Monthly Archives: September 2012

A Bit of a Roll on the Northside

 

 Our kayak training moved from the river to the pool last night – not this pool – but one like it, over on the Northside.  ( I pinched this video from ‘John’ on YouTube.)   

Concern/Uganda buddy Vera Baker and I got a full hour of tuition from our friends at the Wild Water Kayak Club, in how to roll. 

Self-rescue will be important when we both head off to Kayak the source of the Nile in Uganda, this November, for Concern.  We need to ‘right ourselves’  when we take a tumble in rough water.  

The Wild Water Kayak Club came to my assistance later in the night when I needed another bit of self-rescue as I was driving home in  ‘blondie’ , my dad’s car…thanks Andy!

Roll With the Punches

The heat is on.   September is nearly through – and that leaves just one full month of training left for the Concern/Uganda expedition in November.  

I’m feeling quite good and I know that I’m strong, uninjured and pretty fit.   The only concern is that with so many different disciplines to tackle, I seem to peak at one sport, at the expense of another.  

Myself and my Uganda team-mate Vera Baker have been concentrating on the hills for the last couple of weeks, with Carrauntoohil summited once, and due again on October 6th.  Vera’s also been putting the hours in on the bike – finishing a 40-kilometre cycle at the weekend as ‘the first woman home’ which was quite an achievement.  

I’ve been pulling out the stops with swimming, but my bike work has slipped this week, simply because I’ve wimped out of cycling 15k into work in this heavy rain.   On Saturday morning I had a charity 5k for 3rd Age, and I was a bit worried about that, because my running practice had slipped off the radar for the last couple of months, and with my dodgey knees, if I don’t keep practicing, I end up getting sore when I run.  The picture here sees me anxiously looking for the timer display as I head towards the finish.   My final time was 38.20 – which for me – isn’t bad.   The following day myself and Vera climbed Spink in 2hrs-15, which knocked over an hour off our previous time – so we’re definately progressing.   

But you know, it’s happened again.  While we were running, cycling, hiking and swimming – we’ve taken our eye of the kayaking!!!  So now we’re playing catch-up again.  These evenings are getting too dark for river-work, so this Thursday – we’ll be taking our kayaks to the swimming pool….   and learning to roll!  

Mousse and Mist On A Mountain..

So the challenge was to climb the beautiful but often brooding Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain at 1.039Mtrs/3,123Ft.  But in fact, my climbing and Concern/Uganda buddy, Vera Baker and I were to summit two of the highest peaks in Ireland, in just one day.

Along with a group of close to 60 walkers we approached this weekend’s Concern training walk with a certain amount of trepidation.  Both Vera and myself were aware that we were a little deficient in training times for this big climb.  It wasn’t due to any laziness or lack of organisation on our part, but we had needed to devote time to learning to Kayak and building up miles on the bikes for our multi-challenge adventure in Uganda for Concern this November, and getting out on the hills had suffered as a result.

Today we would find out exactly how much work we had to do.  The route chosen for the climb is considered to be one of the easier, or at least ‘safest’ ascents to Carrauntoohil.  We were staying on a completely different side of the mountain to the much talked about ‘Ladder’ route, which was badly eroded, and had been turned into a virtual river of mud and rock in the recent rains.  With such a large group, a solid route was vital.

This was Vera’s first attempt at Carrauntoohil, and though I am a familiar visitor here, this approach from the West side of the mountain, was a first for me too.  We drove up in pouring rain, resigned to a long, wet and misty hike – well wrapped up for the weather and determined to enjoy ourselves despite the wet and damp and the lack of views.  Our walk began by following The Hydro Road, presumably named for the resevoir that we shortly passed by, and after a while we realised that the heavy rain had been replaced my a light mist.  I joked to Vera that my iPhone App which had defiantly been declaring sun all morning, might in fact be right.  I didn’t for a moment believe my own humour, as the long range forecast had confirmed the rain was down for the day.

After an initial sharp climb on road, we made our way for close to an hour across steaming bog and took a break and food, before bracing ourselves for the sharp ascent to summit Caher Mountain,  we were about 45 mins away from the top of Ireland’s second highest peak at (1001 m/3000 ft).  Reaching the Summit and congratulating Vera, we discovered we needed to wait on top for the group to catch up, I hurriedly fleeced up as the gusting wind whipped around my gortex shell, chilling me extremely quickly.

