Tuesday, 24 August 2010

All Hail To The Int'l Self-Transcendence Marathon ...

Made it on the Daily News of OWS!

The Daily News of Open Water Swimming: All Hail To The Int'l Self-Transcendence Marathon ...: "Jim Boucher provided the support for 63-year-old Ellery McGowan in the 26.4K 23rd International Self-Transcendence Marathon Swim in Lake Zu..."

Friday, 20 August 2010

Lake Zurich Swim - Training

Just want to give a wrap up of my training for my Lake Zurich Marathon swim.

Below are my training regimes for LZ and Rotto and if you notice there are some big differences.
Lake Zurich Training 
18 Weeks
Total Miles 167.4359241
Total Kilometres 269.462

Rottnest Channel Training 
16 Weeks
Total Miles 283.376332
Total Kilometres 411.977607

LZ was 2 weeks longer but shorter mileage than Rotto!

This was not very good and made all the difference.

Main Reasons -> mainly comes down to injuries.  Was doing things different and wanted to mix it up.  I usually only swim FC and only FC for everything.  In the middle of the LZ training I started to put BF, BS, and weights into the mix.  This caused a lot of unusual soreness and cramping for a couple of weeks.  I pushed through these issues and it just got worse and worse with ending early and taking days off.  In the end this is where I paid the price.  I was in and out of the water for 2 weeks when I should have been peaking my training.

This is a valuable learning experience for the future!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Eastbourne Open Water 5 km

This past Saturday, I swam in the Eastbourne 5k Sea Swim.  Great race even though the surf was not ideal.  Ideal not be the word, actually brutal.  I got my ass kicked battling it and took on more salt water than I have ever drank.  At one point I started to believe the water actually tasted alright.  The 4th lap was the worst on the front stretch more so than the last three laps.  The wind really picked up and the tide changed at the same time.  I had to do water polo kick up's to see over the break and that still was almost impossible.  Right before that lap I had a gel duct taped to my ass under my suit.  That came in handy as I needed one the energy and to wash my mouth out.  In the end I made it to the finish without drowning.  It was a good event and great training for the worst case scenario ie the ship i goes down in a storm, I know I can at least 5k in the stormy water....

Result - 25th overall and 5th in my category.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Lake Zurich Swim Training

The last couple of weeks I have been strife with injuries.  Pulled back, neck, arm muscles and to be honest with you, it is a pain in the ass.  I have been running to make up for it but that does not help.  I been averaging a measly 12 to 18k a week due to these issues.  The main reasons is I changed some practice routines.  I use to swim only free but have been doing back and fly for the past couple of weeks.  I have also changed my breathing from only right to only left now.  So that is to try to balance out the pain from the EC.  After the EC I had so many back issues from only breathing right.  I know I have said in previous posts that I will re-train myself for bi breathing, well I lied.  SO now I actually been doing it and well...

Now to get me back to normal.  This week and the next two will only be doing front crawl and no other stroke.  The only thing I vow to do is breath left or do alternating breathing because I refuse to hurt myself for Lake Zurich.

The next 3 weeks I am going to be pushing 30+ km a week with a peak of 35 km next week if no injuries occur....

Friday, 16 July 2010

Henley Swim

Found this in my drafts:

I did the Henley swim at the world famous Henley Royal Regatta rowing venue sponsored by the Upper Thames Rowing club last weekend (June 27th).  It is a 2.1km race that is on the upper portion of the Thames so the water was fresh and quite clean.    It takes place the weekend before the big regatta and is quite unique.  The event start exactly at Sunrise so you have to be there at 0330, walk to the start at 0350 with a 0430 start time.  They offer camping in the back parking lot but that was a bad idea.  The next door rowing club had a wedding that ending at 0230 with the people dispersing at 0315.  So this was not my best race with ZERO sleep.  I was quite pissed and really did not want to even do the race but came all that way.  I dragged my ass down to the start and it was dark and quite cool.  75% of the entries were wet suits and I entered as traditional, ie speedo but for forgot it and had to swim in my training/drag suit.   By time I got down to the start my toes had nearly froze off and had to get into that water.  I heard reports the water was warm but not boiling, it was 23C/73.5F.  Coming from the English Channel that Monday and into this wow...  The first pack of men in wet suits went off at 0430 and we went 5 minutes later.  My pack was traditionals and women in wet suit so was not a bad at all.  The start might have been a mass start but it was so spread out it was no problem.  The race it self is against the current but the river has been manipulated so much over the century that the current was non-existent.  I did not go out hard, just went at a nice pace but started to overtake people pretty quickly.  So that gave me a boost and as the race went on, I started to have to zig zag to get around all the people.  I stayed in the far right to avoid the bunches on the right side.  I kept remembering them saying they had an open water pad on the left hand side and you must hit it with your left hand.  They pulled this all out in the cover of night so I did not know exactly where the end was or this pad was located.  At about the 1.8k mark, I could see a buoy and knew that had to be the end.  It was right behind a building in the water so it was hard to determine if that was it.  I heard from some that we had to finish at the bridge some at the end of the actual regatta course, so it was up in the air at this point.  However that buoy was at the end of the course and I did not see it the night before so at this point I put up a 6 beat kick and started to haul ass.  With the pad being on the left I started to merge to the left towards this buildings and this paid off as I saw people still going straight on.  I was able to hit two people out because of this strategy.  When I went on to cool down a bit people were swimming right by it on the right losing time and positions so this was a bit confusing for everyone.  I think if it were in the middle of the course or have an open water finish line that would be a bit less confusing.  Anyways, I did it got 8th Place in my category and got a bacon sandwich with brown sauce.  We got out of their due to the searing heat at 6am and headed home.  It took us 45 mins to get home cutting thru London opposed to the hour and 45 mins getting there the night before...

