I've not updated my training blog for ages so first of all an update of what's been happening.
Some of you will be aware I've been waiting for cataract surgery for a while, well I'm pleased to say that this was successfully completed back in May and while my vision is now almost perfect I have missed some training time and had to withdraw from a couple of triathlons. I'm back on it now though and trying to put the emphasis on swimming as I build up to my main event of the year which will be swimming Lake Coniston in the Lake District in September. 5.25 miles.
With this in mind I signed up with Vigour Events to take part in the Loch Lubnaig End to End event. I thought a nice 5K swim in a Loch in The Trossachs at the height of the Scottish summer would be lovely and give me an intermediate target in my build up to Coniston. I had hoped to spend the summer gliding through nice warm open water but didn't reckon on the coldest and wettest summer in years! I was also a bit late actually getting in the open water at all. I had this idea to loose weight while I waited for the water to warm up before buying a new wetsuit. Oh well. At least I got a new wetsuit which I can just about get on...
So to the event. The weather on the week leading up to it was not good. The TV weather people seemed to take delight in proclaiming " temperatures more typical of the end of October than the start of August" and email from the organisers advising that the water temperatures was 12 degrees succeeded in terrifying me. We were advised to "consider wearing neoprene hats and footwear" etc to keep warm. Not something I posses but thankfully was able to borrow some. Thanks Mark.
The morning before the event I got myself up to my local fishing lake to get some practice wearing all the gear. Strode in, and it was freezing. Instant "ice cream headache" but after a short time it subsided and I made a note to wear a couple of extra caps on the day.
The Loch was looking stunning when we arrived at the registration point. Not a breeze, the surface was like a mirror but we were breakfast for the midges. The cold didn't seem to bother them.
Here's the view looking up towards the start at the top of the loch.
Even though I was apprehensive about the cold I had to admire the beauty of the place.
Were were bussed to the start. The journey couldn't have been far but it seemed to go on and on. "Surely I can't be expected to swim all the way back!", I thought. There was a family camping at the starting point. I really felt for their kids they looked thoroughly miserable wrapped up against the cold and the midges. They did supply us some music though so we entered the water to the Benny Hill theme. Appropriate.
We were each supplied with tow floats. These help for visibility and I guess can be held on to if you get tired. After all the fretting I did about the cold I'm glad I didn't see topless man before I started. I'm such a wimp.
The swim started with a walk out to the start point. Nice and soft underfoot but pleased to say that the water didn't feel as cold as it had the day before but then again I was wearing the open water equivalent of scarves and a jumper. So I'm wearing a wetsuit, hat and two swim caps, neoprene shoes and gloves. Almost immediately I regretted using the gloves. They felt like brakes on my hands. No way to get rid so I'd just have to get on with it, at least my hands won't be cold.
We were dispatched in three waves with a power boat and a couple of Kayakers to look out for us. You could see the support at all times. I didn't anticipate needing them but it was reassuring to know they were there. Orange buoys had been put out at every kilometer so I counted these as we went along and with yellow buoys at 500m marks too I soon reached half way.
Sometimes we should reflect on how lucky we are and it was wonderful to be swimming along seeing hills and forests rising up on each side as I turned to breathe. Not everyone can do this.
As I approached the 3K buoy one of the kayakers came along side me. "What's his problem?", "Do I look like I'm struggling?", "I feel OK" Turns out he was ushering me to turn right as the water was too shallow even though we were quite far from the shore. As I moved away I saw the water getting deeper below me. It looked like a cliff descending into the blackness. The Loch is 45 meters deep in places.
Swimming on I was feeling fine as I reached the 4k marker. "Not long to go now, feeling fine". "Only 20 50m lengths to do". I passed the place were we got on the bus to the start and swam on ( we'd been told at registration to get out here if we felt cold ). I could see the finish gantry in the distance but it didn't seem to be getting much closer. I began to realise this was a long 5K. but eventually this wonderful sight came into view.
And a well deserved medal for everyone.
So it seems that some of the buoys may have drifted overnight prior to the event resulting in a longer course. One report says 5.85K, since I doubt I would have been swimming straight I'll call it 6K. Not a bad place to be 5 weeks before a 10K swim as I certainly felt I could have gone further.
This was a well organised, safe event in spectacular scenery. It was nice to swim to a destination rather than going round and round or up and down as usual. I'd recommend it to anyone that fancies trying it. Would have been nice to do it the summer though.
This year I'm raising funds for Orbis. A charity that helps provide sight to third world countries