Caher Ridge was the next challenge.  The spiny, winding, dinosaur tail that stretched beyond into the wildness of the Kerry landscape before sweeping up to our most majestic peak – our final destination – Carrauntoohil.   Stepping down the exposed narrow descent from Caher Mountain to the ridge was not for the faint hearted, with severe drops falling away to our left. However the mist which had spoiled our views up to now, proved to be our friend – masking the depth of the fall on either side, and allowing those with a less than even head for heights (me) to make our way through, in blissful ignorance of what lay below.  Although I’d been in these hills long enough to know instinctively that careful footwork was a wise precaution!   As we gained the more level passage of the ridge itself the wind magically gusted the mist away and we grasped an emerald flash of green – swept away in seconds, before other climbers just seconds behind us, had a chance to raise their heads.  This ‘peek-a-boo’ through the mist continued as we made our way along the ridge, gasps of amazement, foiled by almost instant sighs of regret as the views disappeared – cloaked again by the cloud, as it played out its burlesque peep-show for the climbers making their way to the summit.

And then we were there.  We’d been speeding up for the last 15 mins with the huge iron cross that marks the highest peak in Ireland ever-present as conditions continued to clear, drawing us closer to it, faster and more confident.  We’re laughing and congratulating each other, as our group of 40 climbers pass through a descending group of around 20, as we embrace the summit in bright sunshine, with superb views in all directions.  I’ve been up here often enough to know how lucky we were to see conditions clear like this, and I congratulated Vera on her first, highly successful Carrauntoohil summit.

Lunch with Vera has to get a mention here – this is the only time I’ve had a multi-grain salad with a chocolate mousse on top of this mountain – and Vera can take care of the lunches for ever into the future!  We were the envy of the mountain, and I apologise to all those who salivated at our fare!   Food played a huge role in our climb.  There was more stopping and more eating than I’m used to – because of the size of the group and the need to keep us all together.   I found it difficult, because I’m used to plodding off and up and getting there, without breaks – and I found that halting my progress and getting cold was more difficult for me.   But I’d never climbed in a group this large, and I learned a lot about managing a large number of people in uncertain territory.  The leaders were skilled, confident and cheerful, and I’m hugely impressed at how they kept us all moving as one.  We made it up in 4hrs 15 and heading back across the ridge the way we had come,  it was close to the same to come down.

8hrs is a long time on the mountain, but apart from a few stiff ankles and general tiredness, we were in pretty good condition.   It was a good day, we tested ourselves well, and we learned a lot.   Not least, we learned that we haven’t done nearly enough to prepare us for climbing the extinct Volcano, Mount Elgon, in Uganda this November.  So it’s back to the hills and back to our lovely Spink Mountain in Glendalough to step up the hiking part of our training regime.  We’ve got about 6 weeks left.  It’s enough.  Perhaps we’ll see you out on the hills this weekend?…

Dipping A Toe In The Sand

I’m standing on the shore and the old guys coming out of the water are telling me it’s the best it’s been all year, and much warmer than yesterday.  Now yesterday was bloody cold, so any improvement is welcome.  But the sun is shining and looking at their open, friendly faces, I believe them.  Idiot!

Plunging into the waves, the shock almost takes my breathe away.   I come up for air (and to scream), only to get a face full of salty water, as the next strong roller nearly knocks me on my back.  Struggling to right myself and grasp a breath, I come up again and sneak a glance at the girls on either side. We’ve got a couple of channel swimmers out tonight and their long limbs sweep palely ahead into the torn and angry sea as they pull ahead, aiming for High Rock or maybe even the Tower – far out of my league.  There’s Jessica from last night, who’s been ‘minding’ me for a couple of swims now, and is fast becoming a life-line.  Either I get quicker, or I’ll soon become a nuisance, but for the moment I’m happy to accept the help and the company out here.

