Sunday, 23 February 2014

Tenerife final post

Nine and a half hours of travelling later and I find myself back in the UK. As we came into land, the lady that I was sitting next to and myself were wondering if we'd been brought back to the right country as it didn't seem to be raining and was even slightly sunny.  Today it is definitely grey, and very different to the bright sunshine and warm breezes in Tenerife.  I managed to fit in a run on the last morning before leaving and got this picture of the sun coming up.

My body is very tired from the hard week of training, but I am pretty sure that good gains have been made.  I dragged myself for a small swim this morning, and whilst it was hardgoing, with backstroke being MUCH easier than front-crawl, I could feel some improvements in my stroke.  I know from experience that the week after camp is always a hard one as you expect to swim amazingly after a week of good swimming instruction, but it takes time for the body to recover.

I think it did me good being away as well.  It was nice to have a genuine break from chores and work (ok, I admit to triaging my work emails...) and be in the sunshine and warm and not have to think about much more than swimming.  Dan Bullock is a great coach and despite being in the water for 16 hours I wasn't bored at all.  I loved the longer sea swims too - it was great being able to swim in the open sea rather than just the lagoon as we did last year.  Martin continues to be well organised meaning that there really isn't anything to worry about at all.  The rest of the camp participants (team photo below) were lovely and it was nice to see some old faces as well as meet some lovely new people.

Here's another couple of favourite pictures.  This one of me was taken by my new friend Sylvia when she was trying to get pictures of some of the Norwegian swim team.  Look at the long legs of that guy in the middle!  He was so tall!  This is my feeling positive swimming costume that reminds me that "life is fantastic".
Here is me and my swimming camp twin Vicky.  Last year we had a photo taken with matching hats; the same photo this year didn't come out so well but we were given matching t-shirts by the training centre on the last day.  I love this photo!  Vicky is an amazing athlete with some great recent successes and I am jolly proud to be able to call her a friend and to get the chance to swim with her once a year.  I'm still just about faster over a longer distance, but definitely not over the shorter distances and I think 2015 will be the year when I am drafting off her for all of the sessions :)

So, back to reality.  I spent some of this morning catching up with work as I have my first appointment with my CPN tomorrow morning so won't make it into work until a little later on.  I've done a load of baking and am now off to visit first a friend in hospital, and then my Dad, and then collapse on the sofa for the last remaining hours of my holiday.  I feel quite anxious about the next ten days or so because I have quite a lot on, but will just have to do my best to plod through with it.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Tenerife 4

Or Tired Thursday as it's known.  I've always struggled with the Wednesday/Thursday on camp.  Too much accumulated fatigue, bit of homesickness and so on.  I felt quite down last night, missing Mr Just Keep Swimming, and lethargic this morning, but I did perk up somewhat after a hard kicking focussed swim this morning.

My goal for the Thursday of the camp was to last for the whole of the swim in the afternoon.  Last year I got out before it was over; the year before I thought I did, but thinking about it, it was Weds afternoon that I bailed out on.  After I shared this with some of the other ladies, there was peer pressure to stay in.  But I made it through!  Despite having eaten my lunch so late that I was burping up peanut butter and banana fumes.  Nice...

This afternoon's mainset was tough, but not as tough as it might have been because we ran out of time to reverse it :-)

I use this photo from Swim for Tri to illustrate.  For each repeat, the time allowed increased by 15 seconds, starting with 60s and going up to 4m.  We were in the 50m pool and you had to work out how far you could swim in the time allowed, finishing at one end and taking any time over for rest.  A bit mathematical!  I moved from 50 to 100 at 1:45, and from 100 to 150 at 2:45, and then up to 200 at 3:30, and didn't quite make it to 250 at 4m.  I'm not sure if this explanation makes any sense, it was almost too much for my tired brain to process.  After that hard swim I felt that I might sink if I swam any further, but I did complete the swimdown, which made my swim 3.5k this afternoon, 5.5k for the whole day :-D

I've been trying really hard to eat well this camp, eating lunch too late today aside, and I'm trying to decide if it's making a difference or not.  I've certainly noticed that because I haven't got gluten-free substitutes available, my IBS is a lot better (at home I eat large quantities of gluten free wraps and breads to fill up on, and they are highly processed, often with some weird ingredients to make up for the lack of gluten).  I've been filling up on extra main course.  Yesterday I had a bit of a chocolate binge, but that was partly because I had not eaten enough protein.  I am pretty sure that I felt that this morning.  I'm going to put a renewed focus on what I'm eating when I'm home, and try to keep the protein levels higher.

