Sunday morning the second day of training in Rhode Island, on the books today an 8:00am fitness class called ” Bounce” taught by my good friend and hostess for the weekend Jacki, she has just opened her own studio in Newport RI called PULSE, I am excited to check out her new training facility and catch a workout with her, she is a tremendous instructor who has the knack of making you work harder than you think you want to or think you can! True to form Jacki leads both me and the rest of the class through a high energy cardio class complete with push ups, squats, lunges, plenty of plyometric jumps to sky rocket the heart rate and an abdominal workout that was a true crowd pleaser, I am officially warmed up for my cold water training swim!
Post class it is off to refuel, suit up and then down to 2nd beach for day two.
Every English Channel swimmer has his or her own training program based on previous experience, conversations with other swimmers, coaching ideas and mentors. I am no exception, I have been a member of an English Channel chat group for a number of months allowing me to read other swimmers questions, the answers and to field my own questions, I also have 2 mentors both who have made successful English Channel crossings, one is based in Ireland the other in Britain.
One thing is for sure you need some distance training under your belt in preparation for an English Channel crossing attempt, my mileage has been accumulated both in the pool and open water this year, building up this summer to 40,000- 48,000 meters/ week. Now the fall is here and the focus priority moves to cold water time. My new training volume is 38,000 meters/ week , down from the 48,000 I swam a week ago, will that power and endurance accumulated over the summer pay off ? I am about to find out.
Sunday, 10:00am refueling complete after a fun ” bounce ” class with Jacki, now back to training and back to the beach. Today I am sporting a one piece suit with thin criss cross straps in the back, I find that wide strapped suits chaff, the rubbing of the straps leaving my skin raw even after applying Trislide. Trislide is an aerosol skin lubricant, on the can it says ” gives you freedom of movement to train and race harder ” , ” significantly reduces blistering, chafing & hot spots”. I have a nasty scar from ” experimenting ” with a one piece wide strapped race suit in August, a one hour, 40 minute swim and a line of raw flesh under my arm, (now a scar) to show for it, a grim reminder to suit select carefully for each and every swim whether a training swim or a race. I have also tried Body Glide, it looks like a stick of deodorant and works well too.
Today’s weather overcast skies, wind and a high of 58-66 degrees, I am hoping for the 66 end of the temperature scale, it doesn’t come through for me, I am perched on the side of a rock on the beach looking out at today’s conditions feeling rather snug in my cozy woolen zip up Hoodie, reluctant to shed it and my warm blue hat. Jacki is accompanying me today on a SUP (Stand Up Paddle Board), she chooses that over her surf board as it is longer and more stable in today’s wind, we figure if we need to pull me out I will fit on the board with her! We also have a dry bag with a warm hat, towel and fleece jacket in case we need to pull me out mid swim, that way I’ll have something warm to pull on.
The mission today swimming from 2nd beach to 1st beach and back, a round trip, 1.7 miles each way, I am excited I love going somewhere, this is a destination swim and I could not be happier. We are off, I dawdled into the water today, Jacki was already out past the breaker waves waiting for me, I edge in step by step the memory of yesterday’s cold water fresh in my mind, I sing a song in my head by a New Zealand band called Spit Enz , the name of the song is ” I just spent 6 months in a leaky boat “, now or never I dive in humming the tune in my head. Hey, today doesn’t feel as bad as yesterday, give it time I think, then the body scan, feeling in both hands and feet, good stuff! I spin my arms for the first few hundred meters, my working muscles demand oxygen, the heart thumps to deliver but there is a difference today, a pronounced warmth in my midsection, is my body wising up and taking care of the vital organs, shunting blood there? Not sure if it is a yes or if the one piece suit is that much warmer than my trusty 2 piece tankini that I have been swimming in all these months! Regardless I am most please and ” swim on”.
New surroundings to check out, Jacki is on riding the SUP on my right, dressed in a wetsuit and carrying the dry bag on her back, on the beach I asked her if she had spent much time on a SUP before? She replied in a relaxed manner “no I have tried it once or twice in the last few weeks”, yet she was solid on the board, I was impressed, when the wind picked up and the waves grew bigger as we rounded the point to 1st beach she very calmly knelt on the board and continued paddling, it got rougher yet and she lay down on her tummy and paddled the SUP like a surf board, it was a cool feeling powering through the waves and looking to my right and seeing Jacki laying on the SUP fighting the waves alongside me, I felt like we were a team, we were.
I did not fill Jackie in on the detailed 30 minute training plan regiment and hand signals that my training crew and I have developed over the last few months, I did tell her what to look out for with regards to signs of Hypothermia, it went like this:
- If my lips are blue that is a warning sign of hypothermia, if I can’t talk another warning sign
- If you ask me where I live and I say Mars not Vermont we have a problem, if I am not making sense that is a sign of hypothermia, time to pull the Kiwi from the water, even if I don’t want to get out, be firm!
We set off, I am swimming like a tourist checking everything out, my new surroundings, houses that line the cliff and the added thrill of someone new to watch while I am swimming. Three times on the way to first beach I stop and ask questions, I feel starved for contact, Where are we? I ask .Who lives in that house? I quiz Jackie again, What are those rocks called? Are we half way? I am inquisitive today, a brat in the water, it takes me 30 minutes to settle down. We make it to the rocky point where the wind and waves are heavier, time to buckle down and behave, the swell knocks me about, the waves jostle me from side to side, I love it, I feel like I am still playing but now working, it feels good. We round the corner and head into the sheltered bay of 1st beach, the water calms down, the waves behind us pushing us towards the beach, I feel strong and fast, my body has snapped into its performance zone, automatic pilot, I am no longer giving it instructions with my mind, it is doing what it has been trained to do. We reach 1st beach in 45 minutes and after a brief chat turn around for the return journey, swimming the back to the barn is what I adore, we are off. We have more wind on the return trip and are swimming head on into the waves, I have to earn it on the way home, every stroke I need to dig deep, the power is there, no tiring I feel like I have lots of gas left in the tank, all the distance training I have done over the summer has paid off today, it feels good to have more under the pedal if I need it. We round the point, the cliff walls are on our left lined with birds sitting side by side, watching us closely, to me they look like vultures waiting for us to falter, I glance over at them thinking, not on my watch birds, not today!
Before I know it I am body surfing the waves into the shore, I land on the beach, a 3.4 mile outing in 1 hour, 35 minutes, I am pleased with the performance today, I reach for my hat, cozy blue hoodie and cream velvet sweat pants that I stashed on a nearby rock, I wrap up and help Jacki with the board, then it is back to the steaming hot outdoor shower, pack up and back to Vermont. As we drive closer to Vermont I watch the temperature reading in my car drop, by the time we reach Stowe it is 55 degrees, I wonder what the water temperature at the Green River Reservoir and in my new lap pond is? We will know by Wednesday my next OW dip, on the schedule 3.1 miles!