Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Swimathon 2017

 I didn't enter swimathon in 2016, after the heady heights of 5 swimathons in 3 days in 2015 as part of two-way Windermere training, it seemed that anything would have been an anticlimax.

However, 2017 was a return to this annual pool event.  200 lengths of the pool and this time I would do it three times.  I'd been feeling in pretty good form since getting back from this year's trip to Tenerife and having had two 1:1s with Dan Bullock so although I wasn't hopeful for a new PB (Peebee set in #2 of 2015 was 1:20:19) I was hoping for some respectable times.

To my surprise, I finished the first swimathon in 1:20:00!  I then went back  a couple of hours later to repeat the experience, however I hadn't quite got my fuelling strategy in between right (needed to eat some actual sugar not just carbs!) and that came in at 1:23:05 which I was a little disappointed about.

On Saturday I attended my usual Saturday morning when I am around Body Balance class and then it was #3 at my local leisure centre (the other two were at the pool where I swim en route to work).  It's not a fast pool (has gutters rather than level with the floor) but they had put the wave breaker lane ropes in which they don't always.  However, there were FIVE of us in the lane so my heart sank a little.  To my surprise, I came out with another Peebee, finally getting under 1h20, to come in at 1:19:57.  I can only put this down to the constant sprinting to overtake people and using that as extra motivation.  Was pleased!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Plates spinning, multiple hats, more pies than fingers to stick them in

Sometimes it all feels a bit overwhelming. I know it's my own choice to do so many things (and to some extent it's linked to my mental health - achieve in order to gain praise, keep busy in order to deal with the difficult things, be a human doing rather than a human being) but sometimes I find it quite hard.

Right now I am training hard (swimming for swim events in the summmer, running so I can run a half marathon every month this year, gym strength training to give me a strong body for the first two and to give me a body shape that I am finally moving towards happy with, Body Balance for the stretchy stuff and because yoga doesn't run anymore at the leisure centre). I have just organised a big fundraising event involving over 120 people and raising nearly £1400 (which takes me to nearly £18k for Mind since 2009). I'm writing an article for the professional press about the research project I ran last year and wondering how else I can disseminate the findings. I'm teaching at the Recovery College once a month. I'm trying to deal with my husband's poor mental health and not getting much support for mine at home. In fact, beyond seeing my GP every 3 months for 10 minutes I'm not getting any support to make sure things don't plummet. I'm working 30 hours a week and trying to make myself indispensable so that they find money to keep me when my contract runs out. I'm studying for a PGCert in Systematic Reviews and applying for Masters (when I already have one).  I'm trying to see my friends occasionally as it feels fabulous to be (mostly) in goood mental health and able to do so.

It's self inflicted but sometimes it's a hard effort just keeping swimming and holding it all together.

Normal blogging service to be resumed...

Monday, 9 January 2017

Back to swim club and 2017 plans

I had possibly the most expensive swim ever last night when I went back to swim club after 6 months off.  In my defence, Sunday evening at 6pm is not a natural exercise time for me, and there were also so many Sundays where I had done an event in the morning.  I had an ace time though; the over 16s now join the masters and we do the same set, based around where they are in their competition cycle.  Last night it was an aerobic set that looked like this:

30 x 100m off 2 minutes.  Broken down as:

5 x (50m drill, 50m FC)
5 x (50m kick, 50m FC)
5 x (100m descending)
5 x (100m paddles and pullbuoy)
5 x (100m choice stroke descending)
5 x (100m with fins)

Fab!  Owing to a little mix up and having to cut the last one short as we ran out of time I swam 2.85k.  The coach said he was impressed with my fitness.  Imagine what my fitness would look like if I went every week!!

Onto plans for 2017.  I was originally planning to do the Manchester Marathon and nail that good for age time that I'm sure I've got in me.  However, the idea hasn't quite sat well with me.  Since the knee injury in June last year, I still don't feel back to the sort of strength where training for a marathon would be a good idea.  The knee is mostly better but now there's a hamstring niggle on the same sie.

Instead, I've decided to concentrate on building fitness and strength to do the things I have lined up to the best of my ability.  This means going to swim club, it means keeping going with PT and my own strength training, it means doing my stretches every day, it means eating better (which is something that I seem to be getting better at in terms of more vegetables and less sugar).   I'm going to do some openwater swims and maybe do a half marathon every month.

