Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Swim Tour 2014 with Cassie Patten

On Sunday, I had the most amazing opportunity to attend a special swimming session at a pool only 15 minutes away from me with one of the people who I am most inspired by in swimming and openwater swimming - Cassie Patten - Olympic Bronze Medallist in the 10k openwater swim in Beijing, 2008!  Swim Tour is organised by Total Swimming to bring professional instructors and Olympians to venues around the country in association with Speedo (the swimming manufacturer) and Decathlon (the multisport store, which is opening in Oxford this week).  I found out about it quite by chance when I saw a tweet from Cassie about it and couldn't pass up this opportunity.  So I quickly signed up and persuaded Claire to come along with me too!

The pool was already very busy when we arrived with people from the previous session and people arriving for the session that we'd signed up for.  We were warmly welcomed by Stephen Parry (Olympic Butterfly Bronze in Athens...) and given the option of doing something more pool orientated or something more openwater/triathlete orientated.  Since Claire is training for a half ironman and I'm training for Windermere, and since Cassie was leading that session, we went in that lane.

We had a good basic set of instruction where we focused on different aspects of the stroke in turn - breathing, head position, rotation, catch, and although this was nothing new to me, it is always good to take the time to think about your stroke.  I was very pleased when Cassie asked if I'd been a club swimming when I was younger because I thought that was quite a compliment!  We then went onto doing some openwater drills which was fun, as well as practising sighting, which Cassie recommended was done a bit differently to how I usually do it.  Cassie also talked through how focusing on breathing could help if anxious in openwater which I think was something for both Claire and myself to take away.  This all took about an hour, and then there was a bit of free time, so I just made the most of being in the pool for a bit longer.  We then did a relay race against another lane and were then given the option of either getting out and doing some stretching or going and doing a bit of butterfly with Stephen (see above...quite a good person to learn butterfly from).  Of course, we couldn't resist that and it was very entertaining.  Neither Claire nor I can really swim butterfly, but we were told that it needs to be driven by the leg-kick, which we were not much good at, kicking from the knee rather than from the hip.  However, we were both given fins and it made it a lot easier!  We would both like to have butterfly lessons now.

That was the end of the session, but I couldn't leave without getting a photo with Cassie.  She had brought along her Olympic medal for us to see - it is a big chunky thing!  She was really nice and we talked about broken wrists - she broke hers coming off a bike in May 2012 - and about my hope to swim Windermere this year.  I said that I had always wanted to meet her, so I am very happy that I got a photo as well as the memory of a great morning out.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

27th April - weekly update

I used to write these posts all the time over on my last blog when I was counting down (from 20 weeks - such as this one) to doing my first half ironman.  It was quite interesting recording what I'd done, and making plans for the coming week, and helped give me little senses of achievement on the way.  I don't have such a big goal this year, well, maybe actually it is.  I am hoping to complete a length of Windermere on 5th July, and now that is only about 10 weeks away, I think it is time to be a bit more focused with my training.  I'm starting to make plans in my head about distances that I want to cover each week, and how to try to fit those in around other commitments I have in the calendar.

Anyway.  Here is what I did this week:

Monday.  3.5k pool swim.  Due to the Bank Holiday, although I had to work, my hours were 9-5 rather than 8.30-5, so I had a little longer in the pool than usual.  It was great to be able to practice some of the drills that I'd been given over the weekend, and although I was tired, I felt a lot easier in the water.  This was also the first day that I attempted cycling since the day I was knocked off my bike.  Less traffic made it a bit less frightening, but it's still too painful on my wrist for now.

Tuesday. 3k pool swim.  Was feeling very tired today and had to keep stopping after every 10 lengths for a little rest.  I had swum about 33k in the last 9 days by this point, so hardly surprising!

Wednesday.  My first foray into the openwater this year, more on that here.  2.4k

Thursday. Did a 5k timed swim.  Took 1h25.5 minutes.  Not too shabby.  Was at the 3.8k mark at about 1h6.

Friday.  3k pool swim, more drills.

Saturday. Back in the openwater, 3.75k.

