All posts by Sarah D

six hours sixteen.

Saturday May 21
Had to get up at 5.30am as needed to be at the lake by 7am to prepare for the first of the Team Outrageous Sprint series. The day was warm and sunny with none of the wind that had been forcast. Had a few pre swim nerves.

Arrived at the lake to marshall the first of Team Outrageous Sprint Series. I was roaming registration and swim marshall. My duties complete by just after 9am I carbo loaded with pain au chocolat and a jam donut. Thanks to G for bringing breakfast and jelly babies.  I had already drunk 2 of the 12 bottles I had prepared the night before.

Ali arrived about 845am. Ali was using some of her precious weekend off to come and swim with me, inspite of it being her Mums 70th birthday weekend. A big thanks to Ali for that.

We chatted, drank some tea, chatted abit more and posed for photo opportunities. We eventually set off after 10am. I have no idea what the time was as I had taken off my watch. I figured not having a watch to watch would make the time appear to go quickly.

So we got into the water and chatted some more. And had some more photos!

We were off. After my mishap the weekend before I had been advised by Dan Earthquake (Cold water culturist) to try a 20 minute feeding plan. Dave (mr cockle and muscle alive alive o) and Pete were manning the boat that would deliver the feeds.

We set off at a good pace. Meeting Dave and Pete on the edge of the lake. We experimented with throwing bottles tied to some stringy cord like stuff. As this nearly strangled me we decided that they would throw bottles in the water in future. Our first lap was storming. The fastest lap G had swum (she said) inspite of stopping for a drink.

The 20 minutes seemed to go very quickly before the next feed and so the pattern was set.  We were joined by a number of other swimmerd during the day. Jenny (a channel relayist for next year) joined us. She is a superb swimmer and swam 8k in her first ever OW swim only the other week. We were too slow for her and she shot off to do some timed 750m.

Ade and Guy also joined us for a short while. Ade had just swum a 10min 750m in the sprint coming third in the race overall. He was miles ahead of the next person out of the water (apart from his friend who swims with him). The bloke who won the sprint was 30 years younger than Ade and we joked that we would like to see how well he did in 30 years time as we watched from our zimmers.

Ali exited the water (I am not sure how many hours in as it was all a blur by now) but on and on G and I swam. Round and round and round.

Claire Russell (fellow MAD MACS channel relay team member) also joined us for several laps. She got out with G at some point. Ali got back in. I took my feeds.  It is all a blur . I was really pleased that Melton had come along at some point and I waved to him as I passed by on each lap. He has been really supportive over the winter. Coming with me to Folkestone in all weather to hold my towel.

I was aware that Caroline (fellow channel swimmer) joined the water some time after me. She said she was aiming for 4 hours that day. I enviously eyed up her jaffa cakes but was happily having jelly babies (courtesy of G – she keeps us all well fed!) and the malodextrin and electrolytes recommended by Duncan.

Honestly, channel swimming is like the race for life. Except Duncan is a real nutter and is training for the Arch to Arc later in the year. Not content with a channel swim he will be running from Marble Arch to Dover, swimming the channel and then cycling to Paris.

And so onward I swam around and around and around. I had pain in my right calf which felt a bit like cramp for most of the swim. I suspect though it was from Thursday as I had worn heels to work and had walked miles in them.

My left arm kept hitting the bouys. On one it jolted my shoulder and I took a brufen from Dave at my next feed.

I was joined with however long to go (but I suspected it was near the end although it felt like about 4 hours) by all the girls. Ali, G, Claire left me behind a little but I did not mind. I was flagging a little by now but still felt relatively strong.

Then at 6 hours Ali consulted her watch (she had been official time keeper) and said six hours. We hugged and cheered in the water. The other 3 all kicked like fury to make a splash. I knew if I did that I would get cramp so just cheered and cheered. We then all swam together to the pontoon.

What a marvellous feeling and a real milestone.

Once out of the water I got dry. I became aware that my left shoulder was a tad sore. We celebrated with champagne and pizza joined by Kelly and Mike Russell and of course my lovely Melton. Thanks to Mike for the pizza.

G had bought me a celebration card with a picture of two old ladies in their swimming kit.
This will be us in 30 years time she had written. I truly am blessed with good friends.

Caroline carried on swimming. She exited the water 6 hours after she had started. So she also had completed her qualification swim. She said she felt ok at 4 hours and may as well carry on.

So a double celebration although all the pizza and champagne had gone by then.

It was a wonderful day out.

Later in the evening my shoulder became really painful and I could not move my arm. I iced it and took brufen. I had difficulty getting in and out of the bath and could not wash my hair.

I continued to ice and brufen it on sunday and it is now moving more or less freely with only discomfort not pain.

I had so much support on the day it was fabulous.

What a milestone though. I am delighted.

Weds May 18 – Last swim before the six hour one!

