I have to confess, it's a very, very long time since I did any serious memory-training. Tonight I did something that is part of my regular practice routine when I'm practicing regularly, but which I don't think I've done at all since the WMC last October - memorised 1500 binary digits in as quick a time as possible. When my brain's up to speed, I can do it in a bit under 8 minutes with a passable level of accuracy in the recall (four or five lines out of the fifty with mistakes, that kind of area). Tonight it took me 10:42.88.
This is horrible, but it's not unexpected. I know I'll snap back into my usual form when I've done it a couple more times, but when I haven't practiced for a while, my thought processes just slow down - it's not that I find it more difficult to remember what the image for 1110010111 is or that I struggle to make a mental picture out of it, it's just that my mind wanders and starts going off on tangents, and I have to drag myself back down to the mental story I'm supposed to be telling. It's nice to be confident that my times are going to increase by leaps and bounds the next few times I try this exercise, but it's frustrating that I'll have to work hard to get back to the level I was at last year before I can keep going and improve my personal best.
But it's nearly the start of the memory season! New York and Cardiff will put me back in the mood, I'm sure, and then I'll be back into training nearly nightly, exchanging memory-technique ideas with other memorisers with much more enthusiasm than I am at the moment, catching up on the latest buzz from the world of competitions, finding out what rule-changes Gunther has been lobbying for all winter and objecting to them, all the joys of memory!
It really is a LOT harder to motivate myself while I'm the world champion, but I'm pleased to report I'm much more in the zone right now, out of practice though I am, than I was back in 2005. Who knows, if I keep it up I might stand half a chance this year...