Sunday.  Today I'm going to a swim class with Cassie Patten!  Very excited about that and am sure it will merit its own blog post in due course.  Not sure how far we'll swim.  I'm at around 21k for the week, which given that this was supposed to be a slightly easier week, means that it should probably involve as little swimming as possible.

Next week, I need to step things up a little bit again, but I have a wildcard of a funeral to go to 3 hours away on Thursday, which means that this day is most likely to be a total rest day.  Haven't had one of those for a while :)  (Not sure that there is anything restful about either driving or being driven for 6 hours though).  This means I need to get up early on Weds to do the longer swim that I usually do on a Thursday (that'll be fun after working late on Tuesday...) which means no openwater on Weds.  I should get into the lake after work on Monday if all goes to plan!  And then there's the first race of the season on Saturday, although, a month out of plaster, I won't really be racing, but it's good to get the chance to swim outside.

Monday. 3k pool swim am, 2k lake swim pm (plan is 1 1k lap in wetsuit, 1 1k lap without)
Tuesday. 3k pool swim am.
Wednesday. 5k pool swim am.
Thursday. Off.
Friday.  3k pool swim am, very easy/recovery
Saturday. 3.8k or 5k race?
Sunday. 4k or 5k pool swim (depending on distance raced previous day/success in completing workouts earlier in week!).

Aiming for 25k....

Saturday, 26 April 2014

The first openwater swimming of 2014

On Wednesday, my openwater swimming season officially started!  My alarm went off at 5.02 and I decided that I felt sufficiently awake and ok to head to the lake rather than roll over and have another hour's sleep and head to the swimming pool :)  The lake opens at 6am and I was determined to get there for the start.  It was a lovely morning (contrary to forecasts) and I enjoyed driving through the country roads as the sun came up [I left my house at the same time as the milkman was delivering to the next house!].  And I was one of the first people in:

Here I am in  the middle.  The water was 14C, so I decided that as I wanted to get a decent swim, I would go around in my wetsuit for 2 of the 1k loops.

I didn't quite have time for a third loop, and my wrist was starting to hurt - couldn't work out whether it was the continuous swimming, the wetsuit, or the cold - probably a mixture of all three - so I stopped, took my wetsuit off and went for a little plunge without.

It was cold but glorious.  I think I managed about 400m before I went and attempted to get dressed.  Too many rookie errors for the first swim of the year.  Forgot flipflops and discovered how very cold the ground is at 6am!  Forgot a woolly hat.  Forgot my easy slip on warm boots.  Oh well.  Then I drove to the university pool to shower and get dressed for work.  Still felt very cold so had to go to work in my north face down gilet and north face down jacket.  But what an adventure to have before work.  Not sure I can manage to do this every week.  I didn't feel too tired but I think that was dependent on having had a reasonable night's sleep which I was lucky to achieve on Tues/Weds.  And I know that doesn't always work out.

Then today I was at the Open Water Swimming show in Reading.  I woke up feeling pretty rubbish and like hiding in bed all day (Friday had been a particularly trying day).  Mr W had been planning a long bike ride and the last thing he needed was an excuse not to go as he didn't look very enthusiastic about it.  So I forced myself out of bed and into the car.  I found the place ok, and went in.  Felt exceptionally unsociable, but I looked out Dan from Swim for Tri to say hello and admire the new pink dryrobes (which I'm going to get one off!).  Didn't feel like looking for any of the other people that I knew there, so headed off for my swim.  There was a bit of confusion because apparently you needed a chip to swim and the man with the chips hadn't turned up, but I eventually persuaded them to let me in anyway!