Here's what I've got booked in so far:
22/1 Farnborough Half
17/2 Thorpe Park Half
19/3 Hastings Half
7/4 and 8/4 Swimathon 5k
20/5 3.8k Mass Start Swim at Box End
9/6 Great North Swim 5k
10/6 Keswick Mountain Festival 25k trail run
11/6 Keswick Mountain Festival 3k swim in Derwentwater
??16/7 Swim Oxford Swim/Run
23/7 3.8k Mass Start Swim at Box End
29/7 Breca SwimRun 13k running, 4k swimming
13/8 Rutland Swim 8k

Plenty to keep me busy!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 in numbers

Have posted this over on facebook but it deserves to be shared here too

It’s the 31st December, so that means only one thing.  The doors need to be got out for the scores to be written upon them and for 2016 to be summed up in numbers.
Swimming came in at 1192km, down from 1324.4km in 2015 (when I trained for Two Way Windermere).  There was 1093.8km running, up from 826.1km and astonishingly 735km on the bike, that was evidently before I totally gave up on cycling to work… (but down from 1795.5km in 2015)
I went to 11 yoga classes and had 17 hours of PT.  31 mince pies were consumed and two carol services attended.  352 decaff white Americanos were consumed; peppermint tea was consumed in excess of 600 cups.  I had 12 Little Chef Omlette breakfasts.  I spent 14 nights in a Premier Inn, 7 of which were paid for by work.  I also spent 7 nights in Tenerife, 4 in Slovenia, 7 in Austria and 3 in the Lake District which were not in Premier Inns.  I bought 3 new swimming costumes.  I visited the osteopath 11 times and had 30 sports massages.
I did 10 running events including 6 half marathons and 2 marathons.  I participated in 6 openwater swimming events.  Whilst getting a trophy for being first in my category at the Seahorse Swim was pretty cool, the standout swim was the lovely half an hour I had on my own in Rydal Water in May.  Even better than the beautiful lakes in Austria and Slovenia.
I held 3 cake stalls and a crafternoon and raised £1900 for Mind.
NHS wise, I was down quite a lot from 33 appointments/contacts in 2015.  I saw my GP 3 times, two other GPs once each (for hayfever and the chest infection of doom respectively), spoke to my GP on the phone twice, and had an ultrasound on my neck.  So that’s a mere 8.  9 if you include seeing my NHS dentist once.  I was however issued with twenty-four prescriptions, a lot of boxes of pills when you consider that most of those prescriptions were for a two month supply.  And one private prescription when a colleague took pity on me after running out of fexofenadine and wrote me a script on a piece of A4 (I think he couldn’t stand sitting next to my sneezing any longer!).

Friday, 30 December 2016

End of 2016

 It's time for the customary end of the year round up post.  You can see what I wrote last year here (and hopefully link your way back to ?2010??).  The questions are random, but it often pulls out a few highlights,

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
Dyed my hair pink, ran a marathon (twice!), went to Slovenia, went to Italy (briefly), went to a medical conference, stayed in a Premier Inn for work (3 times), got a research project ethics application approved, started a Postgraduate Certificate in Systematic Reviews, started doing Personal Training, learned to crochet.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
goals/plans for 2016.
1. Complete a marathon (umm, might actually have entered more than one and the Atlantic Coast Challenge) I ran the Brighton Marathon and we staggered around the Windermere Marathon.  Knee issues prevented the Atlantic Coast Challenge.
2. Plank a day in January Nope.
3. Keep up with yoga Dropped out of yoga in March, only been once since...oops.
4. Try to do a sugar free day a week This worked some of the time but I didn't adhere to it religiously.
5. Read more books than I read in 2015 (I'm up to 222 as 2015 closes) Another fail.  What with Brexit and Trump, I felt agitated and unable to focus on reading, so turned to rereading which doesn't count in my statistics.  I'm hopefully going to close on 200 this year.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My friend M had another little girl.

 4. Did anyone close to you die?
No.  But a lot of people close to me lost people.

5. What countries did you visit?
Spain (Tenerife), Slovenia, Austria, and briefly into Italy for a morning.  Oh and Germany, as we flew into Munich for Austria.  What a jetsetting year!  Also went to the Lake District twice, Devon once and Hampshire quite a lot.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
I'm still struggling to achieve a decent balance - it's hard to say no to things when you're feeling so much better but then it can sometimes end up leading to being overwhelmed.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I'm not sure that any can in particular, but dates from previous years - 17th November, 15th August, 2nd August, 16th October, 9th July, do remain etched.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Running by first marathon in 3h47m42s - less than 3 minutes away from a good for age time.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Missing that good for age time?!  Seriously, if that's the biggest failure then it's been a pretty good year.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had big knee problems after Windermere marathon.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My new down jacket to replace my old one.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
To be honest, I think mine did.  I've had a good year and it needs to be celebrated!

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

14. Where did most of your money go?
Sports related payments - osteopath, sports massage, PT, swimming memberships, entry fees.....

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Some of work was really exciting.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
I listened a lot to the Rend Collective this year.  Boldly I approach was a new one.  And also their arrangement of Be Thou My Vision was fitting when we were remembering 10 years since Emily died (we sang it at her funeral)

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
b) thinner or fatter?
fatter (possibly more muscly??)
c) richer or poorer?
richer - no more mortgage!

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Just "being"

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my husband.  My parents on Christmas Eve, STAYED AT HOME ON CHRISTMAS DAY.  First time we've ever done that.  Best Christmas ever.

