There were a lot of ups, downs and somewhere in-betweens last week.
It started well with a good BRJ coached session where I tried to work on shoulder rotation. Tuesday I had a great, and entertaining river swim with my friend Val. I had been really looking forward to a long(ish) river swim so jumped at the chance with Val.
We started at Riverside in Huntingdon so that I was able to leave my wheelchair in her car and it is a ramp to get into the river. We decided to swim downstream towards Hemmingford. The river was pretty busy and the first surprise was a boat that neither of us saw until it was next to us! Usually, you hear a boat under the water when you are swimming but for some reason we just didn’t. We continued the swim, enjoying the beautiful surroundings whilst watching out for other boats, kayaks and SUPs and we were even graced with presence of a black Heron – I’ve never seen one before! There were quite a few weeds about but that was my fault as I was swimming too close to the river-bank, which gives me something to remember for this weeks river swim.
We had planned to swim 5km, 2.5km each way, we got to 2km and met some swans, there were about 6 cygnets and 2 adults, whom I presume were the parents. We went to swim round them and give them a wide berth, but rather than just ignoring us like they usually do the male started swimming towards us. We swam further across the river but he was having none of it, he was hissing and almost snorting at us and basically, was not a happy bunny, or swan… We decided to cross to the opposite side of the river but along with the hissing he then started to flap his wings at us, at which point we decided not to even attempt to get past him. Despite not doing the full 2.5km downstream we turned and started swimming back towards Huntingdon. The way back was going really well and we had a nice consistent pace but about half way back I swam into/was hit by a big lump of wood/tree branch, thankfully it didn’t tear or leave a mark on my wetsuit, it did however leave a mark on me and my bruise from it has only just faded! So overall, I would call it and eventful swim. Also, I hate swans.
Wednesday was a day I wasn’t looking forward to, I had my second Covid19 vaccination! I had been struggling with the heat and humidity all week, it was increasing my pain and causing a flare up so having the injection on top of it wasn’t my idea of fun. After the first injection I ended up feeling incredibly fatigued and had a swollen arm for over a week. I also kept getting heart palpitations and had a lot of nausea. I was in the middle of quite a big training week so was concerned that it would once again wipe me out.
Thankfully, I didn’t have too many side effects from the injection this time, however, by the afternoon I was in a full-blown flare, the heat was just too much for me. I knew that evening was going to be one of the biggest tests of my training and strength mentally that I had faced so far; putting on a wetsuit and swimming whilst in a bad flare up with pain levels at almost 7 out of 10.
My pain level day to day is normally about a 4.5 and I consider anything above a 5.5 a flare up. Which meant that for the first time ever I was going to put a wetsuit on and swim for a couple of hours whilst in a flare. I knew that I would struggle not only physically with the pain but mentally too.
Typically, feeling pain is our bodies way of warning us and telling us to stop and to rest but when you live with chronic pain you simply can’t do that; if you did you would never get anything done. It meant that during the swim I not only had to deal with the bone crushing feeling in my legs as a result of the wetsuit but also my brain screaming at me to stop because keeping on swimming will just make the pain worse, even though it might not. If you have ever tried to fight your natural instinct you will know how challenging it can be.
Despite the above I managed to swim 4km in the lake without stopping, there were several moments when I had to have words with myself as I wanted to get out at the end of the lap but I told myself ‘just one more lap’ so that helped me to stay focused and keep going.
I was incredibly proud of that swim, it was not the fastest or the furthest but it was a huge achievement and another situation I now know I can deal with and get through that I am likely to have during my two way Windermere swim!
On Thursday I was absolutely shattered but I still went to my personal training session and worked hard, however, I then came home and fell asleep for the rest of the day. I couldn’t wait for Friday which was going to include resting all day and a short and gentle recovery swim in the evening, I was also planning on meeting a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. In the end, my friend and I decided to go out for a meal. I ate far too much including a REALLY yummy icecream sundae. As a result I decided to be lazy and miss my evening swim and go to the pub instead, oddly, afterwards I actually felt really guilty about missing that recovery swim.
I felt like me missing the swim on the Friday meant I should swim on my rest day (Saturday) but instead I decided to give myself a break and be kind to myself for once so instead of getting a swim in I had a relaxing afternoon and picnic with a friend followed by going to see their puppies who are utterly adorable!
My final swim of the week was a lovely long swim at Lake Ashmore. It took me a while to get into a rhythm and I had to watch out for SUPs, kayaks, boats and jet skis but once I had settled, I managed to swim 7km in just under 3 hours. This swim gave me the chance to try out some more feeds to find out what works best for me and I have definitely now found a good hydration tablet that worked well and that I will be using from now on. I also managed to get some very impressive tan lines and now look utterly ridiculous!
Overall im pleased with how the week has gone, despite the ups and downs I was actually kind to myself and wasn’t too hard on myself when I missed a swim and was glad that I gave myself the 2 rest days rather than one.
Stats for the week:
1 Pool Swim – 2000m
2 Lake Swims – 11km
1 River Swim – 5km
Total for week 7 = 18,000m