Tag Archives: jellyfish

St. Michael’s Mount Swim

19 Jul

Back in January, Stuart and I signed up for a 2.5km swim around St. Michael’s Mount in aid of the Chestnut Appeal, a local cancer charity. We thought it would be a good step towards the Scilly Swim Challenge and also an opportunity to go home to Cornwall for the weekend. We chose this event because the Chestnut Appeal is a men’s cancer charity that supports men in the south-west – Stu’s dad is a cancer survivor and my dad died of cancer.

IMG_5915

The day of the swim finally arrived and after a morning in St. Ives, we headed into Penzance for a bit of shopping before travelling back to Marazion. We registered for the swim and got our numbers written on our hands: 26 for me and 27 for Stuart. We then had an hour or so to wait before the event, so we went to the Godolphin Arms, a nearby pub, to have a (non-alcoholic) drink.

The race briefing was at 5:30pm. It was relatively informal and we were asked to be considerate of swimmers of other abilities. Fast/competitive swimmers were asked to line up at the water’s edge, with slower swimmers a couple of steps back and the slowest swimmers a bit further back on the beach.

IMG_5917

Last week there has been some concern about how rough the sea was, but it looked very calm and still as we were waiting, which helped to calm my nerves a little.

St Michael's Mount

St. Michael’s Mount is a tiny Cornish version of France’s famous Mont St. Michel. On the island there is a historic property that used to be a monastery and is no home to the St. Aubyn family. It’s managed by the National Trust and is a beautiful place to visit. At low tide, it’s possible to walk across a stone causeway to the mount, but it is cut off when the tide comes in.

tams and stu2

Stuart and I at the water's edge

Stuart and I at the water’s edge

There was a bit of time to acclimatise to the water and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was quite warm. Most swimmers had wetsuits on, but there were a few brave skins swimmers, including one lady who was sporting a fetching red polka dot number with matching lipstick!

tams and stu3

Stu and I got chatting to another swimmer whilst acclimatising

At 6pm, we went and lined up – Stu at the water’s edge and me a bit further back. The horn sounded and we were off. Marazion looks deceptively flat, but I was only able to wade about 5-10m before I had to start swimming. It wasn’t the usual rough triathlon start, but quite a few people ahead of me were doing breast stroke, so I had to watch out for feet, which is tough when you are also watching out for stray clumps of seaweed. Farmers regularly gather seaweed from the beach here to fertilise their fields – there are large beds of bladder wrack and my enemy, oar wrack, which seems determined to strangle me.

SMM swim

After the group had thinned out a bit, I really started to enjoy my swim. The water was calm and clear and there was a lot to look at underwater, including the cobbled causeway that can be used to walk to the Mount at low tide. I found that I was swimming a group with quite a few others, which was reassuring.

As we got towards the rear of the mount, the water started getting really choppy, and it was hard to see which way to go. We had been warned not to go too close as there are a lot of dangerous rocks, but I couldn’t see any of the safety kayakers who were meant to be guiding us away from the rocks.

choppy at the back

Choppy sea behind the Mount © Karen Wolff

I did a couple of strokes of breaststroke to get my bearings and felt a stinging sensation in my foot. I put my face back in the water and realised that I had swum into a smack of moon jellyfish 😦 They were quite small (7-8cm diameter) and very pretty, but I didn’t want to touch any more of them.

the view from the rear

It was a beautiful evening and we got to see the rear of the Mount © Karen Wolff

swim in

© Karen Wolff

There were some very large waves, which made sighting hard and my stroke became quite erratic. I was really glad when we finally rounded the corner and I could see the long harbour wall along the side of the Mount. I managed to catch up with a group of three local swimmers and although I thought I could pass them, I decided to save some energy and draft them for a bit. The sea is much deeper on this side of the mount, and although there was still quite a lot of seaweed it wasn’t possible to see the bottom. There was a schooner anchored just off the mount, which was interesting to see.

We had been told to head back to the slipway to finish the swim, but high tide was at 7pm and so it was really hard to see the slipway, so I decided to follow the others… But then I realised that their sighting was worse than mine, so I struck out on my own. After a few minutes, a kayaker pointed out to the others that they were going in the wrong direction, so they started following me.

Soon we could hear the cheers of the supporters on the slipway and beach wall. I got out of the water in 57 minutes and was handed a medal by a young lad, before collecting a bottle of water and a delicious Philps pasty – why aren’t pasties given out at the end of every race?!

Made it!

Made it!

tams SMM swim2

just finishing

The end of my swim © Karen Wolff

IMG_5943

I really enjoyed this event and would strongly recommend it to others.

IMG_5949

The GU Energy Weymouth Bay Triathlon

12 Jul

This was the first Olympic distance triathlon that I did last year, so I decided to enter it to try to beat my time. I also thought it would be a good race to do as it involves a sea swim and I haven’t done any sea swims so far this year.

Unfortunately, the day didn’t start well. I spent yesterday evening organising everything and Stuart set a 5am alarm, before having an early night. I slept well… but probably a little too well. When I woke, I decided to check the time, rather than waiting for the alarm to go off – aarrgghh! It was just after 6am. We had hoped that getting up at 5 would ensure that we would be on the road before 6am, but that wasn’t to be.

Stuart and I dressed as quickly as possible and took our breakfasts out to the car. Stu managed to eat a slice of peanut butter on toast, but I realised that adding whey powder to my pre-race favourite of porridge with ground almonds and dried apricots had made it completely unpalatable. It had a strange texture and a really unpleasant taste, so I gave up trying to eat it and hoped that I would have enough energy to complete the race. At that point I also realised that all of the food I had carefully prepared to take with me was still in the fridge 😦

Race registration was due to close at 7:30am and we didn’t leave until 6:20am, so we knew there was a risk that we would miss the race. At times, there was some traffic, but we managed to get to the car park and we directed to a space that wasn’t far from registration (although we weren’t sure where registration was and wandered around the entire car park before going into the right building.

We took our race packs back to the car and stuck the labels on out bikes, bags and swimming hats, so that we would be able to enter transition. We put pur rucksacks on and cycled to the start.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to get ready, which made me a bit stressed. I had hoped to have enough time to get myself really well-organised. I’d also read this week about the importance of doing a ‘reverse tri’ before the start of a real triathlon – the article suggested that I should go for a 5 minute run, followed by a 5 minute bike run and then 5 minutes in the water. This sounded sensible – the run gets your heart-rate up, the ride ensures your bike is in the right gear and the time in the water helps you to acclimatise.

