Obviously I’ve BITTEN off more than I can chew! STANDARD.
I’ve a huge appetite...
But seriously, this sh*t all just got a bit real….
Step one was “Stepping back into the Arena” but holy f**k I didn’t realise how fit and mentally tough I used to be…where did it go?! When did I become such a softie! I guess when I allowed myself to say “Hey, its ok, not to kill yourself every time you try and do something.” Or anything in life for that matter. You see, this do or die attitude was heavily drilled into us by my fantastic daddy since we were wee. Combined with the fact that I’m the last of 6 children in a good ol’ catholic family, my standards of resilience have historically been reasonably high. But like everyone (or many, I should say) in today’s society I’VE GOTTEN SOFT AND LAZY!
I have no idea where I am going with this – but basically I need to find that toughness, sheer stubbornness and tap into my crazy side all over again….slowly but surely – as they say “Rome wasn’t build in a day.” And like anything worth doing – it takes a great deal of time and effort. ONLY by starting, can one then realise how far you have to go. How much hard work and dedication must go into this challenge.
Overall, training is going okay. Nutrition still needs lots of work before I get it right and I’m generally struggling a bit with self-belief. But I’m determined to keep my head down.
So what has happened since the end of October? My birthday (another year older and wiser), a visit from my big bro Padraig, Bondi to Bronte swim in early December, Vlad’s 10km race, Christmas. 100x100s @ Andrew Boy Charlton pool, New Years and the start of 2020.
In the midst of these, there’s been lots of hard morning squad sessions in the pool - some of which have been pretty hard to breathe during because of the smoke from the bushfires! - and also some longer Saturday swims (which could and should probably have been a lot longer to be honest...but let’s try and be positive!).
The way I see it, every Km that goes by, I am in a better position than I was the previous day.
I'm also now able to get out and about to fly solo and do my own swims, whenever I want.
Thanks to my friend Michael (and another friend Mariki for storing it) we now have ongoing access to a kayak in Coogee to help me get up extra mileage.
"There’s been lots of hard morning sessions in the pool - some of which have been pretty hard to breathe during because of the smoke from the bushfires!"
Let's chat about a few other highlights over the holiday break:
Vlads 10km swim in Balmoral, north of Sydney – noting this was the furthest I’ve swam since the North Channel in 2014. It was a well-organised race, with a very high volume of entries and some high calibre swimmers.
I felt I was doing ok by mid-way during the swim, but when the time came to make my move, I royally chickened out and didn’t back myself (I was afraid of blowing up because I didn’t know how much was in the tank). So I stayed in a comfortable group – taking turns sitting on people’s feet, and then with them on mine. There was a group of 4-5 of us, and everyone did their fair share of drafting and leading. It was four laps, with each lap a 2.5km loop.
I had thought, ‘If I’m feeling good on the last lap, I’ll give her a good nudge and let it rip’ – but by that stage it was too late and half way through that last lap I got really bad cramps in my calves. Jesus, it really pulled! One of the surf live savers came over and helped me stretch it out so I could continue swimming, but the pulling feeling was still there. I finished well and the time was dead on, but I was disappointed in myself, that I hadn’t been willing to blow up and give it a good rattle. But I’ve learnt from it, and I’m now working on my magnesium and electrolyte intake, so that I don’t experience that sort of cramping again.
Overall, there was a great field of swimmers there, with Zoe Whitfield taking gold - Zoe’s an incredible and unassuming open water swimmer that’s a completely different level to me. All in all, it’s a great swim to now have under my belt and I finished up 6th female overall in a time of 2hrs 26mins. Not bad. But lets be real, not great either. Lesson learnt – f**king bust yourself and if you blow up – so be it. It will make you stronger. I would highly recommend this race to others. Great timing before the over indulgence happens at Christmas.
So then came Christmas day, the silly session and New Years – yes it was epic, but I have to say, I was very well behaved. I’ve generally taken a step back from the alcohol, but still eating like a horse. Some things never change - LOL!
On Christmas morning I took Alex (my amazing wife) swimming around Wedding Cake Island at Coogee. We were in the friendly company of the “HOM” (Hairy Old Men), governed by the ever-buoyant Dean Summers. This was the first time Alex had ventured out to the back of the island, and for anyone that has been out there, it is well worth the 1km trip. The colors are just magnificent. Such a special way to start Christmas day.
As far as mileage and training over the break, I just ticked along - nothing too serious.
The annual 100m x 100m at ABC pool with the Vlad crew was a highlight on New Year’s Eve, despite having to navigate the high-level security and wannabe new years eve revelers lining up (some even with tents from the night before), waiting to get in for a day baking in the sun in anticipation of the infamous habour fireworks. Thanks for organising Rachel!
So all in all, it’s been good fun, but a bit of a mixed bag all round. For now, I’m throwing my energy into consistency, a positive mind and a sustainable, healthy eating plan. Let’s see how we go.
The last thing I’ll say is that I’ve been absolutely gobsmacked and hugely inspired by some recent achievements in the open water swimming world, including Sarah Thompson’s four-way crossing of the English channel. Her absolutely epic feat has truly reshaped the sport and, at least for me, is fuel for the fire in terms of pushing the boundaries and believing that the impossible is possible. Just unreal.