Tuesday, 26 July 2016

mon swim

Another Monday evening swim. The enthusiasm and fun of the last couple of Mondays might push this towards being a regular thing. We have been blessed with pleasant weather and the water in Threipmuir Reservoir is warm and welcoming. (Gullane on Saturday was cold and salty by comparison.) 

The flip flops were Mike's who had been self harming at the St Mary's Loch Tri the day before. You can see the plasters on his feet covering the skin he lost running without socks. On the upside, says he, it took his mind off his troubled achilles during the run. Did he really say you could see the blood squelching out his shoes towards the end of the run? Congratulations on that performance Mike!

Richard provided further amusement and envy in equal measure with his transition mat

Richard was also at St Mary's Loch on a last minute entry, and powering through the field until he powered his chain off his chain rings and into his carbon frame in an irretrievable way. Making the most of a poor situation he paced fellow Porty, Blair round the run. Congrats to Blair on a job well done and first OW swim in borrowed wetsuit!
Berit did a great job there as well, congrats!

The weather was slightly less glorious than last week - the breeze making the air feel cooler than the water - but the sun would break through the clouds from time to time.

This was the team this week
with Willie joining us again later, and Kathy took the photo

Kathy in top visibility hat - take note Jim, who proudly wears a water coloured cap!

After crossing the reservoir which I think is about 300m, we went down that side with the wind helping. The traverse back across was tougher with the wind pushing us down the water and small waves breaking over us on our left side. You would occasionally get one in the chops as you raised your head to breathe. Nothing compared to a choppy sea swim though. We regrouped then set off back up the path side (NW shore) to the start point. When the sun came out it illuminated the top 20" of the water. During the last section the wind dropped and the shore gave some shelter making it all a bit smoother. 

swallows flying overhead added to the joy

I am greatly enjoying having some swimming ability with pretty much no training or practice. It's like returning to a foreign country and remembering you speak the language. I think we swam a mile or thereabouts and I did much less backstroke (recovery.) I am learning to spot (look up while swimming (without stopping) to check line) and trying to be aware of surroundings and fellow swimmers. Kathy was wearing a proper orange swimhat and the visibility at water-level was impressive by comparison to coloured swim caps. (See photo above.) Richard had his anti-fog goggle spray and again and it really seems to work. (Must get some.) My contribution was zinc oxide tape which I put over my ears. I gave Rich some to try as he has ear issues while swimming. I have found it works better than (foam or cup) plugs and is the best way to keep most of the water out. Especially if you wear a neck-strapped hood over the top keeping the tape in place. It gets wet but sticks fine and keeps ears fairly dry. If I don't wear tape the water gets in and crackles and pops for 36 hrs afterwards. I suspect years of diving in chlorinated pools have burst a seal somewhere and I hate it when a wave hits the side of your face and you can feel a pipette of cold water being forced down your earhole.

I tried to use the tape to cover a rub I had picked up on Saturday at Gullane. Only about 25 mins but either I had not done up the velcro closure on the zip top or the salt had helped rub a layer of skin off the back of my neck. The tape there didn't stay on well and I had to loosen off my wetsuit as I could feel the hotspot growing towards the end of last night's swim. Other than that it was another great swim in the best pool in Edinburgh. See you all next week 7pm? 

Sunday, 24 July 2016

p is for pirate

Before writing up this weekend's stuff I have to make mention of an open water swim last Monday at Threipmuir with Rich and the Carnethy swim team. Jim and Mike have been swimming a bit and suggested 7pm at the Pentlands pond. I met Richard from work and he drove us there. Since we arrived early we had a quick run round the reservoir. Rich and I have a bad habit of running too quickly in each other's company. Last time we went for a social 4 miler round the Queen's Drive we wondered if we could catch the dude up ahead and accidentally knocked out a 5.18 mile which strava told Richard was one of his fastest miles ever and certainly the fastest mile I've run in a waterproof jacket. (We did catch the dude.)

Mark, Mike and Willie

So after a couple of miles running round the reservoir slightly quicker than we meant we struggled into wet suits (always more difficult sweaty) and joined the 4 Carnethies who had about a width start on us. The water was warm and very easy to get into. The evening was beautiful. I started a little too quickly and had to catch my breath by doing back stroke* for a bit while breathing heavily. I managed to keep up with Richard which is probably not that good a sign for him as he is doing an ironman in a few weeks with a 2 mile swim. I have always managed to draw on good technique developed from being in a pool a lot as a teenager. Although I never trained doing lengths, after so much time in the water you learn to move through it efficiently. Willie also showed the benefits of swim training "up to age 19".

*I employed this very cheat during the only ever triathlon I have done (in this very body of water); after running out of puff I steamed up the first half on my back until I kind of retrieved my breath and managed the return leg on my front. Very similar story on this occasion. 

about the only downside of Threipmuir is poor visibility (about 3 feet at best.)

