My last session at Salford Quays this morning, and I decided to go out with a bang, if I could. I am not a morning person, but I knew if I wanted to achieve anything significant I needed at least a couple of hours, so I was in the water at 9am today. My confidence was quite high - no messing about, no worrying about form or fretting about getting in peoples' way - just get in, and get it done. Find the flow.
One lap of the long course is 750m. My PB there was two laps, so 1.5km. I gave myself a range of options depending on the conditions and the fact my arms were still fairly sore from resuming lifting the other night - 2 laps was "maintenance", 3 laps an open water PB so "acceptable improvement", 4 laps "pretty good" as that was 3km equivalent to my pool PB, 5 laps "don't stop now!!". Anywhere between 4-5.5 laps was in my sights when I saw the weather was calm and the Quays still pretty warm (the water was 17oC but an intermittently stiff wind and cloud cover made the air temp around 11oC, and you really notice the difference). It all depended on how well my body, particularly my shoulders, held up at that point. I really wanted to track my time over two miles because Great North Swim at Windermere has a cut-off of 1hr 45 for that distance, but if I had the time and energy I wanted to get to 2.4miles or 3.86km - the swim distance for an Ironman Tri; known on Fitocracy as "Iron Fish". According to Total Immersion, a distance of 3.1 miles or 5k is equivalent to running a half marathon, so I guess Iron Fish is like a 10km run.
It was...not easy, but surprisingly far less painful than I'd thought it would be. No doubt I'll feel it tomorrow! As people have said to me about running, the first mile was the most difficult physically, but I felt settled in after two laps with plenty in the tank and little pain. Laps three and four were significantly easier, I got a great little earworm to keep me going and I was generally doing ok. Checked my watch for "time elapsed" at the end of lap four and was startled to see it was 1hr 26, same as my pool 3km time - and better still, I had a good 40mins of the session left. Knowing my average laptime was about 21mins today, I set off again to complete one more lap and a lap of the short course to make absolutely sure of hitting the Iron Fish distance. It felt a lot slower but actually didn't vary a great deal from previous times, and the last short course lap had to be pushed out pretty quick - I wasn't the last out, but the safety boat had parked itself across the course to stop anyone trying for a long course lap! At no point did I get my stupid "you can't do it" voice in my head and I am really pleased about that because now I have serious fuel to shut it up with next time I go for a run. I found lots of flow - not for long periods, but enough that I'd suddenly think "ooh, my arms are just flying along without me doing anything there" and noticing that my legs would take over for a while when my shoulders needed a rest.
And done. I was definitely weary and a bit wobbly when I got out, and I'd had an odd sensation of tingling lips over the last 0.5km or so - I thought some of my hair had escaped my swimming cap at first, but I read later this can be a sign of low blood sugar. That would make sense as I just grabbed a cereal bar in the car this morning rather than face a bowl of porridge. I'll know to stoke up better next time - I don't handle breakfast well and worry about being sick, but I can manage some porridge usually. I snagged a brioche and a hot chocolate after getting changed and it went straight away, so I'm not worried.
I'm guessing a handful of you reading this will tease me about swimming the Channel - let me say here and now: NEVER HAPPEN. 90% of people who try it fail because of the currents and it doesn't make sense for me, as a mum of two little girls, to even think about it. I'll just admire from a distance (and maybe wonder idly about taking part in a relay...). But there are long distances out there that I want to try - next up is 5km, of course, which I'll knock out in the pool for Swimathon next year, if not before, and Great East has a 5km open water wave if I can get down there some time. I may attempt all five Great Swims in the same year. The next Fitocracy quest for swimming is "Marine Marathon", that's 10km, and there are several lake swims available (one being Bala in Wales, which I've always loved). And there's cross-Windermere, of course, at 10.3 miles. I may never manage any of those past 5km, but they're within my range if I work hard. Before any of that, though, I need to get my speed up to be within the cut-off times, and that's going to take quite some work.
One thing's for sure. I may never be competitive. I may never be fast. But I can endure.
Oh, you want to know what my earworm was? Have a laugh...:)