The Olympics are over, in case you hadn’t noticed. For me, it’s finally beginning to sink in. Rushing home after work, sweaty palms fumbling the remote, feverishly stabbing buttons and turning on the TV to find…the One Show. Confused, I hit the red nodule of joy. “There must be some badminton on BBC 9. Maybe some water polo at least.” Alas, no. It has been a truly incredible ride though. A city, and a world, united by sport for two glorious weeks. Apart from the bits where people are fighting wars or being oppressed. I like to think arms were laid down and dictators cut their people some slack for the final of the Kieran, but it’s unlikely. There is a thread of guilt running through our national psyche, which makes us quite uncomfortable with shouting about our achievements but for a short while we have been able to shake off our colonial hangover and revel in the feats of some remarkable human beings. And we came third in the medal table. And London didn’t collapse. At the risk of sounding gushing, I will never forget London 2012. I have had the Olympic logo tattooed onto my face.
And now the elite sportsmen and women of the world that we have all shouted to glory over the past fortnight will have their nuclear cores removed, be placed back in their foam-lined carrying cases and be returned to storage until the next time they are needed, in Rio Di Janeiro in 2016. It’s amazing to think that they train so hard and see the sun only once every four years. Amazing, but true. Goodbye humans+, the people of Earth will miss you. And goodbye to the army of 70,000 smiling Olympic volunteers who have done their country proud. They will now hand in their remaining supply of happy pills and head back down into the vast holding cavern underground where they will remain dormant, silent and waiting. Perhaps if a foreign invader ever threatens our shores they will be activated once again, to direct the marching aggressor towards our seat of power with a cheery wave.
I have revelled in the constant displays of skill and determination, and the powerful human stories that have emerged onto our screens daily. However, the comedown need not last for long. For an even more captivating example of the strength of the human spirit and triumph over adversity, look no further than the Paralympic Games. They start on 29 August.
So, now the nation has gone cold turkey from the athletic smorgasbord and commuters sit pale and sweaty on the tube, shaking in the throes of withdrawal from their daily fix of viewing physical excellence. But for me, one addiction persists; coffee. Mother Nature’s pick-me-up and mood enhancer. Legend has it that a goat herd in ancient times observed his charges becoming unusually animated after eating berries fallen from a certain bush. Humans were not slow to follow suit, and now we have Starbucks. Damn you, goats. In a former life, I trained as a barista in a delightful organic establishment where the tables were wiped with hemp rags and the biodynamic placenta cakes cost £9.50. I won’t pretend to know what I’m talking about though because I was fired. Something about my ‘aura’, apparently. I’m no expert, just an enthusiast, but I find my morning cafetiere ritual so enjoyable that I even get excited about it the night before.
‘Only one more sleep until I can have a fresh coffee’ I think to myself, disturbingly.
And when I’m filling the kettle and spooning the grounds from the packet, wallowing in the rich aroma of Hot Lava Java straight from the fridge, I hum a little ditty to myself, to the tune of T-spoon’s epoch defining ‘Sex on the Beach’:
‘I’m gonna get high on the bean. I’m gonna get high on the bean’
Ah, the novelty song made up to soundtrack one’s own life. What a dull existence it would be without this niche musical genre.
My diet has been affected positively by the regular, or relentless, triathlon training. I have always eaten reasonably healthily, barring the 3 am pile in at Chicken Cottage, but exercising for 8 hours a week has made me consider carefully everything that I put into my body. Dairy and wheat are now almost entirely absent from my life and this is not because I have any allergies or read a book but I just feel better without them. Bread and cheese are hard to digest and they make me slow and sluggish so, despite my profound love of cheddar, I've taken a hiatus from doorstep sandwiches filled with mouldy milk. I was very proud to tell my sister (who is studying for a naturopathy degree, my guru if you will) that I had swapped cow juice for the soya alternative. To précis her response – ‘You’ll grow breasts and the world will end’.
And I've since found out it’s true. If you don’t believe me, Google it. Luckily there are various alternative alternatives and I have opted for oat milk, which in no way detracts from the enjoyment of my morning cup of black gold, and I can now confidently attribute any increase in the size of my pectorals to the regular swimming.
There is one pitfall of the caffeine kick-start, and that is the effect it has on one’s digestive system. When getting up early and heading straight to the pool, the sudden activation of the lower regions can be most inconvenient. Three lengths in and ‘Woah…’
Most people pee in the pool, they’ll deny it, but most probably do. Going any further than this is entirely unacceptable, as I found out the other day when I…
Not really, but I do hope I don’t experience this on the day of the triathlon or I will be creating a David Walliams situation all of my own.
I am going to try on wetsuits this weekend. I am predicting the experience will be hot, sweaty, unpleasant and expensive. Check back to find out.