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Netball in Berlin

11 Jun

Someone recently asked me if the reason why I was playing netball so often these days was because the club enters overseas tournaments. It is definitely one of the reasons but not the only reason! Last weekend we were in Berlin to take part in the 2nd International Mixed Tournament organised by Berlin Netball Club.

It turned out to be a bit of a stretch to get the minimum of seven players for the tournament so in addition to myself, Lorna, Jess and Sarah H from Zurich, we managed to beg, borrow and steal Sarah G from Geneva Netball, Elina from Zug Netball and two Berlin players, Danielle and Lili, who had only recently moved to Berlin.

Pink Power: (L to R) Sarah H, Lorna, Danielle, Elina, Jess, me Sarah G and Lili

I began to think if our whole campaign was completely jinxed when half of us got lost in a park on the way to the tournament venue(!) but after finally arriving, meeting our new team mates and changing into our bright pink tops for the first time, we were all ready to get stuck in and enjoy ourselves.

Our first match was against Amsterdam. It wasn’t an easy start at all. By the time we had found our feet we were already 5 goals down. The guy who was marking me had arms like an organutan and was ridiculously quick but it was a good game and we managed to pull back some goals so it definitely wasn’t a white wash.

Next we played Berlin 1. Another hard game and the favourites to win the tournament overall. It was 5-3 at half time, which really showed how hard we were working and that we were already beginning to gel as a team. At half time they made some substitutions and ended up winning the game.

You might think that after 2 losses in our first 2 games that we might have been feeling demotivated. Instead we were radiating positivity (possibly because of the pink tops).

The next few games we were able to chalk up some convincing wins against Berlin 2, Brussels and Hamburg. It was at this point that we collectively realised that we had a very realistic chance of finishing in fourth place. So we decided to keep our heads and aim for 4th which would be an incredible achievement considering we had never played together.

Our hopes and dreams were changed completely when we played Stockholm, a tricky team that I remember playing earlier in the year in Copenhagen, who are well-rehearsed and had some good male players as well. We were leading them at half time reasonably comfortably. In the second half, I was studying the clock, counting down the minutes as I realised that they would have to score 6 goals in 2 minutes and there was no way that we were going to allow them to do that!

We wrapped up with wins against Bielfeld and Paderborn and secured 3rd place. An achievement that we had to pinch ourselves to believe. To celebrate we headed to an amazing cafe that sold cheesecake and ate them in the sunshine in the park – not the same one that half of us got lost in! In fairness, I would have suggested we eat cheesecake if we would have come last place.

Grinners are winners! A pre-cheesecake selfie!

The icing on the cake was at the awards ceremony in the evening. We were suprised to hear that we had been voted “Best Team of the Tournament” by the umpires and match officials because of how friendly and sportman(-woman?)like we were. It was a great end to a great day.

Prizes and well-deserved drinks!

I have now been to Berlin twice and not seen one tourist attraction; the first time I was at a conference with work and I didn’t leave the hotel. So it looks like I will have to go back to play netball in Berlin next year as well.

Thanks to all my fabulous team mates Lorna, Jess, Sarah G, Sarah H, Elina, Danielle and Lili, who are not only fantastic netballers but were great fun off the court as well. Special mentions to Lili, who at 11 was the youngest player in the competition and is a superstar, and her parents and younger brother who supported her and us throughout the whole competition.

Team work makes the dream work!

May Madness

31 May

The past month has got to be one of the craziest months I have had in a long time. I have had some strange experiences this month. I want to share these experiences with you just to make sure that it was the month that was mad and not me.

Firstly, the weather this month has been nothing short of bonkers. I’m not sure has been the catalyst for the whole month or not. It’s been blazing hot one day followed by torrential rain for 4 days. On Wednesday it even hailed for about 30 minutes. It is the craziest weather I have ever experienced in May since moving to Switzerland.

May was also the month that I went back to work after a period of job hunting. A company had offered me a 6 month contract. It wasn’t really ideal but it was an offer and at the very least I was confident that I would be able to learn something new and see how another company functioned. After the first week, I realised why I hadn’t been offered a full time contract: they are likely to be closing the company by the end of the year. It was a bit of a shock.

I was even more shocked when I received a phone call on the following day from a company that had interviewed me for a job back in March. They had decided to employ a candidate who had applied internally. To say I was gutted not to be offered the job was an understatement. They phoned me because the position was vacant again and was I still interested? I had a interview the following week and an hour after the interview they had offered me the job. How mad is that? Of course, it meant that I had to hand in my notice 3 weeks after I started my new job which I felt bad about but I was so happy that I got the job that I wanted so much.

I also went on a personal development workshop. It was an intense event and lasted 3 days. To say that I was out of my comfort zone was an understatement. I was so far out of my comfort zone that I couldn’t actually see the edge of it anymore. We were asked to do a lot of exercises with people we didn’t know which was quite intimidating. But I learnt and realised so much about myself. I realised that the reason that I have come to a halt on writing my book has less to do with me not thinking that I don’t have the right talents and skills to complete a book that people will enjoy reading and has more to do with being judged, both professionally (from the point of view of the book being panned) and personally (that my character will be judged as well). I know that this is just my worry manifesting itself in my head to stop me from completing what I want to do. I found it completely liberating and I have made a concrete plan about how to get my book finished plus some other projects that I have been putting off because of worry and anxiety.

