Monday, 16 May 2016

Change of Plan

Stephen Hawking. Smart guy.

So. On Sunday morning I woke up with the very clear idea that I'd taken the Ullswater swim off my mental calendar; that I didn't want to train for a big swim at all this year and I just wanted to do Coniston for fun (preferably a bit faster but eh). I've been rolling the idea around in my head for weeks, but it seemed to have crystallised. I took myself off to Sale for a training session that afternoon and spent a good hour and a half (and 3.6km) in the water at 12-14oC thinking about it. Today I spent about the same amount of time invigilating an exam (one-to-one rather than pacing a roomful of students, which is about as yawn-inducing as you imagine), thinking about it again.

You're not allowed to read or write notes while you're invigilating, but this is what my list would look like:

  • It's the next logical step between Bala and Windermere.
  • It's a point-to-point swim, which I prefer because you're not tortured by the lap-counting.
  • It's only a mile further than Bala, which should be within my capabilities.

  • I haven't found a kayaker I know and trust to come with me
  • I can't afford to stay over so I'd have to drive the distance there and back in the same day.
  • Hazel tells me it's cold; so does Patrick (by cold, we're talking about 14-15C on average), and I can only get to open water once a week, which is usually warmer. I'm not going to build the exposure I need in the pool.
  • My neck, shoulder, elbow and wrist still aren't right - I'm getting better at managing it but I have no idea how far I can push it. Cold makes the RSI worse.
  • I've got this ruddy great run to train for in September; the logistics of fitting the long runs in around the next four weeks of invigilation and then the kids being off for Summer are very difficult already without needing 3hrs at the pool twice a week plus open water.
  • I trained a lot Jan-Mar and I am sick of the pool. Any pool. The smell, the people, the fuss and the loneliness of training in a public session have really got to me.
  • When the kids are off, I have to train in the evenings. That means I virtually never get to spend any decent time with my other half - it's bad enough between his work and my other commitments as it is. 
  • I lose out on other things I enjoy; reading, yoga, making stuff, gaming, cuddling my aged cat. Not to mention sitting down to eat at tea time with my kids, and actually eating decent meals. Last year I managed my Bala training by dint of dropping the kids at home at 6pm after their lesson, then going straight off to a different pool and swimming til 10pm, grabbing a Starbucks on the way home because it was too late to cook anything by then. Not healthy.
  • I haven't improved my speed since last year. Even given perfect conditions, there's no way I'll make 7mi in less than five hours. That's a long time at that temp. Poor conditions could make it more like six and I will get pulled out at that point.
  • Have I said how much I hate the pool?
Big difference, huh. It just doesn't make logical sense to commit to a longest swim this year when you look at that list. The Lakes aren't going anywhere, though. I could do it next year. I could leave Windermere for many years, in fact - maybe when the girls are old enough to look after themselves through the summer holidays. Maybe I could leave it til I've done my black belt. Maybe in twenty years, when I've retired and can train whenever I like! I'm in good health and from a particularly long-lived maternal line; it's entirely possible I'll still be doing silly distances well into my 70s.

Is it giving up, quitting, not suffering through the training? Nah. As the quote above says, it's intelligent to be flexible, and I haven't said I'll never do it - just not this year. I'm not at all heartbroken at the idea; in fact I feel positively gleeful about being able to relax into the swimming season and enjoy a really lovely lake swim in July. I might sign up for some shorter swims in different lakes - I've always fancied a lap of Buttermere, for example. It also takes the pressure off the run training - if I can't get out one day, I can go another without worrying about pool time. Likewise I can be more flexible with karate if necessary and possibly have some other adventures (I really want to go to SUP Yoga again). I can also, hopefully, let my shoulder heal properly, because damn I am sick of these headaches.

The only person I'm racing against is myself, after all, and I'm not going to give myself a lot of competition if I'm bored, resentful, poorly nourished, lonely and in pain.