And with that note, it's off to dinner!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Tenerife 3

3 more swims done since the post I wrote yesterday.  We had a technique focused session in the 25m pool yesterday afternoon for 90 minutes which took me to c.5k for Monday, another technique focused session in the 25m pool this morning (2k) and then a hard fitness endurance session in the 50m pool this afternoon (4.6k - takes me to 6.6k swum today).

Here is me in my Swim Swim Funkita t-shirt yesterday

The fitness endurance sessions have to be my favourite even though they are hard and unpleasant at the time.  I didn't feel great this morning when I woke up - dreadful nightmares and stomach ache meant that I didn't feel very well rested.  Apparently I wasn't smiling this morning :(  As the day went on I also started to develop a bit of a sore throat which is still there in the background.  Not surprising really as I was getting pretty run down before I came away.  I hope it will stay in the background for the rest of the week at least.

At lunchtime, I had a sports massage.  Self care and all that. My right shoulder has been niggling for a bit, and although the osteopath sorted me out on the Tuesday before I came away, work put paid to that, along with sleeping awkwardly one night, and so Mr Just Keep Swimming told me firmly to book a sports massage.  Pietro, the masseur has gained a bit of a reputation amongst the athletes on the camp for being a bit brutal, and they weren't too far off the mark.  30 minutes of pain plus being lectured about drinking more water (that is my self-care goal for the rest of the week - without my usual morning peppermint tea and lunchtime decaff coffee I'm definitely down on fluid even if I am drinking more water than usual) and doing more stretching (we did an excellent stretching routine this morning which I must get the details of), but it was worth the money and the pain as my shoulders were a lot looser and I was swimming faster than I have been all camp.  Apparently I'll feel fantastic tomorrow, but maybe not given the hard swim session this afternoon!

The mainset from this afternoon proved to be a broken 3.8k, although by sharing the lead in the lane on some of the reps with the lovely Vicky, I ended up taking a bit more rest than I should have done so I guess that'll be reflected in my time overall, which I am happily ignorant of at the moment.  Here's me in the pink hat pushing through it.

Here's what we did:
10 x 100m with 10s rest
1 x 100m with 10s rest
1 x 200m with 20s rest
1 x 300m with 30s rest
1 x 400m with 40s rest
1 x 500m with 50s rest
1 x 600m with 60s rest
1 x 700m

It was hard - I'm not a great fan of ascending ladders, but I managed to keep swimming to the end of it, and I felt much, much better than I had in the morning or even at lunchtime after getting through it.

Some freshly squeezed orange juice was a nice reward

Monday, 17 February 2014

Tenerife 2

No more pictures yet I'm afraid, which is a good thing and a bad thing.  A good thing because I am currently very pink along the back of my shoulders, my calves (and behind my knees - super ouch) and my face is bright red.  A bad thing because I had a lovely sea swim this morning whilst the sun was coming up.

Yesterday afternoon we had a good fitness swim in the 50m pool.  The sun was shining and I really should have put my suncream in my bag, but I didn't.  Nor my tinted goggles.  Unsurprisingly I got burnt...  I really enjoyed the fitness swim as it showed that the endurance was definitely there; whilst some of the other ladies had been swimming faster than me in the technique sessions, once we were doing longer reps, I was doing a bit better relatively.

