Tag Archives: sea swimming

Long Course Weekend: Swim

9 Jul

This weekend, Stuart and I headed off to Tenby for the Long Course Weekend with a couple of friends, Roelie and Sergio.

Originally, I intended to train for the full weekend as a precursor to doing my first Ironman next year. I’ve swim the distance before and have completed 5 marathons, but I’ve only cycled 100 miles (rather than 112 miles)… And I’ve not done it all back-to-back!

Anyway, as I’m 6.5 months pregnant, I’ve dropped my distances down to 1.9k; 45 miles and 10k whereas Stu is doing the whole event.

We arrived just after 3pm, so headed for a car park in town to go straight to registration. As we were entering the car park, I spotted former LRR Kelly and her husband, Ed.

The registration hall was quite busy and very hot. As I was in the queue, I spotted Roelie, so we agreed to meet up after we had finished registering. Roelie has also decided to do the 10k run, so she went to buy a coach ticket. I didn’t realise that I needed to buy one, so it was fortunate that we bumped into her.

Stuart pointed out that we ought to eat before the swim, so we went to a nearby bar and ordered some pizzas. I can’t eat nearly as much as I used to, so after I’d had half of it, I felt completely full.

Just as we left the bar, we spotted Sergio running down the street. We called him over and the 4 of us agreed to meet outside our hotel at 5:30pm.

Roelie led the three of us down a shortcut to the beach. It was quite a precarious zig-zag trail, so I was glad I had proper shoes on!


(c) Roelie Hempel


(c) Roelie Hempel


(c) Roelie Hempel

On the beach, we saw our first jellyfish of the day – a large barrel jellyfish. There has been a lot of talk online about how many would be around, but they don’t bother me as much as they used to.

I was a little nervous about the swim as the water temperature was said to be 14.5C and I don’t cope well with cold water. Also, I’ve had a bad cold this week, so I was worried that the temperature would set off my asthma and I would have to withdraw.

After we handed out bags in, we went down to the beach. We had expected to have 15 minutes for acclimatisation, but they were already telling people to head towards the start pen. As I was getting my goggles on, Stu said hello to Gemma Marshall. Gemma used to train with LRR and STC and is a fantastic all-around athlete.

Fortunately the temperature of the water didn’t feel that bad in the acclimatisation swim, which gave me a bit of confidence. Also, the sea looked calm, which was good as I’ve only swim 1.2k in open water so far this year.

There were huge crowds on the cliffs and beach and a massive sound system, which created a party atmosphere. We had to wait in the start pen for over 20 minutes, which was a little nerve-wracking. I chatted to some other women at the back of the pen, although it’s hard to have a conversation when you have ear plugs in and it’s very noisy!

The gun sounded and fireworks went off. For safety reasons, I started at the very back. This was a wise decision as Roelie, who started mid pack, said it was one of the roughest swims she has done in terms of being swum over and hit by other competitors.

I think my sighting to the first buoy was good – I noticed that most swimmers at the back were hugging the shoreline, which must have added distance and was also choppier. A few people were a bit disoriented and we’re heading straight for me, so a kayaker had to redirect them!

Unfortunately, there were a lot of boats in the bay and so on my way to the second buoy, I had to ask a kayaker to point it out to me – I turned out to be hidden behind a lifeboat.

After rounding the second buoy, the sea got much choppier and it seemed to take an eternity to reach the third buoy. It was also a lot busier. By the time I entered the water, the fastest swimmers were half way to the second buoy, so they started passing me. Stu saw me on this section, but I was focusing on ‘Just keep swimming’ as there was a 1 hour cut off.
Despite the enormous barrel jellyfish we saw on the beach when we arrived, I only saw a couple and 2-3 smaller (moon?) jellyfish. Everyone had said there were lots of jellyfish around, but it was a little overcast, so perhaps that’s why I didn’t see more.

I hadn’t realised that the timing was gun to chip, so my official finish time was 1:10… Starting at the back of 2000+ swimmers means a long wait. My Garmin said 1:01. I was a little disappointed not to have finished in under an hour, but I need to be kinder to myself at the moment.

LCW swim 1 LCW swim 2 LCW swim 3

Stu was waiting for me at the finish. His official time was 1:03, so he was interviewed by the TV crew as he finished with the elites.

Sadly, I don’t think Stu has realised just how well he did. He was in the top 10 finishers doing the full long course weekend, so was meant to have a full time trial start from a ramp for the bike leg at 8am. He was totally unaware of this as he set off for his 7:30am mass start. I hope that somehow someone told him! As for me, I have until 12:45 to wait for my bike leg.

The medals that finishers get are quite impressive. Gemma Marshall shared a fantastic photo of her medal – I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing it here:


Scilly Swim Challenge – the big day!

12 Sep
Osmo preload

Osmo preload

We’d got everything ready the night before, so just needed to get dressed and eat breakfast. I opted for porridge with protein powder (as usual), and a bottle of Osmo preload (kindly provided by ProBikeKit). The night before, Roelie and I had drunk a bottle each of Osmo preload hydration in pineapple margarita flavour. I could taste the pineapple, but hadn’t realised it was margarita flavour, so it was tangier than I expected. It is recommended that female endurance athletes drink a bottle the night before extreme endurance exercise and some more 30 minutes before exercise. I figured that it might be more than 30 minutes before I started exercising, but that a bit early would be better than not at all.