I can’t not mention that I managed to hit the dead centre of the target while taking part in a shooting competition this month. I was amazed! My boyfriend, who was by my side to coach me, almost had a heart attack. He was never expecting that to happen. I suspect he was actually slightly jealous.

The final bit of May Madness was my attendance at netball training this month. The netball club ran a competition that every one who attended every training in May would be win a free drink in the pub at the end of the month. Despite an injury to my finger (which I still can’t bend fully and is painful), I managed to claim my cider!

There have been lots of coincidences this month. Luckily they have all been happy coincidences so I have no reason to complain at all. I feel very positive about the next few months. I will soon be starting a new job, plus I will be going home for the first time this year, I am going to Berlin for a netball competition and there will be big celebrations later in June when the shooting club will be celebrating 150 years as a club. I can’t wait!

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Finger on the trigger

27 May

I’m recovering from a nasty finger injury that I stupidly got while playing netball last week. I say stupidly because it was clearly my fault. I jumped for a rebound but I didn’t have my hand fully open and the ball caught my right index finger flush on its tip at speed.

It hurt straight away but I carried on play in pain. By the end of training my finger was red, swollen and painful. By the next morning I had reduced mobility in the joint and it was painful to bend.

It is only now that I have realised how often I use my index finger on my right hand. I hurts when I type, I can’t pressed down any buttons or even the nossel of a harispray can or perfume bottle and doing up buttons is also extremely tricky. I have resorted to using my left hand as much as possible but, as I don’t write with my left hand, it is not always the best solution.

One thing did improve unexpectedly this weekend. The shooting season is underway again. I was seriously doubting that I would be able to pull a trigger with my battered and bruised trigger finger. While I didn’t manage to shoot consistently enough to win a medal, I did manage to hit a 100! A 100 is the score that you get when you hit the target dead in the centre. That means I hit the dead centre (1cm) from 300m away. How amazing is that! Imagine how much better I would have performed without my finger feeling like it was on fire.

The main thing that I am grateful in in this whole situation is that I managed to do this in training and not in two weeks when I will be away with the netball team participating in a tournament in Berlin. If this had’ve happened in the first game of the tournament, it would be likely that I wouldn’t be able to continue and would spend the rest of the weekend warming the bench.  However, now I have learnt my lesson to be ready with my hands open to catch the ball so this sort of injury should not happen in the future.

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Goodbye April

30 Apr

I’m not sure how a third of the year is already over (edited thanks to help from friends) but I am glad to see the back of April. Nothing bad or dramatic has happened over the last 30 days but over the last two weeks especially I’ve lost all motivation to do anything.

OK, that’s not strictly true. I have done somethings but a lot of the things that I have really enjoyed doing since the start of the year have been almost like a chore to me.

See if you understand what I mean:

  • This month I don’t think that I have managed to finish reading more than two books. I had been averaging a book every two days until the end of March. In April this ground to a halt. It’s not because I don’t like the books that I am in the middle of; it’s just that I read a chapter and then decide to put the book down rather than reading on. I feel like I have definitely reached my limit of trash TV, which has been filling the void, and that I can get back into reading in May. All the books on my to-read shelf aren’t going to read themselves!
  • I’ve had a wobble with my fitness goals. I was super motivated and ready to start increasing my running distances until I got struck down with a bad cold that sidelined me for the best part of 10 days. Getting back into cycling has been ok but the running has been tough. I won’t go into the gory details but I’ve had a very fluid cough which gets worse when I go running. Having said that, I have managed to run 24.8km and ride 92.3km in April. Can you imagine if I hadn’t have been tucked up in bed for so long? In May I am determined to beat these totals.
  • I haven’t made any progress on any of my challenges. In fairness some of them are reading and fitness related but, even the challenges I’ve started that I haven’t had an excuse to get on with, I haven’t been bothered to continue with any progress. My book has ground to a halt. I estimate 80% of this is due to lack of confidence and the other 20% is due to my motivation escaping me. I’m not sure how to tackle this one. I definitely don’t want to forget about the project altogether because I have spent so long on it already. Also I think some of the writing is OK so it doesn’t make any sense to just press delete.
  • Finally (and this one you may have noticed), I haven’t been blogging as much as normal. Obviously having less motivation to do anything means that I have had less to write about. If I am honest, I’ve actually missed sitting down at my laptop a couple of times a week and getting some writing done.

As you can see, April has been erring on the side of being a waste of time. It’s not all my fault though. I blame the weather. (I am British after all). I’ve felt all over the place with the quick changes between blazing-hot-gonna-get-sunburned-in-the-shade heat to lashings of rain to sudden flurries of ice-cold snow. Our optimism of having our first BBQ at the start of April but not being able to sit outside and eat since might be the source of all my de-motivation and disappointments in April. I was cheered up yesterday when I met with a friend who had said she had also spent most of the month moping around not being able to concentrate on anything. Sometimes it feels good when people are feeling exactly the same as you are because you realise that it’s normal not to be feeling like you can take on the world single-handedly every day.