Had the fasting blood sugar test in the morning.
The afternoon was brisk but sunny.
Arrived at the lake at 1.45pm. Paula and Pete said they would prefer for me not to swim alone
Gi got out of the water after a 3.5 hour effort. She was swimming strong.

Ali arrived around 2.30pm and we finally got into the water at 3.45pm.

A steady 750m with stops at each bouy for a chat.  Not long but want to reserve glycogen for Saturday.
Am eating properly and staying hydrated.

I am looking forward to the big one.

Visit to the Doctor

Vistied the GP this morning as a precaution. I am going for a fasting blood sugar test on Wednesday.

I know in my heart of hearts that I have not eaten enough fuel. I had the equivalent of a cycling “bonk” or a marathon runners “wall”.

Tom (my friends boss) advised the following. Drink a glass of water first thing. Then (having soaked the oats in apple juice the night before) add a splash of milk and nuke them til warm.

Easy!

training blues

The weekend was the worst weekend training I have had. That said some valuable lessons learned (or I should say acknowledged)
Saturday 14 May – my plan was to do 2 x 2 hour efforts. The first 90 minutes was great. I was doing intervals (need to work on speed endurance) but the last 30 were a cramped up nightmare. In both calves. My mistake – not to take on any electrolytes. I finished the 2 hours but did not get back in for my second stint

Sunday 15 May was an event in itself. Set off strong for the first 30 minutes. Beat my best perimeter lap time by over a minute but the pace felt easy. So delighted with that. 40 minutes into the session the water appeared to be swirling around me. It felt like I was doing rotation drills. Ali stopped at a bouy and waited for me. She said she had become aware that something was not quite right. When I stopped to tread water the lake was spinning round (like when you have had too much to drink) and my eyes were like pinpricks. Ali suggested we went to the bank. I said I could not even see the bank. We did get to the bank and summoned assistance. A ride back to the pontoon in the safety boat was in order. Tim radioed ahead for hot chocolate and a mars bar. It was certainly a dip in blood sugar. 30 minutes later I was fine and an hour or so later I was back in the water for another lap.

That said it was a slog. I said to my swimming buddies that I hoped to feel only marginally worse at the end of the channel swim!

Lessons learned. More calories required to support the increase in distance and OW exposure.
Better quality food is also a must.

I had flirted with the idea of losing a bit of weight now the water was warmer.  But I have decided to embrace the fact that I have the body of an Open Water endurance swimmer.

Training Update

Wednesday 11 May saw me doing a 3 hour swim in the lake at Leybourne. Ali accompanied me for 2 hours worth and the last hour I carried on alone. I got into the zone and was swimming strong. A bit slow – approximately 6.4k over the three hours, apparently my lips were blue when I got out. I did not look dead though and felt good and surprisingly did not shiver. The air temp was approx 16 degrees and we estimated the lake to be around 14 degrees. I had been experimenting with how close I can eat before swimming. I had finished eating 1 hr 20 mins before getting into the water. I felt vaguely sick the whole 3 hours so it was a bit close.

Thursday 12 May again at the lake with an hour interval session planned. Who should be there waiting to swim but Jackie Cobell. Readers may be aware that Jackie swam the channel last year in the astonishing time of 28 hours. She said she did not know if it would count as she landed near Dunkirk and was in the North Sea. We chatted for a while. An inspiration. How glad I was that I chose open water – I nearly went to the pool for my intervals but am finding that much too warm now.  A good session and it may be cummulative but I felt more tired after this effort compared to the three hours yesterday. Mind you I was trying. It seems alot of effort to cut 1 min off 450m. But that is 2 mins per 1K give or take which is 40 minutes over 40K. Loved it though and am pleased with this week so far.

Training Update

Wednesday 11 May saw me doing a 3 hour swim in the lake at Leybourne. Ali accompanied me for 2 hours worth and the last hour I carried on alone. I got into the zone and was swimming strong. A bit slow – approximately 6.4k over the three hours, apparently my lips were blue when I got out. I did not look dead though and felt good and surprisingly did not shiver. The air temp was approx 16 degrees and we estimated the lake to be around 14 degrees. I had been experimenting with how close I can eat before swimming. I had finished eating 1 hr 20 mins before getting into the water. I felt vaguely sick the whole 3 hours so it was a bit close.

Thursday 12 May again at the lake with an hour interval session planned. Who should be there waiting to swim but Jackie Cobell. Readers may be aware that Jackie swam the channel last year in the astonishing time of 28 hours. She said she did not know if it would count as she landed near Dunkirk and was in the North Sea. We chatted for a while. An inspiration. How glad I was that I chose open water – I nearly went to the pool for my intervals but am finding that much too warm now.  A good session and it may be cummulative but I felt more tired after this effort compared to the three hours yesterday. Mind you I was trying. It seems alot of effort to cut 1 min off 450m. But that is 2 mins per 1K give or take which is 40 minutes over 40K. Loved it though and am pleased with this week so far.