Unfortunately, we weren’t quite as organised as we’d hoped and when Chris, the swimmer in the apartment next to us, knocked on the door, we weren’t ready. Five minutes later, we headed down the path towards the beach, where everyone was waiting. The sky was grey and the water looked cold and uninviting, but it was too late to back out now. Jane, our host, arrived with her camera and took a photo of the group of us. I also spotted someone with a SUTRI hat on, so we went over and said hello.


Soon, we saw the kayaks appear, so we finished putting our wetsuits on and clambered down onto the beach. There, three flags were set up and the baggage boat had arrived. I took my bag over and was then asked by a ‘skins’ swimmer if I could deposit her bag – this made me so nervous as I was afraid that I might drop it in the water.

I’d made the decision to wear my new wetsuit, with bootees, gloves and two hats. I chose not to wear my neoprene hat as it’s just not very comfortable. (Later in the day I spoke to a swimmer who had a strapless neoprene hat. She explained that it was made by P-Bear, who custom make a variety of neoprene swimming hats – that’s now been added to my Amazon wish list!)

We were told that we would set off in waves with the red/fast group going first, followed by orange/medium and then the green/slow group last. I gave Stu a final hug and the adventure started.

Stuart's pre-event selfie

Stuart’s pre-event selfie

Swim 1. Bar Point, St Mary’s to Higher Town, St Martins (2 miles; 3.2k)

There was about 10 minutes between each of the waves, so there was plenty of time to get nervous. I tried to set off at the front of the group, but it was a bit like the mass start in a triathlon. The water didn’t feel terribly warm and I realised that I hadn’t used my inhaler – oops. I did my best to keep up, but could see others pulling away, so I decided to try to keep as many people within my sight as possible.

I didn’t really have a clear idea of where I was heading, but felt that following others should be OK. After we had got a little distance from the shore, I realised just how choppy it was. I felt like I was constantly being slapped by the water, so I had to change my breathing. For a short while, I was breathing on every other stroke, just to avoid being hit in the face.

Luckily, everything started to settled down and I swam for quite a long time. Sadly, I was approached by a kayaker and was told that I needed to be picked up by a boat. I had been aware that this was a possibility, but it was somewhat disappointing. The adverse weather conditions and the late start meant that it was necessary to hurry some of the group up. I climbed into a boat that already had two swimmers in it and was moved about 300m, where I was offered the chance to get back in to rejoin the other swimmers. One of the ladies was too cold and didn’t want to get in, but I literally jumped at the chance. Usually, I lower myself very carefully into water, as I hate being submerged, but I didn’t want to miss out, so I closed my eyes, held my nose and launched myself off the side of the boat. I then swam as quickly as I could to catch up with the other swimmers.

When I climbed up the steps on the quay, I saw my bag, but couldn’t see Stu or Roelie who had already headed off. I got my flip-flops out and put them on over my swim socks, which fortunately have a split toe. I then saw Bryony. It was nice to see a familiar face and she was incredibly positive.

When I arrived at the cricket pitch, people were eating and ranking everywhere. I had a small piece of cake and a veggie hot dog, along with a cup of tea. I then drank some more Osmo mango during exercise drink. Maybe technically I should have been drinking it whilst swimming, but I figured that between swims would also count as ‘during exercise’.

A bad picture of Stu at the cricket pitch

A bad picture of Stu at the cricket pitch

Roelie enjoying a cup of tea

Roelie enjoying a cup of tea

I removed my bootees for the walk to Lower Town; swapping them for a cosy pair of socks and some Skechers. The weather was starting to brighten up, but I wanted to stay warm.

On the way across the island, a car wanted to go past. Most people stepped off the road, and I managed to walk into a patch of stinging nettles – ouch! If I hadn’t removed my bootees, I would have been OK. I didn’t have any cream to put on my leg, but I figured that the cold water would be soothing!

Stuart and Roelie having a laugh in the sun

Stuart and Roelie having a laugh in the sun

Stuart and Roelie

Stuart and Roelie

The view towards Tresco fomr St Martin's

The views were stunning

Tamsyn and Stuart

A rare picture of Stu and I together.

View towards Tresco from St. Martin's

There aren’t many photos of me from the day, but whenever I wasn’t in the water, I had on my cherished Team SOAS beanie to keep me warm 🙂

View towards Tresco from St. Martin's View towards Tresco from St. Martin's

Swim 2. Lower Town, St Martins to New Grimsby, Tresco (1.8 miles; 2.9k) (lunch)

At Lower Town, I decided not to put my bootees back on as I’m never convinced that they help with my swimming, even if they do keep my feet warm. I think the problem is that they were a great bargain (£5), but I would probably have been better off with a slightly smaller size.

This was a tough swim. Every time that I thought I could see the beach that we were heading towards, we had to swim away from it and through some rocks. However, I managed to stay calm and reminded myself of Dory’s catchphrase: ‘Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…’

When we arrived at Tresco, the sun came out which was lovely. People started to warm up and as it was quite a long walk, there were a lot of opportunities to chat to people. I had a chat with the amazing swimming ambassador, Beth French. She explained that her next challenge is to swim the Seven Channels and that she is currently seeking sponsorship for this endeavour.

The weather was really grey when we arrived at Tresco and there were even a few spots of rain.

Tamsyn in the sea

That’s me emerging in the background

Tamsyn in the seaTamsyn in the sea

People were sitting around in the field by the community centre eating and drinking, but the mood was slightly more subdued.

