HOEK TOT HELDER CHALLENGE
Every year the Dutch Heart Foundation organizes a 130k downwinder at the Dutch Coastline to create awareness for their research and to collect money for their foundation. We like to support this initiative and therefore there is always a Girlzactive rider joining the challenge, this year we invited Sanne Durieux to be our main girl!
This saturday the wind window will open and it looks like she needs to hit the water straight away, but is she ready?
Want to support Sanne and the Heart foundation? *DO IT* All donations are more than welcome.
HOW SANNE PREPARES HERSELF FOR THE CHALLENGE OF 130K:
I remember it as the day of yesterday: Tuesday morning April 17th and I subscribe for thé Hoek tot Helder. Immediately I order the sweater and the t-shirt: you always have to get the t-shirt to show you were there. But then, what’s next? How do you even prepare for a 130 km downwinder?
So I decide to just train every day. No long hours of revolutionary activities, but 45 minutes of exercises, cycling or when lucky: kitesurfing. I remembered participating in a workshop which taught me about ‘don’t break the chain’. Small steps all together make for one great journey. And hopefully my journey leads to the final destination Den Helder!
Also, I booked a trip to Dakhla with GirlzActive in order to work om my kitesurfing skills. Toeside is a definite must when going downwind and also, I needed to get comfortable with strong winds. Luckily, I learned something new every day, boosting my confidence. And that’s why, by the end of the week, I had started to believe these 130 km should be within reach!?
Back in the Netherlands meant going back to my motto ‘don’t break the chain’ and stretching it. Every day I choose to challenge myself: lifting heavier weights, doing more difficult exercises or cycling longer distances. I started to feel really fit and stronger day by day! A great and addictive feeling! As a consequence I got curious about what else I could do: what kind of foods to eat, not drinking alcohol, taking enough rest. Everything I thought was useful was added to my plan. Keeping my eye on the final destination!
And that’s when the pre-briefing arrived. My well built self confidence started to struggle. I felt getting very small and thought me participating in this downwinder was just very naïve. How could I have ever thought these 130 km were something I was ready for?! I started seeing only obstacles like big waves, strong currents and longitudinal dykes. I realised ‘fear’ had been a very powerful motivation, but could be paralysing at the same time. And I had to get rid of this sentiment, as soon as possible.
I started looking for someone experienced in mental challenges. I needed answers on how to deal with challenges that seem impossible? How to stay confident and positive when nerves get you? How to plan ‘being at your best at the right moment’, even when you are not exactly sure when that will be. So I made a phone call to Gijs, and he put me in contact with Filippo and Michiel. Two very experienced kitesurfers who could tell me all about this specific downwinder and even took the time to go kitesurfing with me! Luckily, my self confidence grew back on me.
One more thing that would really support me, was completing a lengthy downwinder. So my buddies and I scheduled for one on a very windy day. I hoped this experience would further boost my confidence, but nothing was less true. It turned out to be one big disappointment. I only reached Scheveningen and could take public transport back home. Almost bare feet.
What had I gotten myself into? Was I still going to participate? Maybe I wasn’t experienced enough after all.. I started to doubt myself again! However, there was one thing I did not want to forget: big things always start with taking small steps.
And this journey which has started as a homage to my late cousin Bart, would always be a homage to Bart. Me participating will not be successful because of reaching the final destination, and getting the medal. Me participating will be successful, because every day again I said ‘yes’ to committing myself. This journey shows me how every day we have a choice: you could join, or you could quit. Work-out or sleep in. Whenever you commit yourself for weeks, you start to feel the flow. This flow makes committing yourself easier every day, until you don’t realise it anymore. You don’t remember quitting alcohol, or skipping festivals. Experiencing ‘flow’ works isolating and strengthening at the same time.
Unfortunately, the contrary exists as well: the downward spiral. But especially then it’s important to remember you have a choice: do I commit, or do I pull out? Life is short, so make your decision every day again in order to make sure these small steps contribute to something big and positive! Whatever the final destination.0