The high breakers are new to me and it’s a case of head down and push to get out beyond the break-water, then on a choppy but less violent sea, I get back into my stroke and my rhythmn and swim out parallel to the shore in the direction of High Rock.  I’m not used to this choppy water, but after a while I start to enjoy the slap and battle of pushing through.  It seems faster than last night when I spot the red bars of the High Rock bathing spot ahead… and it probably was faster, because when I turn to head back, the tide hits me in the face – lifting me up out of the water and slapping me down through air onto the green sloping waves below.  I realised too that I’d managed to get myself seperated from the rest of the swimmers who had broken into groups.   I could see a couple of caps heading off in the distance, presumably aiming for The Tower and for a moment I hesitated and thought I should follow.  But it was cold, and rough, and I hadn’t swum in sea this rough before, so I gather myself and head for home.

It was much rougher swimming into the diagonal surf and I felt I was being battered as I pushed on, but once I got used to the rough and tumble I began to enjoy it, and with the sun piercing through the greeny light of the water, I felt a grin working its way between my ears.   After about 20 minutes I see the yellow blaze of the clubhouse up ahead and relax a little.  I take my bearing between a type of castle silloutted against the setting sun and a dark blip somewhere in the distance towards Malahide, and push ahead, checking my landmarks every 15 or 20 strokes.  My swimming colleagues caught up and checked me out before bolting off ahead.  I so wish I had their speed, but maybe in time.   Approaching the swim-in to Low Rock, my buddy Vanessa pops up beside me like a seal, but wearing a pink swimming cap.  Laughing she commented on the waves and advised me to ‘dig in’ for the shore and dig-in I did!  It was a tough swim in, for me the toughest of the 43 minutes I spent in the water tonight.  I felt the waves pulling me back away from the beach despite my best efforts, but gradually I could see the shore coming towards me, and before long I chanced a toe down, and with relief gripped the sandy bottom below.  I’d made it.  Pulling myself from the water, I hesitated and took a few steps slowly back into the surf.  It felt warmer than the air around me, and felt welcoming.   Maybe it’s true.  Maybe you do finally begin to acclimatise to this lark….  hmmmmm…

PS.  I made the WeightWatchers’ weigh-in on the way home.  I lost a half a pound this week.   I’ll take it! :)

Has My Training Peaked….?

There’s a reckoning a coming, I reckon….

If I’ve had a difficulty with training this year, it’s about balancing multi-discipline sports.   Our Concern challenge in Uganda this November requires me to climb a volcano, cycle for several hundred kilometres and kayak the source of the Nile.    Well I bought a bike and started clocking up hours earlier this year, and I signed up with the Wild Water Kayak Club on Dublin’s Strawberry Beds and learned the basics of how to fall in the river!  (…and of course, more importantly – how to get out).

Now, as you can imagine, this all takes time – hours of time, and the one thing that has suffered is the activity I had previously been very familiar with – climbing mountains.   To get hill-fit, you need to be walking up inclines for between 4 to 6 hours, at least once a week….and I haven’t been doing that.  I simply haven’t had time for much more than a quick spin up and around Spink in Wicklow, which is a beautiful mountain, but not the most challenging – particularly when you’re only doing it intermittently at best.

So this Sunday, I’m facing the Goddess.  Carrauntoohil in Kerry, at 1,038 metres (3,406 ft) is Ireland’s largest mountain, and she doesn’t suffer fools gladly.   I’m heading there this weekend, feeling a bit like a fool – because I know I haven’t prepared, and I know I’m going to suffer.   I love this mountain and know her well, but I also know it’s not clever to take her for granted.  I’m also pretty certain she’ll be wet and cold and windy.  Mountains have a way of letting you know……

‘Happy Feet’ Wing It…

My ‘Happy Feet’ relay team for the Lough Key triathlon was waiting for me at registration when I turned up, shoulders shrugged high, to stop the torrential rain running down my neck, realising the futility of keeping dry – when I was just about to jump in a lake!

As I walked up to the girls, I couldn’t help gawping at the big yellow markers on the water, that were clearly marking the swim.  To my eye, the markers seemed far too distant from the shore; surely they’d made a mistake?  It looked so much further than I thought 740metres would look like. There were shrieks and hugs as we met up and shared training disaster stories from the past week; but all the time I felt butterflies the size of bats in my gut. I shouldn’t have eaten breakfast, I knew I shouldn’t.  The egg and ham and goats’ cheese and spinach soufle that my host had made me, was now hanging heavily on my mind.