After the race briefing, I rushed back to transition as I needed to put my race belt down and grab my goggles, ear plugs and swimming hats (I hate the free latex hats that are given out at races, so I like to wear my own silicone hat underneath). We were then told to hurry down to the beach as the race was about to start.

I managed to get nearly waist deep in the water before we were told to return to shore. I had put my face in the water and although it was a bit cold (16.5 C) it didn’t feel too bad. In the briefing we had been told that the race would start in the water, but this wasn’t quite true – we had to start at the water’s edge. I was a little disappointed as I wanted to properly acclimatise, but it couldn’t be helped and at least we’d made the start.

 

Swim:

The start horn sounded and we were off. I was able to stride out a bit before I started swimming, but I found that I wasn’t able to breathe. I was also surprised by how much salt I could taste as soon as I put my face in the water (no, I wasn’t trying to drink it, but it was seeping in through my pores!)

I struggled to get my breathing under control and don’t think that my swimming strokes would be acceptable at tri club, but at least I was moving. I tried to swim normally, but it was very choppy, so if I swam the way I usually do, breathing every 3 strokes, I found that I kept getting a face-full of water. I decided to switch to an even pattern, so that I was just breathing to my left, but I was too panicky to breathe every four and found that I was hyperventilating when I tried to breathe every 2 strokes. The only thing that made me feel better was that I was surrounded by others swimmers and knew that I was ahead of a few people.

A positive about the swim was that we had to swim out a long way from the shore, whereas in previous years, we haven’t swum out as far and have had to swim a long way parallel to the shore which has looked much further from the shoreline.

I turned at the buoy and saw that the distance to the other marker buoy wasn’t far, which was good as there was quite a swell. Later on people told me that they saw quite a few jellyfish near to the buoys. I can see much better in the water than last year, but I didn’t notice any jellyfish, which was a relief.

The swim back to shore was much better. If I’m not bilateral breathing then I prefer to breathe to my right, however, I had my breathing under control and breathing every 3 seemed OK. I could also see that there were still plenty of swimmers in sight, which made me feel a sense of relief that I wasn’t going to be last on the swim.

The last 25m of the swim was fairly shallow, so I waded to the shore and then up onto the shingle. I was very close to three other women and could probably have beaten one or two of them if I hadn’t removed my goggles and then promptly dropped them in the sea – doh!

  • Last year: 53:38
  • This year: 33:06 (20:32 faster) 58/64

During the briefing, we had been reassured that the swim course was accurately measured. My Garmin made it a couple of hundred metres short, however, I can’t compare it with last year when I accidentally clicked the lap button on my watch halfway through the swim. Either way, I’m really pleased that there is evidence that I have made progress – I was 20:32 faster!

T1:

It had started raining a bit, so I struggled to get my socks on (yes, I do need them!) and I faffed around a bit. However, my lack of organisation held me back. I think I just about managed to squeak some progress on last year as I didn’t need to insert contact lenses!

  • Last year: 3:22
  • This year: 2:46 (0:38 faster) 50/64

Bike:

I glanced at my watch when I went out onto the bike and was surprised by how well my swim seemed to have gone. I could still see someone in the sea and started to wonder whether I had somehow taken on a short cut on the swim and would therefore be disqualified later. This was something I pondered several times during the race. Could I really have improved that much?

The bike course is an out and back to Wool that has a fairly long climb early on out of Weymouth before dropping back down to Wool.It started with a left hand turn before going around a roundabout and heading back past where we started. Somehow I ended up in the wrong lane and suddenly realised that I was going in the wrong direction. I managed to pull over, unclip one foot and then had to clamber across a traffic island to get back on track – oops!

I managed to pick up my speed a bit, but was soon passed by a female cyclist. Then it was on to the long, hard climb out of Weymouth. I managed to get about halfway up before I was passed by a male cyclist. I kept pushing as hard as I could as I was determined to beat my average pace from last year (and also wanted to hit an average pace over 25kph, which is the fastest pace I’ve ever managed to maintain). At that point I decided to have a cherry shot blok as the strong flavour would take away the salty taste in my mouth.

I started pushing harder and was really motivated when I got to the main turn and saw Stuart shortly afterwards. When I neared the turn, I was really cheered by seeing lots of cyclists who didn’t seem to be too far ahead – I started to believe that I could catch up with them.

When I got to the final turnaround point, I was averaging over 27kph and feeling strong. I got halfway around the roundabout… and was hit by the wind. I hadn’t realised there was a tailwind on the ride out (I just thought I was doing really well!) The ride back was really hard, but I could see a cyclist ahead and decided to do what I could to catch up with her and then pass her.

One thing that I didn’t like about the bike ride was the number of dead animals on the road, it was like this:

I finally caught up with the female cyclist ahead and managed to pass her. I then kept pushing and saw a male cyclist on the final hill heading back into Weymouth. He seemed to be struggling, so I decided to chase him down.

I had discussed my nutrition strategy with Sam and he advised me to eat some dark chocolate on the bike. I foolishly decided that I would eat a piece of chocolate whilst trying to go uphill. It was dry and wouldn’t melt, so I decided not to try another piece and had a bit of my nuun Kona cola drink.

The male cyclist got to the big downhill before me, and I’m still a bit nervous on hills (especially as the road was quite slick by that stage), so I couldn’t catch up with him. (I think he may have had some weight on his side too).

As I passed by the side of Lodmore Country Park, I saw Stuart turning on the run, so I shouted to him. He raised a hand in acknowledgement, which made me feel good. I knew that he would be more than 15 minutes ahead of me, so he must be on his second lap.

I wanted to save time in transition, so I decided to remove my Garmin from its bike mount and put it back onto the wrist strap. I couldn’t click it on and realised that I needed to brake at the roundabout, so I quickly put my watch down the front of my top. After the roundabout, I got my watch back out and put it on the wrist strap, but realised that I had pressed something and it was on a screen I didn’t recognise. I tried to get it back to normal, but couldn’t. I pressed the lap/reset button and saw it click onto T2 – oops! I had hoped to beat my time from last year, but now had no idea whether I was on track.

I finally passed the male cyclist on the road back to transition. I had wanted to remove my mitts and use my inhaler, but didn’t have enough time on the bike. I took my feet out of my shoes and nearly lost a shoe on the road as I couldn’t get it the right way up. Next time, I’ll not try to get my shoes off whilst cycling uphill.

  • Last year: 1:32:11 (23.9 kph)
  • This year: 1:33:20 (25.1 kph) (+1:09, but a longer course) 59/64

 

T2:

As it had rained hard when I was out on the bike, all of my kit was soaked, so I decided not to pick up my visor. It had also stopped raining, so I wasn’t too worried about having driving rain on my face. I put on my shoes, grabbed my inhaler and was off. As usual, T2 was my best discipline of the day, although I was not as good as Stu, who managed a 42 second T2 and was the fastest competitor of the day!

