Friday, 19 January 2018

Bring on the Hurly Burley!

This time last year, all New Year’s resolutions, training plans and goals were (pending on surgery and recovery going well) all in the bag. This year, in contrast, we are 2 weeks into January already and all resolutions are yet to get off the ground.

There weren’t even that many:

1) Enter Hurly Burly Swim
2) Sort out an appropriate training plan and smart (er) goals
3) Get my nutrition in order (better informed, better choices – my cake days will be limited… I feel sick and bereft even just thinking about it already!)
4) Get back into the open water ASAP

NYR#1 – Enter the Hurly Burly - I actually entered this before NYE so technically you could argue that it’s not actually a resolution, as it was already in the bag, but hear me out first (not that I’ll be removing it…). The reason for my early entry? I missed out last year due to far too much faffing about deciding whether I should do it, before deciding that I would do it, by which time I couldn’t do it as I was too late, and so taking no chances this year, I had been eagerly awaiting news of the swim date, and so when the entry date (and time) by Outdoor Swimming Society was announced I was ready for it. The evening beforehand was busy with setting multiple alarms (I barely slept anyway), locating my credit card and having the link on the computer ready to go, and the following day, despite the computer deciding to be on go slow, and me having the mother of all meltdowns, I finally, after much panic, got a place! Shark will vouch it was ugly as she was on the other end of the phone smugly informing me hers had seamlessly gone through, whilst I was sitting in front of my computer wailing “why?” at it several times before the penny dropped and I realized that there was a very strong possibility that it was human error and not indeed the fault of the computer, or the credit card, or indeed all inanimate objects in reaching distance, that I was also blaming. A quick e-mail to OSS confirmed it was in fact me, and the cleverer people at that end had my heart rate back out of the danger zone in next to no time (at it’s worst I peaked at 114bpm my Garmin reliably informed me), and I was officially announced (via e-mail) in!

NYR#2 – Resolution 1 complete it was now time to sort out an appropriate training plan- I’ve swam this distance on a few occasions now, and have read several training plans, but before now opted to do my own. I’d like to think they had some degree of success on the back of the fact that a) I didn’t drown, b) I finished them all and c) it obviously hasn’t put me off.
And so I arranged to meet with Coach Morg, to discuss a new training plan, which he would continually review, monitor and adapt if necessary. This would be done via weekly phone calls, monthly meetings (to include a swim) and me sharing with him the data collected by my Garmin watch (via Garmin/Strava I think - all very new to me). Truth is I’m not sure how I feel about this as it allows Coach to track my progress for every swim. Very Big Brother (jeez there’ll be no way of hiding a bad swim will there? It’s literally there in black and white).  However it is a great way for him to offer me immediate feedback, and so need to get over myself (I can always delete any shoddy efforts and redo them. This could mean that I have to do several re-swims in order for it to look impressive, but needs must sometimes).

NYR#3 - Get my nutrition in order – I know how to do this, but with it just being Christmas and all I received 3 yards of Jaffa Cakes (this is an actual thing) along with several other gifts not known for their nutritional quality. Unfortunately my complete lack of willpower when it comes to Jaffa Cakes, the fact that I was overjoyed that there were 12 Jaffa Cakes per packet in these yard tubes, rather than the new 10 per packet (See… now I think I’m over thinking it – if Jaffa cakes became 10 per box in September, I’m now worried that the gift givers (you know who you are) bought them pre the much publicized “shrink” and possibly were out of date by Christmas. I confess I didn’t check that bit, and I couldn’t be sure whether they were being tight, or thoughtful… I’ll hope for the latter), added to that there’s my ‘not sharing’ policy (There is one exception to this rule however and that’s if it’s fallen on the floor first and/or I don’t want it), other than that it’s an absolute no (Not dis-similar to Smithy in Gavin &Stacey (series 3, episode 2)). This isn’t an apology by the way; I own my selfishness! And also as I don’t like wasting food, I was obligated to eat all of them before NYE!