It was a great little event and would advise anyone to do it but watch out for weddings!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Made it to France - PART II

Things were going good however we had one little issue arise.  Mike was not feeling good from the second we started the out of Dover Harbour.  After I got out of the water he puked twice but said he was alright as he was up after Janina.  Like the trooper he is, he got in and pushed through the sea sickness.  On his swim we saw a large pod of dolphins behind us getting closer.  So that was a really good sign!
Transition - Janina to Mike
At this point the sun was full bloom and there was nothing going to stop us.  I was up again and powered through my swim.  Very calm and felt a lot warmer with the sun on my arms and back.  By time I got out I had no shiver this time and my toes were not frozen but the water was still freezing.

We had a very smooth transition but there was some doubts that we would be making it with Mike's sea sickness getting worse.  I kept telling the crew and CSA officer, he will pull through don't you worry about him.  At the end of Pat's second swim it started to kick up some swells but for Janina's swim it was like a washing machine.  We were over halfway there and getting into the French shipping channel when this happened.  This was caused by numerous variables which is what makes the channel so tough.  One is the deep water in the French shipping lane, two the afternoon winds kicking up, three the tide changing, and lastly LUCK of the draw!

Mike at this point is just sleeping and is being woke up to just swim.  Which he does just like a champ!  He had to endure a pounding but not as bad as Janina's but was still pretty bad.  At this point you cannot see the White Cliffs of Dover clearly anymore but you can see all of France crystal clear.

Coming up to my third entry into the water my little friend chaffing kicked up again.  I really should have shaved as soon as we left port but thought it would be alright as it was only 7 hours since my last shave.  Cold water makes the hairs that are under the skin like sandpaper!  So this all goes back to my first swim.  I was so nervous I forgot Vaseline on my neck, armpits and face.  I put it all on the second time but it was enough to shred me.  So what did I do but shave right there and than, and oh it felt so good!

Shaving @ sea with salt water

Two Days later and have a nasty painful chaff!
We were making good time and ahead of the tide.  This is great because this is going to push us into France with no fighting the tide.  This is where the good call on the pilot comes into play.  See we started the day with two solos and three relays in the channel.  Two solos pulled out after 4 hours and heard one relay canceled.  So we now knew we would be the first to France this season if everything went accordingly.  I knew this when we booked but everything played in our favor.  The first slot, the first on the boat with no delays, first out of the harbour, the first off the beach, and the first to beat the tide.  We could  see the other boat lingering behind but knew they were behind the tide and going to get caught in another.  So this was a real motivator...

So with that shave done and dusted and the motivation to get to France first, I was ready for my third entry.  This was not as calm as it looked when on the boat.  I got pretty swished around and had to pull a 6 beat kick for most of the swim to keep straight.  What was really cool about this leg, was the clarity of the water.  It was crystal clear about 10 to 15m clear.  However things you fear you don't want to see!  Jellies, big ass jellies were about 8 to 10m under the surface.  This suckers were very large with long tentacles that could ruin anyone's day!  So this is where you say, you have to get on with it and go for it.  If you get hit deal with it later.  

We were so close you can smell the garlic...

I powered through another session and felt great however the water temp has dropped to around 11C/51F.  I kept about 63/64 stroke rate up the entire time, just to keep the body nice and warm.  It was a relief to get back and we were under 3.5 miles off the Cap Gris Nez and we thought was that it was clear sailing.  This is where the channel gets mentally draining!  The captain says we got another 3 or 4 hours more!  I could not understand but was schooled on tidal flows in the channel.  The best example I can use was there was a lobster pot about a mile and a half off the Cap.  Remember the scene in Jaws where they put the buoys into the shark and he just drags them all around with no effort.  Well when we got up to these lobster pots we thought something was pulling these buoys ie shark or big ass whale.  These things flew by the boat at a speed of maybe 30 MPH or more.  I was shocked and the pilot convinced me with a close up of GPS.  You can see us flying in the water sideways, pulling us out to the Atlantic :(   He said it is not a big deal once we get a little close we will hit the Cap's tidal waters and hit an eddy and it will shoot us in but it is all timing...