  • Last year: 1:42
  • This year: 1:02 (40 seconds faster) 17/64

 

Run:

My goal for the run was to finish in under an hour. I was a little concerned that I had perhaps run too hard at parkrun yesterday, so my strategy was to start in a steady manner and try to keep under 6:00/km.

Fortunately, the run started with a downhill section, which allowed me to make good progress without getting out of breath.

I like the run route as it reminded me of the triathlons that I did in Weymouth last year and all of the happy memories from that time. I passed a few spectators who told me  that i was running well, which gave me a boost.

After a while I saw another runner up ahead in a turquoise tshirt, so i decided to try to chase her down. It tok me a few more minutes, but I managed to pass the other runner and then headed into teh country park. There were some ladies from teh sprint distance walking two abreast, so I called out ‘excuse me’ to them and they stepped aside, so that I could pass. I then got to the junction: left for lap 2 and right for teh finish. I collected a wristband and then headed left for my second lap.

I was still feeling quite good although my pace had started to slow a little. When I got to the drinks station, I grabbed a cup of water and had a mouthful before picking the pace back up. I kept an eye on my average pace and was pleased that although I had slowed, I was still comfortably under 6:00/km.

There was another female runner up ahead, this time in a turquoise vest. She looked like she was slowing, so I put in a bit more effort and passed the other runner.

As I turned right at the final junction, I showed the marshal my wristband and straightened my race number. I had to cross a car park and could see someone else in a turquoise top – it was Stu waiting to cheer me in 🙂

IMG_5892 IMG_5893 IMG_5894 IMG_5895 IMG_5896

There was a slight incline towards the race finish, but I gave it everything I had and was delighted that I had beaten last year’s run time by over 10 minutes.

  • Last year: 1:08:49
  • This year: 54:50 (11:59 faster) 48/64

Total:

Overall, I had a fantastic race.

  • Last year: 3:39:42
  • This year: 3:05:04 (34:38 faster) 55/64

If only I could have dug a bit deeper and been 5 seconds faster!

GU Weymouth Classic goodies

The marshals from Bustinskin Tri Club were fantastic as always and there were some great goodies: a technical t-shirt, buff, water bottle and giant medal for everyone.

My first Olympic Distance Triathlon

13 Jul

My first Olympic distance triathlon was the GU Energy Weymouth Bay Triathlon. As it was in Weymouth and started at a typically early time, Stu and I had to get up at 4:45am. We ate breakfast and then drove to Weymouth, where we parked the car and went to register.

It was our first Bustinskin event and we were impressed by the organisation. We collected envelopes with our race numbers and stickers (for bike, helmet, hat, wrist and bag) in them.

GU triathlon number

Lucky number 137

Racks were numbered, and I was pleased to see that I was next to Stuart, which is always reassuring. It’s helpful to have numbered bike racks as it’s a small decision taken away from me.

There were various distance events going on: sprint, standard and middle. I think probably quite a few of the people who had signed up for the middle distance event were using it as a warm up for Challenge Weymouth, so they had come from far and wide. There were also some local people that I recognised, including Brian Grierson (a fantastic veteran) and also Luke, from LRR.

Start of Gu Weymouth Middle distance

Watching the competitors line up for the start of the middle distance event.

After we watched the start of the Middle distance event, there was a bit of time for selfies with Liz, before our final race preparations.

Selfie with Liz Gu Weymouth

Quick selfie with Liz © Liz Carter

Group shot before Gu Weymouth

Group shot at the start (L-R Stuart, Suzanne, Me and Roelie) © Liz Carter

After my previous experiences at Weymouth, I was a little nervous about the jellyfish in the water. Fortunately, it was overcast, which meant it was harder to see the jellyfish. They were still there, but I couldn’t see as well, so I only saw 10-12, which was a massive improvement!

I was quite pleased with how my swimming went, as I knew I wasn’t the very last person and was also aware that I was quite close to other competitors. I felt I was doing really well, especially as I was swimming against the current, so I decided to press the lap button on my watch when I got to the turn around buoy. I thought this would help me to see the difference between the first half of my swim and the second half… But I forgot that the lap button is meant to signal T1, so my Garmin data makes it look like I was in transition for a very long time.

After the event, I did a few calculations. It was meant to be a 1500m swim, but I swam 890m to the turnaround point, so I think my sighting must have been a bit off. The first half of the swim took me 29:42, so the return swim must have taken me 23:56, which is nearly 6 minutes faster.

Swim: 00:53:38

Position: 39/41

 

As usual, for me, the transitions were the highlight – I managed to beat 4 people in T1, even though I had to put my contact lenses in! I hope to start smashing my T1 times next year when I’ve had laser eye surgery.

T1: 00:03:22

Position: 37/41

 

The bike started on a hill, which was an immediate challenge and by the time I got going, there were really any people in close proximity who I could chase. I think that as soon as I’ve improved my swimming and had laser eye surgery, my bike times will also start improving as well, because I do so much better when there are other people that I challenge myself to beat.

I found the bike course quite challenging and I struggled to eat or drink anything, which probably didn’t help me. As I cycled in, I saw Stuart finishing his run.

Bike: 01:32:11

Position: 39/41

 

T2 seems to be my discipline – it is the part of races where I perform best. I managed to beat 5 people 🙂
T2: 00:01:42

Position: 36/41

 

I was too far behind to chase anyone on the run, which was a little disappointing. Like the bike course, the run started on a steep hill. I had intended to use my inhaler on my bike, but I forgot, so I ended up getting out my inhaler on the hill. A woman ahead noticed me and decided that she would stop and try to run with me as it was her first event. This helped to encourage me, but the other triathlete was doing the sprint event, so as soon as we got to the downhill, I left her.

I quite enjoyed the run as it was two laps of a local park. There weren’t many other runners around, but I’m quite used to running on my own, so it was fine. The hardest part of the run was the final hill. I was a little frustrated that I struggled to maintain a good pace for the run, but it wa fantastic to be able to finish with a speedy run down the hill.

Run: 01:08:49

Position: 38/41

 

After crossing the finish line, I collected my medal, water bottle and t-shirt before meeting up with Suzanne, Roelie and Stuart to cheer Liz on.

Final result:

03:39:42

40/41 finishers

Massive well dones to Suzanne for being 3rd female finisher; Liz for being 3rd in her AG in her first attempt at this distance; Roelie for beating her PB and Stuart for finishing 14th overall in his first attempt at this distance.

