DISTANCE TRAINING WEEK: SWIM # 1
Well, up and at em, up at 5:35am, hot tea, toast and banana, mix up my Maxim Feed, a thermos of hot tea, suit on, cap and goggles in my pocket, lanolin packed, lots of warm clothes, into pale blue 4 door rental car that we have fondly named ” pooh bin”, and we are off, I have the directions in hand but have come to the realization that rolling down the window and asking a local is the way to go, we do…” would you be able to tell us the way to Sandycove Island?”, ahhhh yea you’rrrre on the right road, go down a bit. over the bridge, go right, then a left, then a right, you can’t miss it”, ( apparently he hadn’t seen me ” miss it” multiple time yesterday!) But he was spot on and I am grateful once more, we arrive at the island, there are a group of people standing in a circle and I see big Ned towering above them all, we made it!
I said to Robbin, ” you know I think the getting here is more stressful than the swim”, I was wrong, WAY WRONG.
Ned goes through introductions as we stand in a circle, describing the course around the island, where there are rocks, where there is a net and long strands of sea plants that wrap around you, ” don’t worry if you get caught up, we have a knife”, he also gives me the run down of some of the returning swimmers to ” training week”, many have swum this route before, along with crossing the English Channel and some other remarkable waters, I look small.
Ned tosses me a cap ” wear it if you want”. Time to get ready, 10- 12 ( 51-54 F) degrees air temperature, the water 13-14 degrees ( 56-58 F), Ned glances around the group, OK you guys all know the course, then he looks to the group behind him, “you guys are all set, right”, “those that haven’t swum it before…..are with me for atleast the first lap”, Ned looks at me, that’s you,” have you been in anything cold recently?”, Ned asks, ” No, I reply, not since March, I have been in water mid to upper 60’s, I feel small again.
Ned walks down the slip way, I follow, ” are you a dive in or piddle about person” Ned asks, rushing to come up with the right answer I reply ” a dive in person”, ” hmm that was goofy I am a dwadler on the entry, once submerged a rush in person”, I think to myself.
Before I have time to rethink the reply, Ned is off and I chase him, Yip COLD, haven’t felt that for a while, it stings my arms and legs and my head aches, but my midsection feels good, I am edgy, Ned said ” 2 hours, for the faster swimmers this is 5 laps, for some 4 and for the slower 3 laps, we swim counterclockwise”,” rats” I think,” my strong breathing side is to my right, the island will be on my left, out of my comfort zone with that alone”. We swim on, I am thrilled to discover the water is quite clear, I can see big fist sized crabs on the bottom, I like looking at them, all while chasing Ned, I want to make sure I don’t lose his side. One lap down, onto lap 2 we stop at each of the 4 corners of the island to check in and get course cues, it is helpful, I notice the stopping starts to get me cold, each time I stop I get a little colder. I am enjoying the scenery, there are goats on the island, how did they get there, swim???
There are swimmers either side of me, no one I am slotting in with pace wise yet, we stop at the second to last corner of lap 3, Ned stops and shouts to the other 4-5 swimmers and me, one more lap, we will do 4, I am pumped to knock out this last lap, we swim on, the other swimmers are pulling away from me, my body is noticeably losing power, there is a diminished pull in my arms, I can feel my hands and feet which is a good sign, my head feels very cold, my jaw aches, it is starting to lock up, ” crap” I think to myself, Ned stops ” can you do the last lap ” I believe so” I reply with a smile ( it may have looked like a grimace), we swim some more, the girl whose name I can’t remember swimming beside me peels off to swim in, she is out, I look over and start to swim on, Ned shouts ” do you have a watch”, I look, ” yes”, what time is it ” I look, ” 8:25″ I reply, he asks again and again I reply, he swims over, you’re out, sprint to the shore, sprint to the shores of France. I obey, that is on of my goal list this year…. to be obedient, I swim in to the slip, Ned swims ahead and helps me out of the water, my sister Robbin is there….I have a mixture of emotions whirling through my head, Physically I am cold and my body function is starting to deteriorate, my swim speed has dropped, my hands are clawing up and I am slurring my words, mentally I am mad at not swimming the 4th lap, I feel embarrassed, I feel small, all I want to do is shrink away in my rented “pooh bin”, I do. Pants on, merino sweater, fleecy jacket and hat, I feel 4 foot tall, I cower.
My sister is in the passenger seat, desparately trying to help me feel better, I know I have to wait it out, this will pass with time. The car door opens, big Ned stuffs in 2 big blankets ” wrap up in these”, he sits in the back, ” you OK?, mentally, I mean”, I say “YEEEEESSSS”, in a very shaky voice, ” you are Jet Lagged, you are tired” , says Ned ” I am OK, I am OK”, I keep repeating myself to him, not sure if I say it or think it.
A while passes and I venture out of the car and sheepishly ask Ned for a schedule of the swims for the remainder of the week, ” tonight’s swim is 7-9:00pm”, you follow Craig, so you don’t get lost, Ireland is directionally challenged”, Robbin and I are led by Ned to Craig, we set up to meet him in town at 5:00pm and follow him to the river where we are swimming tonight.
” We are off” I say to Ned, the other swimmers are standing around chatting with hot drinks, Robbin and I get into ” Pooh Bin”, Ned leans over and says ” you shouldn’t operate mechanical devices Hypothermic”, ” I know” I replied and drove off.
There is a grim silence in the car, I am now just pissed off, poor Robbin, we arrive back the the gravestone flat, into the shower, hot tea, ” I am off to bed I say” and with that crank up the heater in the bed room and hide under the covers for 2 hours.
I think alot ” well that blew”, ” what to learn…I am at the bottom of the ladder and I am not bloody letting go of that last rung, I am hanging on and striving to get my hand up on the next rung, whether that is tonight or back at Sandy Cove in the morning”
Then I think of what Ned said, I reflect …I need to rethink how and when I travel before a big effort like this, good to know before I take on the Channel, 11 hours sleep in the last 48 hours, along with being sick, (Yip head cold )and the flight may not have set me up the best for this mornings swim, still I hate excuses, Ned was being very compassionate and kind swimming in with me and reassuring me this morning, but it still eats away at me, I failed today’s swim, but I am alive and learned some valuable lessons….next up Salmon for Dinner early at 4:00pm, then meet Craig at 5:00pm, a 1.5 hour drive to the river, 2 hour swim and back home.
Here is Ned’s email after my failure to launch today…
Subject Line:It will be much warmer tonight….and there will be no “stops to explain stuff” and we’ll make sure YOU swim at YOUR speed
Email Reads: all will be fine
I have seen this many times before……but mostly in swimmers with less talent
How will I fear, I’ll keep you posted……
” Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be” John Wooden, former UCLA basketball coach