World Championships 2016 - From Calgary to Poland
Its been a whirlwind first week of travel and training so please forgive the late first blog post.
And it begins...
After what has seemed like the longest training camp in recorded history, I am in Sweden. FINALLY. The last 2 months have been intense. We increased our training frequency to make more time for one on one work, running, hitting pads etc. It was really nice because I felt like a professional athlete for the first time in my life. Muay Thai has very much been my job for the last 8 weeks and I loved it. Don't get me wrong. It was hard as fu*k, but it was awesome.
My typical day looked like this:
- 6am Wake up to the yells of my hungry cats
- 6:30am Drink ALL THE COFFEE
- 7-10am Working with my awesome clients at Vita Fitness (shout out!!)
- 10:30-11:30am Meditate
- 11:30 Light Lunch
- 12-1pm Glorious pre-training nap to save my ass
- 2:30-4pm Run to the gym, small group training, run everywhere else like a crazy runner person
- 4:30 Eat, rest, email, random cat based activities such as throwing string, belly rubs
- 6:30-9:30 Run back to the gym, skip, shadow box, bag work, pads, sparring, clinching and getting hit with the discipline stick should I take too long to do any of the aforementioned
- 10:00pm Late dinner of ridiculously healthy foods
- 11:00 Hit the HAY
Our Calgary based Team Canada athletes, consisting of me, Hilary Herman, Jessica Glasdstone and Melissa Reaume,..along with Kru Artur Nowacki, left for Europe on May 11th. The actual IFMA World Championship Tournament does not officially start until well, yesterday, but we wanted to head over early to shake off the jet lag, finish training AND….meet Art's mom Maria.
We flew from Calgary to Amsterdam, then Amsterdam to Berlin. From Berlin we called "some Polish guy" that Art's sister set us up with and he drove us to Szczecin, Poland. As soon as we got into Szczecin the history lessons from Art began which I loved.
This city is very interesting, especially if you like old things (which I do) and cool architecture (which I do). I wish I had more time so I could take more pictures.
Essentially it is a mixture of pre-war buildings that are beautiful but took a shit kicking during the war and were never repaired, plain jane concrete communist era buildings, reclaimed buildings that are painted crazy colours and ultra modern buildings. Beautiful insanity.
We checked in our hotel, the Park Hotel, which I would highly recommend if you ever find yourself in Poland.
THE. BEST. COFFEE. IN. MY. LIFE.
Like no joke. I drank so much coffee that the severs thought I was actually nuts. The breakfast there was also to die for. Its a shame that I had to monitor my food intake so much with the upcoming weigh ins because I would have CRUSHED that breakfast buffet if I could.
We had a great few days in Szczecin training at Linke Gold Team Pozan. Art knew the guy that owns the gym. They train JiuJitsu and MMA, so there was lots of mat space as well as a heavy bag for us. We trained two times a day for the 3 days were were there. Lighter sessions in the morning and then longer harder sessions in the afternoon. We were all battling jet lag so in some sessions we would have energy and others we would all feel like a bag of smashed a$$holes. But we all got better and stronger after each training session so despite what we felt like, Art was happy with our performances.
Despite the jet lag, we did try and get out to see some of what Szczecin has to offer. Hilary, Mel and I took a cab down to the Central Cemetery. It was established in 1901 and is the largest cemetery in Poland and the 3rd largest in Europe, spanning 167.8 hectares. It has over 300,000 graves and is still growing and is a legally protected national monument.
It was beautiful. It is a mixture of a natural park, monuments, architecturally gorgeous chapels, winding roads and of course many many graves. I have never really spent much time in a cemetery but what stuck out for me was how well taken care of the ENTIRE place was. While we were there, we saw so many people bringing flowers and candles to their loved ones. People sitting in silence. And many people cleaning the graves. Washing the headstones, raking up the leaves and even planting and maintaining flowers and greenery around the sites of their loved one.
It was also really sad. Art told us (as we couldn't read any of the signs that were set up throughout the cemetery) that during the war, 1 in 5 Polish people were killed. 20% of the population. We walked through the military section and saw all the unmarked graves. The cemetery also had special sections for people who died at sea, unborn children and concentration camp victims.
The last night we were in Szczecin was really special. We took an adventurous little road trip to Art's home town to have dinner with his family. We got another history lesson about the area which was hilarious, crazy, cool and at times slightly terrifying. He told us stories about "treasure" hunting with his friends in abandoned bunkers and tunnels that were built by the Germans in the war.
And then we made it to his house where we had THE BEST MEAL since landing in Europe. His mom made Polish Pancakes, cabbage/tomato/cucumber salad, stewed chicken, rice and potatoes.
I tried one pancake and it was delicious. I asked Maria if she would share the recipe with me so I can make then at home (and gluten free!) and she said YES. I am super stoked to have this recipe in my collection.
It was so nice to have a home cooked meal before heading to Sweden. We got lots of hugs, well wishes, clean laundry and I scored a bag of walnuts from the tree in the backyard. Oh and lots of laughs too. So many laughs. And then we were on our way...
I am attempting to make a few video of our adventures so here is the first one. I hope you enjoy Episode 1.