Thursday October 21st, 2010
Water Temperature 81 degrees
Location: Indoor Lap
I wake up before my alarm is due to go off at 4:45am this morning, I am due to meet Ned at the pool at 5:45am and I am not going to be late, my plan is to be on the pool deck, cap and goggles in hand ready to go when he arrives, I am.
Ned emailed on October 3rd, the Subject line read: Ned will arrive in Burlington 19th October/ depart 23rd early in the morning. The email consisted of this: You around during this period?
One more brief email and we are set up to meet at the indoor lap pool at 5:45am for a training swim, over the next few weeks I have no idea what to expect, a few days before our scheduled swim Ned sent this email….
Subject: Preparation and Expectation Settings
- Bring a couple of bottles of your normal carbo drink
- You may want to bring a banana, some washed seedless grapes or pre cut strawberries or god help us those slippery little peaches from a can….a few of these in Tupperware seem to keep pool swimmers sane on longer swims…up to you
- I will not talk much in the water. You can talk to me as much as you want…..with my ear plugs in I only hear the things I want to hear- like ” see the shark?”, or ” you are swimming great Ned”….the rest never gets through!
- Try to take you drinks in the deep end- treading water- and FAST ….less than 10 seconds
- If you have to pee ( probably) just get out and then come back…..don’t ask-don’t tell just go
- You have opted to follow- so I’ll lead. Please leave a real 3-5 second delay before you follow me. I leave a massive drafting trail….which will cheat you out of a real workout if you are too close. If you need a breather go ahead and draft for a while – but understand that you are making a choice.
And there we have it, clear instructions, I know what to expect, or do I? I have no idea how long we will be swimming, how far, how fast and……. there is NO way I am going to ask.
During the next few days I am both excited and nervous to swim with ” Big Ned”. On Wednesday evening I pack up my feed for the swim, 1000 mls of maxim ( a carbo drink) I add in a few splashes of Ribena for flavor. Ribena is a concentrated Black Current juice drink, it is rich in vitamin C, you add it to hot or cold water for either a hot or cold drink, I remember drinking it in New Zealand as a kid, the bottle I have is made in England, it was a gift from Paula. I learnt about adding Ribena to my carbo feed after reading a 64 page English Channel Crossing Post swim report, a synopsis written by a swimmer who made the English Channel crossing in 2008.
Early to bed on Wednesday night, my son wakes me at 1:30am not feeling well, disrupted sleep that will be tough, I shrug it off, it will be no different the night before the Channel, probably not much sleep then too, may as well get used to it.
I arrive at the pool early and lay out the following at the deep end of the pool
- 2 x 500ml containers of Maxim ( with a wide mouth to allow fast gulping)
- 1 x container of sliced strawberries
- 1 x container holding a peanut butter sandwich cut into bite sized cubes
- 3 x bottles of water
- 1 banana
I am ready and waiting, ” Big Ned’ appears, he so tall I feel I need a step ladder to shake his hand, I don’t, he leans down to shake my hand while clutching an armful of drinks and a few bananas in his free hand, ” split the lane or circle?” I ask, circle he replies, he puts in his ear plugs, cap and goggles on, turns to the pool, jumps in and is gone, I quickly put my goggles on and launch into the pool after him so as not to get left behind, “WOW no dilly dallying around we are off….What now?” I ponder the question, I have no idea if I am in the pool for 2 hours, 3, maybe 4 or 5 hours, I prepare for the maximum possible, 5 hours, I had emailed Ned earlier the Thursday time option as 5:45am onwards and that I was only open until 10:30am, I am teaching a boot camp at 11:00am, the 30 minutes will be just enough time to allow me to change and get set up to teach.
So back to the question, what now?” I’ll count 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 OK that’s 200 meters” I decide to count by 500’s, “8 x 1500’s that is feasible in the time we have”, my brain is busy trying to figure it all out, “that’s 12,000 meters, that’s about 7.5 miles”. There is a chance he is warming up and will stop,I think, we reach 1500 meters, no stopping yet,” how about all that feed on the edge of the pool, when do we get some of that”, I ponder more thoughts, “I could use a drink of water, my throat is feeling dry”, then after 1650 he stops, treads water, gulps from one of his bottles and is gone, I follow suit.
Not knowing how long we are swimming this time I keep his massive feet in my sights but not too close to catch a draft. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8…..he stops after 200 Meters, while he is treading water he shouts ” can you tread”, a ha I reply unconvincingly, we are off again, we continue swimming lots of 200s, I am happy I love 200s I swim alot of them in my training, then he pulls up after 100, I stop too, we are off again, 100, 100, 100, 100, 100, lots of 100’s….” How am I going to remember all this”, I’m not….. I stop counting and surrender, the control queen lets go and follows. I instantly relax, this feels great, any anxiety of how far, how long has gone I am only focusing on the here and now, one hand hit on the water after another. We stop after a slew of 100s swum on the 1:30 interval. Ned treads water so do I ,” turn around “he says, I do, he then puts his 2 massive hands on my shoulders and pushes me under the water, the intention was for me to resist him but my treading skills were no match and I was on my way to the bottom of the pool like a runaway freight train. Then he says
” put your hands on my shoulders and try to push me under”, I take all the might in my 5 ft 9 inch and 136 pound frame and try to shove ” Big Ned” down, he respond by rising even higher out of the water, ” you’ve got to learn the egg beater kick, get your chin up and lift your chest high when you feed, otherwise the swell and waves will get you”, then he is gone and I follow.