At this point I am shitting myself because my last swim I went all out and it is freezing!  Worst was the crew and liaison busting my balls that I have to go in again.  Both Pat and Janina power through there swims.  We got Mike up from his slumber which was keeping his sea sickness at bay.  He did not or could not keep fluids or food down the entire way which is not good.  So we had to give him a pep talk and kept telling him he was going to be the one on French soil.  This would have been true if he was not sick but he started out strong and faded at the end.  It did not matter all he needed was that ONE hour.  Most crossings end in this area so we did not want this to happen.  He was out and now, I had to go again, which I dreaded.  The water was freezing and not something to look forward too...  The upside was I am going to be the one on French soil!  The CSA rule only allows one swimmer in the water at any given time except during change overs.  That meant only one of us can reach the shore which sucked as a team.  So any way, with getting to shore on my mind, I used the rest of my power I had left.  It took me about 30 minutes to get to the shallows.  This was heaven and I did breast stroke the last 25m because the water temp jumped to over 16C/60F and felt like a jacuzzi.  I tried to look for a beach but we did not have that in our favor, so had to climb up on the rocks.  I don't advise rock climbing in a speedo.  This was not fun but MADE IT... 12 hours and 39 minutes and the FIRST TO FRANCE for the 2010 Swim Season!

Made it to France...

Our plot was a great line and supplied by InstaMapper via iPhone.

By far it was the hardest swim I have done to date, even though it was only a relay!  I thought going into this it would be a cake walk. Well, I was wrong and it truly is a beast on it's own.  However, I cannot wait to do a solo! Would love to do it next year but the missus would not be happy with me training and getting hitched in the same summer...  I would probably do another relay for some more experience next year even this year and a solo in 2012.    

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Made it to France - PART I

I am proud to say that our English Channel Relay was the first to France for the 2010 swim season.  Overall it was a great learning experience!  It was true test of what the body and mind can withstand and overcome.

Here is a recap:

I got the call confirming the swim for our pilot just before 1800 on Sunday June 21st.  I made my way down to one of my team members house in Tunbridge Wells.  Got to bed about 2230 for a 0330 wake up call.  We both did not sleep at all and a lot of tossing and turning.  Jumped out of bed before that time had breakfast and we were on our way to Dover Harbour which was a 45 minute drive.  It was long and very tense ride!

Got to the Harbour went for our parking permit for the day and turned around and my other team mates showed up as well.  Got their permits and waited on the dock for our pilot Eric Hartley from the Pathfinder.  We also met our swim official, Peter from the CSA.  He was about 5 minutes away which was perfect timing!  We piled on the boat had our safety briefing, CSA Rules dictated, and money exchange.  We were finally on our way to swim the channel!

We started a little west of Samphire Hoe Park.  People usually start at Shakespeare Beach but the pilot read the tides and decided on Samphire.  This is a crucial call!

Here is the start!
I started the relay at exactly 0525, Monday June 21, 2010.  The way it works on a relay is each member of the team must swim a full hour and the order must not be changed at all.  If one of these rules are broken the swim is nulled and we turn around, oof... 

Our established order would be myself, Patrick Reedman, Janina Dowding and Mike Russell.  Since I was the first swimmer, I had to swim to shore and walk up on land to make the swim official.  Once on land the CSA official gives you the thumbs up and you are off to France!

Since my swim was first, I was in the water a bit longer than my team mates.  The first hour felt like an eternity and at several times, I kept saying, "Fuck this is going to be harder than I thought".  The water was around 13C/52.5F, the clouds were lingering, and the sun was not fully out.  So with wind chill and water temp, I was freezing and did not think it was going to go well.

I saw Patrick hit the water behind me and I kept going afraid I was going to freeze if I stop.
Patrick coming up for the change over.
The change over happen, and I could not be happier to get back on board!  It had a shiver and got my clothes on fast.  Pilot told me that I got about 2.2 miles out, that is not my best showing but knew what we had in store for the trip. I briefed my team mates, Mike and Janina that it was friggin cold, had to tell em like it is, no holds barred...  Got some tea in me with toe warmers and felt a ton better by time Janina jumped in.  At this point things started looking very good for us.  The clouds were breaking up and the sun was coming out FULL beams on summer solstice.  You could not ask to swim on the longest day of the year with sun all day long!  This were looking much brighter now...

Part II in coming soon...