Sunday, 21 June 2009

Champion of Champions - that had to be more than 9miles!

Well a weekend somewhat reminiscent of my first trip to Dover at the start of May. Saturday started with the Champion of champions race in Dover Harbour - a 5mile race at 9.15am, followed by a 3mile race at 1.30pm, followed by a 1 mile race at 4.30pm. Before I start bragging I suppose I better fess up, yes, I was beaten by a girl. My total aggragate times of 3hrs 39min left me first male and 2nd overall, 1 and a half minutes behind last years' winner Caroline Ball. Although I am chuffed at winning another oversized trophy I suffered in the 3 mile race after over cooking it somewhat in the 5 mile. I finished 1st in the 5 mile by a couple of minutes and had pushed hard at the end to try and maximise my over-all lead and about half way through the 3 mile race my muscles were so lactated up that I had a struggle to even finish feeling physically exhausted and cold. The last 1 mile race was a comfortable "sprint" and although I made up some more time on Caroline I had lost too much in the 3 mile finishing behind some of the youngsters who hadn't already done the previous races (having chosen only to compete in the shorter events). I learnt some useful lessons though. Firstly - the cold water is not very forgiving if you fatigue yourself by sprinting when you need to be conserving. Secondly although they describe it as a 1 mile circuit, they also described it like that last year when the same swimmers where swimming 6-10minutes quicker per lap, so either it was very short last year or somewhat long this year. Personally it felt like a long mile to me (especially the 7th and 8th miles).

I stayed in Dover Saturday night in preparation for a long training swim on Sunday morning. I had hoped to do 4 hours in the water but after only two I was really suffering in the cold. I didn't feel significantly fatigued but I couldn't warm up and as I stopped for a 2hour feed it took all of my willpower to push off again and after just under 3hours I got out. I guess the 9mile race had probably taken more out of me than I cared to admit, I certainly hadn't felt the cold after the 5mile race the day before which I had swum in just under 2hrs, but I was dissapointed not to have been able to keep going. So much of the long cold swimming is about mental fortitude and knowing you can keep swimming when your body doesn't want to. I still have much to work on. I think my fitness is very good but as they say it's 20% physical and 80% mental. The water temperature now is about 14.5 degrees but will be 3 or 4 degrees warmer when I make my attempt in September. My goal now has to be to do more and more long cold swims and build up my tolerance and mental strength in the cold water. A few more kilos of fat wouldn't hurt either.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

50km, 1000 lengths, one pool.

Big week of training in the LIDO this week. As I finished my 12km pool set this morning (longest pool set to date) I totted up the kms and was glad to have reached the 50km I had set for the week. That's 1000 lengths this week. I was met by Ron at the gate on the way out, Ron is as much a feature of the LIDO as the brickwork, and thanks to 78years in the sunshine he is just as brown. Ron filled me in on some of the lifeguards who have attempted the channel swim. "There was a girl here once who trained all summer" he said, "She headed down to Dover at the start of September and sat waiting all month for the weather to clear and never got a start. Then there was this lad who was going to be the first chap to swim it backstroke. He got to within a few miles of France and was vomiting up over his face, in the end the tide turned and he was getting swept backwards 200m for every 100m he swam so they pulled him out". I think at that moment Ron felt slightly sorry for me, "of course you'll make it" he added quickly. "Thanks Ron" I muttered, at least the vomit is less likely to hit your face when you are swimming frontcrawl I suppose.

Next weekend I am looking forward to a trip to Dover and the Champion of Champions race - a 9 mile race, split as 5, 3 and 1 mile races. I shall make a weekend of it with a big swim in the harbour Sunday morning also. The water temperature is a balmy 14.5 degrees according to the weather station in the channel. I think the pink budgy smugglers might get an outing. Don't think I'll be bothering with backstroke.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Speedo swimsuit size = barrel

I have a few pool competitions this year and have decided to retire my now rather threadbare fastskin swim suit. I was trying to work out my size on the speedo sizing chart and discovered that I don't comfortably fit into their S, M, L, XL range. My height and leg length seems to put me into a medium suit but my chest and waist are somewhat off the top of the scale. With all the training I have gained 4 inches around the chest (44inch) and all the eating has given me an extra 2 around the waist. I am officially a barrel size, or as my wife gleefully suggested 'squat'. Strangely 'barrel' or 'squat' are not part of the official sizing chart. I'll probably just stick with medium and hope the zip doesn't give way with all the strain required to keep my man boobs in check. Of course I could just stick with the budgy smugglers, maybe I'll wear them on the outside?

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Grecian swimming and another win for the smugglers

Well a very enjoyable week of swimming in the warm Mediterranean waters. Almost 50km was achieved in a very pleasant fashion. Swimming through warm (20 degrees), calm, clear blue sea water, good for the mileage but in terms of similarities to swimming the English Channel probably only the salt content was much the same. I think the locals thought I was pretty mad, one day I swam most of the length of the island to join the family for lunch (8km) and then afterwards swam back again. The waiter who served us was interested to hear what I was doing that day, he said "I don't think anyone's ever done that", I got the distinct impression he was thinking no one would want to swim up and down the length of the island when there was perfectly good roads to drive on.

So recap for May - 192.5km, won the Lido sprint, swam in Dover Harbour and froze my bol*&cks. Plan for June - swim in Champion of Champions race in Dover Harbour, 1500m pool race and otherwise lots more swimming, see if I can top 200km for the month and 85kg!

I had the pleasure of a lake swim on Thursday evening, a 1.9km (approx) race in Herefordshire. Out came the pink Budgys. Not a particularly big field (about 40 swimmers), good to see 3 others who weren't wearing wetsuits (one of them being Dave Granger another channel aspirant). The water temp was surprisingly warm (low 20s) but the visibility (none) was more reminiscent of Dover Harbour. I shot off at the start and found I had opened a comfortable lead by the first buoy - the benefits of all this fitness is knowing that your are not going to struggle on the 2nd lap of a 1.9km swim. I finished 2.5 minutes ahead of the nearest wetsuit. I was slightly put out by the 2nd placed swimmer who claimed he lost my feet because I swam off course towards the first buoy, the fact that he was over 2 minutes slower than me seemed to have been lost on him.

We had another good training session yesterday morning at the Lido. I say "we" although "we" has grown from 4 swimmers to about 15. Apart from Dave and myself the rest are triathletes (and therefore wetsuited). I started off a month ago doing my own thing, fitting in a 4km session in an hour. Gradually it got modified to allow for other swimmers who tagged on the back and now it has become a regular feature with more and more people joining the session at the back of the lane. Somehow I have become session creator and lane leader. As long as they understand it's my lane, my session and my way or the highway I don't think there will be a problem.