Monday, 24 May 2010

Sun, Sea and Six

Sometimes I feel like everything and everyone is scheming against me and my training plans, other occasions prove that I am actually very lucky.I have to admit I am sick and tired of working shifts especially nights. However, if I didn't do so, some of training would certainly prove to be impossible.

This last week has been one such week where work patterns and child care has fallen into place allowing me to do something I have never managed previously.

It all started on Wednesday 19th when I met newbie Sea swimmer 'John F' at my regular swim location of Seaton Carew, this was the second visit with John, we agreed that I would enter the water first, swim forty minutes or so, then be joined for the remainder of the swim and exit together on completion. The sea that day was relatively flat, my watch was measuring the temperature as 51F and I completed my first hour in the sea for 2010. John swam a creditable 22 minutes...well done John.

Next day Thursday 20th I attended again on what was a a glorious day, I initially had a very pleasant amble through the sand dunes, south of the usual swim area to scout out the feasibility of swimming the full route to the North Gare, it looked possible albeit only at high water, and the distance looked massive so I will be saving that one for later in the year. Having admired the view and taken time to make the most of the the weather I headed to the customary workplace for my swim. All was well, the sea was flat, the sun was shining HOWEVER after 40 minutes I stood on something, I thought it was a hard spiky rock or similar, the pain was unbearable, my right foot throbbed and began to redden and swell. After a warm drink I decided to head home and clean up before having a good look at the injury. On the short drive home the pain became more intense to the extent that I went directly to hospital. Once in accident and emergency I was informed I had stood on a weever fish I received pain killers anti inflammatory and a soak in boiling water with added vinegar. After discharge my foot continued to swell so much that I could not wear shoes. The pain subsided however it remains tender and stiff.

Friday 21st I hobbled back to Seaton on yet another superb day of sunshine, the sea was literally like glass, and so clear I could to the bottom which is very very rare, I swam for another 60 minutes at what the watch indicated to be 54-55F.

Saturday 22nd I was due to start work at 3pm so I headed across earlier than normal where I had again arranged to meet John F, there had been some confusion so I was alone as I dived in.... after about forty minutes I spotted John breast stroking towards me, we chatted very briefly before I finished another 62 minutes this time at 52F. I was cold towards the end probably due to stopping and chatting but very happy to have completed my planned hour. Lucky we had attended early as the Jet skiers were now out in force, it would have been suicide to swim with those nutters blasting up and down the coast.

I didn't expect to train Sunday 23rd as a result of which I was in a little bit of a grump, I think I was having withdrawal symptoms, however my luck continued when KGB took Charlie out for an hour allowing  a quick dash to the coast and a 40 minute sprint. My recovery was the best yet and I drove home in a tee shirt due to the amazing weather we are experiencing.

Monday 24th the weather first thing had taken a slight down turn, it was breezy and sea looked bumpy, I was tossed around like a cork swimming North, though returning South was much easier, I was working hard today and was delighted to complete another 62 minutes at a steady 53F.

To summarise a week of glorious sunshine, six days succesive sea swims, 4 x 1 hour and 2 x 40 minutes.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

River Nene 5km OSS Swim (FINISH)

River Nene 5km Swim

Earlier this week I realised I had a rare weekend off work, with three available days free from child care commitments. Initially, following last weeks trip to Cork, I thought this would be a great opportunity to visit Dover for the first time since September 2008. As the week progressed it became apparent that logistically Dover was going to be a no go. However as one door closes another opens.

I had been in touch with Dan Martin via twitter and he kindly invited me to The River Nene OSS swim near Peterborough, the distance from home was only going to be 170 miles so it was relatively close in comparison to Dover.

Friday afternoon once KGB had finished work we departed south, after some traffic frustration on the A19 we made good progress and arrived shortly after 7:30pm at the Castle Farm Guest House in the village of Fotheringhay . A very peaceful, picturesque location with great history. After unpacking we were collected by Dan who drove us to a nearby pub for introductions to his parents, who were very welcoming to say the least, a lovely couple who seem to run around after the big man all day long! After a good feed and a couple of pints of Guinness we were tucked up and asleep for midnight.

The plan for Saturday was to start the swim at Cotterstock for 11am, swim the 5km stretch to Fotheringhay, refuel by way of a picnic, re warm, then swim another 5km to Elton Lock. As it turned out, due to a couple of late arrivals, the laid back approach to these social swims, and some transport shuttle runs by KGB,  the start didn't actually take place til just before twelve noon.

About a dozen swimmers (half in speedos half in wetsuits) entered the water, it was a little green and murky but flat as a pancake, quite surreal after swimming in the sea on Thursday, it was more like being in a pool. I was last to get into the River as I had waited for KGB to return to the start in order to collect some kit left at the waters edge.
I jumped in the wooden jetty and soon got into my rhythm, I was sighting ahead and soon located another swimmer (Rob) in speedos of a similar pace, we swam together most of the way, the route itself was very scenic though I was not taking a lot of notice as I was more or less flat out! We had a brief stop at Tansor where Dans dad George and some others were on the bank of the river to check on everyone's welfare. The temperature on my watch was 54-55F at this checkpoint, after a few seconds of treading water we all continued on.

