Buckingham Palace and our EVENT!

Laura Penhaul By

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It’s been a whirlwind of a week that I know not many can say, started with an invite to Buckingham Palace. Thanks to the D of E Awards who were celebrating their 60th Anniversary, they had kindly invited us as a team to be part of a select few that were presenters on the day. There were approximately 1,000 students who had successfully completed their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Awards and all presenters were assigned a group of about 50 students each.

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We were fortunate enough to spend some time with the Duke himself who shared a joke or two with us and showed a good interest in the row, I think the conversation started with ‘Well you all look quite normal for a crazy bunch!’. He was intrigued to see Doris after Meg invited him over to meet her, which I’m sure didn’t help his timing schedule, but we were honoured to introduce him to her and to share a giggle or two along the way.

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Whilst there we got to meet a few of the other presenters who were so friendly and supportive of the row, some of those being; Sally Gunnell (my childhood hero), above Charley Boorman who isn’t normally in a chair but has had a recent motorbike accident and has injured his leg, then below, the girls got to meet Paralympic and World Record holder Hannah Cockroft who is one of the athletes I work with and will be hopefully heading to Rio in the Summer.

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It was a beautiful day but it was tainted by the fact that we weren’t there as a full team with Lizanne. We did however call Lizanne whilst we were all together and gave her a run down of the day, but it goes without saying that she was missed. That being said, we are SUPER excited to announce, that Lizanne will be making it over to the UK at the end of June!! We seriously can’t wait to be together as a full team for the first time EVER!! Even pre row we had to work remotely with Lizanne and had only met during team selection when there were other girls involved, so it’ll be sooooo great to have all of us together.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/coxless-crew-friends-family-and-supporters-event-tickets-25592933152?utm_term=eventurl_text

Here is the link to the ticket page where you can book to come and see us as a team and meet Doris for her solo visit to London on 26th June 2016. You’ll find there are 2 options, 1 for attending including a welcome drink and another option which includes a bite to eat. For those of you that have supported us throughout, we would love to see you and thank you in person for all the encouragement and motivation you gave us.

xx

 

 

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One Year Anniversary!

Laura Penhaul By

Launch3Launch SF

Can you believe that it’s exactly 1 year TODAY that we set off from San Francisco!! It brings back such a mix of emotions, from the apprehension of the unknown and heading straight out into a storm, to the excitement and relief of simple living and less stresses of everyday life that we are now back in to. I found myself in a yoga class this morning, trying to think about being in the moment but really having to focus on fighting back the tears of the memories of emotions of a year ago, the relief at now being in the position to be able to be reflective and not having to look forward to the finish line anymore, the realisation that we actually achieved what we set out to do.

On one hand it feels like we’ve been back for ages, like the row is a distant memory. Still seeing people, like I had today for the first time since being back, and answering the question of ‘so how was it?’, seems to get more and more diluted as an answer to what it really was like. I already feel like I tell the same stories and reminisce about the same things that people can relate to, but there was 9 months of ups and downs, laughter and tears, love and frustration, but some how it all gets blurred into one smaller and smaller experience, which is crazy that the 9 months now gets summarized in less than 5 mins!

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Just 3 months ago we arrived into Cairns and we are now back in the swing of normal day life on land, enjoying the showers, the clean bed linen, fresh home cooked food. Work for some of us is back in full flow and for me Rio is just a mere 4 months away. Plus the best bit of all is being back with our loving friends and family. The hardest part of this time last year was thinking what we were putting our families through and what they must have been thinking, so thankfully, a year on, we can be celebrating with them the success of the journey and being home sweet home.

Thank you to all of you that supported us throughout, it was your loving support that gave us strength and kept us working towards our common goal of bringing Doris and the team home safe and sound. xx

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Food Glorious Food!

Laura Penhaul By

Having arrived onto dryland weighing in at about 55kg’s (approx. 15kg’s less than when I started), I feel I have certainly been making up for the lack of calories consumed whilst away and find myself still using that as an excuse even 2 months on!

Over the last 2 months I have savored pretty much every mouthful of glorious, non-expedition food! From the textures, to the spices, the naughty calorific burgers to the freshly cooked foods, vegetables and fruits, the exotic to the plain and the sweet cakes or savoury cheeses- I have loved it all!

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Last Friday one of my truely great friends, Kirsten Samuel-Hubert, spoilt me rotten for the whole day to celebrate the success of the row. It started with brunch at Roast in Borough Market which consisted of Eggs Royale for me (delicious!), then some pampering at Aveda for our nails, then polished off with a Mad Hatters Afternoon tea and champagne at the Sanderson Hotel https://www.morganshotelgroup.com/originals/originals-sanderson-london/eat-drink/mad-hatters-afternoon-tea

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Kirsten knows me too well to make the perfect day based around food as the priority!