NYR#4 - Get back into the open water ASAP – I confess, I haven’t swum in the open water since mid December. I could have gone and should have gone, however found it very easy, especially at this time of year, to find fairly convincing reasons not to go. I was not fooling Ally at Swimyourswim though, who sent me a lovely message, to which I found myself confessing I had been making excuses not to go as I felt I’d pushed myself to my limit last time. She politely told me I needed to get back on the metaphorical bike and suggested a dip the following week. Leon on the other hand took a different approach. His message went like this “if you don’t come back soon I shall start calling you Indoor Water Woman instead!” And so before he began threatening me with breaching any trades description acts I agreed to go that week.

So with New Year’s resolutions decided, and the Hurly Burly booked, all I needed to do was to get started with the other 3. Coach had arranged for me to complete a critical swim speed session that will establish my threshold pace, however on the morning of the swim I didn’t feel all that great. I set off to get to the swim, but thankfully changed my mind half way there, and turned round to go home. Just in the nick of time as it happens, and spent the next 3 days unable to remove myself from the sofa, and my kids to fend for themselves. All hope of NYR#2 happening sooner rather than later was gone, as I was forced to stay put whilst my grumpy self recovered. I’m not a great patient, and being ill was deeply unpleasant, however it did mean that my calorie intake was severely reduced on account of not being able to keep anything down, and so rather than any valiant effort on my part, it has actually kick started NYR#3, and there’s the silver lining right there!

I was keen to get the ball rolling, however decided to leave the open water swim for another week. I’ve swum in the cold before, whilst not feeling 100% and no good came out of it. I messaged Star Baker Chris to let him know I would be there at the weekend, and that if he was going, and also taking requests from AWOL swimmers, my favourite ‘welcome back’ cake of choice would be either his legendary brownies, or Guinness cake, and whilst I am very aware this contravenes NYR#2, eating energy food containing sugar is actually recommended by the NHS to help recovery from hypothermia. It’s a loose fit, I’ll grant you, but you have to eat what’s at hand, right? And Chris goes to so much trouble, and if medical practitioners say it’s a good thing, who am I to argue? Cake order sorted, and a quick catch up, Chris told me that in my absence he’d been helping the support team at Hatfield. “Not the getting dressed bit though?” I asked, and as I’m still awaiting a reply, I immediately called Shark to ask if she was up for a stint of towel holding. I’m very fortunate really that she readily agreed after I bribed her with the offer of (Chris’s) cake, but was actually prepared to stoop very low indeed, had she not been agreeable with cake, to get her to come (I’m talking possible kidnap).

Despite me being laid up, I have been making great use of those long, lazy days on the sofa by researching some rather lovely B&B’s in Wales to stay at the night before the swim (it’s an early one!), and as I am in good time I have managed to secure a rather lovely plush room, not even a stones throw from the beach where we will be setting off from. (Note to Shark- I’ve booked us a room. (Yay!) I know this will be a lovely surprise for you when you read this, and on the plus side, it’ll save me asking you directly for the 50 quid you now owe me, and you’re welcome!). So enforced rest may have prevented me from getting started with all but one of my New Year’s resolutions, but it sure bagged me a nice B&B ready for the swim that I’m not actually match fit for yet! Yet another (small) silver lining!👍

Finally, it's a year since I first began writing my little blog, which stared as a way of writing about my recovery, the training and the swim I did last year (Windermere one way). I have been amazed and overwhelmed at the amazing response, and lovely messages of support I have had. After I had completed the swim I was asked if I would consider putting last year’s journey into a book. Going from a blog to an e-book is something quite different, and a lot scarier, however I decided after a lot of consideration to take the plunge (no pun intended) and do it, and finally has now been published this week on Amazon. How amazing (but mostly scary) is that? I hope that for those of you that read it feel inspired to not only take on difficult challenges, but also to never underestimate how far you can push yourself to achieve what you set out to do.

Open Water Woman Swims Windermere is available on Amazon

A few web addresses referenced in the blog. You’re welcome! 

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