Sunday, 26 July 2015

Learning to Crawl

Hello. I've been too busy to write much lately. Part of it's work and part of it's adding swimming into the regular mix of activities. I really want to be swimming a bit better before the Craggy Island Triathlon at the start of September, and it's not that long to go.

I used to swim really regularly and got quite strong, but my stroke was breast stroke. Eventually I found it was giving me a sore lower back and I've read since that this is a problem with breast stroke. The word from above is that the best for you and most efficient stroke is what us old folk's used to call front crawl and Peter's nephews and niece call "free-style". From hearing this I determined some years ago to stop with the breast stroke and get better at crawl....

And I have made SOME headway. I don't feel as constantly panicked for instance, as I did when I started this crawling business. But, if I might use a swimming metaphor to describe my swimming progress, I have left the shore of breast stroke far behind and am now no longer much use at that, and yet, the far shore of competent crawl is still some distance away. Or it looks near, but when I get my head down and thrash for some time, and look up again, it doesn't seem any nearer....(or quite often I find I've been going in the wrong direction. Open water swimmers will know what I'm going on about here.)

So here I am, out in the middle of the channel. It's futile to turn back, but can I really make it the rest of the distance?

I took a swim improvement class in the winter but I only made it along twice. I was better than the other swimmers and the pool was freezing and we had to spend too long just dangling around. It was at 8pm and I like being in bed by 9pm. Warm bed wins over cold pool. I think Confucious said that orignially.

So I've been trying to swim 3 times a week. 2 pool swims during the week and one outdoor swim at the weekend.

I've got a book on swimming and a DVD on swimming too. The trouble is getting myself to read or watch them. It's tempting to try to lend them to someone else. I think Mike Lynch has got a similar swimming video.

He to me; "I've got blah blah swimming video you could borrow if you like." Me - "Yeah I've got the total immersion one if you'd like that." Him - "Well I've got Splash!" Me - "Yeah, I've got that one with Bobby from Dallas in it." Him - "The Man from Atlantis?" Me - "yeah that."

By now I am laughing, which is enjoyable. But swimprovement has been forgotten - again.

So, to end this essay upon swimming, I'll tell you how this weekend turned into a kind of triathlon. Yesterday I had the car back after it had been away having an MOT for three days. The MOT was nearly done, apparently, when a problem arose with the brakes. It turned into an epic but the thing seemed to be alright now. Me and P went a lovely 14 miler round the coast. I'd been working long hours so it was great just to be out and this was his first run after his suspected Lyme disease.

On the way back, however, I came to a roundabout and I put my foot on the brake which went straight down to the floor. Oooh. Not a nice feeling at all. There was no-one coming so no harm was done, but it meant pulling over and waiting for the rescue truck in Longniddry. The pressure came back almost immediately but I had no way of knowing if it would happen again or what the story was. Peter and I had a couple of hours wait in a lay-by as the sun departed and it started to pour with rain. It could have been worse. We could have been hurt but weren't and we were right across the road from a sandwich shop so we had rolls and cups of tea.

We'd meant to go a run and a swim at the Pentlands today but now with the car out of action that seemed out of the question. Unless we cycled there of course... I dismissed this idea at first. I haven't been cycling with P in quite some time. I thought I'd be knackered by the time we got up to Threipmuir and the last thing I'd be wanting to do was go for a swim.

I've got a mountain bike but I've got slick tyres on it. I thought about changing them this morning before we set off. But as Peter pointed out "Do you want to go today or will we go tomorrow morning?" Not the time to be starting work on the bike. I set off with the bike as it was.

We went on some new paths up from the WOL path, up into the foothills of the Pentlands. They were very nice and not really challenging but on the way down a steepish narrow path with loose gravel, my bike and it's slick tyres lost all traction and my wheel went out from under me. Ir looked like I was going to crash headfirst into some barbed wire. Hmmm. Very soon I was on the deck. I landed side-ways on my ear actually. I counted my legs but there were still two there. One was a bit bashed. And one hip was bashed,. And one finger was staved. And the other palm was bruised. After marching round in a couple of tight circles the initial pain had worn off and we were good to go again.

Up at Threipmuir, the worst thing was dragging my rubbery suit over the fresh wound on my leg. And the water was a wee bit cold. We swam all the way over to the other side and then back. I was awful slow.

Then we cycled back. Peter's initial sympathy had turned into humour and he kept giving me sage snippets of advice. "Try and stay upright here if you can" he would twinkle at me. Feck off.

So that was a good day out. I thoroughly enjoyed getting out on the bike. But I'm dreading taking the car back to the garage tomorrow. I don't want to see Kenny the mechanics face when he sees me coming again....

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Kelso 10K 2015

Photo pinched from Alex Corbett. Thanks!

When I realised I was running a fair proportion of the Portobello MV50s down to the Kelso 10K I toyed, in advance, with calling this blog 'Last of the summer wine'. Just for fun, you know. And I also wondered if Roly McCraw might be willing to pay something for us to 'get lost' en route... But then the first option just seemed plain disrespectful and the 2nd option seemed unlikely. It was actually very good fun travelling with the MV50s. Andrew made me a little nervous by shouting "No, No, NO, NO!"  every time I took a fork in the road, but I trained myself not to react. Steve Crane did seem to have a firm grasp of where we should be going, which was reassuring.

We got to talking about the Tynecastle Bronze and how the constant search for new war memorials really did wake a person up to just how many men were killed in the wars and how devastating it must have been for the whole country. How the 1st and the 2nd world war happened back in times where there was much more respect for and obedience to authority - and that this had an up-side and a down-side...

Despite Andrew's forebodings we arrived in Kelso in plenty of time and found where we were going. It was a warm day.

I haven't run a 10K since Stirling 2011, so I felt I had the right to put no pressure on myself. This being a championship race there were points at stake, but I had already decided that points earned would not be dependent on how hard I ran but who else turned up. I hadn't checked the entry list so hadn't realised that Shery and Aileen, my main dangers, hadn't even entered! My last worry was Ellie Carr, but surreptitiously checking on-line found she was still in with the vets. Ya Beauty. 10 points were a possibility.

The race...well it was hard...and I tried not to let time worry me at all. I was going as hard as I could - and it was hot and quite hilly and my heart-rate was hovering around 165 which is plenty thanks. I could ask no more of myself. After the first 3 or 4K I settled in and even managed to pick off a few people along the way. I saw Graham Henry at 2 points along the way. First time around I was running downhill and trying to get my breath back while I was at it. He responded to this by shouting "COME OAN MARY, GET THE CIGAR OOT YER MOOTH!" I didn't know if this was a reference to Jimmy Savile or what, and couldn't see why running sub-optimally made me a paedophile, but there wasn't time or breath to argue the point.

The 2nd time I saw him he told me it was only 1200m to go, which 5 people afterwards agreed was helpful, but made me feel desperate. "1200m? That's nearly a mile!". By that time it was downhill all the way to the end and my needle was in the red and I didn't know if I could hold it captain, I was cracking up! There were feet behind me and I didn't want the people I'd taken to take me back so I gave it everything coming in to the finishing straight. Holy hell. I was blowing like...I don't know what. The old days probably.

Good event anyway...lots of Porties there running well. Well organised. A sea of cake. I fell in love with the gluten free appley-cakey things with almonds on.

I've gotta go, it's tea-time. Hopefully that was good training for Donkey Brae  in a few weeks.