Dissolving life’s worries

be confident

What a year it’s been so far! Didn’t think I would blog again but it’s time to record my journey. It’s been a tough ride both personally and health wise and I have faced many challenges and hurdles in the last 6 months, more than I could have ever imagined possible. To all my family and friends that have picked me up each time, either knowingly or not, I can’t thank you enough. Without you things might have been very different. One thing I have learnt is that I am stronger than I give myself credit for and am getting stronger by the day! Swimming, particularly open water, has provided the release that I needed. I’m not sure why being in the sea washes away daily stresses. It could be that it is essential thinking time without interruption or it is the natural high that you get or perhaps these and a mixture of many other things. That feeling that with every stroke a little more of life’s worries dissolves away makes it a little addictive for me. The challenge of the swim and coping with either the cold or the conditions makes it even more worthwhile.

Today’s swim reminded me of all this. It was the roughest sea swim I’ve done in a while but also one of the most enjoyable. I was relaxed and even starting to breathe bilaterally, which is a first for me in open water but something I have been getting better at in the pool. Perhaps the effort is starting to pay off? I was intending it to be a short swim especially when the biting wind got me as I got out of the car but once out and passed the breakers the cold didn’t even cross my mind. This is why I do this :)

So, onwards and upwards! I have many challenging swims to look forward to and work for over the next few months. The first of these events is just 7 weeks away. The biggest challenges booked are Champion of Champions (5 miles, 3 miles, 1 mile), a few 10k swims, Loch Ness relay and 2 way Windermere…..

Hopefully I’ll update as I go……but as always, I’ll just keep swimming :)

Saltburn

Life’s too short, just do whatever it is that makes you happy!

The Road to Windermere

It all started in 2010 when I decided that I had been inactive for long enough, entered the GNS and got myself in the pool. I began swimming a few times a week in the hope that I would reach the 64 length target before the event. I knew that swimming this in the pool would not be the same as swimming in open water so I went along to Ellerton Lake for my first ever open water swim. I hated it….I couldn’t breath properly and was very cold. I was glad when 20mins was over. Panic set in a little and a knew I’d need more practice. I tried not to become disheartened and insanity took over as rather than giving up and entered more events ‘in preparation’ for the GNS. Very quickly this became addictive…..I met loads of new people to swim with and was soon swimming open water 2-3 times per week. I completed the epic events but the GNS was cancelled that year!

After completing my final event in that year, I had a worsening of a shoulder problem and told not to swim and rest it. I stopped swimming for a several months and with treatment I was ready to swim again for the start of the season in 2011. Again entering the Epic swims and the GNS. Still swimming at Ellerton and met numerous swimmers who have all helped me along the way but 2 of them, Joanna Charlton & Mark Robson, became regular training friends. By May or June time Mark had persuaded us to ditch the wetsuits and I’ve never looked back! Joanna & I joined the BLDSA and completed our first non-wetsuit event. I then started to think about increasing the distance that I was swimming knowing that each time I would have the ‘what am I doing? I can’t do this!’ thought. 2011-2012 I kept up the swimming in the pool and open water over winter and set some ambitious targets for 2012……the ultimate being the One Way Windermere. I thought as I set this target that it wouldn’t really happen……….but here it is, the 1WW story :)

After collecting all my crew members (Jean Hyde, Sarah Trenholm, Charlie & Mark Robson) by 5:10am we set off to Bowness where we would pick up the boat. Jean and Sarah provided in car entertainment, as always! I could feel the nerves beginning to kick in and thought driving would give me something else to focus on…..I was wrong and left Mark to drive the last part of the journey. Boat picked up and left for the starting point at Fell Foot. Final run through on feeding and feeding times etc although nothing was fixed as I knew I would need to be flexible. The boat was superbly piloted by Jean right into the jetty at Fell Foot! ;) No messing about at this point as I wanted to be in and started as quick as possible.

The smile hides a thousand thoughts!

Start time 9:03 and we’re off…first hour over and first feed came quickly…Maxim at Blake Holme. I knew before this first feed that my shoulder was already starting to niggle and that I would be best to take some meds sooner, rather than later.

11:03 Maxim, gel and meds

I was passed on a number of occasions by boats, ferries etc but rarely knew about it apart from the bumpy aftermath….I loved this!

11:43 Storrs Temple I knew this was the 4 mile marker as I had heard Mark telling Jean and Sarah on the way to the start. I had already worked out the time I needed to be here to make my target of 7hrs. At this point I thought that I would be lucky to make the 7hrs…..I was struggling to do very simple time calculations in my head. Mark’s notes state ‘Storrs Temple 4 miles in 2hr40mins on schedule, exactly 40min/mile incl feeds stops. 60spm’

12:03 feed..Maxim 2 jelly babies I asked the crew to tell me when we were half way as I knew the target in my head for reaching half way (3hrs30 if on track for 7hr finish) I reached the half way point at 12:17 and told that this was the half way point which I thought would give me the lift I needed but the next hour was a challenge. All that kept going through my head was ‘that again!’

12:31 Passed Belle Island

12:40 The Lillies

12:55 Cleared Thompsons…….I have no recollection of any of these places and it felt like the crew had forgotten my feed….why were they taking so long to get the feed? I need a feed NOW! (they hadn’t, of course)

13:04 (feed 1 min late….not the many mins I thought) maxim and gel and I complained to crew ‘that was a long hour’ Mark had picked up that I wasn’t happy and was struggling a bit and told me that the next feed would be 45mins. For once, I didn’t argue.

13:33 feed 5 Maxim and gel……I was sure that wasn’t 45mins and asked Mark who replied ‘near enough’…..he had already told the others that he was going to give feeds every 30mins and knew I would grumble so when I asked he would say ‘near enough’ This probably helped massively not only was I getting the extra energy I needed but I also stopped focussing on the time and just concentrated on swimming. I felt great after this…I picked up again and really started to enjoy it. Other feeds just happened no worries about time as long as I got to the end. 15:00  maxim and told last feed and that we were about to hit 6hrs….the ecstatic feeling was unbelievable…almost finished and only 6hrs. Then doubt…are they telling me the right time, they’ve made a mistake, only saying it to spur me on etc etc etc. However the end was in sight and I was going to complete the 1WW my speed picked up along the last stretch and I finished in Ambleside in 6h:15mins:58secs. Couldn’t be happier. What an achievement!

I have a lot of people to thank for helping my along the way….the many swimmers I have met who have inspired and encouraged. My fabulous crew…..I couldn’t have done it without you! My family for putting up with the constant chilly walks along stretches of water….and putting up with mum going missing for swims, yet still providing support and encouragement. A special mention has to go to Mark Robson who has supported and encouraged me throughout and without this I would never have dreamed of doing a 1WW