Tag Archives: Fowey Harbour Swim

Fowey Harbour Swim 2014

31 Aug

IMG_3290

Today, Stuart and I travelled to Fowey for the annual Fowey Harbour Swim. This is a non-competitive charity event that was raising money for the RNLI. We took part last year and really enjoyed it, so decided to enter again this year. Last year’s course was cross the harbour and was fairly short (advertised as 1200m, it was probably not much over 800m last year). This year, the route had changed, with the swim being down the harbour from Fowey slipway to Readymoney and back, which was thought to be 1400m. There was also a shore route on offer of 800m. Unfortunately, the swim was held on the same day as the Inn-to-Inn swim near to Falmouth, which may have affected some people’s decision about whether or not to take part.

Before the event, there were quite a few people milling around and it was difficult to work out who was swimming and who was there to watch. There was also a cruise ship moored in the harbour so I imagine that quite a few of the smartly dressed older people were passengers. The event attracts a wide variety of people from young children through to seasoned wild swimmers, many of whom decided to forgo wetsuits in favour of frilly swimming costumes and novelty hats.

IMG_3289

Last year, I was terrified before the swim as I had never swum that far before, but after my recent sea-swimming exploits at Weymouth, I was feeling much more confident… although the lithe physiques of most of the women under the age of forty meant that I was under no illusion that I would compare particularly favourably with others.

There was a short briefing where the new course was explained and then we lined up to go down the steps. Stu and I were near the front of the queue. There was a little bit of sand at the bottom of the steps and several people were lingering there, uncertain as to whether they should just get in and start swimming, or whether there were would be a more official start. I knew the water would feel cool as the sun had been beating down on us, but I didn’t expect it to feel as chilly as it was.

I waded in a few steps and then set off. The water felt cold on my face, and I was grateful that I had used my inhaler before the start. I could feel the icy water gradually seeping down the zip of my wetsuit, but forced myself to ignore it and continue swimming. I felt quite relaxing, possibly for three reasons: I knew that I should be able to swim 1400m without any problems; the sea was beautifully calm (the swim is timed to coincide with slack water, so it starts half an hour before the tide turns); there had been no mention of jellyfish in the briefing, unlike last year.

I wasn’t exactly sure which point we were swimming to (other than the fact that it would be marked with a yacht called ‘Ratty’ – I’m assuming that it was named in homage to Kenneth Grahame who was married in the local church), so I thought that as long as I was following other people, I must be going in the right direction.

A few people passed me in the first two or three minutes and then after that, only the odd person went past. We had to navigate through a few small boats that were moored in the harbour and then we swam over some kelp beds. The dark coloured seaweed and the relatively low tide meant that in places the water was much warmer. I saw quite a large fish swimming in amongst the seaweed – I’m not sure what kind of fish it was – it looked like a pilchard to me, but I’m no ichthyologist!

Quite a large chap swam past with a fluorescent buoy attached to him. He was moving at an amazing pace for someone doing breaststroke – I was very impressed. For most of the swim out, I kept pace with a chap who had on a light blue swimming hat. Every now and again, he would veer off course and ten do some breaststroke, so it wasn’t too difficult to keep up with him.

I was trying to think about swimming with good technique (or at least to think about using my legs every now and again), but the surroundings kept distracting me. We were swimming along the coast and every time I breathed to my right, I could see steps in the cliffs, secret doorways and the remains of old buildings. It is easy to see how the coastline could have inspired writers such as Daphne Du Maurier.

Finally, the man in the blue hat started to turn. As I got closer to the small boat, I could read the name, ‘Ratty’ on its prow, so I started to swim around it. Unfortunately, the boat didn’t seem to want to let me pass – the more I swam across the harbour, the further out the boat drifted. I must have swum at least a dozen strokes before deciding to give up and swim back the way I came around the boat. I could hear the kayakers laughing, but I felt a little frustrated. By the time I finally got past the yacht, the man in the blue had had a definite lead.

IMG_3291

I was a bit tempted to look at my watch to see how far I’d swum and what pace I was swimming at, but I didn’t want to break my rhythm. As I hadn’t been passed by many swimmers, I expected to see quite a few people as I was on my return journey, but there were not many people in the water. I saw a couple of men breaststroking on their outward journey – they could have only done a few hundred metres when I passed them. The lack of swimmers makes me wonder whether most people opted to do the shorter swim.

I think I was swimming closer to the cliffs on my return journey. The water looked very shallow – as if I could stand up – but I’ve learned that it is often much deeper than it looks. I was also having a few problems with my goggles. They weren’t letting in water, but my right eye felt like it was full of salt-water and I was struggling to open it, which wasn’t comfortable, so I decided to tread water for a bit to try to adjust my goggles.

I had to negotiate my way amongst lots of small boats on the way back and I also saw another fish. A kayaker spoke to me, but I didn’t understand what he said. I thought it might be a warning about the ferry or one of the other boats, so I stopped and asked him to repeat what he’d said. It turned out to be: “Well done! You’re nearly there – not far now!”

I could see children on the sand at the water’s edge and think I was swimming in very shallow water, but I didn’t want to stop swimming. Eventually, I could see people standing on the beach, so I stood up and waded over. I was congratulated on my swim and given a medal, before I walked back up the steps.

I glanced at my watch – 1822m… so quite a bit longer than the suggested 1400m and not far off the 1900m that I have to swim in two weeks time. I wondered whether it was because of my dodgy sighting, but everyone I spoke to who had measured it made it over 1800m. I completed the swim in 45 minutes, which I was quite pleased with. I could have gone faster, but I was not treating it as a race. Stu was one of the first two people to finish – he did it in about 29 minutes.

There was some lovely tomato and butterbean soup on offer with a large freshly baked roll. I ate the roll and some of the soup before going to get changed. After putting on some warm clothes, I finished off the soup and had a lovely sticky toffee muffin whilst watching some of the last swimmers finishing.

Overall, I really enjoyed the event and hope that Stu and I can take part again next year. The organisation is excellent, and the number of boats and kayakers out on the water meant that swimmers of all ability feel safe at all times. The medal at the end and the fantastic catering mean that this event is great value for money… and it’s even better knowing that the money raised is going to support Fowey’s lifeboat.

Crazy swimming PB!

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