Monday, 21 September 2009

Hats off everyone!!

A big hats off today goes to Lisa Cummins - she completed a two-way swim of the Channel this weekend in 35 hours and 36 minutes! Amazing. Just think about that for a moment - she swam through most of Saturday's daylight, then all through the night, then through all of Sunday's daylight, and then through a bit more darkness before walking up onto the beach. What an amazing woman. She is the first Irish person to do a two-way crossing, and the 20th person ever.

You are a class act, Lisa.

And while our hats are off - big congratulations to a couple of other swimmers whose blogs I've been following (and who are helping me out with my research). Ollie Wilkinson successfully swam the Channel at the beginning of September in a very impressive 11 hours and 6 minutes, and Julieann Galloway made it in mid-August in an awesome 9 hours and 51 minutes. Both Ollie and Julieann have got great write-ups of their swims on their blogs (and Julieann has a funny video too on her blog, courtesy of Nick Adams). Inspiring stuff for anyone gearing up for a go next year.

Well done, one and all.

Sadly, both Lisa and Becky (from the Swimtrek trip) didn't get to swim because of the bad weather at the beginning of September. Lisa was offered a later spot, but it was too late for her support crew and she decided to postpone until next year. Becky was also offered a spot on the recent Spring tide, but she decided against it since the tide was too big to give her a decent chance at the British women's record (her primary goal), so she's also postponed until next year. So watch this space.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Settling back in...

I've started to get back into something approximating (gentle) training, but it's still fairly hit and miss - I managed 4 short swims. (c. 3500m each) during the week, plus a trip to the gym, a couple of run/walk sessions in the park, and even... believe it or not...a short trip out on my bike.

I did my first club session, post Jersey, last Tuesday, and really struggled with the speed sets - all those weeks of plod mode had left me feeling like I had no other swim register to switch to. But I'm sure it will come back quickly enough. I also went to Bosworth on Saturday for a lake swim. It was a beautiful day - crisp blue sky - but when Penny and I arrived at 7.30am, there was a thick mist over the lake making it look less warm that it actually was. I have to admit that I really struggled to get in and spent far to long standing on the slipway, water up to my thighs, unable to take the final plunge. I don't think that I can really have lost the acclimatisation to cold yet; to be honest, I think it was more that I've let go of the mental habits that I'd cultivated for dealing with the cold - and especially getting in. But once I was in, it was just gorgeous. The mist was licking just above the surface of the water, and for the first lap, I couldn't see any of the usual landmarks. I kept the shore in sight to my right, and just swam. It was SO quiet, and the water was really still; from my perspective in the water, the surface looked thick, like melted chocolate (thoughts of food never far away!). After a lap or two, the mist burned away, but the water stayed still and quiet. Perfect.

Learning to love cycling is proving to be a slow process, but as I said above, I did venture out on my old road bike this week for an hour. I can't really say that I enjoyed it, but it's early days and for now I'm remaining optimistic. It's been over a year since I've ridden anything other than the 3 miles to the office on my hybrid commuting bike, so I wasn't feeling very relaxed, but I did manage to get the whole way through the ride without forgetting to unclip my feet from the pedals when I stopped, so this is something. I have spoken to lots of knowledgeable people about bikes, and have done quite a bit of browsing / testing of possible purchases, but haven't decided yet on a bike. Special mention, though, should go to my Channel relay team mate, Jamie Goodhead, who wins the prize for explaining the basics of bike geometry (and why I should care) in a way which not only made perfect sense, but which didn't give me traumatising flashbacks to every secondary school maths lesson I ever had (unlike the myriad of websites I've been reading, most of which have left me with a dull buzzing sensation behind my eyes). You never know - I might even make a decision soon....