Monday, 1 July 2013

One Great Swim, Two Good Swims

I did it! I've just been too lazy to write it up. And in some ways, still processing the swim at Windermere even now as it was such a different challenge.

So, some facts about the day:
  • It was well organised - busy, but we were able to park, get the ferry and bus to Low Wood and still have a bit of time to get oriented, arrange meeting points and so on. We did leave quite early in the morning, though, padding in enough time for getting lost, delayed and travel sickness.
  • The kids had a great time. There were things to do, faces to be painted, ice-cream to be had. It was an expensive day out once you'd factored in petrol, parking, ferry and bus for four, plus snacks (we'd taken a small picnic but you know, ice cream) and entertainment on top of the entrance fee and mandatory wetsuit.
  • The weather was settled and warm without being too hot, and the wind had dropped which was a relief after the pictures from the previous day! It wasn't quite mill-pond-still but close.
  • Water temp was 15.5oC, though I felt it was a little warmer in the shallows.
  • I completed the two miles in 1hr 29mins. This is 9mins slower than my average pool time, but I went badly off-course at one point in the second mile which probably explains at least some of that. My first mile was 42mins.
  • It was fantastic to have A and the girls waiting for me as I came up the exit ramp (and to get my glasses back straight away!). You feel so exhilarated after finishing and it was wonderful to be able to share that. I'm a little sad they won't be at Manchester in a couple of weeks since it clashes with karate.
  • Windermere isn't as clear water as Salford and it tastes different too. That made me more aware of being thirsty and I need to examine my attitude to hydration before I do anything longer.
  • I have a lot to learn about sighting. Foggy goggles were a big issue as I hadn't wanted to risk anything new, and I was grateful for the kayaker who got me back on course! I think something which would help at these events is to have different coloured buoys at each position because I sighted on the wrong yellow buoy at the end of the first mile - the 200m rather than the 100m - and cut a corner. For this event it was ok but in a race I'd have been disqualified. The major turns were big orange triangles which was a huge help.
  • I wish someone had told me drift was a problem. The return leg of the course was in the shallows (no more than 1.5m deep and less than that in most places) and I really found I was being pushed into the shore even with hardly any chop and a light breeze. That was frustrating and it was hard to make progress. There were many, many times I thought I wasn't making any progress at all but was actually overcompensating. Drift is not something I encounter at Salford Quays unless there's a really stiff wind, so it just goes to show what a different beastie lake swimming is. I wish I'd had a GPS as my course pattern would have been hilarious!
  • Everything worked fine together - suit, watch, timing chip and so on. My cap was starting to slip in the last 400m or so, which was annoying - there were a lot lost in the shallows so I guess I wasn't the only one having issues. There was plenty of room to change and a shower to rinse my suit, too.
  • Mentally, the first mile was as hard as ever, with the additional pressure of having to learn the course. The outbound leg of the second mile was the best bit, once I was back on course - I knew where to go, I'd settled into a rhythm, and the following wave caught up so I was able to draft a bit off the faster swimmers. I was also able to overtake the people from my own wave who'd started out too fast and got tired. That was a nice boost. The final half-mile was hard going with the drift but wow, what a feeling to finish under my target time of 1hr 30 (even if it was only just!).
  • The post-race goodie bag was mostly nice - good t-shirt and medal; I was saddened to find it included Nestle products, though, and I do wish sports event organisers would think very much harder about partnering with this company. Here's why.
  • Pancakes are excellent post-swim food.
  • It took me four days to feel like I'd recovered! Ridiculous. Shows how unfit I've got.
So that was my big swim of the season and I'm now contemplating Coniston end-to-end next year with Chill Swim, which is 5.25 miles. I can't do it this year as it's expensive, I'm undertrained and it clashes with Great North Run anyway (which could be an issue next year as well depending on how well A gets on with GNR as an event). I'd love to do it with a group, probably swimming for a small charity, and there are quite a few people from USWIM and Accrington Wild Swimmers talking about it at the moment. Fingers crossed.

The following weekend I was back at Salford, of course.

Great session on 22nd - it looks awful from that photo but it was beautifully warm, at least 17oC-18oC. There was a stiff wind with some really fun and interesting chop - you get some good cross-currents around the bridge - and it'd stirred up the weeds a bit, so not as clear as usual. It smelled like the sea (which is definitely weird in such an urban setting). I did three 750m laps, so 2.25km altogether. I was pleased with that and had more in the tank, so I really need to get my bum out of bed earlier to get more laps in. Averaging 22min/lap at the moment, so slow, but ok. It was mad busy with Great Manchester Swim just round the corner, and of course triathlon season is upon us as well.

A view of the set-up for the USWIM event this Saturday (29th June) - I wasn't able to stay for it this time but it looked very busy and sounded like it was a success! I need to check dates for the next one but looking at the finishing times I think I'd be ok to enter the 3.8km or 5km distances if I get a few good swims in over the next month or so. I did 3km this week (4 laps) but I was terribly slow, averaging 24mins/lap - awful. I haven't figured out why, either - again, sighting is poor and for some reason I seemed to be lurching towards the walls rather than keeping tightly to the course. Baffling. I think my technique has properly gone to pot and several of the folks I know from winter training were also lamenting not having that Masters-level group over the summer.

On the other hand I have a partial solution to the fogging goggles, using a watered-down squirt of baby shampoo. It's still a problem on the right, so I suspect I have a slow leak and will replace the lenses once I've had an eye test. Overall I'm pleased with the distance I did and will be looking to up that to 5-6 laps by the end of July once various events are over. Two more sessions before GMS and hopefully I'll get some pool laps and maybe a few runs in beforehand.

I was pleased to spot Ella as I left Salford on Saturday - she's a Channel-aspirant and was doing a 6hr charity swim that day (I left my GNS cap in her bucket for the bunting she's making). She was the only one in at that point and I stopped to admire her stroke - so calm and smooth even after all that time. I can only dream of such control. Maybe one day!

Last bit of news - Eldest Daughter got her 9th kyu this weekend, so she's now a white belt with yellow tip. She's very pleased and we're very proud, of course!