Eastleigh Open Water Tri – my first open water tri of the season

29 Jun

Firstly, I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who is following my blog – I started it as a personal record of my progress, so I am delighted that I’ve now got over 800 followers (I hit 802 today)! Thank you so much – it’s such an honour to hear from people who say that I’ve inspired them 🙂

Today’s excitement was my first open water tri of the season. So that I didn’t have to start my day too early, Stu and I registered last night and icked up our goodie bags. There was choice of free gifts on offer, including TryTri buffs, water bottles and mugs. As I’ve already got a TryTri buff and my kitchen cupboard is overflowing with water bottles, I chose to have a mug and coaster that I will take to work. We were also given a delicious packet of Urban Fruit. I got ‘magnificent mango’, which is nice, but not as delicious as the strawberry one!

Racking up

Racking up with Suzanne

Racking up with Suzanne © Try Tri

The swim

Fortunately, the swim was in a lake that I’m familiar with. I’ve heard that there are some enormous fish in the lake, but it’s so murky that I’ve never seen any. There have been lots of reports in the local (Dorset) news about scores of giant barrel jellyfish appearing in the area… I’m so glad I didn’t hear the news before doing my sea swim last Sunday!

I read this article this week about outdoor swimming: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jun/26/why-i-love-outdoor-swimming?INTCMP=mic_233352 I love the feeling of solitude that I get when swimming in the lake in the morning – I haven’t done enough of it this year!

A groups of us started together in the last wave, so I hoped that I would be able to keep teri, Liz and Jenny in sight during the swim and bike. I did continuous front crawl, but am still not sure why I’m so slow in comparison with old lady breaststrokers!

11:14.2 (166/210)

 T1 – transition one

I knew T1 would be slow as I had to put my contact lenses in. At least I wasn’t last and next year I should be able to move a bit faster in T1!

3:08.15 (191/210)

The bike

DSC_9997-(ZF-0281-31549-1-006)

I’d practised the bike route with Donna, Jenny and Roelie, so I knew what to expect. I went out as hard as possible, knowing that I was behind most of my friends. I saw Asa on her return journey and was surprised that I was so far behind… it took me a while to remember that she was doing the novice distance and had not had to swim as far.

It felt like I had to stop at every set of traffic lights, which was very frustrating. I saw Stu looking very strong on the bike, and not far from the turnaround point, I saw Teri. She had a very strong bike ride and did really well. A man spoke to me at a large roundabout, epxlaining that he had to go around it again… I think he was confused about quite how the two laps were calculated – oops!

On the second lap I felt like I was doing really well, until I got to a pedestrian crossing. The light went red, but the pedestrians had already crossed, which was very frustrating. I think I only had to wait about 30 seconds for the lights to change, but it felt like a much longer time period. I was also annoyed that another triathlete passed me at the lights by going through them when they were red.

As I headed back in through teh car park, I slipped my feet out of my shoes and amanged to do a fantastic flying dismount.

DSC_9996-(ZF-0281-31549-1-005)

47:26.80 (168/210)

T2 – transition two

My great dismount and the slope down into transition helped me to achieve a good time for T2. This always seems to be my strongest part of triathlons! I racked my bike, removed my helmet and mitts and slipped on my shoes as quickly as possible.

1:00.00 (84/210)

The run

My running hasn’t been going well this year, but I felt quite comfortable going out onto the run. My aim was to maintain a steady pace under 6:00/km, and hopefully get as close as possible to 5:30/km, which I think I managed. My aim for the winter is to pick up my speed.

27:06.30 (162/210)

Overall

I really enjoyed this event and am starting to feel more confident. There are a lot of things that I can learn from it.

1:29:55.40 (168/210; 40th female out of 67; 3rd in my AG)

As usual with a Try Tri evnet, there was a cracking medal.

eastleigh medals

Eastleigh medals © Try Tri

medal

© Try Tri

Eastleigh done

Eastleigh done! © Try Tri

Afte finishing, I met up with Asa, Suzanne, Katherine, Liz and Jenny (as well as Stu) to go for some food.

eastleigh group 2

Southampton tri club finishers (L-R: Asa, Me, Suzanne, Stuart, Katherine, Liz, Jenny & Donna) © Try Tri

group eastleigh 1

© Try Tri

My final bit of reading this week was an article from triathlete – here’s a taster of it:

#firedup #heregoesnothing #longandstrong #streamline #quitpullingonmyfeetyoufreak #kickandbreathe #longandstrong #kickandbreathe #biketime #omgthatsaddlesore #ignorethepain #focus #breathe #cadencecounts #strongandsteady #killthehill #quadsonfire #finghurts #downwego #wheeeee #dotheseshortsmakemelookfat #focus #strongandsteady #cadencecounts #runtime #nobigdeal #breathe #pace #quickfeet #onetwothree #onetwothree #thisisawesome #ichosethis #focus #pace #ouch #finghurts #thisisawful #ipaidforthis #focus #ignorethepain #onetwothree #breathe #breathe #cantbreathe #focus #mightpuke #puking #neveragain #focus #nomoreracing #breathe #howmuchfarther #swearthatwasamile #watchisbroken #focus #quietmind #breathe #whatwasithinking #iminsane #wheresthefinish #focus #breathe #focus #finally #iseeit #finished #mightpuke #puking #wheresmybeer #dotheseshortsmakemelookfat
Next on my event calendar is my first Olympic distance triathlon – in two weeks time – eek!

31 minutes a km!!!

24 Jun

On Sunday morning, I went down to Bowleaze Cove with Stu, Suzanne and Roelie for the first of this year’s Big Cove sea swims. There are two distances on offer: 1.5 miles and 3 miles. I’d looked up information about previous events online and in the past couple of years the number of entrants has fluctuated between about 24 and 40, which had advantages and disadvantages. I knew that it meant I would be less likely to be crushed in a melee at the start of the race, but it also meant that I would quite likely be out on the course on my own for long stretches.

As it was only a swim and not an aquathlon or triathlon, there was no need for the event to start really early, so we didn’t need to leave Southampton until 8am. We arrived in Weymouth quite early, but then we had to work out where we needed to get to. Stu’s satnav was determined to take us down a route that was inaccessible and then we ended dup driving around a caravan park before we looked at some online maps and found an alternative route.

It was a beautifully warm and sunny day (20°C by 9am), so there were already quite a few people on the beach and eating full English breakfasts in the nearby café when we arrived. We parked the car and I was surprised by how cheap the parking was for a lovely tourist destination (£2.50 for 4 hours).