Around half way we swam up to a lock where we were required to scramble up a muddy bank to negotiate the obstacle, Rob and I ran around the gravel path to keep warm and dived back in. The water had been, and continued to be very patchy in terms of temperature, at times it felt freezing cold. I didn't hang around to get a reading, I was already swimming hard especially so through the cold spots.
Before long I noticed the Church of St Mary and All Saints in the distance. I knew I was getting close to the picnic stop. Moments later I spotted KGB, she had walked from the start and was taking some great photos. After another ten minutes, 1 hour 20 minutes after jumping in, I reached the cars and exited the water.
There was a great atmosphere as we all had hot drinks, picnic food and laughter. Unfortunately due to the late start we were unable to wait for the restart, so at 3pm we said our goodbyes and thank-yous and made the three hour drive home and back to reality.

Many thanks to Dan (the man mountain as you can see above) for the invite, to all the other OSS swimmers, and to the parents of Dan....George and Sue for their hospitality. Not forgetting KGB for her support, after care and photos. I will definitely return to swim the straight ten km with Dan before the summer is out.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Sandycove for Dan?

Back in December 2009 Ned Denison circulated an email regarding Dan Martins Global Triathlon, the said event was initially due to commence on 8th May this year. Ned suggested that swimmers around the world enter the water at the exact time as Dan to honour the start of his epic endeavour in a show of solidarity. A swim was planned to start at 9am in Sandycove Ireland last Saturday.

As soon as I was aware of this I booked our flight tickets and Ned kindly offered us some accommodation. All set. As luck or rather bad luck would have it, Ned was then required in the States for the 2010 International Swimming Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

Not a problem...I contacted Lisa Cummins (the legend of two way English Channel swim fame) and before long we were booked to stay at the Actons Hotel, Kinsale. Sadly due to the economic situation in the UK some of Dans Sponsors were unable to meet their commitments in terms of financial support, as a result of which the Global Tri is now delayed for a year.
Despite the setbacks it was agreed that we would still visit Ireland as planned, it was after all one of my favourite places and the training would be beneficial for Windermere and future plans.

Friday afternoon KGB and I took the short flight from Newcastle to Cork, on arrival we were met by hailstone storms, suddenly it did not seem like a good idea to be swimming in the sooner had we collected the hire car, that the sky cleared and remained that way for the majority of the weekend. The 20km drive to Kinsale was over in a flash and we were soon settled in the hotel (view from the room above), we had a relaxing evening with an excellent meal at Hobys on Main Street.

Saturday morning and high water at Sandycove was expected for 3pm, we therefore arranged to meet Lisa at the hotel for Lunch beforehand then travel together. Prior to meeting we wandered around town and as usual I grew a little anxious about the coming swim. I exchanged texts with Emma France and ascertained that the solo swimmers training in Dover Harbour had been assigned 60 minutes. I passed this info to Enda Kennedy who was heading to Galway for at least 45 minutes. Well he was doing 30 til I gave him a gentle nudge!

Lisa arrived bang on time we exchanged hugs and began to catch up (it had been two years since we were together) I sat in complete admiration and awe as she answered my questions and told us details of her training and the two way swim the previous summer. You have no idea what massive levels of training Lisa was doing.She is without doubt, unbelievably focused, driven and her mental strength has no boundaries.

Following soup and sandwiches we drove the short distance to Sandycove to find several swimmers including Sylvain (English Channel 2009) already in the water, we chatted with those who had already exited the water and eventually decided to attempt a lap of the Island. Whilst we were getting changed Sylvain swam to the slipway and agreed he would swim another lap with us. Lisa had not swam in the sea this year and tried to pretend (badly) that she was concerned about the water temperature. Sylvain splashing us did nothing for my eagerness.
After much teetering and shrieking we joined Sylvain and headed to corner one, not so bad, yes it was freezing cold but the water was calm enough, until we turned the corner to the familiar walls of water, it was interesting to say the least, difficult to breath, difficult to stroke correctly and almost impossible to sight ahead. Thank goodness for Sylvain he remained in front allowing me to follow in safety. Once we reached corner two it was a different world, I thought Sylvain was taking photos with a small camera he produced from his trunks but it was actually a video! We rode the waves back to the slipway.

I was very pleased with the lap in the slower than normal time of 40 minutes, I had secretly hoped for it to be 45 minutes the same as Enda but it was still a step up from Thursdays 27 at Seaton. Lisa made the tea as we warmed up (she showed not a single sign of a shiver and stood there in a denim mini skirt and vest top laughing like it was the Bahamas!!) We laughed a lot as we chatted and I regained my composure.
That night we dined at The White House (not the Obama residence but a nice pub in Town) drank too much Guinness as usual and I slept like a baby.