 

So morale of the story, when you’ve eaten nothing but mush for 9 months, you appreciate even the simple things of a piece of cheese on toast, so savor the flavour and take a second to be mindful of every mouthful you taste, because not everyone is as lucky to eat the way that we westerners do. xx

 

 

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International Womens Day 2016

As an all female team, who have just set 2 world records, achieving world firsts ahead of the boys, International Womens Day certainly seemed more poignant to us this year!

We are a team of ordinary women that went beyond having just a dream, we made that dream a reality and achieved what many thought would be impossible, what many thought we would fail at. It didn’t come without a few waves of ups and downs and set backs, but collectively, as a team, we stuck to our values, remained resilient in situations we faced and drew on perseverance when it mattered, which proved many people wrong about us. We weren’t just a bunch of girls in a pink boat that would fall out with each other or turn back and quit at the slightest difficulty, we were a team of women that had prepared and planned our row over 3 years previously, had tested ourselves mentally and physically in our preparations and left no stone unturned that we could have planned for. We drew strength from one another, cared for each other when someone was down, drew on humour to keep us going and allowed emotions to be shared and free flowing so that vulnerabilities were not hidden. We coped well with change and adapted quickly through the process as each leg we had a new team member. These are qualities that most women share, these are qualities that are fundamental to a dynamic and functional team, these are qualities that resonate effectiveness in any team setting, whether that’s business or sport. With equality in business still far from showing parity and in sport the exposure for women in sport is still lagging behind, hopefully days like International Womens Day, can express and share the amazing work women out there do and what great benefits a female angle can bring to a team to create diversity.

We have been and still are in ‘oar’ (sorry couldn’t help it!) of so many women that have helped and inspired us to achieve our goal, so here’s just a few, that on this International Womens Day (IWD)we wanted to celebrate…..sarah moshman

Our very own Sarah Moshman. The queen behind the camera who has already won an Emmy for a previous documentary, who led the Empowerment Project to celebrate women who are making waves in science, the military, media etc. https://indieflix.com/indie-films/the-empowerment-project-ordinary-women-doing-extra-36648/ and who is showing how it’s done as a female Director in an industry dominated by males.

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Kate Philp, who was a Royal Artillary Officer who became a below knee amputee when she was injured in Afghanistan in 2008. Kate would have fought in the minority to be a female on the frontline, she would have fought to rehabilitate mentally and physically after she was injured and she has continued to fight in making sure she has a new life journey to success, which is reflected in her achievement when she reached the South Pole with Walking With The Wounded. She’s a true inspiration that whenever I started to moan about pain when I was out in the ocean, she made me stop and push on.

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Patricia Elouahabi, loving wife to Rashid and mother to Yasin, who died just 6 months after Yasin was born in her fight against Breast Cancer.

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Chrissie Wellington, one of my heroes who I am now fortunate enough to call a friend. Chrissie is a 4 times World Ironman Champion, her timings would come in the top 5 of the mens, she has set up Park Run and campaigned for the Womens Tour Du France. Chrissie fights for what she believes in, she’s dedicated and passionate and does everything with a smile!

Helena-Morrissey

Helena Morrissey, CEO of Newton Investment, on the board of 30% club, has 9 children and is a loving wife. This is a woman that epitomizes ‘you CAN’.

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Sarah Outen, has just completed her around the world London 2 London challenge via, kayak, bike and rowing boat, all whilst sharing her journey, inspiring school kids along the way and continuing to look forwards to see how she can create environments for people to say yes to more opportunities outside the norm.

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Julia Immonen, a beautiful woman inside and out, who has stirred change through her campaigns to stop human trafficking. Her efforts have fed through the channels of sport by setting up Sport For Freedom and Julia herself has completed rowing the Atlantic as a team and numerous cycling multi-day events.

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England Womens Rugby team, having won the World Cup in 2014 for the first time in 20 years, this is one of many all female teams in sport that showed us how it’s done.

 

There are many more women that I could continue to talk about that inspired us as a team (my mum being one of them  for me personally!), but there isn’t enough room on this page! A day like IWD gives us a chance to celebrate all those women that are stepping out their comfort zones to facilitate change, to help improve equality in the work place and inspire the next generation to believe they CAN. Thank you to all those women that inspired us and helped us to believe that we can.

