Vancouver, Washington

Only 4 days since I hit the road, and already I’m falling apart.

The week got off to a great start – I was feeling fit, healthy, and excited about doing my presentation to the 900-strong sales force for my title sponsors, Brocade. On Tuesday I was shown the venue where I would be speaking. “Wow, it’s enormous,” I said, looking at row after row of delegates’ tables stretching into the distance.

“Hang on,” said Michael Klayko, the CEO. “They’ve put the partitions across. They’ll be taking those away tomorrow.” Turns out the room was actually twice as large as ‘enormous’. Gulp.

But in fact it went really well. I’d prepared carefully, including numerous run-throughs in front of the mirror in my room, and the hard work seemed to pay off.

Ogilvy PR had put together a very good 5-minute video to introduce me to the audience – and that alone got a standing ovation, before I’d even said a word. After my presentation I was overwhelmed by the number of people who came up to me to tell me they’d found it ‘inspiring’, or to say that they’d been following my adventures online. A speaker couldn’t have wished for a nicer crowd.

I left San Francisco the next day, after the gala dinner that marked the end of the conference. On Thursday night I stayed with the new friends I’d made in Eureka when I unexpectedly landed up there after the Coast Guard airlift in August. And last night I stayed with Mick Bird and his family – Mick is the only other rower to have crossed the Pacific by the same route that I am taking. It has been a fun week, but now I’ve been partying for 3 nights in a row, and I’m flagging…

And somewhere in the course of my travels I have picked up a germ, and now my sinuses and throat are sore. I’m taking time off from training and am gulping down Vitamin C drinks in a last-ditch attempt to fend off a full-blown cold. Tomorrow I fly to Hawaii, inhaling germs from the aeroplane’s recycled air for several hours, which is far from ideal. I arrive in the middle of my friend Mariya’s birthday celebrations – yet another party. My next presentation is on Monday, to a group of Girl Scouts, so I hope I still have a voice by then.

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