Forgive me, fellow sporties, it has been almost two months since my last post. Not uncoincidentally, that's exactly how long it's been since I last ran, too. Swimming took over all of my time with increasingly longer hours in the pool (thanks to rubbish weather meaning I haven't been able to clock up enough hours outside), and karate stole all of my brainspace until the last two weeks, when Eldest and I earned our purple belts at last. Small One requires more kata practice and we hope she'll grade to red next time.
I am pretty relieved grading is done now. As ever I spent weeks winding myself up and not being able to take in adjustments, only to find it was pretty much up to requirements on the day. I'm now enjoying learning the new kata, heian godan, which is coming together more quickly than I expected despite lots of new skills and a jump that I'm hilariously bad at so far.
Between cramming for grading and constantly upping my swimming distances, me, Eldest and a handful of Bears spent a Saturday getting our BCU1* kayaking awards in order to prep for some of us being kayak cover at Bala. I'd completely forgotten how much I enjoyed it and thankfully it all came back so quickly that I was very confident by the end of the day. Eldest picked it up like a champ and we're looking forward to more adventures at Trafford Water Park and beyond over summer. Can't speak highly enough of the organisation and tuition from Peak Pursuits - they really were super. And I can't wait to be back on the water!
In terms of swimming I followed the Dart 10k training plan quite faithfully up to the largest swim at five miles, which unfortunately fell three days after grading, two days after a day kayaking and swimming, and a day after I had a very painful sports massage (not the physio's fault, I was just very knotty!). I had to split the swim across two sessions, and by the time I'd finished that, then been in school for two days, up at 5am for a client meeting in London on Friday and prepping Youngest's 5th birthday party in the cracks of time between, I was exhausted. I had an absolutely horrible swim at Quays on the Saturday - didn't even manage a mile due to my own patheticness - and it was only because some of my awesome swimming friends lifted my spirits afterwards that I was able to write it off as "the crap dress rehearsal before the main event". Honestly. I'd forgotten to eat, couldn't find my anti-fog, and I'd smashed my finger in a car door on Friday so that really hurt too. Heart and head gave up and body just whimpered along behind. That really doesn't happen often and was quite depressing.
Following that, my head's been in a pretty bad place all week. Everything hurt and I couldn't bear even the thought of the scent of chlorine. So I haven't been in the pool for nigh on two weeks. Meanwhile I'm fretting about how my dear Rach, also swimming the 10k, is going to manage after a cycling accident; and sharing "fed up" grumbles about overtraining with Cathy. I honestly think I fell out of love with swimming for a bit there, and a feverish virus-thing a couple of days ago really didn't help.
Thanks to Great Manchester Swim (the wetsuitedness of which led me to be worrying about Cathy overheating as the temperatures shot up!), there was no USWIM session at Quays this week, so I had to drag my reluctant carcass over to Sale. I like Trafford Water Park well enough - in some ways it's prettier than Quays, though I could do without the weed. But I'm used to Quays, it's my home and I missed the people and the organisation. I missed the feeling of safety I get from knowing how it all works and how I work on that course and in that water. I'm not familiar enough with Sale yet to avoid the neck strain from having to sight a lot, and I don't really like the schlep back to the changing room without my glasses, especially in the rain (hot showers are a luxury I don't need, either!). Instant access to my kit is something I love about USWIM's set-up.
Moaning aside, it was decent swim, as these things go - a bit on the slow side, which I put down to sighting. Very sunny and warm at the beginning, with the water between 17-20oC and flat as a millpond. That is, until I set out on my third lap, when the wind and rain suddenly made life about as lumpy as it's ever been all season. I had to have some firm words with myself about how I've trained all year in wind and chop this bad, and that got me round until I could clearly see the safety boat chasing everyone in. I wouldn't normally be bothered by rain but we've had a lot of lightening over the last week and it could have been scary out there.
Since rain stopped play, I awarded myself a sherbety ice-cream, then came home to slob about in my Great Manchester Run t-shirt, slightly more optimistic about the swim itself and slightly worried about an ache in my right arm that won't go away...