 

Lx

 

 

 

 

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My last week

Laura Penhaul By

 

So this last week I started back at work. It was great to be back with the team and they are all so supportive of the row and welcoming me back. Overall it really was awesome to feel like I had returned to a place of comfort, I had been looking forward to it the whole time I was away and had missed the cheeky banter that you get in the world of Sport. What I hadn’t anticipated though, was the feeling that I hadn’t been away, as in I truly felt like I’d only been away on a two week holiday. This is great, but the slight problem with this, is that I’m back and in a slightly different role, so technically less responsibility, but it appears this isn’t something I can just switch off.  I found myself having to be really conscious to not jump in with both feet and just run with things. It was a year ago in March that I had left, I’d been away a whole year and I was noticing myself talking of the athletes as if it was last week when I last saw them! Ben who is my colleague and friend that I’m now working with on the Paralympic side of things, is thankfully the most patient and easy going guy, but I have to remind myself, what would it be like if I’d been doing a role for a year and then someone comes back and they’re like an excitable puppy? I can only imagine it would be a tad annoying! So for the next couple of weeks at least, I am trying to kerb my enthusiasm a little ;)!

I also went back to Cornwall for a few days as I didn’t get to catch up with Trewirgie School when I was last down and really wanted to thank the kids of the Junior school for all their support. Emma and I got to speak to them in October whilst we were out at sea, it was one of my highlights of the whole row. Going in to see them on Friday I got to take Dad too as he’s been working with the school to help with the amazing fundraising efforts that they’ve done. Through doing a sponsored row-a-thon day and collection during their Carol Service at Christmas, the school have raised for our charities over £1,600! We can’t thank them enough and apparently it turns it that it may not be stopping there! Here’s a link to being reunited with the pupils, thanks to ITV Westcountry for capturing it…..

http://www.itv.com/news/westcountry/2016-02-29/world-record-rower-inspires-pupils-at-her-old-school/

 

And this was an earlier post literally hours after we’d arrived into Cairns…

http://www.itv.com/news/westcountry/2016-01-25/rowers-message-to-cornwall-were-not-just-country-bumpkins/

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I love this pic, this sums up how cool these kids are, when you ask them to pull a funny face for the photos, they don’t disappoint!

Finally, not only did I get to spend some quality time with my folks and best friends, but I also popped in to see David White for BBC Radio Cornwall. They too have followed us throughout the row and this morning the interview was aired. You can listen in here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03j6gnc#play  first section is at 1:14, second at 1:30 and final part of the interview at 2:36.

I’m now back up in my flat in Putney, London, but hopefully it won’t be too long until I’ll be bouncing back down again to Kernow! #HomeSweetHome xx

 

 

 

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How things have changed….

Laura Penhaul By

I found it quite amusing whilst we were out at sea, thinking how people come back from expeditions or having lived away for awhile and the comment is always, ‘nothing’s changed!’. Well I can safely say that I disagree!
Whilst away, as I mentioned in a previous blog, one of my best friends has been pregnant and had the baby, all before we arrived into Cairns. Alongside that, my sister in law is pregnant with my second niece or nephew as are now 6 other friends of mine with either their first or second little ones. But this isn’t all that has changed, besides the baby boom, there’s a whole heap of things that certainly since arriving back in London last week i have noticed. There are certain things that I feel like I’ve woken up from an ice age and if things move this quickly in 10months, then I’m going to need to remind myself to keep my finger on the pulse as I get older! …..
– Contactless cards; I wondered why I had a new card in the pile of post when I arrived back, as mine wasn’t due for renewal until 2018. So initially I couldn’t get onto my online accounts until I realised I had a new card. When I left I’m sure it hadn’t been that long that since we’d started using chip and pin!
– Buses don’t take cash!; So when I went to use my ‘contactless card’ on the bus as I couldn’t find my trusty oyster card, well I hadn’t realised I needed to activate it, so it didn’t work, well no dramas I thought, I’ll just pay, ummmmm think again, the bus driver didn’t take cash! Since when did buses not accept cash?!
– Putney train station is all new and improved
– Blackfriars appears to now be open (I’m sure that’s the stop that was closed for like years!)
– Doctors are going on strike; since when do those in the health service who have an ethical duty of care, end up striking?! I’m guessing something has seriously gone array in the government if they see that as their only option. Clearly I have some reading up to do.
– The new iphone 6 is HUGE! I might as well take my ipad mini around with me rather than get my upgrade, I thought phones were supposed to be getting newer and smaller?