I followed, followed and followed, 400s, 800s, a 50 here, a 100 there, then we went SLOW, lots of 100’s so slow I felt like I was in a trance, I was desperately trying not to swim into Ned and the last thing I wanted him to think was that I was all tuckered out and catching a draft. He pulled up at the wall, ” find those relaxing?”, “yes I did” I reply, he puts up his goggles and looks me in the eye, ” Charlotte you have been going 8 hours in the channel, your pilot tells you if you can pick up the pace by 10% you can catch the current if not you will miss it and be swimming for another 5 hours instead of another 2, do you want to pick it up, you can say yes or turn it down….YES.
Ned is off we swim 10 x 100’s fast on the 1:30, we snap up the pace and it feels great, I am alive and feel the thrill of having the purpose and visualization of the channel scenario.
Ned’s stops at the wall, he once more lifts his goggles, this time with a smile, then come the stories, he starts telling stories of the Channel, each one has a message, the stories are firing out like bullets from a machine gun, ” I hope I can remember these” I think as I listen intently at the wall. One story is about ” Don’t look up”, Ned tells the story of a Channel swimmer who looked up to see France only 100 meters away, the current swept him down the coast, the next time he looked up France was gone, he had 5 more hours to swim. He tells me multiple stories of those that have succumbed to “looking up” and how they have been mentally shattered to swim for hours and see France not getting any closer, I can’t help myself, I have to ask ” Ned, did you look up?” , ” Why did I ask,?”, I scold myself as I am waiting for his reply, then he replies….” Yes I did, I looked up and I saw the blue flags of France flapping in the wind, I no longer listened to my crew, I swam with all my might to those blue flags, my crew, my wife were screaming at me ” No Ned No”, but I didn’t listen, I kept driving to the flags, I pulled myself onto the rocks, French rocks, I turned around and looked back out to sea and there I saw the blue flags zig zagging across the sea in front of me, a Kite boarder with blue sails was dashing back in forth in front of me from one side of the coastline to the other.”
Goggles down and Ned was gone, I followed, it was like a dance, he would speed up so would I, he would slow down so would I, I have no idea for how long, then we stopped again.
” Charlotte, you are 250 meters from Cape Gris ( France), if you sprint you can beat the tide, the current is behind you, if the current catches you before you touch the wall you have another 2 hours to swim, I am swimming behind you and I am the current…..DON’T LET ME CATCH YOU.
Instantly I am in my ” game on “mode, my heart rate is elevated and my senses are on high alert, I drive off the wall, I am off, I snap into my 200 race plan that I used just a few weeks ago at the White River Junction meet, first 75 high stroke rate, I know I can only hold that all out sprint for 75 meters, then my body needs to switch energy systems, if I remain anaerobic I will blow up by 100 meters and be gobbled up by ” Big Ned” for sure, in fact ” Big Ned” in my head is now more like a great white shark, 75 meter wall, time to pull back slightly, I don’t want too, but I do, knowing it will help me hold my top possible speed without blowing up, 150, I am still in the clear, 200, “hmmm I have been swimming this as a 200 but I have another 50 to go, now what “, I tell myself to swim in the here and now and push out the last 50, the wall is there and I make it…….,” WELL DONE” says Ned, he takes off his cap, goggles and takes his ear plugs out, I am still have my cap and goggles firmly on, ” We are done” he says and I relax.
What a fun swim, Ned had given me 2 choices before he arrived, we could agree on a workout or I could have a surprise( like I will get on the day of the Channel) I choose the surprise and I am thrilled that I did.
Out of the water, we had time to grab a coffee where I had the luxury of hearing more great Channel crossing stories and training advice. Then it was time to say goodbye, Ned asks has anyone given you your first Lanolin yet? No I answer, with that Ned tosses me a swim cap from Sandy Cove, Ireland and a container of Irish Lanolin, Channel Grease is a mixture of Lanoline and Vaseline that is melted together in a pot, many channel swimmers use it on their bodies to reduce chaffing, in addtion to the Lanolin and swim cap I left with the following…
- Keep mentally fresh ( Plan events for the next 6-9 months)
- Keep Healthy and reduce the risk of injury ( avoid Invasive Non Freestyle stroke after March)
- Gulp n Go: Faster feeds, no more politely passing the empty bottle back to the crew ” Chug and Throw”
How far did we swim? Over coffee Ned asked ” were you counting?”, I told him I was at the start, but eventually let it go, “How far did we go?” I asked, seemed safe enough to ask now we were all done, ” between 11-12,000 meters ” he replies, and I leave it at that.
How long were we in there? 3 Hours, 20 minutes
How far did we swim? We’ll never know exactly and that’s OK
What’s up next? More cold water acclimatization, it’s back to the beach and back to the pool along with researching potential training swims/events for 2011.
And today’s 11,000-12,000 meter swim tunes…….the song in my head during the super slow 100’s Never Took The Time – Akon, during the beat the tide 250 meter sprint at the end of the workout, When Love Takes Over – David Guetta feat.Kelly Roland.
What will I be humming next swim, I’ll keep you posted.
|Lanolin- how do you get the stuff off ? I have read of a number of ways we’ll have to wait and see what works, until then I can give you a hint, one tip involves gasoline|