Roelie and Tamsyn

Roelie and I enjoying a well-earned break

I didn’t fancy a pasty (and didn’t think there were any veggie ones), so I had a small cup of soup and a snickers. Then I rummaged around in my bag and found the nectar of the gods: Honey Stinger energy chews in cherry cola flavour. I was sent them by ProBikeKit and was keen to try them. They tasted good and were easy to digest. They also had the benefit of having caffeine in them, which helped to perk me up.

Swim 3. Old Grimsby, Tresco to Annaquay, Bryher (1 mile; 1.6k)

As the swim from Tresco to Bryher is very short, we were told that we would be setting off very close together. The green group went first. We were told what to aim for and were horrified to discover that the spectator boat had suddenly decided to start moving and was going through the pack of swimmers :-O It was only afterwards that we realised that this was simply our impression, and that actually it was because the current was so strong that some of us were pushed towards the boat.

I really enjoyed this swim as the water was very calm and the sun was out. It didn’t take long and we could easily see where we were heading. It was also nice not to be one of the last.


Yes, you are seeing correctly – the cakes are on the altar!


Swimmers in church

Sitting in church surrounded by swimmers in lycra and neoprene with swimming hats still on their heads is probably the strangest thing that I’ve ever witnessed

Stained glass window

The stained glass windows showed scenes from the Scillies with appropriate text, rather than traditional religious images.


Stu warming up in the sun



Roelie discovered that it wasn’t easy to remove her wetsuit whilst wearing her Garmin!

Swim 4. Rushy Bay, Bryher to Samson (no stopping) (1/2 mile; 800m)

In the briefing before this swim we were told that if we were considering not doing the long swim, we shouldn’t do this one as it would be difficult to pick people up. Lots of people decided to pull out and the green group ended up waiting for about 20 minutes for the bags to be loaded onto a boat, the other swimmers to set off and for the new spectators/retired swimmers to be picked up.

Weed Scilly

As you can see in this picture, there was a lot of long seaweed! © Joanna Clegg

I had a chat with the team and explained how keen I was to give it all a go, but that I appreciated that they had to consider everyone’s safety, so if I needed to be picked up, that would be OK.

The short swim over to Samson was fine. I crossed the sandbar with a skins swimmer and then we were into a rocky/seaweedy area.

Swim 5. Stony Ledge, Samson to Porth Conger, St Agnes (3.3 miles; 5.3k)

When we had crossed Samson, the water wasn’t deep enough to swim, but it was hard to see the bottom because of the long strands of seaweed, so some people tried to swim. I was grateful that I had my bootees on and managed to keep wading. It was difficult for the kayakers, so they went around the side. Unfortunately, we didn’t properly regroup before starting again. By this stage, we could’t see the previous waves.

It was getting quite cold and the wind had got up, so the sea became increasingly rough. I did everything I could to keep other swimmers in my sights. I managed to hang onto another swimmer, which gave me some confidence as I’ve realised that I really hate feeling alone at sea when I’m quite a long way from the shore.

I think I swam for 1.5-2km before a kayaker came near. I really struggle to hear when I have ear plus in and with the rough sea, I really couldn’t understand what the kayaker was saying. I thought they were directing me to the boat, so I swam over.

The people in the boat were surprised and asked me whether I wanted to be picked up, which caused a bit of a dilemma. There were already two swimmers huddled in the boat and I didn’t want to quit, but I had now lost my swimming buddy, I reluctantly climbed aboard, managing to severely bruise my shins.

I felt like a quitter, but felt slightly better when I heard calls go out on the radio to start picking up the rest of the green wave. We were transferred to the spectator boat, where everyone was very generous. We were offered dry robes, scarves, hats and various other items of clothing, which I declined as I really didn’t feel cold.

When we got to the quay at St Agnes, we were just in time to see the first of the red wave swimmers arrive.

I disembarked and found my bag. I was then asked to keep an eye on a swimmer who was crouched on the quay with a dry robe on. He was a skins swimmer who was shaking with the cold. I asked a spectator if they would be able to get the man a hot drink and they generously gave their hot drink. Unfortunately, the swimmer’s hands were shaking so badly that he was unable to drink it.

Swimmers on St Agnes

There were bags all over the quay

Some of the few swimmers who made it to St Agnes

Some of the few swimmers who made it to St Agnes

I put on my dry robe and headed up the quay to where the hot drinks and cake were. I then walked down to look for Stu’s bag to help him when he arrived, but I was too late – he was already there. He said that he had done 4km, but although his arms and legs were moving, the sea was so rough and the current was so strong that he had not been moving and had been fished out. I later learned that half of the orange wave had been picked up (Roelie was also picked up) and several other red wave swimmers. I was disappointed, but it made me feel less bad about being collected.

I decided to refuel with a few more Honey Stinger energy chews and some Osmo so that I would have enough energy to keep swimming. I was pleased that I wasn’t feeling too fatgiued. I hadn’t been sure of what my nutrition strategy should be, but everything I ate seemed to work well.

A decision then needed to be made about the final leg. I was determined to do my best to finish what I had started, but in the end, the decision was taken out of my hands. Some of the swimmers were close to hypothermia, the wind had become much stronger and the light was failing, so it was decided that it was not safe for us to try to finish the event.

Roelie and Tamsyn

I really need to work on my selfie skills!