We had a bit of time to waste, but none of us wanted to out our wetsuits on and stand around in the sun for too long. We went and registered, which was a very simple process. We were all given green hats to indicate that we were doing the shorter distance; the 3-mile swimmers were given orange hats. We also had our numbers written on our hands. It’s a trivial detail, but I was pleased that the woman who was doing it has neat handwriting – I hate having a number scrawled badly on my limbs!!!

IMG_3111

We thought that we had seen the course marked in the bay, but as we were waiting, we realised that more buoys were being towed out into position. In terms of running, I can conceptualise how far a mile is, but seeing it marked out in the sea, made it look like a huge distance, and was more than a little terrifying.

IMG_3112

The email that we had been sent before the event had stated that all entrants should be strong swimmers who are experienced at open water swimming. I’m not really sure that I fit either of those categories. I’m definitely not a strong swimmer as I’m most definitely in lane 1 at Tri Club (although I can hold my own in the middle lane when I go to public lane swimming sessions). I’m not sure that I’m an experienced open water swimmer either – I’ve swum at Lakeside and HOWSC as well as a lake in France, but the only ‘sea swim’ that I’ve done was Fowey Harbour swim last summer, which wasn’t too long and was in a very safe environment. We had also been asked to state how long we thought it would take us – I had written down 90 minutes.

IMG_3113

At last it was time to put our wetsuits on. Foolishly, I ran and cycled on Saturday with a vest and shorts on, so I had burnt my shoulders, which was not the best preparation. I liberally applied bodyglide to my neck and just hoped that nothing else would chafe during the swim. I meant to put on lip-gloss, but I forgot. I also had to use my inhaler as I was finding breathing difficult and was wheezing a bit.

I’ve got really poor eyesight, so I still had my glasses on. Without them, I can see nothing, so if I took them off, I would have to walk around with my goggles on, which is not a great look. I had been undecided about which goggles to wear. I prefer my tinted goggles as they were more comfortable and have slightly larger lenses than my clear goggles, however, the replacement strap that I’ve been using since my last one broke just doesn’t seem to work well and I ended up stopping frequently at the pool to empty them out, so I decided that the clear goggles would be the sensible option.

I also dislike getting water in my ears. I’ve never tried earplugs, but find that if I wear a good swimming hat, my ears are well enough protected. The temperature meant that I thought a neoprene hat would be excessive, but I decided to go for two swimming hats. I put on my favourite shark motif hat, then my goggles before finishing off with the green Bustinskin hat.

We had time for a quick dip in the sea before the event. In hindsight, I should have spent a bit more time acclimatising to the water. My hands felt cold, but the rest of me was OK. The sea temperature was actually quite pleasant at 17.3°C, although the wind speed was 8 knots – according to local weatherman Bob Poots.

Just before the event started, we were called over to the blue start mat for a briefing and roll call. I’m guessing that the event’s proximity to the Challenge Weymouth course accounted for the surge in popularity, as there were 36 people in the 1.5-mile event. We were given some instructions about staying with 5m of the buoys and to pass them on our right hand side in both directions. The 3-mile swimmers were told where the turning point was, and then there were some other comments. I gathered that the gist of them was about jellyfish and bumping into things, but my hearing is not great, so I wasn’t really sure what had been said. After the event, I read a news item that said there has been a huge influx of jellyfish in the area because of the warm seas encouraging plankton growth. I was so glad that I was unaware of that when the event started.

I positioned myself at the back of the pack and to the side, as I knew I would be one of the weakest swimmers there and I didn’t want to have anyone swim over me at the start.

The start of the race was in very shallow water, which started to deepen as we reached the end of the pier. At this point, other swimmers were still in sight, but it was already clear that I was going to be last. I was doing my best to relax and swim with smooth strokes, but my breathing was all over the place and I did wonder whether I would make it around.

For the first quarter of the race, I was accompanied by a stand up paddle boarder, who kept saying reassuring things to me and checking whether I was OK. I did wonder whether I should just turn around, but I didn’t want to fail. I was grateful to have someone beside me, but I also felt guilty that I was so far behind everyone else and that so much attention was having to be focused on me.

I started to get into some sort of rhythm and was really surprised by just how much I could see. Suddenly, I saw something ahead of me… Oh My God! It was a dead baby! I have no idea what must have been on my mind for that to be my first thought! I put my head back into the water and realised that I was mistaken. It was only a jellyfish… hold on… a jellyfish?! Aarrgghh! I panicked and started swimming sideways as quickly as I could.

When we did the Fowey Harbour Swim, there were list of jellyfish and some people got stung. They said it wasn’t too bad, but I didn’t want to find out what it would feel like. The only parts of my body that were exposed were my hands, feet and arts of my face, but I was still frightened.

Unfortunately, the jellyfish were part of the event. I would get into a rhythm, only for it to be interrupted by me freaking out about the appearance of something in the water beside me (mainly jellyfish, but occasionally, faster swimmers who were lapping me).

I also realised that there was a mark on my goggles that looked like a huge black jellyfish whenever I looked out of the corner of my eye. (On inspection after the event, I’ve realised that it is the prescription label on the lens – these will definitely be picked off before I do a similar event in future!)

The course was well marked out with enormous yellow buoys that were clearly visible even for someone with eyesight as bad as mine. I think the buoys were about 250m apart, but I don’t know, as I didn’t check my watch.

It took me a long time to feel like I could breathe comfortably. I also realised that my legs weren’t doing anything useful and my shoulder still isn’t quite right after my accident.

By the time I was halfway out, I could see the lead swimmers coming back on the other side of the buoys. At this point, the stand up paddle boarder swapped roles with a chap in a kayak. There were quite large distances between some of the buoys, and not everyone is very good at sighting. I realised that unless I moved, then a large group of swimmers would swim straight into me, so I started heading further out to sea. The kayaker shouted at me, so I had to explain what my manoeuvre was.

I decided that I needed to start pushing myself harder, so I tried to get into a better rhythm. Unfortunately, I somehow ended up swimming very close to the kayak and its shadow. For some reason, this made me think about Jaws. The thought of sharks in the water did no help my mental state as I became aware that if there were to be anything in the water, I would not be able to get out in a hurry.

I carried on and eventually reached the final buoy. I glanced back towards the beach and realised just how far I had to go. Part of me was tempted to look at my watch, but I knew that wouldn’t help me and that I just had to keep going.

My breathing had finally settled down, so I thought I could swim in a good rhythm, but the swim back was much harder. Some of the others reckon that it had become breezier and the number of ribs, jet skis, and motorboats out in the cove had created some waves. I hadn’t particularly noticed any swell on the way out, but it was definitely there on the way back. I had been swimming bilaterally, but breathing to my right wasn’t really an option on the way back, so I settled into a four-breath rhythm.