We were catching up with the first 4 towards the bottom of end of the reservoir and I wondered how far we were actually going to go before turning as this was already further than I'd ever swum in one outing. That said it was a lovely evening and if I was struggling I'd turn over and watch the clouds in the sky as my arms turned slowly like a paddlesteamer. It was very relaxing and everything was working well. Rich had given me a squirt of anti fogging agent in my goggles and they were working hassle free. My suit wasn't rubbing my neck as it can do. My feet and hands were plenty warm and I felt I could go on for hours. I had lost all fear of the dark middle depths of the water and was really enjoying being there. Obviously everyone was, as nobody seemed in a hurry to turn and swim back. After a bit of a re-group and some chat with a passing (shorebound) runner we headed back, swimming into the setting sun and using a couple of higher trees a mile away to spot a straight line pretty much diagonally across the centre of the loch. I haven't ever had the confidence to take a long line across the deepest part of the pond like this till today and it felt easy and fine.

We became a bit strung out and I worried that we should, for safety, probably be doing more checking on each other. That aside I became immersed in the rhythm and the sunshine, and lost to the joys of slipping through the dark water; the one, two of the strokes no longer leaving me breathless, able to do the whole of the return length freestyle. When we got out, the 2 wearing gps measured it as 1.57 and 1.58 miles. Furthest and best swim ever! I think it was over an hour in the water with a couple of short regroups.

Only downside was a couple of horsefly bites (while changing) that left me scratching through the long sultry nights following.

Jim, Mike and Rich

A busy week lay ahead. I even ignored the spectacular weather of Tuesday as there was some papering needing done and a Friday deadline. A satisfying job but not much time to do more than make tomorrow's sandwiches of an evening. Managed along to club on Wednesday where there was a tough session, and Thursday, where, because a 1min2min3min4min3min2min1min hill session wouldn't be hard enough Fergus inserted a 30 sec sharpener between each rep. One of these sessions where you are surprised to be alive at the end. 

However I did survive and finished the job at 5.37pm Friday. Whew!

Then Saturday and a relaxed run and swim at Gullane with Mary. Weather was bright and warm.

Normally I don't bother with cabbage whites as they are kinda humdrum but Mary pointed out this one was posing right beside us and you can see it's flower probing tongue (probably not the scientific term) and its checkered aerials.

I was anticipating damselflies here at this pond but no sign today. Maybe not enough sunshine but the lack of wind should have been enough to bring them out.

Went for a closer look into the vegetation but only found these pods...

It was the annual airshow at East Fortune today. These geese flew in, in close formation.

blue and purples

At last the six spot burnets have appeared.

These day flying moths are vivid in their colour scheme and appear (near Gullane) briefly at this time every year for a short while. Usually they are slow moving on plants and gather in small groups but this year so far they have been more flighty and hence more difficult to photograph. This example was more obliging and almost definitely 6 spotted. According to sources (the internet) there are 7 species of Burnet Moth. 4 of them have 5 spots and "identification is very difficult as there are no known reliable features." Super! Best way to identify them is travel back in time because often their caterpillar stages are more easily differentiated. At least the Scotch Burnet (no really) can be easily identified because unless you are 800m up an Eastern slope of the Cairngorms, in late June or July in the sunshine, it isn't one.

when they fly you can see the scarlet hind wing

beauty and the beast

So, back to the car park and dress up like special cases.

mmm this water is cold

In order to distract herself from the cold and the prospect of further immersion Mary started singing and pouting and pulling faces. 

And some dancing. The camera was so distracted it forgot to focus.

This photo reminded me of one I took recently in Orkney of a cat (below) which was amusing but didn't quite make the grade for the blog.

Compared to the bath water at Theipmuir, the Forth was Baltic. We were wearing wetsuits so it wasn't unbearable, just colder than I had anticipated. It is less relaxing and I found I kept having to empty my goggles. And it took a while to get my face comfortable and to be able to swim head down constantly. As Mary was getting out there was a woman got in wearing only swimming kit and after she had been in for a bit I spoke to her saying it was brave to be swimming without a wet suit. She remarked she was cold and was reluctant to put her head under. On the upside it was very calm and the visibility was good. I probably swam for 25 minutes though never out my depth for sustained periods.

these goggles give me Michael Keaton eyebrows

I saw several flounders and a few crabs. But Mary's insistence in swimming right there on the naked bald beach directly in front of Gullane car park and public beach makes for virtually no wildlife as there are no seaweed covered rocks and hidey holes for things of interest to shelter.

Mary takes a selfie while an old man exposes himself in the car park.

And then Sunday!
Steve and I arranged to go run down the coast. We had been thinking about the Pentlands but it looked like it would be low cloud, wet grass and drizzle there and the best chance of a few dry miles might be down the trails at Aberlady again. It was hovering between dampness and sunshine and we never got much of either. But it was a good 10 or 11 miles of chat with a back drop of low tide and grey scenery. Certainly it passed more enjoyably than running round town and really wasn't bad at all.

tide a long way out

fat bike following the official line

a family in wet suits looking chilly

about an hour in and we got to here before turning back

tide still a long way out - note subs in centre of pic

probably not the best day for Pentlands

back to the car at Aberlady

Best find of the day was this spelling building block. I already have (from a previous run) V is for Violin. Hoping to find the rest. Not sure if they are coming across from Fife or have been launched locally. Only 24 to go. Keep your eyes peeled!