Ecstatic and a little bit tired. That covered my feelings on the plane home from Valencia after the GB women's hockey team had won a gold medal in the World League semi-finals AND - more significantly qualified for the Olympics in Rio. It came on the back of a long season where my club Surbiton, incredibly went undefeated in the Investec Premier League. Being a professional hockey player, you don't expect fame and fortune but it's been a surreal year for club and country. In particular, to achieve seven wins out of seven in the world league was extraordinary. We'd never done that before and - guess what - when we got back to the locker room after our final victory against China, the physio had laid out a special treat for us. Ice baths.
We politely declined. All of us except Helen Richardson-Walsh who has just returned from a whole year out with a back injury. Due to a late meal and an early flight we only had about three hours sleep and we weren't even partying.
In fact, party mode rarely comes into it when you're chasing the pinnacle - an Olympic medal. There's no let up at all and it's a testimony to Danny Kerry, our coach, and to us that we played so well in Spain. We trained so hard. A month beforehand, we went out to Valencia to gear up for the tournament. We called it "Death Camp". Between hockey training, extra running and proper matches against Spain, we hardly paused for breath. But there's a reason for that. So when you're dying in the last minutes of competitive matches, you know you'll get through it and your team mates will get through it.
At the Olympics in London we were convinced we were the fittest team there. Maybe others thought that too. It's not really the fact of it that matters. It's what you believe on the pitch. And this time our belief made us unbeatable.
Hockey right now is all encompassing in my life. Eating, drinking, sleeping, you have to think about them all. Yes, we have horrible training sessions but in a masochistic way we sort of enjoy them - although not always at the time! And if we have a rest day, we rest because we know the next day of training could murder us. Money doesn't come into it. I just love being part of a team, all digging in to do it together. We have a set goal and we're working towards it. Day in, day out, we have to take care of ourselves.
In definite need of some sun and relaxation I'm off away on holiday to Morocco, although not in fact with my boyfriend, Iain. He's currently out in Belgium with the men's GB hockey squad trying to qualify for Rio and fingers and toes are crossed both GB hockey teams will be competing out there next year.
I currently live in Fulham and commute out to Bisham Abbey for training every day. I like it that way. It helps me to have a bit of an escape from all things hockey. But apart from seeing friends occasionally, between training, sleeping and travelling, there's still not that much time to do anything else. Having studied alongside hockey for a number of years it has been a relief to have completed my law degree and LPC and I've been very lucky to have secured a training contract with London law firm, Bird & Bird.
When the time comes I look forward to a different challenge. And I will definitely not miss those ice baths.Suggest a correction