Tuesday Morning 4:14am, time to ready to drive to swim #7 of 16 Swims of distance training week
Swim # 1is a travel swim and we are up at 4:15am, we meet to car pool at Supervalu, one of the towns grocery stores located on the main street of Kinsale. This mornings swim is listed as Iniscara Lake, a 45 minute drive there, this morning we have a fresh water swim and I have instructions to follow that I received in an email from Ned yesterday….
Tomorrow is in a warmer lake…probably warmer than the river
we will swim 1,500 m down then back…and repeat….then we’ll swim back past the last person….and zig zag so YOU are the LAST person to get out
Robin can feed you after 3,000 m…suggest about 500 ml
Time to strut your stuff out there
I have this plan firmly lodged in my mind, I go over my plan of attack as we drive to the lake, I take in the sunrise which accentuates the beautiful rolling hills, the rock walls built 100s of years ago and the green grass of the Irish County side, once again I feel grateful.
We arrive at the lake, park the car and survey the scene, the water is mirror glass flat and there are glimmers of sunlight radiating through the clouds, “ this is going to be an outstanding swim”, I think to myself, I am excited and a little jumpy, a familiar feeling, it is one I get before a race or a training swim I have pegged as significant, it might be my longest, my fastest, or a new feed, simply one that I have tagged as pivotal, I sense this is one of those swims, I feel excited and nervous, I am ready to pounce like a cat stalking a mouse.
We prepare ourselves and our feeds, there is a boat ramp that everyone leaves their feeds on to consume after their first lap, Ned also places down a bag of blankets for me and any other swimmers in need, Robbin has all my feeds laid out, time to enter the water.
As we walk down the slipway the remainder of the overnight rainclouds are still lurking, I am amazed how changeable the weather is in Ireland, sheets of rain one minute and not long after sunshine breaking through the clouds, today is a classic example of this. The air temperature is 14 degrees C, I am told as I walk down the slip way to start the water is 16 degrees C, could this really be true? I edge towards the water to find out for myself, it is, it is…… I am SO EXCITED, as I wade in my body relaxes, the water feels like warm silk, it feels familiar and safe, we dive under and begin to swim. The water tastes and feels just like the Green River Reservoir, my home stomping ground back in Vermont, threatening thoughts of Sandycove Island and it’s chilly water melt away and I stretch out and set about “strutting my stuff.”
Long strong arm pulls, rhythmic breathing, everything flows and feels fast, yet comfortable, Ned is right by my side, stroke for stroke, today again I rely on him to guide me, sighting only for the corners of the course, after the first lap I walk up the slipway and take a warm 500 ml feed of Maxim from Robbin, it tastes sweet and I feel the energy and warmth flow into my core as the liquid goes down, then back in the water and we are off again, I feel a new surge of power from the Maxim and we snap back into strong powerful strokes, I feel great. As I breath to the side I see the shoreline, I imagine Paula and Deb, my support crew beside me in the kayak, counting my strokes and smiling, it makes me feel even stronger in the water. Down the first straight of Lap 2 I feel a presence on my left side, I breath to the left and see a female swimmer in a swimsuit, not a wetsuit, I am puzzled, “ who could this be, I know Carol is a great swimmer and fast but she has been swimming in a wetsuit during the other swims, it can’t be her”, I look closer, it is Carol, she has lost her wetsuit for the warm lake swim today, I couldn’t be more excited, another swimmer to play with and a chick, EXCELLENT, what fun!
We all pace along and suddenly Ned pulls up, he stops short as if he was a horse in an arena approaching a jump and at the last minute locks them up, deciding he is not having a bar of the jump. “You swim on Carol and I will catch you up”, says Ned calmly, “how strange”, I think to myself, none the less one of my goals this year is to be obedient, so be it, I swim on alone. After a bit Ned and Carol slot back in beside me and we return to our previous rhythm, then Ned pulls up short again….” Charlotte, you have to beat the tide to make it to France, Carol and I are the tide, I am also your Pilot and might have instructions for you too, GO, GO, GO you have a 1.25km SPRINT to the shores on France!
Well that lit the fire in me, as Ned is talking I think, “ I can do this, it is less than 1500 meters and a week and a half ago I was racing that at the USMS Colonies Zones Championship meet in the States setting the New England Record, I know I can swim fast for this distance”, and with that I am gone.
The adrenaline pumps, I see Ned to my right, but where is Carol, “don’t look back, don’t look back, don’t look back” I repeat over and over in my head, long strong strokes, lean down into the water, dig your hand deep, anchor your hand and recruit those abdominal and upper back muscles to pull against the water with, hold the water with your hand and heave your body by it. I start to look for familiar landmarks on the shoreline that I noticed during the first lap, “ there is the yellow sign…….. not far now, there are the boats in the shore, I am close, PUSH, PUSH, PUSH, hold onYOU CAN DO THIS”. I notice how the water feels so warm, I am in a hot tub, no thoughts of cold, no feelings of lost power. It must be close it is getting shallower, what is happening?….Ned is pulling right but Carol is not, where do I go, where do I go!!!!!!
Ned is pulling away and stops sharply, “follow Carol, follow Carol, GO, GO , GO !!!! I turn away from the slipway and swim, “ what is going on, where do I go?”, I swim after Carol and look back towards Ned and continue to swim towards Carol….then another shout from Ned “this is it sprint to the slipway, sprint to France, don’t let the tide beat you”, with that i turn back towards the slipway and pound it out, a frenzy of spinning arms and kicking legs, Carol and me, me and Carol, I made it along with the tide……we land on the slipway. “Well done” says Ned and Carol.
My face is flushed from the effort level, I feel as I do after I race, I feel great, I feel strong.
So what went one? Ned hatched a plan with Carol when they stopped and I swam on, the purpose of the plan was to help me learn and feel what it is like to sprint, to beat the tide, to experience what it is like to digest changes in instructions, it will happen in the Channel, say Ned, today’s lesson is one that I will not forget, here is what I learned:
At times it may be confusing, you may feel like you are getting conflicting instructions…..Do what you are told, don’t question, your Pilot and/or crew may shout and yell at you, stay relaxed, smile and follow instructions, try to avoid the “ deer in headlights” look that I had today as I listened to Ned’s instructions, they were different than those in my email from him yesterday, I had to let that go…….things will change out there in the Channel, my job to just swim.
After I landed in vitual France I ponder what’s next, I am unsure if I will be asked to get back in and swim down the lake to the last swimmers and zig zag after them in, we are the first swimmers in and I loiter for a bit waiting, I notice Ned and Carol removing their cap and goggles, I follow suit, time to get changed and I couldn’t be more excited, not because I am not getting back in and am finished swimming, no it it not that at all it is because this is my first swim in Ireland that I have left the water without signs of hypothermia, Wahoo!!!! It is the little things that mean so much!
I am very pleased and appreciate Carol and Ned’s support out there on the lake this morning….I HAD FUN TODAY and THE WATER FELT GREAT!
Swim Time Today: 1 Hour 50 minutes
Distance approximately 8km
Next up, Robbin, Alan and I are following Ned to his house, he has invited us to practice feeding off a boat in Cork Harbor, I change straight into a dry suit and layer with clothes ready for another dip.
What will the water be like in Cork Harbor, I’ll keep you posted.