I hope that May madness is going to help me have a bit more of a spring in my step. I have made plans to make sure that I get a few more steps towards completing some of my challenges, which will give me a boast, as well as keeping going with my running and cycling when time allows.

I hope your May is better than your April – even if your April was great!

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Happy Easter

21 Apr

Happy Easter to all my readers and followers wherever you are in the world!

It seems like this Lenten time has gone quicker than ever before and this year is going even quicker. I did manage to keep my Lenten promise of exercising or doing something to benefit my health each day. I have been struggling with a very bad cold this week but I still managed to wrap myself up warm and get out of the house of a 30 minute walk around the village.

I feel quite proud of myself that I managed to keep my promise. There were many occassions when I really didn’t want to get my trainer on or get the bike out and go for a ride but I managed to and, despite the cold that I has completely knocked me for six, I feel a lot better for it. In the beginning it was hard but once it becomes a routine it becomes easier, mentally and physically. Now I am in the routine, I’m determined to keep going with my daily goal of doing something every day to improve my health and fitness. First I will make sure that I am fully recovered from this awful cold.

I will be spending the next few days relaxing and eating chocolate. I hope that you will also be enjoying your time with family and friends.

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Netball in Copenhagen

17 Apr

I’m just about fully recovered from a weekend in Copenhagen playing netball with Zürich Netball Club, who I decided to join in January. I worked out that it had been almost 15 years since I had been on a netball tour which is one of the scariest things that I have heard in a long time.

We arrived at the hotel with the news that they had overbooked the twin beds in the hotel so we had to make do with double beds. This was slightly daunting considering that some of us didn’t know each other well. There wasn’t a great deal that we could do about it and I was so tired I could have slept standing up in a broom cupboard.

On the Saturday we headed to the venue. The hall was packed with teams from Sweden, Holland, France and Germany. It was a mixed tournament so it wasn’t a surprise to see a few men there but we were the only team to only have women playing. I know from experience that its not always an advantage to have men on a netball team but it would turn out that these men had played before and were pretty handy on the court.

The tournament was opened by Zindyi Mandela, the South Africa ambassdor in Denmark, who I later found out was the daughter of Nelson and Winnie Mandela. She gave a great speech about how important it is for women to be involved in team sport. How amazing is it that she took the time out of her day to come and wish a group of expats all the best for the day!

I had completely forgotten how physically demanding a sport netball is. Playing competitively is so different to training with your team mates. My legs were almost dead after the first few games. Luckily the organisers provided snacks and cake to help with blood sugar levels.

We played 8 games in total and, although we didn’t end up winning the competition, the games that we did lose were by very small margins. After the prize giving we headed back to the hotel for a quick shower and change before a buffet dinner at a local restaurant with the other teams and then onto a trendy cocktail bar called Curfew for some celebratory drinks.

I woke up the next day still shattered which is yet another reminder that I need to improve my fitness. I could barely walk up stairs for the next few days. After a late-ish breakfast we went on a free walking tour, visited The Little Mermaid Statue and headed back to the airport.

Thank you to my team mates Claudia, Lauren, Lorna, Kim, Arran, Abby, Chelsea, Emma and Konio for a great weekend of netball and for such a great time. I’m hoping for an equally great weekend in another European city with the girls soon!

Fast approaching Easter

3 Apr

With only a few weeks until Easter, I am on track to complete my Lenten promise which was to be active every day. Lent is 40 days long which means that technically Sundays don’t count – if you include the Sundays in Lent there are 44 days. I have been keeping fit on Sundays even though I could have been having a rest. The weather has been good so it makes sense to get out when possible.

So far I have been combining running, cycling, netball and doing core strength exercises. I have started to notice that my stamina and endurance is increasing and I’m feeling more confident. However, I haven’t been able to lose any weight which is disappointing because that would be a nice side effect.

I must admit that I prefer to get out on the bike or put my trainers on and go running rather than doing core strength exercises. Even though it doesn’t take as long (there is no way that I can do more than 15 minutes of planks, sit ups, push ups etc) I really hate it. I can tell that it is having a positive impact on my running, cycling and my endurance in general but I just don’t like doing them. We also do these exercises at the end of a netball practice and I hate it with a passion.

Over the last 29 days, I have run or biked a total of 105 kilometers or 65 miles as well as taking part in 5 netball sessions and 6 sessions of core strength exercises. I’m pleased with that. It’s certainly not the longest ever run or biked but my knee is holding up. This time last year I was barely able to limp around 2 kilometers twice in one week. This is definitely progress!

It is often said that it takes 30 days to form a habit so I hope even when the next two weeks are over that I am able to continue with my exercise habit. I might not have time to go as often but even being active four or five times a week would be great. If the weather stays nice then I will have no excuse!

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