I was doing the swim, Teresa the cycle and Anna had been roped in at the last minute with a dodgy knee and very little notice, to cover the final 5k run.   It had all seemed so simple to offer to swim the 750m for team Happy Feet, until I read the briefing notes with just a week and a half to go, and realised there was a 30 min elimination time on the swim!  Pressure, and not enough time to train.   If you followed my training blog here, you’ll know I tried to short-cut my lack of speed-work by swimming without a wet-suit, against the tide at Malahide Beach in North Dublin.  I suppose I thought that if I made myself suffer as much hardship and discomfort as possible, I might feel more comfortable, and swim faster, when I had to get in the lake.   Well it was a theory at the time, and the only one I had!  My big problem was that although I was comfortable doing the distance,  I had no speed and was planning to complete the distance in 40mins.  The briefing notes blew that out of the water – if you’ll excuse the pun.

Well I put my shoulder to the wheel – or tide – and soaked up all the tips I could drag from my Hi-Rock swimming friends in Malahide, and in particular ‘Chanimal’ – Channel Swimmer, Fergal Somerville.  Deep, even breaths – long, measured strokes, no panic.  Now today was the day.

As the other athletes gathered in the holding pen, adjusting swim caps and goggles, stretching to warm up arms and legs and shoulders; they looked sleek and professional, I sneakily looked around comparing the size of my belly with everyone elses.  I thought mine looked much bigger, and I grimaced.  A throwback to my days of being 23stone.  These days I’m just under 12 stone and still a bit on the curvy size, but despite no longer being morbidly obese, I still have body-image flashbacks, especially when I’m standing on the shore in a screamingly tight wet suit along with 300 taller, slimmer, fitter looking people.  I just had to remind myself that I was strong and healthy and capable of taking them all on.  (I just didn’t really believe it).

The Public Address speakers crackled into life and there were speeches and applause as the rain continued to fall and we stood, shuffling our bare feet in the wet grass, wishing for the start.  Eventually we got the nod and as one, we swimmers moved towards the water.  It was all new to me, we were to get into the lake and swim to warm up, before the start was called.   I followed the leaders and reached the water’s edge, noting the lack of reaction from the other swimmers and imitating their composure as I stepped calmly into the lake, biting down a gasp at the cold.  Up to my ankles, my knees, my chest and finally I’m swimming, then finding some space to keep treading until the race ‘got the off’.  This part was unexpected, and I felt a tremor of adrenalin or something close to fear.  I was out of my depth, I couldn’t swim out with a proper stroke or I’d crash into the swimmers ahead.  I was just bobbing about getting cold, and I didn’t like it.  I determinedly removed my mind from the lake and imagined I was going through my yoga routines in the sun, and felt the warmth and the calm flood through my legs and up through my body to my arms.  I relaxed.  We’d go when we’d go – and finally the human wave washed back towards me, as the race began.

I reached out into the dark waters of the lake, pushing my head under water and noticing the pink hue of the feet in front, dyed red by the peaty flood waters.  I had taken the other swimmers’ advice and kept out of the crush at the start, for fear of being dragged or accidentally thumped in the fury of the moment.  I took my line against the yellow marker out near an island in the lake and just swam.  I didn’t try to go fast, hearing Fergal’s comments a week before, telling me that trying to go fast was the fastest way to slow down.  I wasn’t sure if he was right, but I was taking his comments on board.  After about 250 metres, the 1st marker was drawing close and I realised there was a crush emerging as the swimmers tried to get a tight line around it.  I didn’t.  I pulled left and gave it – and them – a wide berth.  I think I actually gained time instead of losing time, as I swung wide arount the buoy and the human soup, and took my line to the next marker.

