The major-achievement high achieved with completion of Rottnest was closely followed by an epic lull! I took a week off afterwards, mainly to allow my horrific sunburn to recover (mainly face so apologies to colleagues who had to deal with my flakes all week). The subsequent week I went back to training, but struggled to motivate myself, then got a cold! So, it was nearly three weeks before I was back at squad fully, more than enough time for my turn of pace to have dropped off and me be struggling to keep up again!
Anyway, searching for my mojo over the last few weeks, I have had some great experiences, wonderful advice, deep and (I think) insightful thoughts, and some amazing swims. I list a few below:
- Seeing my relative lack of interest in swimming having spent so much time grinding out the miles, a friend said: "take a day off, go frolic in the ocean and body-surf or something - remind yourself what you love about swimming". So, I did, and felt one-notch more alive. Thanks James.
- A few others training with Vlad for the channel and I started doing nightswims at Redleaf pool in the harbour (90 x 60m, surrounded by a solid - we checked - old fashioned steel-bar shark cage). What an amazing feeling. Almost etherial, swimming in the pitch black, unable to see anything under the water save for amazing phosphorescence when your hands spear into the water. Again, this really opened my mind to a new sensation, and rekindled my interest in swimming.
- Some friends who also swim with the Bold & Beautiful in Manly at the weekend have really rallied around the last few weeks. There are a couple of channel veterans, and others who are training for some long swims, and they've really been encouraging me by organising a weekly long swim in the ocean. This is exactly what I need, and the long swims in the ocean are great for me. There's a sense of adventure (e.g. we swam from Manly to Dee Why and back yesterday, stopping at each beach for a feed!), cameraderie, but also a feeling of total isolation and self-dependency. I've found that on these long swims (yesterday was 5 hours, about 15kms), my swimming improves after about two hours, and then as long as I feed regularly I get stronger and faster, the longer we go on. I really felt like I could conquer the channel yesterday (thanks guys).
- A friend reminded me yesterday that I have already achieved a lot in swimming terms. A year ago I was a really very average and slow swimming, struggling to do 100m in a pool in 2 minutes, battling to swim a 2km ocean swim in less than 40 mins. Now I can bash out 100m in 1min 25secs, occasionally less, and can comfortably swim for distances of 10, 15, 20kms..............This progress ultimately due to persistence and open-mindedness on my part. Several great coaches have been involved, hours of drills, and I have no doubt that this will never end.........the quest for continuous improvement and learning is really what life's about in my view.
- I've really learned that whilst speed, efficiency in the water, and fitness are important, ultimately it's my mind that controls how I perform. When I'm feeling down on myself I swim badly, and I lack endurance. When I'm confident and positive, I could battle through anything. It may seem trite that I should observe this - most of us will have heard or read about this many times in our lives. The difference now is that I know it to be true, deep in my core. I'm determined to learn how to channel the positive mental energy that I feel sometimes, more of the time. The power I sense could be unleashed will be the difference between great achievement and failure. More on this later, I'm about to hop onto Amazon!
- Opportunity International - the funds we're raising (more than $10,000 so far) will really change lives. We're a long way from the target of $50k, but I have no doubt that we will get there!
- Swimming - at least 25kms in the pool with squad, 15 in the ocean. Have covered approx 800kms in training so far!
- Gym - twice a week during the day to strengthen core and muscles required to maintain good form.
- Yoga - sadly only once a week (wish it was more)
- Stretching - daily
- Eating - 7 meals per day, am beginning the fattening up process.............and have gained 5 kgs since rotto! Only time I really notice is donning my suit in the morning! Have massively reduced my alcohol consumption to a couple of glasses of wine, twice a week with the occasional more indulgent evening only allowed after a massive swim (e.g. yesterday!).
- Sleeping - am in bed by 9.30pm during the week, up at 5am six days per week
- Work - 50+ hours per week!
Thanks for your ongoing interest and support. Ben