The lake was pretty deserted, although the sun was trying to peep through.  The ice cream head seemed to pass a bit quicker than on Wednesday and I was soon swimming normally.  There was quite a lot of wind which meant that swimming one way was like swimming in a lazy river, and the other way was like swimming against a lazy river.  I had my very own paddle boarder who looked jolly cold and somewhat dismayed when, pointing out to me where to get out, I told him that I was aiming for 4 laps (750m each).  Kept going.  It was coldish (14C) but not too bad, and my hands only started to get very cold towards the end of the 4th lap.  Got out, and decided that I wanted to do a dip without my wetsuit or I would be going home cross with myself.  I know I am already very behind where I wanted to be swimming without a wetsuit wise, and not trying, would just make it worse.  Fortunately my feet were already pretty cold so that made getting back in easier.  I set off towards the first buoy, wondering how far I would go, but then decided that I would aim for a whole lap.  Bizarrely my hands suddenly seemed to warm up.  Still pretty cold as I rounded the last buoy and losing my technique, but feeling pleased with myself.

As it was a show, there were all sorts of people promoting things, one of which happened to be an inflatable portable hot tub.  So I jumped straight in one of those!  Super!  Unfortunately after about 5 minutes I started to itch badly, which I wondered if was to do with the chemicals in it, but I later realised was my body's usual reaction to warming up too fast after the cold (I get this if I go running in the winter with bare legs and then jump into the shower), so I hopped out and got dressed.  Was shivering quite a lot by this point, so I retrieved my jacket from Dan, who had looked after it as had my valuables in, had a quick chat with a lady called Zoe who I know from social media and then headed back to the car which was still nice and warm, and drove home.  Stopped briefly for a Starbucks, and got some very odd looks wearing my DryRobe.

Mood definitely lifted a bit so it was worth making the trek and getting on with it.  Mr seems to be having an interesting time on his bike ride to Worcester and back as he's just text to say that someone has just thrown half a carrot at him :-/  I'm spending the rest of the afternoon trying to relax a bit - this is the first day for months that I have spent on my own.  It's been ok but I'm starting to feel a bit anxious.

Long post - well done to anyone who got to the end :)  Do leave a comment!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Slow but steady progress

Since I last posted, I have continued to try to build up my swimming.  My first full week of swimming after the accident (my swimming weeks seem to begin on a Monday) saw me cover 21k, in 7 swims (over 6 days), and also do my first run since the accident (slow shuffle, but not quite sure how slow as the GPS stopped recording after 2k...).  My times continued to frustrate me.  I saw my osteopath who managed to give me a bit more mobility in my forearm, but pointed out how wasted it still was.

Last week however saw some real gains made.  I managed to cover 27k in 11 swims (more on this rather large number later), which I think is good going for less than 3 weeks out of plaster.  On Maundy Thursday I swam 4k straight in the pool, and it took me about 1h13, and I was at the 3.8k mark at about 1h9.  On Good Friday, I repeated the exercise and it took about 1h12, so I was still at 18 minutes for a kilometre.  On Easter Sunday, I swam 2 x 1k (with 200m of kicking in between).  The first one took me a while to warm up and came in at around 18 minutes 10 seconds.  The second one took me around 17 minutes 30 seconds...and I was in a 50m pool.  Gains slowly going in the right direction due to Dan from Swim for Tri.

This was because I decided to spend the weekend in Cardiff where Dan was holding a swim technique workshop.  One of the guys on the course asked me why I was attending since, even just out of plaster, by triathlon standards, my swimming is ok.  As Dan explained, 5 weeks in plaster was 5 weeks of unlearning, and video analysis showed that there was a lot to improve on my stroke.  We also identified during some of the drills that not only is my left forearm wasted, but that the lats on my left side are not as strong as they were.  So practising drills, continuing to work on old problems, and seeing myself on camera was really helpful, and I'm sure helped me with that improved time for a k.  I came away with a good idea of things to work on (and started practising those this morning in the pool) and starting to feel stronger in the water again.  A weekend well spent!  I made some notes of the drills that I need to practice and will get a DVD of my video analysis in due course so I hope that I am well set up to make my come back. 