21. Did you fall in love in 2015?
Carried on being in love.

22. How many one-night stands?
Absolutely none.

23. What was your favourite TV program?
Really didn't watch much TV but I did enjoy the Royal Institution Christmas lectures this year.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

25. What was the best book you read?
Things that got 5* on Goodreads were: Narrow Road to the Deep North (Richard Flanagan); It's All In Your Head (Suzanne O'Sullivan); The Mistake I Made (Paula Daly); One (Sarah Crossan); Am I Normal Yet? (Holly Bourne); The Weight Of Water (Sarah Crossan); Girl in Pieces (Katherine Glasgow); The Outrun (Amy Liptrot)

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Rend Collective

27. What did you want and not get?
Off one of my meds.

28. What did you want and get?

29. What was your favourite film of this year?
A United Kingdom which I saw a couple of weeks ago was very inspiring; I, Daniel Blake, was horrific and moving.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 31 and it was also Good Friday.  I had a nice swim in the morning at Ferry Pool with Helen, then Becci came around and brought me cake and a cushion shaped like a biscuit, then I lay in bed for a bit before we went out for a Starbucks and to see the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2 at the cinema.  It was a bit of a miss (the film), but it represented an achievement for me to get out on a day off rather than just lie in bed.

31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

A parking space at work

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Jeans and trainers to work!  (The novelty after so many years of being presentable, although as the year has ended out, I've ended up in my smarter skirts as still like to wear them!)

33. What kept you sane? 
Swimming and running and PT and my lovely line manager and husband, and doing crochet, and some of my lovely friends (F, H, B especially)

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Leaving the EU

35. Whom did you miss?
As ever, missed my beautiful friend Emily.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Met Amanda in person for the first time! 

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016:
"Not to take good mental health for granted, nor to expect everyone to understand mental health issues.  You'd think I might have learnt these lessons previously, but it turns out that I hadn't.  Hopefully they will stay with me a bit longer this time."

- wrote the above in 2012 and I still think they are a valuable lesson.

^^ and still in 2016

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
"This is the art of celebration" - Rend Collective, Boldly I Approach.

 39. So in as few words as possible, how would you sum up your year?
Joyful, for the most part (with the exception of the blip of unwellness in August)

Thursday, 8 December 2016


Mojo always makes me think of this - a Tenerife training camp staple.  I think somewhere this Autumn I've not had as much of this as I would have liked.  This is in part illustrated by the fact that I never got around to blogging the three half marathons I did this Autumn.  And it's also illustrated by the fact that besides one event, I haven't really made any plans for next year in terms of sporting events.

I got a little bit of that back this week.  I was in London for a conference with work (what a privilege to go; what an interesting three days) and I purposefully chose a hotel that was near a pool - and not just any pool by the London Aquatics Centre - aka the 2012 Olympic Pool.  I have had the pleasure of swimming there twice before but never for my early morning lane swimming session.  And what a treat it was.  It's the sort of pool that makes you feel like you're swimming fabulously well (even if you are not) and you can't help but feel inspired by all of the amazing swimmers that have been in the chlorine before you.  I was quite excited to spot Aimee Wilmott (London 2012, Rio 2016...) over on the far side doing her morning training set.

On Monday, halfway through my usual 4k, I looked up and saw a familiar face on poolside, coaching.  "Dan!" I exclaimed, and waved wildly.  It was Dan from Swim for Tri; the chap who is responsible for making my front crawl look respectable* on 5 consecutive trips to Tenerife (and other occasions).  It was lovely to catch up with him briefly on poolside when my swim was finished.  He invited me to all of the Swim for Tri sessions happening while I was in London, but it was only practical to attend one, the Mile End Wednesday session.

So on Wednesday morning, I checked out of the hotel at 6am, dragged my suitcase 3/4 mile to the tube and took the tube one stop along the line and then dragged the suitcase for a further 3/4 mile to the pool.  The squad was a little thin on the ground that day owing to injuries/holidays/time of year but everyone was very welcoming.  I enjoyed doing a proper swim set with some paddle work, interspersed with some fast swimming, and I was pleased to clock 1:23 for a 100m swim right at the end of the session (I think it could have been a second or so faster if the chap in front hadn't held me up on the first length!).  What a treat it was and quite a bolster for the mojo.

So time now to focus a little better on swimming.  A 1:1 with Dan is booked for January.  I need to work out what I want to achieve in Tenerife this year.  A 10k to enter perhaps.  More time on drills, more time making use of the fact that one of the pools I use is fine with fins/paddles etc.

* although on Monday morning, judging by the couple of snaps he took, it wasn't very respectable.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

What is the point of all this exercise?

"What is the point of all this exercise?" the GP asked when I saw him on Friday.

I shrugged.  He said "You tell me!".

I said "it keeps my eating disorder symptoms manageable.  If I exercise, then I don't really worry about the calories, whereas when I don't, I start counting them".

But thinking about it, it is far more than that.

* It gives me a routine
* Sometimes it gives me endorphins or a sense of achievement
* It's sometimes a sociable occasion
* It counteracts the hours spent sitting on my bum at work or on the sofa at home
* I set goals for the summer months and during the winter aim to achieve them
* It gives me a sense of purpose