I had told myself that if I was comfortable after the first 250, I would step up the speed on the 2nd leg.  It worked fine, I stretched out and increased my speed, breathing deeper into my lungs and concentrating on rolling smoothly to catch my breath, keeping my face down between strokes and pulling my arms smoothly through the water.  Quicker than I expected, I reached the second marker, and swept around to face back into the shore.  I looked up, and saw swimmers far ahead and far behind.  At my right was an orange kayak, on hand to help if I needed it.  I didn’t need it.  I saw the last marker, saw the shore, put my head down – and bombed it.  I gave the last 250 every last bit of energy and strength and felt excitement well up inside me.  I’m not sure why, I just felt powerful and thrilled because whatever the time on the clock, I wasn’t the last person in the lake, and I knew I had the energy to get me back to shore.   Stumbling out of the water, I took the waiting helping hand eagerly and pulled myself free of the lake, then sprinted to the holding paddock and my teammates.  Pulling the electronic tag from my left ankle and passing it to Teresa, I recognised she was excitedly shouting at me about the time.  I felt tears well up as I realised I’d made the 30 minutes…. and more.

Later, with the time confirmed at 22 minutes.  I joked that it was the egg and spinich ‘Pop-Eye’ breakfast after all (thanks Mary) but I was humbled.  This body of mine, that I have so abused in my lifetime, again pulled out a blinder for me.  With less than 2 weeks to prepare, it had delivered all I asked, and I had smashed my own time.   I felt like one of our Olympians, I could proudly say I had a PB and I’d smashed it!   It was hard work getting here; swimming in cold, choppy, waters off Malahide, hours of weight training in the gym on our few sunny days, and a lot of self doubt.  But the help I got, the support from my friends, from FB and Twitter, and all the generous tips and training swims I got from Fergal and his Hi-Rock mates, had paid off.  I’d made it – and Team Happy feet could run and cycle the rest of the way, without being disqualified by the swimmer!

You know, when I started training for our Concern/Uganda: hiking, cycling & kayaking challenge in November, I never thought I’d end up long-distance swimming too.  But I suppose it all helps with general fitness.  What’s next?  Well, the whole Concern group is due to climb Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain this Sunday; and that’s going to hurt – because with all the time I’ve spent cycling, swimming, working-out in the gym and learning to kayak, I’ve somewhat neglected my hill climbing.  There is a reckoning a-coming on Sunday.   And do you know? there’s a 750m sea swim in Killiney on Saturday…..  😉

 

 

 

Fingers and Fins Crossed…

Day two at Malahide.  A solo swim with ‘Chanimal’ Fergal Somerville, my long-distance swimmer angel who’s taken me under his considerable wing, to give me tips on how to make a 750m open water swim in Roscommon this Sunday – in 30 minutes.

You’ll know from yesterday’s training blog that the pressure is on with a vengeance.  I agreed to do the ‘swim’ section of a relay triathlon in Lough Key Forest Park, but didn’t realise until last week that there was a disqualification time; which means I’m now at risk of getting my whole team chucked out, if I don’t get my speed up!  *gulp*

Tonight we arrived at Middle Rock beach in Malahide as the tide was ‘filling’ or ‘coming in’.  There were no other swimmers and despite the sunny evening, I shivered at the thought of getting into the cold water.   I’ve dipped into the sea a couple of times now, but that first couple of minutes when I’m getting used to the cold, still doesn’t seem to be getting any easier!

As soon as I stopped gasping for breath, I reached out and pulled off in the direction of High Rock, the plan being to swim for 30 minutes again tonight, but try and cover a bit more ground.   I was anxious to try out some tips that my friends on FB had been suggesting over the past 24 hours.  I shortened my breathing periods, breathing on every fourth stroke instead of every 6th.   I pushed my legs deeper into the water and tried to avoid losing energy by letting them splash, and I continued with Fergal’s advice and made long, steady strokes, concentrating on making my arms enter and leave the water cleanly.