All of this swimming hasn't been too bad on the wrist, which is good.  Thursday and Friday were a bit uncomfortable, but Sunday wasn't until I made the mistake of using paddles!  I tried cycling today and although I managed to get to work, the angle that my arm needs to be to hold the handlebars and the potholes made it just too uncomfortable at the moment.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Elation to Frustration

Yesterday was amazing.  On Friday night I'd skipped the swim I'd planned as I was very tired, and had already walked in 5 miles to work, and instead, I drove my car for the first time, just around the block a couple of times and then up to Sainsburys with my husband watching anxiously over me.  On Saturday therefore, I felt confident enough to drive myself the 6 miles to the university pool, and swim.  I can't describe how amazing being out in the car by myself, listening to my tunes was.  I don't drive much, but since my husband moved in with me originally, the car has always been my own space for me to spend time in on my own and I've missed it.  I was then full of beans for my swim, aiming for 5k, and it went pretty well.  I was a fair bit slower than I should have been but just really enjoyed ploughing up and down and being in the water.  I think it took about 1h35.  I didn't even seem tired after it.

Today was frustrating.  I was tired and a lot of effort seemed to be required.  I could have been done with the swim after 1.5k, but I pushed on to 4k, doing some kick to give my wrist a rest, and my right shoulder, which has always been a bit weaker.  The wrist is still very stuck in position, and still pretty swollen.  It is just beyond annoying when I worked so hard all winter, and have now missed a planned swimming camp, and don't feel that I'll even be managing the sort of times that I did last year whilst training on the bike and run as well.  Less than a month to the first race of the season, less than 2 months to the first 10k, and less than 3 months until I attempt to swim Lake Windermere....

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Just. Keep. Swimming.

Fracture clinic on Tuesday did at least bring "good" news, in that the cast was removed from my wrist.  I felt rather more mixed about it.  Obviously I was desperate for it to be off and end the 5 weeks out of the water, but it was stiff, swollen, and just entirely overwhelming.  Cast removal is definitely not the end of the recovery process, but only the end of one stage, and there is lots of hard work to be done.  As we left clinic, even tiny knocks were giving me excruciating pain and I started to stress about getting in the pool.  The Dr had said that it was ok, and I need to try to relax/move it, but I was tired and overwhelmed.  After a good hour of tears, I managed to pull myself together and we walked around to the local pool.  I don't usually swim there as it's far too warm/busy, but it was convenient, and I thought the warmth might help for a slow swim.

The good news was it was just about ok.  I started off with some prone kicking, then cautiously some single arm, and then tried full stroke.  It wasn't very elegant, but it was a start.  Mr W timed me over 100m and I got 1:37 which isn't too bad, though it seemed like very hard work.  I swam a total of 500m.

On Wednesday, I walked to my normal pool after work and met up with my friend Claire.  I'd warmed up by the time she got in, so we did some work on body position drills together.  I can't yet do sculling drills, but I thought this was a good area of focus for me.  So, superman, torpedo, and advanced single arm.  Without really trying I covered 1500m in about 40 mins and it was time to get out.

Today being my birthday, I had in my head that if I couldn't be on my swim holiday in Mallorca, then I'd like to try a birthday set of age x 100s.  Usually, I think people complete these as a hard effort, but that wasn't going to be possible for me today.  So I came up with a nice mix of drills and easy efforts and didn't time how long it took me.

Here's what I did:

1. Easy FC
2. Breastroke
3. Easy FC

4. Torpedo drill
5. Superman drill
6. 6-3-6 drill
7. Advanced single arm drill
8. Easy FC
9. Torpedo push off
10. Easy FC
11. Pull
12. Easy FC
13. Kick
14. Easy FC
15. Hard FC
16. Easy FC
17. Open water sighting
18. Easy FC
19. Water polo drill
20. Easy FC
21. Breastroke arms and front crawl legs
22. Easy FC
23. Front crawl arms and fly legs
24. Easy FC
25. Front crawl arms and breastroking legs
26.Easy FC
27. Kick
28. Pull with pullbuoy at ankles
29. Easy FC
30. Breaststroke

After a stressful week, I spent the rest of my birthday in bed.  Ho hum.  At least there was a swimming element to the day as well as a mental health element and I've had some nice messages and kind presents.  Can't decide if feeling very low is preferable to feeling very anxious as it seems to be one or the other for the last few days.