For our main-set we swam:
1 length, 10s rest, 2 lengths, 10s rest, 3 lengths, 10s rest, 4 lengths, 10s rest, 5 lengths
5 lengths easy, focusing on technique
1 length, 10s rest, 2 lengths, 10s rest, 3 lengths, 10s rest, 4 lengths
4 lengths easy, focusing on technique
1 length, 10s rest, 2 lengths, 10s rest, 3 lengths
4 lengths easy, focusing on technique
1 length, 10s rest, 2 lengths
3 lengths easy
1 length strong, 10s rest, 1 length strong.
It doesn't sound much but we did do it in a 50m pool!  We think the session probably worked out at about 3.5k, so at least 5k for the day yesterday.

For our warm down, we used our different "toys" - snorkel, fins, paddles to help us reestablish good technique ahead of our next swim

After the swim we had a lecture and then looked at some of our videos from the morning.  Dan said that I had already improved in the afternoon from the morning.  I still need to watch my right arm, and my head is still very high.  Same feedback as last year really :(  I also asked him to film my backstroke because I've been working on that by myself and it's a bit tricky without a coach or even knowing how I am looking in the water.  He said that my legs weren't too sinky, but that I am very flat.  So I need to work on transferring the rotation that I have in my front crawl to my backstroke.

This morning's swim was lovely.  I reckon the water was about 20C, Martin thought about 18C.  Unfortunately the wind/current was too strong for us to swim back along the shore but we had a good swim in the lagoon.  The group stayed in for about 45 minutes and just as I was about to get out to reunite myself with my Dry Robe, Martin told me that he'd stay in on the paddle board so that I could do more swimming "because you need to get the miles in".  Thanks.  I swam across the lagoon and back, and then he got in for a swim, and we did the same again.  I was quite grateful for my tow float, not only because I knew that this would make me nice and visible, but because it was nice to hold onto in the group situation when we waited for other people to catch up.

 I do feel quite anxious about the Mallorca swimming camp coming up where the water will be far colder and I will be expected to stay in for much longer.  I am definitely struggling mentally with convincing myself that I can do that.  But I will have my wetsuit to hand and I guess the time in the water is not wasted even if I ended up swimming in it.

In terms of self-care, I'm doing well and not so well.  The forgotten suncream was obviously a big fail.  I managed to eat a good mixture of veggies and protein at dinner last night as well as my beloved carbs and cheese.  And although I couldn't manage to get any breakfast down this morning, I did have two cups of peppermint tea and a hot chocolate to get some recovery in.  I think I probably am still full from dinner last night (three plates of main courses, some dessert, and a powerbar back in my room...!).  I'm also going to book a sports massage today as my shoulder is niggly.  I've got nearly 3 hours until we leave for our afternoon swim, so I'm going to try not to spend the whole time on the computer, but finish my third book of the holidays, and maybe have a little sleep.  I was invited to go for a walk which would have been nice but I am aware that my body needs to rest and luckily I have a fantastic view of the sea from my room :)  Oh, and I've only cried briefly once since leaving Mr W at Gatwick airport and have managed to sleep for two nights without any medication so I think that deserves a gold star too.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Back in Tenerife

From wind and rain in wind and rain in Tenerife.  Yes, that's right.  It was briefly sunny and warm as I stepped off the plane (ahhhh), but by the time we were putting our cases onto the bus, it was raining.  The wind yesterday was absolutely phenomenal; my friend Vicky who has come out with her bike did her ride the gym.  There were also some very heavy showers - and those people who said "at least it'll be warm rain" when I was moaning about the forecast beforehand, were wrong.  I think rain is universally cold and wet. Fortunately the weather is better today.  The wind is still quite blowy, so the waves are very big and we'll need it to die down somewhat for some openwater swimming, but it's not actually raining.