I got into a really fast rhythm and swam and swam, until Fergal swam up for a check and chat again and told me I’d been swimming 10 minutes. I felt amazing, I felt I was flying tonight. I looked up and looked around in anticipation.  I reckoned I had gone way past High Rock and was on my way to the next point, the Tower.   I looked hard, searching out recognisable landmarks, trying to make my eyes cut through the setting sun to make sense of the dark silhouette of the shore.   I pulled my goggles off in amazement.  I was nowhere close!  I had got twice this distance in the same time last night.  I wasn’t gutted, but I was a bit browned off.  Was I tired, were the different strokes slowing me down?  How could I have felt so fast and swam so short a distance.  After a quick chat with Fergal I decided I wanted to keep going – so we ended up swimming out for 20 minutes.  I actually made it past High Rock and halfway to the tower before deciding to turn back – prepared for another 20 minute swim back.  That would give me a swim of 40 mins instead of 30, so even if I’d missed out on speed, it would help my fitness and endurance, and that can’t hurt on Sunday.

We turned, and the sun sparkled on the drops running down my arm as I stretched out and swam back into the dying gold of the day.   I kept my head out of the water for a couple of minutes as I swam.  I didn’t feel tired.  I wasn’t scared about the 20 minute return trip, and I took a few moments to simply enjoy the swim and the sea and the low flying birds that seemed to skate along the surface of the surrounding sea.   Head down I pushed on again and 10 minutes later, I got a tap on the shoulder from a laughing Fergal.   We were back at Middle Rock.   20-minutes to swim out and just 10 to get back.  He explained we’d had a tougher current than we thought running against us on the trip out, and it helped us on the return.  I ended up doing a slightly longer swim than last night, in about the same time.   And that folks, means I probably did the 750m in 30 mins!!!   Okay, difficult to judge what role the tides played, and I’ll have to wear a wetsuit under the rules on Sunday, which might either help or hinder me…but mentally – I feel more confident.   I think I can do it.   I’m not convinced I will – but I’m confident that I can.

Now all I can do is continue to train gently up to about Friday and have a rest day on Saturday and then give it sox on Sunday.   Fingers and fins crossed!  lol…  and if you have any more tips for me, feel free to add a comment down below.

xxx

 

When Cold Surf is Hot Stuff

With an hour to go this evening, I was getting more than a little nervous.  I was going swimming in Malahide – not for the first time – but for the first time I was going to go deeper and further, for longer.  The training wheels were coming off, and I wasn’t sure how I’d feel if I got tired or ran out of breath.   If I get tired and I’m running, I can walk…but what happens if you get tired when you’re swimming…. and there’s a current?

I’ve been dipping in and out of Malahide – literally – since the start of the year, but intermittently and only for a splash rather than a swim.  What suddenly changed the odds was a challenge that’s rushing up towards me this Sunday.  I’ve signed up with a relay team to do a triathlon in Boyle, County Roscommon, as part of my fitness training for the Concern Uganda challenge later this year, when I’ll have to cycle 200k, climb a volcano, and kayak the source of the Nile!  I had agreed to swim 750m this Sunday and was confident I could go the distance.  But during the week I got the briefing notes and realised for the first time that there’s a time-limit on the swim section.  If I don’t complete the 750m in 30 mins, my whole team gets disqualified.  I had planned on doing it in 40!  I’ve less than a week to go, and all of a sudden I’m under intense pressure.

That was why I was here in Malahide trying to decide on the merits of swimming in a wet suit or just a swimming suit, and letting the dilemma over what to wear mask the real thoughts in my mind, which were verging on panic! I settled on a compromise and wore a half/suit, then spent 10 mins fiddling with my goggle straps at the waters’ edge – as I continued to avoid the moment of truth.   Stepping into the water, I gasped at the cold.  Of course we’re all telling each other that it’s lovely and warm – lies, damned lies.  Let me share a big secret with you…. it’s bloody freezing.

The bands of cold tighten around my chest as I dive forward, getting my head in under the nearest wave, to get it over with.  I’m off and concentrating on my breathing, calming the adrenalin and the nerves, pushing forward, developing a rhythm, listening to the sound of my own breath and pacing it to my stroke.  Fergal Somerville (Channel Swimmer and long-distance swimmer extraordinaire) is swimming beside me, which is reassuring – and Tatiana and some of the rest of the High-Rock swimmers are slightly ahead.  The sun’s bouncing off the tops of the waves, I’m warming up, and in my mind I hear Fergal’s advice about long, clean, slow strokes with high elbows and pulling right down to the hip.  I’m breathing every 6 strokes. I’m thinking I should breath on every 5, which would mean breathing alternatively to left and right – but everytime I try it, I muck up my stroke or don’t get a good enough breath, so I fall back to 6 as the most comfortable option.

