Monday 27 May 2013

The sojourn of a North Sea Virgin (or there and back again avoiding the kelp)

It's a bank holiday weekend and there's only so much DIY and gardening a girl can take, so looking for something different I did what every self respecting Geordie does on a bank holiday...

I headed for the beach,

Now the North East is blessed with a coast line and beaches to die for and the usual indifferent weather (aka wet windy and wintry) ensures that they are normally deserted; but I wasn't going to lounge around on the sand, oh no! my mission had intent and purpose.

I was planning my first open water swim of the season, (hell my first swim anywhere for over three weeks) and it should be born in mind that I've never swum in the North Sea (apart from the obligatory few strokes as a kid) or the sea in general except off the Barrier Reef or the open water swim at the Europeans in Majorca.

Sparky Walton has been on at me to come and join the Tynemouth Outdoor Swimmers (hereinafter referred to as Tossers) for months and I had thought that I had dodged that particular bullet by saying he could let me know when the water reached 12°c. Well I was mulling over making my open water debut  this year sometime over the weekend and missed a slot at Ellington (a balmy 13°) and Hetton Lions Park (10.5°) and suggested to my better half that a trip to Tynemouth might be interesting.

This proposal was met with hoots of derision and a wave of negativity from both Bob and Teenage Triathlete who suggested that it was too cold, too wavy too windy and I just didn't understand what I was letting myself in for and I'd never manage it.

That was all the motivation I needed, I have this quirk in my personality that if someone tells me not to do something well I just have to prove them wrong and here I had not one but two people of very little faith! Having determined to make the afternoon slot, Bob's expression of support did run to providing me with a dry robe, a pair of wetsuit bootees and the offer of his neoprene cap (you see he does care really).

So I set off and arrived after a detour to B&Q and to dispose of Teenage Triathlete for a sleepover (well mum I've all week to revise for my History GCSE!).

Of course having arrived and recognised a number of people there was no backing out a quick (ish) change and we were off....

Now when I said here and here that the water was ffff freezing, I know now that I was only joking, because this afternoon I learnt the true meaning of the term ffff freezing, the surface temperature at Tynemouth was reckoned to be around 8.2°. As soon as I stepped into the water the pain in my feet was simply excruciating and I genuinely thought as I walked through the breakers that I was facing a humiliating retreat to the dryness and warmth (it's all relative isn't it) of the beach.

Surprisingly though I managed to start swimming and keep going and bit by bit began to really enjoy the swim, especially as we rounded the headland and were faced with a view of Tynemouth Priory, spectacular and completely different from the sea.

A bit of body surfing as we made it to King Edwards Beach and then it was the return leg, masterfully guided by Jimmy Bridges who kept us out of the Kelp! (I've mentioned before here and here my fear of swimming over frondy things in the water) At this point I'd been in the water for about 27 minutes and I thought about getting out and walking back to collect my gear, but I realised that my numb and freezing feet would make the walk back simply agony and I would feel every pebble or crack in the pavement. The swim back seemed much the lessor of two evils.

I was deposited on the beach some 27 minutes later, and despite my sensation deprived extremities, felt completely exhilarated, tingly and alive. I have yet to master trying to put on a t-shirt and hoodie simultaneously under a dry-robe but I'm sure given time that is a skill I will master can't wait for my second swim.

A tidy 2k for the 2013 failing challenge.

Sunday 5 May 2013

Binge in Swim Challenge Carnage

A busy month with all sorts of things going on including financial year end, a Ministry of Justice consultation paper which is simply bonkers contributing to a rather poor showing on the pool front in April, although I did also swim on the 13th but never found the time to blog about it.

So the Speedo "keep going day after day challenge" pretty well crashed and burned, leaving my with a number of burning questions which include; will I have to make it all up? (the swimming not the suit review) or should I just call it a day and give my swanky (although ill fitting) cossie back?

Undaunted by this epic fail I've come up with a new challenge for 2013 (if at first you don't succeed cheat) to complete the Tyne River Swim in September. You might remember I watched the start of last year's event here.

This particular swim is a whopping 10 miles starting at the Quayside in Newcastle and ending on the beach at South Shields ( a rather wetter and colder version of the Great North Run). I'm not sure if I should be filled with enthusiasm or dread.... but it might just invigorate my mile a day challenge as I will need to do some training.

Today was my first swim for three weeks, the fine weather and bank holiday meant that there was only 6 of us for this afternoon's session. Clarkie was there and solved a mystery that had been troubling me since Friday night in the pub. We had abandoned the office early (well most of the staff left at 4pm and I gave up after a further 30 minutes) taking refuge in a local hostelry Consett's Grey Horse which boasts  amongst other delights a micro brewery.

Now in my experience the noise a group of people make in a pub is directly proportional to the quantity of alcohol consumed and at the height of our hilarity a member of staff dropped into conversation the noun "rug muncher" I was quite impressed that a good proportion of my workmates, who I consider to be pretty streetwise were a little baffled by the term.

As the definition was revealed you can imagine the increasing shrieks and decibel count can't you (we were really loud), and then much to my horror I realised that the table of blokes behind us contained Sparkie Walton's dad and another bloke who I recognised as a swimming official but just couldn't place. We had a short conversation as I left as I was still racking my brains to identify him.

Demonstrating his true constabulary credentials Clarkie solved the mystery when he id'd him as his dad! Funny he didn't mention Rug munching at all. Anyway we cracked on with the session and I was struggling at the back, I was nearly lapped on the 266.

As you can see from the toosmartwatch print out it was an eyeballs out session (for me anyway).

Something tells me it's a long way to September.

133 free @ 20s RI
2 x 66 pull @ 20s RI (ish)
133 free @ 20s RI
4 x 33 kick @ 20s RI (ish)
133 free @ 20s RI
266 @ 4:30
2 x 133 @ 2:30
4 x 66 @ 1:30
8 x 33 @ 35s
2 x 133 @ 2:30
4 x 66 @ 1:30
8 x 33 @ 35s
266 @ 4:30
2 x 66 @ 1:30
2 x 33 @ 35s
2 x 33 @ 60s
100 swim down
Total 2,900 metres