Sunday after an easy morning, I studied Lisas swim chart and observers report and we again met at Acton's pre swim.
On arrival at Sandycove, Sylvain stated he was aching from his morning swim in the Inniscarra resevoir but would join us to swim a second lap. Together with Lisa I swam out, again the rear side of the island was tough going, not quite as bad as Saturday but still very difficult. After turning corner three I felt the pace rise and I was flat out to keep up with mermaid Lisa, I could see our escort swimming towards us, after a brief chat the three of us headed off for the second lap. The water temperature was becoming a challenge but I knew it would be all over in no more than forty minutes.  After 1 hour 17 minutes we were back at the slipway, I was and remain very pleased with time in the water which my watch stated was a maximum of 52f.

It took me a while to warm up we laughed just as much as the previous day, after which we had to say our goodbyes head off to the airport and journey home. I had spoken on email with another Cork swimmer called Gabor, he too swims at Sandycove and has an English Channel swim booked for September this year but our paths had not crossed due to his work commitments...So it came as a massive shock when in duty free to be approached by a Hungarian man who introduced himself as Gabor..what were the chances of that..he apparently spotted my CSPF hoody and decided it must be me!

Thankyou so much to Lisa, Sylvain and Ned for making all this happen, we will be back for sure.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Best Yet

Monday as you know was Seaton Sea Swim for 22 mins at 48f, Tuesday work and a Pool session of 4200m mainly 200s and 100s. Wednesday brought another Pool session of 5700m this time my old favourite set, the descending ladder from 1000, 900, 800 etc down to 100 in a slightly better time of ninety two minutes.

Today Thursday 6th May another visit to Seaton in better but not perfect conditions for 27 minutes at a watch reading of 52f. The best outdoor swim of the year thus far my a mile. I am delighted to say the 'ash cloud' has moved into the Atlantic thus we are now geared up and ready to fly to Cork tomorrow afternoon. The target is to swim a lap of the Island on Saturday and whatever Sunday brings.  Fingers crossed.. 

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


Just a brief post...Bank Holiday Monday 3rd May 2010 I finally managed to return to Seaton Carew for another step on this years acclimatisation journey, accompanied by KGBs son Tom who took the photos below, it would have been a great to be a surfer!

I stayed in for 22minutes at what my watch indicated to be 48degrees F. I found it near impossible to get beyond the breakers without having the lifeguards (who have just returned to their duties) being past themselves with worry.
It was actually great fun diving under the waves and fighting a loosing battle with the swell, I occasionally found myself laughing aloud ..I intend to return Thursday for another swim before departing for Cork on Friday (ash cloud permitting)
Thanks Tommy

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Jealous Progress

Today (May 1st) sees the start of the 2010 training at Dover Harbour, I was texting Emma France who stated there was 113 swimmers in the 9 degree water! including 36 Solo English Channel aspirants and 54 relay swimmers, (thanks for the photos Emma) I was feeling quite jealous not being there, though realistically its all a little too soon and the massive drive would not really be worth the short swims at this time of year. That said it would have been great to catch up with Freda and Barrie and the other beach helpers.
Progress has been made in training since my last post, I have had two pool swims worthy of mention, last week  3 x 3500m ..a 10.5km swim taking three hours, the time is way off that of 2008 but I actually felt stronger than I recall back then. It was tougher in some ways too as I would normally cover say 4km with the remainder intervals of just 1000 metres.

When I started back training I found it difficult to go for longer than a kilometre without stopping for a drink. I think I kind of developed a mental bad habit so it's pleasing and confidence building to continue for longer without the need to gulp down juice every sixteen-seventeen minutes. After this swim I was a little achey in the shoulders and triceps but no injuries or lasting pain.

Wednesday 28th (KGBs birthday) I had a follow up appointment at the muscular/skeletal clinic where after numerous tests I was discharged to continue my training with strict instructions to return should the rotator cuff issues flare up once more..the options of injections and surgery were fully explained but this would be worse case scenario. For the time being I can carry on as normal and build up the training.

Having had two poor sessions this week and generally feeling tired, yesterday, I headed to the pool for a much needed quality session, I swam 2 x 3500 plus1 x 3000 on 2 hours 55 mins. Again the times are not what they once were but I was comfortable swimming for an hour at a time before stopping for a drink and a handful of jelly babies!

All being well I will get to Seaton this weekend at some point.

Only a week before I dive into the water at Sandycove brrrr!

As a postscript I have been pestering Brett at Eastliegh Lake, Hants. to arrange a 10km open water event for looks like going ahead so watch this space for details.

Update: Dover Day 2 (Sunday May2nd) photos below from Emma, she says it is pouring with rain but that the water is pancake flat.