Roelie, Tamsyn and Stuart

Selfie with Roelie and Stuart

I’m not sure that these pictures from the boat trip back show just how rough it was.

IMG_6264 IMG_6262 IMG_6261   IMG_6258

When we got back, we then had the trek across the island. We had forgotten to bring a torch with us, but were able to enjoy the sunset.


In the evening when I got back, I showered and then slathered on some Flexiseq sport. I wasn’t sure whether it would work, but my muscles and joints were aching and I knew I needed to be ready to swim again in the morning.

Swim 6. Porth Conger, St Agnes to Porthcressa, St Mary’s (2.2 miles; 3.5k)

I had been looking forward to celebrating on Saturday night, but a good night’s sleep meant that I was ready to tackle the final swim. I wasn’t aching particularly, although my legs were very bruised and my neck was chafed – I’m taking the lack of weary muscles as being a sign that the Flexiseq worked. Roelie also felt prepared, but Stu’s arms were shot from his valiant effort the night before. As he has a torn calf muscle, he is unable to kick, so his entire swim had been arms only.

Morning briefing Scilly

The morning briefing © Gordon Adair

Stuart accompanied Roelie and I on our walk to the other side of St. Mary’s. I had a much smaller bag than the day before as I knew I wouldn’t need multiple pairs of shoes or lots of nutrition. There was also a much smaller group of swimmers than the previous day; I noticed several of the slower swimmers had decided not to do the final leg.

We walked to the  quay at St. Mary’s and were loaded into a boat to go to St. Agnes. Stuart wasn’t able to come so he headed off towards the garrison to be able to watch the swimmers.

When we got to St Agnes, we put our warm clothes and bags onto the boat and got into our groups. As usual, the green wave was the last to leave

Waiting for the start of the final swim. I can be seen near the front of the group in a wetsuit with purple cuffs and ankles.

We were asked to try to stick together a group as much as possible. I went to the front of the group near to Beth French, in the hope that I would get a good start and would be able to stick with some of the other swimmers.

© Joanna Clegg

It wasn’t long before the majority of the group started pulling away from me. I saw two swimmers off to my left, so I decided to keep them in my sight and try to make my way towards then. Not long after, a kayaker pulled in front of us and pointed out that we were swimming as a 2, a solo (me), and another two with Beth and that we would be better off sticking together. This seemed logical to me, so we had to tired water until the other had caught up. We then set off again, but one woman decided to strike out on her own. A second swimmer and I tried to keep up but we couldn’t catch her. Unfortunately, this meant that we pulled away from the skins swimmers.

When we got into the most open part of the channel (where the Scillonian goes), it was again very choppy. I wasn’t really sure where I was aiming. I had been keeping an eye on the swimmer on my left, but I lost her in the swell. After a few minutes, I started to panic (if you’ve read any f my other blog posts about sea swimming, you’ll notice that this is a common theme – I really hate the feeling of loneliness when I out at sea). I knew I had to keep moving, but negative thoughts started to enter my mind and I was considering attracting the attention of a kayaker or a boat (although I couldn’t see them either). Just as I got to my most panicky, I spied the other swimmer who was now on my right. Her appearance was enough to calm me down a bitIMG_6293IMG_6295

A short while later, the two of us got to calmer water nearer to land. A kayaker gave us some instructions – I didn’t understand a word – and I set off with the other swimmer. It is so reassuring to know that there are other people around.

I could finally see Porthcressa beach in the distance. The sun was shining and the water was calmer and warmer. I knew it was quite a way off, but I started to feel much happier – the same feeling when you get to 23 miles in a marathon and you know you can do the last bit!

Stuart was up on the cliffs, so he took a lot of photos of the swimmers coming in.

We then got to a very seaweedy bit. The water is so clear by the Isles of Scilly, so I could easily see the bottom, even though it was very deep. This distracted me quite a lot as there was so much to look at. I saw lots of fish, a couple of jellyfish and some crabs 🙂

After a while, I got through the seaweed bit, and then I got very cold. I wondered whether I had pushed myself too hard and I didn’t want to be removed for the water, but it was the coldest water I had encountered during the weekend. I decided to try to pick up the speed in the hope of warming up. I started kicking quite hard and making my strokes as long as possible.


Finally, I made it. I went to put my feet down… oops… the deceptively clear water meant it was still too deep. I swam a few more strokes and then stumbled onto the beach.


I went over for a hot drink, and another slice of cake and watched the last swimmers arrive. It had been a tough weekend, but I achieved a seemingly impossible goal.

Tamsyn and Bryony Lishman

Celebrating with Bryony at the end


I watched the last swimmers come in and then we headed off for some more food!

When I got back, I had a shower and used some more Flexiseq Sport.

In the evening, we went over to St Martins for the celebration event.

looking back towards St. Mary's

This shot was intended to give an impression of how far apart the islands are.

Karma at St Martin's

Arriving for the party

It was really nice to have a celebratory drink and some food with everyone who had taken part in the event, but to be honest, we were all so tired that we wanted to go home and go to sleep!



the harbour at St. Mary's

The harbour at St. Mary’s

So, that was the end of an amazing week. Below are some images that I took on the Scillonian on the way back from St Mary’s to Penzance.

Tamsyn and Stuart

Selfie with Stu

Land's End

Land’s End

St. Michael's Mount

St. Michael’s Mount



When we finally got back into the harbour, there were sailing boats everywhere. The wind that had plagued us for the week had finally gone and the boats were becalmed.