It is good to be back in Tenerife for the annual Tridynamic/Swim for Tri "Swim faster" camp.  Over the last few months, although my swimming volume has remained high, my pace and technique has dropped off.  Being as depressed as I am, I am pleased to make it to the pool at home, but don't have the energy to do any sprinting and although I do practise drills it isn't always very structured and I don't have anyone to give me feedback.  This was more than evident in our first swim yesterday, I have a very good endurance pace but nothing for going any faster!  I tried hard not to beat myself up about it.  By the second swim this morning, I am already noticing that having a few pointers, and some practice at "swimming along the black line" [this is a practice that makes you think about swimming nice and streamlined] and just knowing that someone is watching you swim, was making me swim a little better and feel a bit better in the water.  That said, we were filmed this morning and I'm not really looking forward to seeing the footage!

I have a nice room in the hotel, with a fantastic view of the sea which I am able to watch sitting on the other bed typing this.  With the wind last night I could hear the sea as I went to sleep which was lovely.  I'm trying hard to remember "self-care" whilst I'm here, which for me means adequate rest, but not spending all of the downtime in my room.  Today after the morning swim finished, I did a few more lengths in the sun, and then walked down to the beach on my way back to the hotel for a little paddle.  It was lovely to feel the sand between my toes.  Last night, I started to feel homesick and quickly realised this was because I was tired and hungry, so I went down to dinner early on my own and got some food inside me.  In fact I was actually too tired to speak to anyone so this worked out quite nicely, and I had the light out by 9.10, to sleep fitfully until 7ish.

Anyway, here are some photos, the swimming ones are from this morning and were taken by the lovely Charles who is here with his swimming wife Tracey.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Catching up

So, I started a new blog, full of good intentions to blog about my swimming in 2014 and then failed to post again.  Over a month later, here I am for a bit of a catch up.

January was a good swimming month.  I swam my biggest swimming month ever - 102.5km - which took me over 100km for only the second time (the first time was in April 2011 when I was training for my first 10k) which was pretty good.  Normally January is the month where I try to ramp up distance in preparation for going to swim camp in Tenerife, but I'd already been doing well with my mileage in November and December so it was a chance to really get some in.  I had 4 rest days.

January was not a very good month moodwise.  It started with an assessment by the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) where initially they refused to give me any support until my number comes up for psychological treatment.  This news, along with the weather, being back at work on full-time hours, and just the general time of year and general hopelessness meant that my mood continued to deteriorate.  However, as we have hit February, I've been sent back to the CMHT by my GP and this time they have agreed to offer me some support for a limited period.  So that is good news and I am hoping that will infiltrate my mood.

I started coaching at the tri club's Monday night swimming sessions in January which has been excellent.  I have been pushed far beyond my comfort zones - not least being forced to go out and interact with people rather than stay at home on my sofa.  But I am actually enjoying it.  I have learnt a fair bit about swimming and it is good to be able to share that with people.  I am still very much a beginner coach and benefitting greatly from the wisdom and experience of the Level 2 coach that I am working with - he is absolutely fantastic at helping the swimmers and I hope that I will be able to develop my skills along those lines too.

Less positively in the coaching area of my life, I had days 3 and 4 of my level 2 course in January.  I really wasn't well enough to go for the weekend but there was no way around it (other than start at the beginning again next November/December and pay another £500...).  I tried to ask for some support - I'd declared that I had a disability when I signed up - but it wasn't really very forthcoming.  I've now been offered some 1:1 help to help me complete my portfolio, but I'm not feeling very confident about the sessions that I have to deliver before June in order to pass.

Next weekend I'll be heading off to Tenerife for the third time for swimming camp with Dan Bullock from Swim for Tri run by Martin from Tridynamic.  I'm actually starting to let myself get a little bit excited about it.  About a week ago I couldn't imagine going at all, but now that Mr Keep Swimming has helped me to get my suitcase packed and bought me a bit of extra weight allowance, and with some excitement from my friends who will be there too, I am looking forward to some sunshine and some swimming, and just being somewhere different for a week.  I hope that my mood will be reasonable - I've reread my blog posts from last year's trip and there was a definite undercurrent of distress that I had forgotten about - but I hope that it might be boosted by the vitamin D and being able to take a bit of time for myself.  I shall try to get back into doing some mindfulness and try to catch up on some sleep.  And I shall try to use the time to write some blog posts (hopefully with pictures!)