The return leg seemed to take forever. I was passed by a number of the 3-mile swimmers, some of whom swam extremely close to me.

Towards the turn, I could see lots of people on jet skis riding about. Although the logical part of me knew that I had on a striking coloured hat and that there were marshals around, I became a bit paranoid that I might meet an untimely end being hit by some sort of craft.

Eventually, it was time to head back to the beach. I was feeling exhausted and was ready to divorce Stuart for convincing me to join in with this madness. Two three-mile swimmers passed me, but I had no energy to try to keep up with them even for 5 seconds.

IMG_3114

IMG_3115

IMG_3116

IMG_3117

IMG_3118

IMG_3119

IMG_3120

IMG_3121

IMG_3122

IMG_3123

IMG_3124

IMG_3125

IMG_3126

IMG_3127

IMG_3128

IMG_3128

IMG_3129

IMG_3130

IMG_3131

The water was very clear and it looked like I could touch the bottom with my hands. I wasn’t sure how soon I could stand up or whether I was expected to swim as close to the beach as possible. With about 15m to go, I stood up and waded to the beach. I’d done it!

One of the marshals put a medal around my neck, but I felt so shattered and numb that I was unable to do or say anything. I barely spoke for 10 minutes. My legs and arms were not as tired as after running a marathon, but the adrenaline caused by my fear throughout the event meant that I found it mentally exhausting.

Stuart, Roelie and Suzanne were waiting for me on the beach, having finished quite a long way ahead of me. They had all changed and were starting to get cold and hungry, whereas I wasn’t particularly interested in eating.

Stuart finished in 11th place in 43:12.

Roelie came 22nd in 50:36

Suzanne was 26th in 55:59.

The winner was a woman who completed the course in just 36:38!

As expected, I finished last, with 9 of the people doing the 3-mile swim finishing ahead of me. This was not unexpected – as I’ve never swum further than 2000 metres before, and have only ever spent an hour swimming in the pool. It took me 1:22:32, which is a few minutes ahead of my estimated time of 1:30, but really not good enough. If anyone wants to see the full results, they are available here: http://www.bustinskin.com/download/big_cove_swims_2014/big%20cove%20swim%20race%201%20.pdf

New swimming PB for distance, time and calories

New swimming PB for distance, time and calories

My Garmin data for the course is here: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/526034617 Zooming in on it, you can see just how wonky my swim was!

Stuart and Suzanne have already signed up for the next two events in the series, and if I’m going to make the start line of Challenge Weymouth, I guess I’d better give it another crack! Hopefully, next time, some more people that we know will be able to make the event.

I decided not to swim yesterday, as I was feeling exhausted. My poor technique combined with the duration and length of the swim and wearing a wetsuit mean that I have got some very stiff muscles in my back. Also, although we all applied plenty of body glide, all four of us have been left with burns on our necks.

Overall, it was a very difficult experience for me. However, it does now mean that I should feel more confident about Challenge Weymouth. I have now swum the distance in similar conditions; cycled for about the right distance with the Wiggle Spring Sportive and run the distance (plus more) at Brighton Marathon.

What’s the toughest event you’ve done?

Swimming, cycling and running in Cornwall

6 Sep
IMG_1129

The view across St. Ives from my Grandma’s house – isn’t it beautiful?

Are you sitting comfortably? This could be a long post!

Well, I booked two weeks off work to go home to Cornwall and see my sister and her boyfriend who are over from Australia… and I managed to get some swim bike run love in as the weather was gorgeous, although I probably should have done some more running. I also caught up with some sleep, fitting in an amazing nine hours a night! (I think I’ve also probably put on weight as I indulged in some regional delicacies including clotted cream and, my favourite, pasties.)

The time off started with the third day of my coaching course in Watford. Stu and I were originally scheduled to do this in Winchester at the end of July, but the date clashed with Thunder Run, so we had to travel further afield. Fortunately, it was a more relaxed day than the first two. The weather was horrendous, with torrential rain, but we were able to do the practical part in a sports hall. Now, I just need to plan my next set of sessions.

When we were in Southampton, Stuart suggested that we should do the Jubilee Pool Aquathlon in Penzance. I looked up the distances: a 200m swim followed by a 2 mile run along the promenade. I knew I could swim that far, but had no idea how long it would take me, so I decided to time myself in the pool at work. My first attempt took 7:30, which seemed quite slow, even for me, so I timed myself again. I think I must have miscounted the first time, as my second effort was much better: 5:30. That sounded awesome to me, so I went home telling myself how amazing I was… only to be confronted by the reality. I looked up the results of the last aquathlon and saw that the slowest swimmer completed the distance in 4:40. Oh dear – almost a minute faster than me; the consolation was that I was confident that I could beat their two mile run time (even including the transition).

When we got to Cornwall, I was still feeling nervous about the aquathlon, so Stu and I decided to do a practice swim in the lido the day before the event. We went down to Penzance and parked up before walking to the lido. It looked beautiful in the sunshine and there was even a German camera crew filming it. We went to pay and the chap behind the counter asked if I was local. I thought he was making polite conversation, so I replied that I was from Hayle. I hadn’t realised that local people get discounted entry. He then asked for proof of my address, but I didn’t have any, so he just asked what my address was. I told him mum’s address and as I knew it instantly, including the postcode, he said that was fine. I felt a bit guilty, but I hadn’t intended to deceive and didn’t know how to backtrack!

IMG_1121

Although the water was warm, the sun was so bright and there was so little breeze that it felt cold.

IMG_1122

The pool was quite empty when we arrived, but was quickly filling up with keen swimmers

IMG_1124 IMG_1123

Once I got into the pool, I tried to take some photos and a video, but the lifeguard pointed out that filming was prohibited. It was a beautifully hot day, so the pool felt really cold when we got in, although actually it was about 20 degrees. It was also far saltier than I had expected it to be… We could almost sit up and read newspapers! It’s painted turquoise and the water is much clearer than the lake, which meant that it was quite a different experience, although there was the odd clump of seaweed to avoid. After a warm up lap, I thought I’d get Stu to time me, in the hope that I’d magically break the 4:40 barrier.

I did my lap, without having to avoid too many children and without going off course, even managing to put in a sprint finish, and then result was…. 5:45 😦 Even without having to turn at the end of the pool. I felt so disappointed, so after having a little break, I asked Stu to time me again. This time I had a strategy. I knew where the turns were, I had worked out where the troublesome bathers were and I knew how to pace it. I started out strong, but didn’t want to go too fast and tire myself out, I rounded the first end and sighted an elderly lady in a floral bathing hat doing backstroke, so I amended my course to avoid her. The next time I sighted her, she was still in my path, so changed tack again, but in the end, she seemed destined to collide with me. I hurried on determined to make up the wasted time, and after swimming along the end of the pool I decided to go for broke in a final sprint with lots of leg kicks. Exhausted, I asked Stu for my time… 5:45. Damn! I realised that I would have to accept that I would be last out of the pool, and that would need to play catch up on the run.