A video showing what it was like for the fast swimmers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4Snz-Hf-pE

Write up on the event by Beth French: http://www.h2openmagazine.com/features/scilly-swim-takes-biscuitand-cakeand-pasty/#sthash.jUB75Jnv.dpbs


Reflecting on the forthcoming Scilly Swim Challenge

19 Aug

It’s only 2.5 weeks until my “A-race” (*it’s not a race, it’s a challenge!) and I’m starting to get nervous.

I met with my coach, Olly, today to map out my training for the next two weeks. There are quite a few things that I’d like to do between now and 5th September – including an RR10 (club race), a sprint triathlon and some parkruns – but I need to be sensible and only focus on training that will help me and not doing junk miles that will fatigue me. I’ve scheduled in several swim sessions per week and have cut right back on the running and cycling (although I’ll still be cycling to work every day). I also have a brand new pair of trainers, so I may sneak in a slow jog to try them out.

We’ve received an outline plan for the Scilly Swim weekend, which starts on…

Fri 4 September:

1400 to 1600hrs – Registration for all, Porthmellon Beach, Hugh Town, St Mary’s. Please have identification and sign the disclaimer. You will receive your swim hat, some goodies and entry number, we will mark your number on your ankle and hand.

1800 to 1900hrs – event brief and 1 mile acclimatisation swim from Porthmellon beach (please note this is compulsory and will give you a feel for the water and allows us to confirm pods for each swimmer).

Stu, Roelie and I will already be on the island, so making the registration session shouldn’t be a problem. It’ll also be fun to see the event swimming hat. I’ve got lots of swimming hats from events that I’ve done and I’ve never worked out what to do with them – I’ve got plenty in my training bag and will never get through them all. I’m wondering whether to turn them into bunting for my training room. Anyone got any good suggestions?

ScillySwim hat2014

I’m thinking of taking my old 2XU wetsuit to use for the acclimatisation swim. This will mean that my new wetsuit will be dry for the first swim of the day on Saturday. I have no idea where the acclimatisation swim will go, but I’ll need to make sure that I can complete the mile within 40 minutes.

After the acclimatisation swim on the Friday night everyone will be allocated a swim pod (either Red, Amber or Green) with matching swim cap colour and allocated kayak and safety boat cover. I’m assuming that red will be the slow group, which will be me… but maybe we’ll be green.

Sat 5 September:

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 16.35.31

  • 0700hrs –  Meet at Registration point, Porthmellon Beach. 3.5km walk to Bar Point carrying swim equipment.
  • 0830hrs –  Swim Bar Point to  Higher Town (St Martins)  – 2 miles (3.2k). Walk to Lower Town.
  • 1115hrs –  Swim  Lower Town to  Old Grimsby  (Tresco) – 1.8 miles (2.9k). Walk to New Grimsby. (Lunch stop here)
  • 1345hrs –  Swim New Grimsby to  Church Quay ( Bryher) – 1 mile (1.6k).  Walk to Rushy Bay.
  • 1500hrs –  Swim to Samson (800metres). Walk to Stony Ledge.
  • 1515hrs –  Swim to Porth Conger (St Agnes) – 3.3 miles (5.3k).
  • 1800hrs – Swim to Porthcressa (St Mary’s)- 2.2 miles (3.5k).

That’s 10.8 miles/17.3k in total! I know it’s going to be really tough, so I’ll just have to do the best I can. I’ve read several blog posts and forum posts where people said they got picked up last year, so I think it will be surprising if I managed to complete the entire event. I hope this doesn’t sound defeatist – I’m just being realistic. It wasn’t long ago that I’d never done more than 2000m in one day. The toughest section will be the long swim from Samson to St Agnes. Even if I can’t do that, I hope I’ll be able to do the final swim to St. Mary’s.

Today the sea temperature off St Mary’s is 16.7°C (62°F). It would be good if it stays that warm, as we have been warned that it could be 13-15°C (55-59°F). Not everyone will be wearing wetsuits, but I think I’ll pack my neoprene gloves and booties in case I find the temperature too cold.

We’re expected to finish by 7:30pm. After that there will be a beach reception. I hope I have enough energy left to party!

Sun 6 September:

If the weather is bad on Saturday, the event will be moved to Sunday. In the evening there will be a reception on St Martins.

Then it’ll be back to the mainland on Monday, ready to head back to Southampton before flying to Manchester for a conference. I’ve found out that I’ll be near to the aquatic centre, but by that stage I may never want to swim again!

At the moment, I feel a mixture of nerves and excited anticipation for this event – I want more time to train, but I also just want to get started. Stu and Roelie are both much stronger swimmers than me, but they’re also both battling injuries, so I hope that they are fit and healthy enough to do the event… although if they slow down a bit, that’s fine too.

Salty Sea Dog Long Swim 3.8k

16 Aug

After getting up early to watch the Salty Sea Dog Triathlon and then doing a reasonably quick parkrun, I was feeling a little hungry by the time we had to get ready for the Salty Sea Dog Long Swim, but there was too much to do for me to think about eating.

I went to register, which is where a problem occurred. One the day bookings had been so popular that there were no timing chips left. The assistant explained that we could enter at a discounted rate, but that we would not get an official time. I needed to do the swim as I have the Scilly Swim Challenge coming up… but it would be gutting to have my second longest swim as another unofficial swim, even if I were allowed to wear a Garmin this time.