Rant over, suffice to say the rest of life has stayed the same and there’s certain things that you just wouldn’t ever want to see change….. I mean Wagamamas for instance, Lizanne will understand my mouth watering dreams I would have in the middle of the Ocean, for a raw juice, chilli squid, chicken raisukaree & gyoza’s on the side & at the weekend I had just that! It was even better than I’d remembered :)! Saying that though, every meal I’ve had since being back on land has tasted A.mazing, obviously Aunty Marie’s pasties are still up there though ;)!

Quick update:
With all my talk of pasties I was honoured to be invited to the Eden Project National Pasty championships in March, I am unfortunately away with work so for this year I have nominated my dad and Uncle to go in my place (fingers crossed there will still be an invite for next year!). This is definitely an invite hard to beat but I’m sure my Uncle John and dad will do me proud ;)!
I start work again tomorrow and I’m excited to see the amazing progress of the team and to get back into the swing of things for Rio (less than 7 months to go!). The countdown begins….

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I love being home

This last week at home has been very special. Spending it with my family & friends who have been there for me from the start. A time to say thank you in person for all the support I’ve received and to share with those that have been so influential to me wanting to make it home to Cornwall.

It has been so lovely to spend quality time this week with my parents. They have sat on the sidelines, gone through the emotional roller coaster & many times put on a brave face to support me when it was the last thing they ever wanted to see me do. I love my folks very much and will forever be in debt to the love they have always given to me. Now it’s my time to spoil them!

 

I got to see a lot of my family this week, which was amazing. Although makes me want zto start up a regular family gathering that’s not just at christmas.

 

My best friends too were all together for the first time in an age! It was so much fun catching up with them, although after a morning in a soft play with Michelle’s two kids and Sarah’s one, I can safely say that rowing an ocean is less hard work than juggling having 2 children (Michelle you’re my hero!). Meanwhile I got to meet my best friends baby who is called Max & only 3 weeks old you can already see he’ll be fighting the girls off!

So amongst the socialising, eating and drinking, I got to catch up on some X Factor, Greys Anatomy plus watch the beating the Italians got from England Rugby. ‘Twas a perfect week!

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Home Sweet Home

Laura Penhaul By

Since arriving into Heathrow and receiving such a warm welcome from my wonderful family and friends, the week has flown by with a whirlwind of amazing media and meeting some lovely people and celebs. But regardless of all the hype and the make overs, there’s nothing better than being with family. First stop for me was to head down to Overton to stay with my brother and his family for a couple of days and more importantly spend some quality time with my gorgeous niece! Isla is now 3 years old and I think I can safely say she is one of the funniest people I know. Such a character and it was so special to have her run up to me as I got off the train after being away for so long. She certainly gives a great hug!

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From the first day I stepped onto Doris in San Francisco, I started dreaming of the time I would get home post row. If there were difficult times out there, one of my coping strategies I drew up with Keith our Sport Psych, was a distraction technique where I would mentally imagine the drive home from leaving the A30 to arriving at the front door. So last night when I was in the car with mum and dad and we were doing exactly the route I had envisaged over the last 9 months, once again the emotions hit me. Pulling up outside the front door, I was home sweet home in Cornwall, finally!
It was about 6pm when we got back and with the house in darkness I had no idea that unbeknown to me, my whole family were hiding inside to surprise me!

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Even my wonderful Auntie Marie (famous now for her amazing pasties!) was there with a pasty for us all and mine even had my name on it!

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The champagne flowed and I got a chance to catch up with my cousins and aunts and uncles before settling down in the evening to a log fire and just mum, dad and I in the lounge. Absolute bliss!

Today, mum & dad have been re-acquainted with the media when ITV Westcountry came round to our home to interview us. Note how my dad still has his slippers on! No wonder I used to be embarrassed at 14 years old when he would pick me up from an under 18’s nightclub and he’d be wearing these! Shocker! Now he’s on local tv wearing them, priceless!

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If you live in the South West, then it should be being aired tomorrow (Tuesday 9.2.16) in the ITV Westcountry news at 6pm. Tomorrow I’m also heading up to the BBC studios in Plymouth where I’ll be live on the couch for an interview after 6pm also, so keep an eye out on our social media twitter and facebook for more up to date timings.

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Leg 3, Day 75 – Land ahoy!

Laura Penhaul By

Day 75 – Land ahoy!