IMG_1115

This was my bike’s first trip on the rack

IMG_1113

I was able to see Stu’s bike in the wing mirror, but I couldn’t check that mine was still attached!!!

Having brought our bikes down to Cornwall on Stu’s new rack, we decided to make the most of the good weather with a little bike ride. We headed out from my mum’s house in the direction towards Camborne. I quickly realised that we would need to negotiate the big roundabout on the A30 at Loggans Moor, which was a touch nerve-wracking, but we made it. We kept cycling towards Camborne via Connor Downs and Roseworthy Dip, which is the Cornish equivalent of Alp D’Huez. On reaching Camborne we then went to Tuckingmill and Pool before cycling out towards Tehidy and then back via Trevaskis farm for some mint aero cheesecake. Yum! We then cycled to Hayle Cycles, where I bought two lovely shiny silver aluminium water bottles, which match my bike 🙂

IMG_1128

A shared portion of the most delicious cheesecake imaginable!

IMG_1127

Looking across Mounts Bay on the evening of the aquathlon

On the evening of the aquathlon, I thought that we had arrived quite early, but it was soon obvious that everyone else had got there far earlier. We paid our entry fees and had our numbers written on both hands – I was 71. We then spoke to one of the marshals who explained the route: a lap of the pool before running up the steps into the transition area then up another flight of steps before heading for a mile down the promenade. He was going to be at the turnaround point, and then it would be a one-mile run back to the lido.

1097947_10201397001382878_1516147024_n

Lining up before the start of the aquathlon

Stu and I headed down to the transition area, which was already quite full, so we found some space to lay out our towels etc. people had started to line up on one side of the pool, so I decided to join them. It was only after I had been waiting for a while that I realised that the format of the aquathlon was quite different from what I had been expecting. There would be no mass start; instead each swimmer would start at 30-second intervals. The size of the crowd meant that I would have to wait at least 15 minutes before starting. Some people were choosing to dive off the stone steps, whereas others were starting in the water. The most talented athletes knew the format of the event and had positioned themselves at the front of the queue, so the first people to swim past were all doing incredibly fast freestyle. Fortunately, there were also a few people who were doing breaststroke and even a couple of people without goggles who were swimming with their heads out of the water. This, coupled with the complete disinterest of most of the waiting athletes, went some way to reassuring me… I might be the slowest swimmer there and I might be passed by other swimmers, but it would not be apparent to others until the results were out!

Finally, it was time for me to go. I got in the water, so that I could get accustomed to it. After standing in the bright sunshine for so long, it felt very cold. To calm myself down, I floated on my front and blew some bubbles. Then it was time for me to go. The marshal counted down: 5… 4…. 3… And then I was off. (I think I may have left the step a little prematurely). I managed to negotiate the first turn before Stu passed me, and not long afterwards a super speedy teenage boy came past. I turned the next corner and another swimmer passed me. The exit steps were in sight, so I started kicking as hard as I could to try to get the blood back into my legs. I clambered up my steps to the transition area, which is where I think I lost most time.

I had to remove my goggles and swimming hat and replace them with a cap and a pair of glasses. I knew that we were running towards the west and that the sunk was bright, but as I rarely wear my glasses, I don’t own prescription sunglasses, so a cap seemed like the best option. I had carefully laced my Brooks cadence shoes with xtenex laces, so I knew I just had to pull them on. I wore the shoes for the Eastleigh aquathlon (2.5k run), so I knew that they were seam free and would not rub without socks for a short run. However, I had no idea that the chamois in my trisuit would absorb such a huge amount of water, which seemed to be streaming endlessly down my legs. I found it very distracting. After a bit more facing around (and being passed by a couple more competitors) I finally ran up the steps and out of the lido.

994329_10151831299729036_735231749_n

I’m not really sure that this photo demonstrates good running technique!!!

About 20m in, I saw my sister Bryony sitting on a low wall. I knew that my family had been to the local meadery, but I hadn’t expected them to have finished eating and come out to watch us. I continued on down the promenade, gradually catching my breath back from the swim. It was a very strange run for me as I didn’t have my Garmin on and I had no idea what pace I was moving at.

I was a little surprised to find that there was a flight of stone steps about 1200m into the run, following by a short run across some shingle, which all had to be repeated on the way back. I had hoped that my running might be strong enough for me to overtake some people, but the interval starts meant that there wasn’t anyone for me to pass (although I was passed by a couple of runners). I also got to cheer Stu on as he ran past.

601495_10151831299504036_949060825_n

Stu rocking his new castelli trisuit

It wasn’t long before I was back on the main promenade, where I could see Uncle Roger sitting on a low wall, which made me realise that it was time to sprint. I ran past the rest of my relatives and through the finish line, where I was presented with a glass of water and a neoprene goggle case.

999601_10201934673472376_1069798884_n

My sprint finish

The next day the results were posted. I was 110/120, which wasn’t too bad for a novice! I also managed to complete the swim in under 4:40 (by 1 second), but am annoyed that I spent so long in transition.

Screen Shot 2013-09-06 at 23.02.58

As I knew that I would miss two Run Camp sessions whilst away, I asked Coach Ant to send me the details of the session, so that I could do it on my own at home. I roped Stu in to help me and headed out onto the towans to try to find an appropriate location.

IMG_1132IMG_1162IMG_1131

Ant said the group had used a hill on the common with regularly spaced trees, so I knew I need to find a path on a hill. That may sound easy, but there are very few smooth paths on the towans. Finally I found a bowl without too many rabbit holes, which seemed ok. We did a warm up and then did the activity session that Ant had planned. Despite not chatting as much as usual, the entire session took an hour to complete!

We did a heels session this morning:

3x 50metre of heel lifts (uphill)
3x 50metre of bounding (heels up high and uphill)
3x 50metre of Scooter (heel lift and up hill)
all of them with a jog recovery
IMG_1155IMG_1154IMG_1135IMG_1134IMG_1133IMG_1138
Strength set:
3×15 Reverse Lunge into calf raise (the calf raise is on the front leg as you step up)
3×15 Single leg deadlift with rotation (if you balance on your left leg, turn your head to the left as you lower your torso)
3×10 Single leg high hops!
IMG_1145IMG_1144IMG_1143IMG_1141

IMG_1148IMG_1146IMG_1140

Tree hopping to finish…
hop right leg to first tree and jog back
hop left leg to first tree, right leg to second tree and jog back
hop right leg to first tree, left to second, right to third and jog back
hop left leg to first tree, right to second, left to third, right to fourth and jog back… Repeat until you have got to 6.