Fortunately, after a short wait, it was decided that some of the timing chips that had been used earlier could be reset – excellent! Onto the next problem – payment. Card payments are usually accepted at this event, but the event director who manages the transactions was currently out on a boat, rescuing some buoys that were floating towards France – darn! The events team were very trusting and told me that I could come back and pay later.

I went over and had a quick chat with some other members of STC and former member, Mike, who had cycled down to Boscombe and then it was time to get ready.

In theory, if I’ve swum 5km in 2:05, it shouldn’t be too hard to swim 3.8km in 1:50… but the 5km was in a calm lake and I didn’t have to sight much.

I headed down to the beach with Donna and Jamie, another STC member. Donna and I went for a quick dip in the sea and I was pleased to find that it was a lot warmer than the water in Dun Laoghaire last weekend. We then headed back to the start area where each person’s chip needed to be checked. My chip didn’t work, so I was asked to wait on one side whilst it was reset.

After my chip was reset, I headed over so that the first two buoys of the rectangular course were lined up in front of me. The tide had turned and had started to go out and the current was going to the east, so the first two sides of the rectangle should be the easiest ones to swim.

In the pre race briefing, we had been told that the 2.4km race would be 2 laps and that the 3.8km race would be 3 laps… but that if anyone who had entered the 3.8km event wanted to finish after 2.4km that would be fine. It’s the kind of comment that I don’t need to hear as I knew it would be easy to bail, but I can’t afford to quit right now.

Soon, the horn sounded and we were off. I waded out as deep as I could before I started swimming. It didn’t take too many strokes for me to get into a rhythm. the sun was shining and the sky seemed beautifully clear blue. However, it wasn’t long before I saw my first jellyfish.

When I did my first sea swim (at Weymouth last year), there were lots of enormous barrel jellyfish and I freaked out whenever I saw one and would start swimming away from it. At Fowey harbour swim last summer, there were lots of compass jellyfish, which can deliver a nasty sting, and around the back of St Michael’s Mount there were smacks of tiny moon jellyfish, so I’ve managed to get a bit accustomed to them. I keep reminding myself that if I have a wetsuit on, only small parts of my face, my hands and my feet are exposed, so I should be OK.

There were a lot of jellyfish at Boscombe, but I did my best to swim over them. I reasoned that if I were not going to hit them with my face then as long as I kept my arms moving for a couple fo stroke and didn’t flail my legs, I would be OK.

When I got to the first turn buoy, my sighting had been a bit too accurate and I got clobbered around the head by a lot of other swimmers who were trying to take the racing line – ouch!

I got into a pack of swimmers who were moving at about the same speed of me, which helped me to feel comfortable and confident. We stayed together until we turned onto the last side of the rectangle. At that point, I decided that they were heading for the wrong buoy, so I thought it would be stupid to follow them blindly. I struck out on my own and realised too late that I was heading for the buoy that signalled the swim exit – oops. I swam hard to catch up with the pack, but it tired me a little.

Part way around the second lap, I decided that I needed to rinse my goggles. The sun had started to go behind clouds, it wasn’t as warm and the wind was getting up, so the sea was a little choppier. I was finding it difficult to sight and thought rinsing my goggles would help. It was such a big mistake. I took off my goggles an started treading water, which gave me cramp in my calf. I put my goggles back on and had to swim with my arms only for a couple of minutes to ease my leg off.

Soon my leg felt better again and I was able to catch up with some of the other swimmers.

When we passed the exit buoy, everyone who was around me turned off and I was a little tempted, but I know I’m capable of swimming 3.8km, so I kept going. I had to tread water for a little bit as I tried to get my bearings, but soon I headed off again. I had glanced at my watch when the others turned off and saw that the time was about 1:05, so I felt confident that I could complete the swim in time.

When I turned out onto the long back straight, I had a glance around and couldn’t see anyone, but I pressed on. However, I was starting to get really nervous. It felt like I was a long way from shore on my own and I wondered whether anyone knew I was still out there, even though we had been counted into the water. In previous events, when I have been at the back, I have always been accompanied by a kayaker, but I couldn’t see any of the event support staff. The buoy also felt further away – was I tiring, or had the buoy started drifting? Then I heard a boat. Unfortunately, I have an over-active imagination and can be relied upon to fear the worst in any situation. Having tackled my fear of jellyfish, I am still afraid that I am going to be run over by a powerboat like Kirsty MacColl. I looked around and could see the boat, so I started treading water and waving. The boat started coming slowly towards me and the crew asked if I were OK, or whether I wanted to hang onto their boat for a bit. I said that I had panicked a bit, but that I was Ok now. They then asked me what lap I was on. Instead of sensibly replying that I was on my third lap, I said, “The last one!” I then set off swimming again.

The boat followed me at a distance to the far buoy and then sped off, so I was alone again… fortunately, a kayaker soon started paddling over. I decided that if the kayaker were paddling by me then they would probably let me know if I were swimming in completely the wrong direction, so I decided to focus on trying to swim as quickly as I could against the current, so that I wouldn’t miss the cut off.

Finally, I got to the turn buoy and swam as quickly as I could towards the shore. The water seemed a bit churned up and murky, but I knew I had to ignore it and press on.

I waded out of teh water and checked my Garmin. My official time for the 3.8km swim was 1:49:04. It was slower than I’d hoped for, but at least I finished before the 1:50:00 cut off (and I wasn’t last!)

