A rocky road to Canada: Nicola Welham reflects on her journey to Team GB

So, as I sit on the plane flying home from the world championship in Penticton, Canada I have 8 and a half hours of confinement (my worst nightmare by the way!) to reflect on what has been the most incredible week.  

IMG_0619When two years ago my marriage ended unexpectedly it felt like my world had ended. I had never felt true heartache until then, I didn’t think it could be a physical pain but my heart actually ached. It felt like a heavy weight on my chest – a pain I didn’t know existed. I didn’t know how I was going to go on. I had an 18 month old baby relying on me to care for him and a job I had to turn up for. It was Edward that kept me going. He was my drive, my reason to get up in the morning, to keep looking forward and believe that the path we were going on was the one I was destined for. With the support of family and friends I kept moving forward; some days moving backwards, but I soon learned that I always bounced back stronger. For them I am eternally grateful, for without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. Happy, independent, and emotionally and physically stronger than I ever thought possible. 

Having suffered from anxiety, depression and eating disorders in the past I was determined not to fall back into the dark places I’d once been. Edward needed me. He needed a healthy mummy. A mummy who could care for him as best she could. So, I made a vow to myself that if I did one thing, and one thing only it was to look after myself, physically and mentally. 

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I have always been at my happiest when outside or keeping active so Edward and I spent as much time as we could, breathing in the fresh sea air. We are so lucky to live near the beach. Come rain or shine we’d be walking the dog or jogging with the buggy along the seafront. I would take Edward to the gym with me or boot camps, strapped into the buggy surrounded with books, toys and snacks! I grew stronger and healthier, I gained weight and had more energy. I ate well because I wanted to train. And I subconsciously filled my life with positivity. I believe like attracts like, therefore negativity attracts negativity and I didn’t have the energy for negative people in my life. I surrounded myself with positive people and started seeing the good in life, I was grateful for what I had – Edwards, our health, a roof over our heads, a future, the chance of happiness. 

 

My ‘hobby’ of keeping fit and healthy became more of a serious pastime when, with encouragement from a friend who was a personal trainer, I decided to aim for the Duathlon World Championships this year. I mean, I’d had a road bike for 4 months and had done one Duathlon….I’d enjoyed it so what was there to loose, right!!?? It gave me a goal, a focus to tunnel my emotions. I took on a coach and over the winter I trained 6 days a week. I juggled work, Edward and training. I Struggled with mum guilt, questioned regularly why I was doing this, who I was doing it for, what was I trying to prove to myself? But something kept me pushing on.

After just 5 months of winter training I qualified to represent Great Britain for my age group. Something I never dreamt would happen. I instantly discarded the thought of going. I had every excuse – I can’t afford it, I don’t have the time, how could I possibly leave Edward! But encouraged by friends, I booked my flights on a whim one evening (after a couple of glasses of wine!) and realised there was no going back. I found a new coach and upped the training, getting faster and stronger; physically and mentally. My  confidence grew and my self-doubt lessened. I met new people, attracted more positively to my life, and grew as a person. We’d survived. Edward and I had survived and we were stronger for what we’d been through. And I was going to Canada as a reward for how far I’d come.

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The night before I left for Canada I sobbed for hours, realising I had to say goodbye to Edward in the morning. Leaving him for 10 days felt cruel and selfish. It hadn’t even crossed my mind until then. I’d been so focused on the present and hadn’t even considered the reality of leaving him, which made the guilt worse. 

That said, he ran into nursery the next morning happy that he was going to spend a week having sleepovers with friends and family while I was going away to race. And thankfully I’d cried all my tears the night before so managed not to make a scene at the nursery door!

So, I was on my adventure. I flew to Canada, met the most incredible like-minded people. The race couldn’t have gone better, I loved every second and came 11th in my age category (in the world!!!). I fought tears pretty much throughout the whole race. I realised how strong I was, how proud I was of the person I’d become and how much I had achieved. 

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So my advice to anyone going through a tough time in their life, who feels like they can’t go on or think they are not worthy of happiness….find something or someone that you love and focus your world around it. Set yourself small goals and take baby steps. Get out for a walk or a run in the fresh air and smile at strangers, I guarantee they will smile back. Think positively and be grateful for what you have – write a list and add one thing that you’re grateful for daily. Switch your thinking from negative to positive and you will attract more positivity into your life.

Smile.

You will have bad days, everyone does. But don’t let it knock you down – tomorrow is a fresh day and you will come back stronger. I’m living proof that life can and will get better if you want it to. Stay strong, stay focused, believe in yourself…you can achieve more than you think.

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