Hello everybody 👋
Well, here's the long awaited and slightly overdue blog for my end to end swim - Lake Windermere on the 1st September (I have been waiting for 100% confirmation of a discussion with the organisers).
In my last swimming blog I had just completed a 9 mile training swim across and around Torbay. That was hard but successful and left me fairly confident I could cover the 11.5 miles required for Lake Windermere 👍.
For those want a short read, the clue to my success is in the title of the blog and you need read no further ........................................I didn't make it! 😞 Did Not Finish or DNF as it will be recorded
For those who would like to know what actually happened, 😉 then read on:
On the last day of August we set off for a weekend in a Lake District Camping Pod, pretty much next to the lake. My kayak support, Mike, was already up in The Lakes and had managed to register both us for the event in advance. This was extremely useful as it removed the need for us to drive to kendal and then back the way we had came to Windermere 😁.
We met up with Mike on the eve of the event to finalise plans and then settled down for an awful nights sleep! That's having an overexcited five year 🤪 old in a camping pod for you!
The morning arrived and at 5.45am I packed my bag and began a three mile walk to the start for a pre swim briefing time time of 7.25am. The slowest swimmers had already started at 6am (I should have entered into this wave).
Mike had suggested he simply pick me up as he was driving to the start, but I felt the need for some quiet reflection before the event and an early morning stroll to the start ticked that box nicely. Also, it felt wrong, to casually, hop out of a van, pop on a wetsuit then swim the furthest distance of my life. The whole thing felt like it needed a gradual build up to the moment of the start.
We briefed at 7.25 with 20 other swimmers and then entered the water at 8am.
As we headed up the lake most people in my group passed me, this didn't concern me in the slightest as I was supremely disinterested in a finish time (other than the overall cut off) I was simply aiming to finish. This was my mistake 😖............to a degree!
I had a specific game plan: There was a halfway point at which you were required to exit the water and hand in a wristband before continuing for the second half. My plan, was to do a negative split. A race strategy where in the first half you run, cycle, swim, hop, or whatever it is you are doing, slowly. Saving your energy and reserves for a fast second half 👏.
I was acutely aware that there was a cut off time for the entire event and that even at my slowest speed I would come in at several hours ahead of the cut off time. So you can imagine my surprise, dismay and confusion when I (and some unfortunate others) arrived at the halfway point and was told I was outside the halfway cut off time and would have to withdraw 😕........"what halfway cut off time!?" I exclaimed. Of course Mike my kayak support, who had made a big effort to get up to the Lakes too, also had to stop...."what halfway cut off time!?" he exclaimed.
My initial assumption was that I had missed an important section of the race information, so the process of anger with ones self began to set in. I rang Gina to come and pick me up. She immediately knew something was wrong as she was expecting a call in the mid afternoon. "What halfway cut off time!?" she exclaimed in a somewhat less than calm manner 🤯.
When Gina arrived and finished commenting on how she had never seen two such dejected looking people in her life, we re-read all the race information on both the printouts and the event website. Well, there is no need to go into great detail but it is sufficient to just say the nature of the halfway point arrangement was ambiguous at best🤔. We immediately made our way to the finish to try and get hold of an organiser. I can happily report that it was eventually agreed the nature of the halfway arrangements was not particularly clear, whereas the overall cut of was glaringly clear. The organiser I can give great credit too, for listening, apologising and offering me a free place for next years event. This was very welcome as the event had cost well over £150 to enter.
Every cloud however has a silver lining 🤔:
Many years ago when I was working in the NHS I was taken ill during a shift and was rather embarrassingly, admitted onto my own ward, for 10 days. In that 10 days I experienced the worst continual sleep deprivation of my life (kids have nothing on this🤣) due to the endless noise of a ward at night! If a physio had come up to me in the morning and suggested it was time to get up and exercise I would have happily punched them. This experience made me a very different physio once I was back at work. I empathised with how bad patients feel, how tired and sleep deprived they get. The experience guided me to change how I approached ward patients, especially first thing in the morning.
But what that got to do with the DNF swim? Well for many years here at The Reinge Clinic have worked with endurance athletes and sometimes they DNF. They come to the clinic not only injured, but verging on, if not actually in a state of depression. Just like the hospital experience I now have an insight to how and why they will feel the way they do and an empathetic therapist 🤗 is always better than a sympathetic therapist. Until now I have never experienced a DNF so now a whole new layer has been built into my therapy toolbox .
So am I in a better mood about the swim now?.....Not Yet! The results are out and even the slowest finishers were several hours behind what would have been my finish time, had I been permitted to continue. My plan for next years swim: Enter a slightly slower wave to give me more time to complete the first half........or simply pick up the pace a bit and do a positive split. I shall decide a little nearer the time 😁.