Crazy Garmin swim data

Crazy Garmin swim data

My Garmin came up with some completely crazy data today – I swam for < 2 hours, but allegedly I took 58, 773 strokes – my arms must have been whizzing around like propellers!

This was a really good event, but I think I need to speed up if I intend to race this distance again.



Ironman Dublin 70.3 – The swim

10 Aug

We got up early and got ready quickly. Breakfast was just a Fuel protein porridge pot, but I was feeling so nervous that I didn’t think I could eat any more. We had agreed to meet Steve in the lobby at 6am, but we there ready and waiting by 5:50am. I was glad that we hadn’t stayed in central Dublin as we would have needed to get the shuttle bus out to Dun Laoghaire.

St. Michael’s Mount Swim

19 Jul

Back in January, Stuart and I signed up for a 2.5km swim around St. Michael’s Mount in aid of the Chestnut Appeal, a local cancer charity. We thought it would be a good step towards the Scilly Swim Challenge and also an opportunity to go home to Cornwall for the weekend. We chose this event because the Chestnut Appeal is a men’s cancer charity that supports men in the south-west – Stu’s dad is a cancer survivor and my dad died of cancer.


The day of the swim finally arrived and after a morning in St. Ives, we headed into Penzance for a bit of shopping before travelling back to Marazion. We registered for the swim and got our numbers written on our hands: 26 for me and 27 for Stuart. We then had an hour or so to wait before the event, so we went to the Godolphin Arms, a nearby pub, to have a (non-alcoholic) drink.

The race briefing was at 5:30pm. It was relatively informal and we were asked to be considerate of swimmers of other abilities. Fast/competitive swimmers were asked to line up at the water’s edge, with slower swimmers a couple of steps back and the slowest swimmers a bit further back on the beach.


Last week there has been some concern about how rough the sea was, but it looked very calm and still as we were waiting, which helped to calm my nerves a little.

St Michael's Mount

St. Michael’s Mount is a tiny Cornish version of France’s famous Mont St. Michel. On the island there is a historic property that used to be a monastery and is no home to the St. Aubyn family. It’s managed by the National Trust and is a beautiful place to visit. At low tide, it’s possible to walk across a stone causeway to the mount, but it is cut off when the tide comes in.

tams and stu2

Stuart and I at the water's edge

Stuart and I at the water’s edge

There was a bit of time to acclimatise to the water and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was quite warm. Most swimmers had wetsuits on, but there were a few brave skins swimmers, including one lady who was sporting a fetching red polka dot number with matching lipstick!

tams and stu3

Stu and I got chatting to another swimmer whilst acclimatising

At 6pm, we went and lined up – Stu at the water’s edge and me a bit further back. The horn sounded and we were off. Marazion looks deceptively flat, but I was only able to wade about 5-10m before I had to start swimming. It wasn’t the usual rough triathlon start, but quite a few people ahead of me were doing breast stroke, so I had to watch out for feet, which is tough when you are also watching out for stray clumps of seaweed. Farmers regularly gather seaweed from the beach here to fertilise their fields – there are large beds of bladder wrack and my enemy, oar wrack, which seems determined to strangle me.

SMM swim

After the group had thinned out a bit, I really started to enjoy my swim. The water was calm and clear and there was a lot to look at underwater, including the cobbled causeway that can be used to walk to the Mount at low tide. I found that I was swimming a group with quite a few others, which was reassuring.

As we got towards the rear of the mount, the water started getting really choppy, and it was hard to see which way to go. We had been warned not to go too close as there are a lot of dangerous rocks, but I couldn’t see any of the safety kayakers who were meant to be guiding us away from the rocks.

choppy at the back

Choppy sea behind the Mount © Karen Wolff

I did a couple of strokes of breaststroke to get my bearings and felt a stinging sensation in my foot. I put my face back in the water and realised that I had swum into a smack of moon jellyfish 😦 They were quite small (7-8cm diameter) and very pretty, but I didn’t want to touch any more of them.

the view from the rear

It was a beautiful evening and we got to see the rear of the Mount © Karen Wolff

swim in

© Karen Wolff

There were some very large waves, which made sighting hard and my stroke became quite erratic. I was really glad when we finally rounded the corner and I could see the long harbour wall along the side of the Mount. I managed to catch up with a group of three local swimmers and although I thought I could pass them, I decided to save some energy and draft them for a bit. The sea is much deeper on this side of the mount, and although there was still quite a lot of seaweed it wasn’t possible to see the bottom. There was a schooner anchored just off the mount, which was interesting to see.

We had been told to head back to the slipway to finish the swim, but high tide was at 7pm and so it was really hard to see the slipway, so I decided to follow the others… But then I realised that their sighting was worse than mine, so I struck out on my own. After a few minutes, a kayaker pointed out to the others that they were going in the wrong direction, so they started following me.

Soon we could hear the cheers of the supporters on the slipway and beach wall. I got out of the water in 57 minutes and was handed a medal by a young lad, before collecting a bottle of water and a delicious Philps pasty – why aren’t pasties given out at the end of every race?!

Made it!

Made it!

tams SMM swim2

just finishing

The end of my swim © Karen Wolff


I really enjoyed this event and would strongly recommend it to others.


Embrace Sports 12/10/14 Ocean swim and coastal ride with TT finish

12 Oct

The day started with open water swimming. It was an early start, but it’s always worth it to see the sunrise over the sea.

