I was going to write a day-to-day report of my trip to Tours but that would be quite boring to read and would only make sense if you could see the places I was describing. Instead I'm just going to mention a few important things and keep it short.
I had high expectations of the trip but the reality far surpassed those hopes. In short it was the most progressive week in my training so far and I really pushed myself, especially mentally. I've come home with a greater understanding of what I should be focusing on, how to deal with fears, how to let my body adapt to new obstacles, how to trust my instincts and how to teach others. The most important thing I did during the week was to bring my mental level in tune with my technical and physical capacities. I feel much more comfortable knowing exactly what I can do and what I can't yet.
A great deal was learnt from training and spending time with Thomas and I thank him for everything he said and showed me but also for everything he didn't say - to allow me work certain things out for myself. He found a great way of communicating with me when I was thinking too much about a new jump, sometimes using encouragement and sometimes helping me to become angry at the obstacle. He said just enough and just the right things to help change my mindset and 'flick the switch to green'.
I wish to also thank his mother for the incredible hospitality, I can't begin to describe how appreciated it was (Hi to Nemo and Nissy too!).
The highlight of the week for me, and perhaps both of us, was a jump to a tree that was rooted in a wide and fast-flowing river. The conditions were very difficult with no way to test the landing surfaces, the stability or grip of the tree. The take off was less than great too, with wet leaves and an unstable ground that threatened to fall in to the river at any moment. We made a decision to go for it and after a lot of mental battling we both made it to the tree and back without falling in. To face a jump in such difficult conditions with a real incentive for not messing up was refreshing to me and I felt so alive when I caught the branch I aimed for. The jump was not particularly big and the video really does not do it justice, but it will forever hold a special place in my mind for being the greatest obstacle I overcame during my trip to Tours.
Other notable moments worth a mention included a long and arduous off-ground challenge that truly tested a wide range of technical and physical elements (kudos to Thomas who did the vast majority of it with 4 litres of water and a camera in a backpack!) and a really tough finger shimmy on a tough rounded ledge that had my forearms in spasms and my heart racing!
We only filmed a small portion of what we got up to and even then it was mainly single techniques and small technical movements. Although it is not at all a fair representation of the excellent week, I've put together 7 minutes of the best footage to share with people, hope you enjoy it.