IMG_1153IMG_1152IMG_1139IMG_1137IMG_1150IMG_1151IMG_1136
you get the pattern, the trees we used were the ones north of the cross roads so I’ll leave it up to you where you want to do these!
Preferably find somewhere slightly uphill to take the impact out of the hop.

       IMG_1159IMG_1158

The next day we decided to go for a 35ish mile bike ride through St Ives on the coast path and out towards Zennor before heading back to Hayle. Stu had received a new Garmin for his bike, so I found an appropriate route on Garmin Connect and we set off.

Part way through Lelant, Stu said he thought we might have taken a wrong turn. We headed through Carbis Bay and the Garmin indicated we should turn off to the left. We then looped back and were directed across the main road, so tat we reached Lelant again on a figure of eight route. We the retraced our steps to where the Garmin said that we had gone wrong. Suddenly, we took a sharp left hand turn, which took us to the foot of a very steep hill. I did the best I could, but was so unprepared for it that I struggled to climb it and decided to dismount before falling off. Stuart got further than I did before the Garmin decided that it wasn’t the right direction anyway.

IMG_1172

IMG_1171 Giew mine at Cripplesease

IMG_1175 IMG_1174

We then headed back into Lelant where I heard someone calling to us from a car window… It was Aunty Anthea and John. We had a quick chat with them before heading out towards Nancledra via Trink, then Cripplesease. When we got to Gulval we turned east and cycled towards Long Rock and Marazion, before heading back to Hayle via St Erth.

IMG_1177

Stu at St. Michael’s Mount

IMG_1176

Me at St. Michael’s Mount

Fowey Harbour Swim was perhaps the biggest challenge of the holiday. It’s a 1200m sea swim from Fowey to Polruan and back. It takes place at slack tide (when the sea is least choppy) but was still a daunting prospect. I’d been following the event on Facebook, but was filled with nerves before the event. We arrived in Fowey at about 1pm, but decided not to eat anything ahead of the swim. We walked around a bit and managed to establish that we were in the right place, so we bought some drinks and sat outside the pub, watching the gazebo being set up for the event.

IMG_1181

The view across teh harbour towards Polruan. (We had to swim around the large ship in the distance).

At 2pm, Stuart went and registered us for the swim. I was number 53. We then had a while to wait, so we just watched for a while. At 3pm, we went into the legion to get changed into our wetsuits. It was very hot on the quay, so we didn’t zip our suits up immediately. At 3:15pm there was a briefing, where the route was explained. There were quite a few people who had done the swim before, and also people who had on triathlon swimming hats. There were also quite a few children, and a few brave/hardy/crazy souls who had bikinis! We were told to ignore any stories that the fishermen had been telling about shoals of jellyfish, as we were unlikely to see any, which helped to reassure me.

Whilst waiting, the lady next to me said that people were diving in, which made me panic. I’ve never dived in anywhere and didn’t think it was a good time to try! Fortunately, we found that not everyone was diving in.

The next challenge was to climb down the harbour wall on a narrow metal ladder. This posed two problems for me – firstly, I’m scared of heights and secondly, I’d had to take off my glasses. I put on my goggles and the. Gripped the ladder firmly as I inched down the wall. Once onto the platform, I chose not to dive or jump into the unknown water, choosing to opt for sliding in off the edge.

Instantly, the cold water made my hands and feet feel cold and there was an uncomfortable sensation down my spine as the water seeped in by the zip. Brrr – chilly! I started swimming and after a few minutes, Stu went past. I then managed to find my rhythm and was doing quite well. Although the water was salty, it was nowhere near as concentrated as the lido and the slow release of swimmers meant that I knew I wouldn’t be last… And I also managed to overtake a couple of people.

Then… I saw it… A brown jellyfish just up ahead of me. I had no idea what kind of sting it could deliver and didn’t want to find out, so I quickly changed from a smooth front crawl to a panicky sideways breaststroke… Straight into the path of two serious triathletes. Oops.

compass_shane_jones

A compass jellyfish

I calmed myself down again and got back into front crawl. I could see the first marker buoy/oil drum that we had to pass. I swam close to it and was surprised how far down the chain I could see, as the water seemed so clean and clear in comparison with the lake at Eastleigh. I kept swimming and was soon turning around the ship that marked the halfway point. On the return swim, I saw a couple more jellyfish, but managed to stay calm. It wasn’t long before I reached the slipway and was presented with my first ever swimming medal. I have no idea of how long the swim took as I don’t know what the time was when I started or finished, but I still felt immensely proud of myself. Stu was waiting for me at the top of the slipway, having finished some time earlier. We quickly changed and were then able to enjoy some of the lovely refreshments that were provided.

IMG_1184

Big smiles for my first ever swimming medal 😀

IMG_1189

As the school term has now started, my cousin, Kirsty, who is a classroom assistant has got back into her usual fitness routine, which includes doing swimfit every Tuesday evening at Helston pool. Stuart has started doing swimfit in Southampton, so I thought it might be fun if we tagged along with Kirsty. There were six lanes, with lane 1 being the slowest swimmers and lane 6 being the fastest. Stu put himself in lane 3, but then he realised lane 4 was empty, so he moved up… However, he realised that he was actually swimming faster than the people in lane 5!

I spoke to the instructor and explained that I was a beginner, before I got into lane 1 with Kirsty and an old man with white trunks on. We did a warm up before starting with the lengths listed on the board. Usually, I find it difficult to keep count of my lengths in the pool and I find it a bit boring, so this really helped me to stay on track. I think it also appealed to my competitive instinct – I wasn’t trying to beat anyone else, but it gave me a goal to aim for that was ore interesting than just doing a certain number of lengths.

After doing a few lengths, it suddenly struck me that the instructor looked familiar. I asked Kirsty her name, but she wasn’t sure what it was. When I reached the end, I asked the instructor if she was called Ceri. It turned out that she was Ceri Drew who was in my class at Truro High School. She hasn’t changed much in 20 years… And was always an excellent swimmer.

I carried on swimming and was just about able to keep up with Kirsty (and stay ahead of the old man with the white trunks). By the end of the session, we had managed to do 1400m/ 54 lengths. I felt so pleased with myself and am now much more confident about signing up for swimfit when my current set of lessons finishes.

Save