love to have a fat "done" hook on my to-do list within a few days for things like building a website or sponsorship documentation. But since I am an osteopath and also know more about many other things, everything takes a bit longer than I would like to. I can practise patience and feel that the team spirit is slowly taking hold.
Gratefully I accept every bit of help and despite the many kind people around me still lose the overview of things . It's not as simple as I thought it would be. Every day brings new challenges and yet the mood stays positive.
I spend my birthday in Holland with the first navigation attempts and part of the day on the water. Where will I be next year?
December 2018 - Visit and registration in La Gomera
Another essential point of the crossing is the decision to row the Atlantic in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge (TWAC) or to organize the crossing independently. The decision is quickly taken from me, the factor of common is automatically given by a fleet of almost 40 boats. All of us are somehow in the same boat. That is definitely how I see it.
On advice from different sides I book a flight to Tenerife with my friend Nadine and by ferry arrive in La Gomera on 7.12.18 for the first time. The race organization Atlantic Campaigns is not to be overlooked and again by co-incidence we drop in precisely to the start the "Future Rower Meeting" in the big tent. The amount of information is immense and I can digest the details bit by bit in the weeks after the stay.
After consultation with Nikki Holter, one of the good souls and event manager of Atlantic Campaigns, I officially register for the TWAC19 the next day and feel like part of a new family from the first moment on.
November 2018 - A boat from Dutch Ocean Expeditions
After the initial gut decision, the first necessary and important administrative tasks are carried out. First point: I need a boat.
Through the contact with Mark Slats (world record holder in the solo Atlantic crossing 2017 and also generally an incredible adventurer) John Schouten’s contact is in my phone.
Since a co-incidence usually has a greater meaning than our brain can grasp, it is not surprising that the first phone call is followed by a meeting in Holland. The gut continues to set all signals on green to trust the company Dutch Ocean Expeditions with their boat design by Dick Koopmans completely. I feel totally backed with my intention to connect people "in real life" and care for our planet together.
October 2018 - Gut decision. When you just know. But not (yet) why.
The fire is lit in January 2018. Swiss Mocean’s fast and successful crossing as well as sharing the excitement of dot watching and following the other participating boats was inspiring. A vague idea of how an Atlantic crossing in a rowing boat could be prepared and carried out develops through numerous intermediate stops, people and insights. First in a 4-person team and then also feasibly doable as a 2-person team. From August onwards, a solo crossing "in the worst case" is also conceivable.
I’m a firm believer that the mind mainly prevents us from doing inconsiderate things like crossing a road on a red light. Gut decisions vibrate on another frequency and have so far always turned out to be the right choice to go with in my life. In the moment I never knew "why" I decided that way, but the feeling was just right.
It is the same on 15.10.2018, when I wake up on Monday morning and simply know: I will row solo and unaccompanied across the Atlantic and have a team on board who has my back.
The possibility to inspire and motivate people in a positive way, to take care of our planet with its oceans, lets the autumn sun shine inside and I am enthusiastic about the energy which I can release in that moment. How long this will last?