The longest part of the swim was the first 5 minutes.  When Fergal swam up for a check and chat, I was amazed because I felt I’d been swimming for at least 3 times that.  But picking up and pushing forward again I did a mental self audit, noting that I felt absolutely fine, and although irritated with my lack of speed (the rest were well ahead) the dreaded exhaustion was nowhere near.  I think I finally relaxed at that point and swam on for another 10 minutes, enjoying the feel of the water, the smoothness of moving through the waves and seeing the markers for High Rock in the distance coming closer with every stroke.   We hit the halfway mark, and that was my agreed turnaround point.  Fergal checked me again and prepared me for the return journey, reminding me that we’d be swimming against the ebbing tide, and would have to work a bit harder coming back.   As soon as we turned I felt the slap of the waves lifting me out of the water, and to my delight I loved it.  I imagined it felt easier to swim against the waves, but probably it was just that having more work to do, left less time for thinking about breathing and strokes and every little movement.  I suppose I stopped overthinking things and just threw myself into the waves.  It was choppy and slapped me around a bit, but I laughed in between breaths and in no time we were touching sand at Middle Rock.   I’d made it.  Fergal calculated that we’d swum aproximately 700m in 30 minutes, some with the help of the tide and some against.  I’ve got some work to do, to make that cut-off time on Sunday.  But there’s not a lot in it.  I probably need to swim about 5 mins faster over the time.  With some luck, concentration, and a bit of adrenalin, I might be able to make it.

I trotted back onto the beach at Middle Rock at Malahide as the sun was setting, and 10 minutes later I’d dumped the wet suit and was braving the waves again in just a swimsuit.  This time the water actually felt warm as I ran back into the water.   So you know, maybe they’re not lying after all….   😉

To Swim or Not to Swim….

Well, I’m hoping to have a matching photo for this shot – by the end of the day.   This is Fergal Sommerville or ‘Chanimal’ to his friends.  Fergal swam the English Channel last November in a super time, and he’s taking me out swimming today at Malahide.  I’ve swum with Fergal and the High-Rock swimmers before, quite a few times.  Fergal had dared me to swim in the Irish Sea, and I said I would, if he swam the channel..  at the time I didn’t know that was exactly what he was training to do!!!   You could say, he snookered me!

Anyway, I may have swam with them before, but never like today.  I’m a in a different frame of mind and I’m ready to change the stakes.  I’m probably motivated by the prospect of my triathlon swim in Roscommon on Sunday, when I have to swim 750m in a lake in under 30-mins or risk disqualifying the rest of my relay team from the cycle and running laps.  Today in Malahide I want to push the envelope a bit.

The pressure’s on, and for the first time I want to put myself to a bit of a test.  On previous swims, I just swam out with the pack for about 10 minutes and then struck back for home.  Today I want to try and put a bit of distance under my belt.  I’ve never swam long enough to get tired, so I have no idea what will happen if I swim a decent distance – but run out of steam on the way back.

There’s lots of questions in my mind; will I get cold, will I get tired, will I make a fool of myself, should I try it without a wetsuit?

Should have a few answers for you by tomorrow!    Fingers crossed……

Clients
  • Communicorp
  • Danone
  • Irish Farmers’ Journal
  • Dublin Airport Authority
  • WeightWatchers, Ireland
  • Limerick City & County Enterprise Board
  • ‘Foot In The Door’ Media Trainer for Independent Commercial Radio, Ireland
  • Clare County Enterprise Board
  • Carlow County Enterprise Board
  • Great Outdoors
  • Adrian Hendroff ‘From High Places’
  • Chernobyl Children International
  • Concern Ireland
  • The Hope Foundation
  • LauraLynn Childrens’ Hospice
  • Travel Department
  • Helly Hansen Killarney Adventure Race
  • 98FM Dublin
  • Newstalk
  • TodayFM Radio
  • Learning Waves Skillnet
  • BCFE, Ballyfermot
  • Pat Falvey, 'The Summit Book'
  • DSPCA