Things were going so well...It's been a struggle since January to get the hours in the pool that I need, but I've managed to keep going, finally hitting the open water in May and building to several 6 hours swims, including a couple of back-to-back sessions. Each time, I was tired, but left the water feeling good and without any aches or pains. I was feeling optimistic, and began my taper for my planned Windermere weekend (2-way, followed by a 1-way) when out of nowhere, three days before the Windermere swims, and during a very gentle hour in the pool, I got a slight niggle in my left elbow. It was nothing major, but it was new. The joint felt a bit stiff afterwards, but the next day it seemed okay, so in I went again, just for a gentle paddle, but back it came, more insistently this time. Damn.
I booked an emergency sports massage appointment, and later that day, the wonderful, relentless Christine massaged my left arm to within an inch of its life. Already, I could feel that a lot of the tightness that had caused the problem had gone, but sadly, it was too late to risk doing the Windermere swims and reluctantly decided to cancel. I felt terrible, especially since Mark Robson and Amanda Bell had generously set aside the time to crew for me, but given the residual post-massage soreness that lasted several days, I'm convinced that this was the right decision and that this will give me the best chance of getting to Geneva in one piece. But one of the undesirable consequences of inserting a long swim into the training cycle as a confidence-builder is that when that swim can't happen because of injury, it's a bit of a confidence-crusher and I am feeling full of self-doubt.
So now, I'm awash with indecision. The elbow is heaps better, but not quite 100% (yet?), but unfortunately time is not on my side and I can't wait around indefinitely to decide for all kinds of logistical and financial reasons. So I have to choose very soon whether to just commit, give it a bit more recovery time and then go for it, or to err on the side of caution and postpone until next year. There are many reasons why I don't want to pick the latter option - I've really had to work hard to get the training in this year, and I'm not sure I'm going to be able to repeat this next year, particularly since I have an even heavier workload in front of me; but also, after putting in all that work, I don't want to waste it. But then again....after all this time and money, I don't want to go into the swim without having done everything possible to succeed. With 7 weeks to go, and having already had time out to taper for the Windermere swims and then recover from the injury, there's not a lot of slack left in the training schedule. AAARGH. I just don't know.
Ultimately, I'm hoping that my elbow will make the choice for me, so I'm off to the Lakes this weekend to do a couple of long swims. If it feels okay, then I'll commit to going for it; if it doesn't, then I'll have to pull the plug for now and try to come back next year.
It's not how I hoped all this would go, but it's an occupational hazard for a sport like this, so I can only hope that the right decision becomes clear over the next few days.
And in the mean time, make sure you're following the 2016 8 Bridges swim, this year with the added ability to track the swimmers (courtesy of Evan Morrison's new tracker app) as they progress down the river each day. You might as well give up on doing any work now and settle down to watch - it's easier that way.