This is it. This is what I’ve dreamed of since getting involved in this project 4 years ago, this is what has kept me going through the times of question, just one more night and after 9 months of being at sea, we get to step onto dry land into our families’ arms. The moment that has played over and over in my head and not a day on the ocean has gone by without me thinking about this time. This moment. There have been tears and laughter, a mix of emotions I never thought I’d feel. Knowing that on this 4 year journey we have overcome having 3 restarts at the project (naively had hoped to start the row in 2013, then 2014 and finally it came to fruition in 2015). We have bounced back after team losses, for 2 years spent weekly trips from London to Christchurch during the boat build, researched and were fortunate to get the best equipment sponsors, spent hours upon hours researching into companies that aligned with our row, put pitch documents together, went to meetings and took the knock backs when it wasn’t right for their company, persisted to resource the funds and apply for various grants. For three years doing a once a month trip down the M4 to visit our sport psych (who I say has been invaluable!), reviews with our strength & conditioning coach Alex for programme updates, otherwise training daily and on the weights 4 times a week, whilst body composition and research on ourselves carried out with GSK Human Performance Lab. The list is endless but these are just a few things to highlight what was fitted in around work and occasionally (V. occasionally!) attempting to socialise before I forgot how!

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There is so much to reflect upon what has been learnt from this row and I’m sure over the coming months post row, more and more will surface, but here are a just a few that stand out to me…

– perseverance: this row has taught me and proved to me, that if you believe whole heartedly in your vision, then you can make it happen. The journey will be up and down with unexpected twists and turns, but roll with the waves and take it stroke by stroke, because eventually you will arrive at where your dreams come true and when you do, the more challenges you’ve faced, the more you appreciate the achievement to get there.

– vulnerability: having previously thought that showing emotions was a sign of weakness, how wrong could I be. Exposing my true self to those around me, allowing myself to be open and honest in what emotions I feel whether it be ecstatically happy or crying like a baby, has been so uplifting and one of the biggest learning curves from this row. When you hold yourself back and don’t express how you feel, it eats you up inside and your mind convinces itself that the problem is so much bigger than what it really is. By sharing it, by letting it out in the open means there’s nothing left to hide, there’s no emotional baggage you need to protect and those around you become your voice of reason and they get to know the real you.

– challenge your thoughts : if you only ever listen to the voice inside your head, you believe that that voice is a voice of reason and of fact. Well Keith has taught me a number of psych things but one most valuable, is to challenge those thoughts. Create another character in your head that makes you stop and step back before lunging forwards into a reactive or negative head space. I have two monkeys in my head and they often quarrel with differing opinions, but by the time they’ve figured it out, it’s given me time to pause and reflect to hopefully come to a diplomatic conclusion.

– laughter: approaching a situation which may be listed as one of your fears, such as big waves at night time, or going through something which is not pleasant like changing in and out of wet and cold weather gear, if you can laugh, joke or make light of the situation then suddenly the situation becomes so much easier and enjoyable to take on.

– Cracknell v Fogle (an earlier blog): if you’re a Fogle then appreciate and recognise the value in some Cracknell influence to get the job done, if you’re a Cracknell, then appreciate the impact some Fogle can have to make you look up every once in while and appreciate your surroundings and what you’re achieving.

– Positivity: Many people may assume that because our blogs are mainly positive, that we are either hiding or misleading the truth, but we honestly are not. Every blog is a true account of what is happening or how we are feeling etc. the difference is that we are a team that deals with things with a positive outlook and will tend to find the humour in things rather than the negative. But more importantly than that, we collectively understand that we chose to be here, we chose to challenge ourselves, so in no way do we believe that what we have achieved outweighs the challenges that people experience in day to day life.

We recognise that we are a team of fit, healthy females that are fortunate to not have endured any of the million and one things this world can throw at you, whether that’s the fight against cancer, the new life you have to develop after losing a limb, facing financial difficulties, overcoming family issues etc., the list is endless. But if we can take away from this the challenge we set ourselves and overcame, then hopefully in some small way we hope it empower others to tackle their own Pacifics, no matter how big or small.

Update:
Just one more sleep! Planned arrival is Sunday PM for us (AM for UK). As ever, the ocean is not allowing us to cruise in at good speed, instead she’s stuck in a negative current once again and so since late last night we have been travelling at a speedy 1k. We still have 40nm to go and need to do them as fast as we possibly can to get in on time.
We got to see Tony and Sarah Moshman! So flipping exciting as we haven’t seen them since Samoa and obviously their arrival signifies how close we are to the finish. Sarah wanted to capture some footage of us out at sea and stayed for a couple of hours whilst Tone scrutinised poor old Doris’ barnacles (the ones I can’t reach because of the jellyfish!).
Megs finally got to see a pod of a mink/ small whales and it was beautiful to see her reaction. So glad she has had the full experience of wildlife and journey through leg 3.

Sarah, our documentary director and producer, and us earlier today!

Sarah, our documentary director and producer, and us earlier today!

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