We got ready at the top of the cliff overlooking the beach.

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When we’d all got our wetsuits on, it was time to head down the steps to the beach.

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We were put into groups of swimmers who were of roughly similar ability and then headed out for a swim.

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I completed two loops of shark fin rock and wanted to do a third, but my partners didn’t want to, so a kind Dutch man (Rene) agreed that he would do another loop with me. He was a very considerate swimmer – of I strted to swim off course then he would tap me on the feet! It felt good to do three loops.

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It was then time to head back to base camp for breakfast before going out cycling.

Last minute preparations.

Last minute preparations.

We were quite a large group, which was nice. The guys were mainly very experienced cyclists who were coming back to the sport after some time off, whereas the women tended to be less experienced.


It was a route that I was already familiar with that went out along the coast road. The views were lovely and it was the perfect temperature.


As usual, the day finished with a time trial back from Aljezur. I was confident that I would do better than I had previously, although I was surprised to see Jen on one of the roundabouts. I slowed down, but she shouted at me to continue. Later, I learnt that Andy had had a serious accident and had gone over the crash barriers. Fortunately, he wasn’t seriously injured, but he spent the rest of the day at the hospital and his bike wasn’t fixed before he went home. What a sad end to the day






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!!!


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.


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.


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.




















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?

Fresh veggies and super swimming

16 Jun

Happy Fresh Veggies Day! How many portions of veg do you eat every day? Five? Seven? Ten? …and, no, potatoes don’t count and neither does wine!!! Nutritionists agree that when it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables, most of us just aren’t getting enough. How about going vegetarian for a day to celebrate this event? (It’s also Fudge Day, but that’s not healthy, so I won’t dwell on it!) I’ve eaten plenty of fruit today, my lunch was a salad with plenty of veg and this evening I ate some delicious home-made veg bhuna.

I’d love to hear your favourite vegetarian recipes to celebrate this day.

This evening, I did another Tri Club swimming session. It felt like a tough session:

  • 100m breaststroke warm up
  • 25m sculling high hands
  • 25m sculling medium hands
  • 50m sculling wide hands
  • 200m steady swim
  • 300m steady swim
  • 400m steady swim
  • 400m fast swim (20 secs recovery)
  • 300m fast swim (20 secs recovery)
  • 25m breaststroke
  • 25m backstroke
    1850m in total

I’m seriously starting to panic about this weekend’s swim, but after I uploaded my Garmin data, I  found an email from RunKeeper in my inbox:

New PB for swimming - time

I’m trying really hard, but swimming doesn’t come easily to me. I just hope that it’s good weather on Sunday, and that the sea is calm. I have no idea how sheltered the cove is, but I’ve just looked up the results for all of the events from the last two years and was really surprised to see that only 15-25 people participated in each event… and almost all of them completed it in under 45 minutes. Oh dear – what have I got myself into?!

Why do I keep entering crazy events?

15 Jun

I’ve had such a busy weekend that I’ve not had enough time to even take photos!

I asked Coach Ant whether I could swap my planned sessions for this weekend, as I’ve not been able to catch up with many friends recently. He agreed, so I was able to do my ‘long’ run on Saturday morning. I call it ‘long’ as it’s significantly shorter than I’m used to. I was meant to do 60-70 minutes at 6:12-7:08/km, which feels incredibly slow, but I’m sure it must be doing me some good. I got up a bit late, so had to drive to parkrun, and didn’t really fit in as much running as I had planned to beforehand as I was so busy chatting to people who I hadn’t seen for a while. I was hoping to run with Kim, but she had volunteered to be a tail runner. I then saw Teri and Kate, so I had a bit of a catch up with them. I assumed that they would be whizzing off, but they agreed to run at my pace. We started out quite well, but I ended up averaging 6:06/km for parkrun, which was faster than I was meant to do, so I guess I’ll get a slapped wrist from Coach. I then went off for a lazy jog after the run, but I haven’t really got my pacing figured out and ended up going really slowly and having to keep reminding myself that I needed to move faster than elderly people walking!

Today’s training was a 3 hour bike ride ‘however feels comfortable’. I agreed to meet with Roelie at 5pm, and also received a message from Pete asking whether he could come along. He’s a lovely guy and I haven’t seen him much recently (he’s a butcher who had a horrible accident with a mincing machine, meaning that he’s not been allowed to train for a couple of months!), so it was nice to have him along. We managed to cycle just over 61km in 3:04, so the route that Roelie had planned was perfect. I’m also regaining some of my confidence when it comes to hills – my best pace today was 48.1km/h, which would have been unheard of a couple of weeks ago, although I think it will take me a long time to get back to my best ever pace of over 70km/h.

I’ve also started to think about what’s coming up next weekend. I’ve entered Big Cove Swim, which is on Sunday morning. It’s a 1.5 mile sea swim. I’m terrified. I have swum in the sea before, but I’m not very experienced. I swam in Portugal, in a very safe cove and did a harbour swim in Cornwall, but that’s my only experience of sea swimming. I’ve also realised that 2000m is the furthest I’ve swum (1.24 miles), so I’ve perhaps been a bit foolish in entering an event that is further than I’ve ever swum before in conditions that I’m not used to. Does anyone have any tips for me?!

What did you do this weekend? How flexible is your training schedule? Do you analyse your stats after training? Do you have any tips for sea swimming?