Tag Archives | Training

Maybe Friday – or even earlier?

High pressure zone forecast - there is hope!

Back in Dover late Saturday morning. Up to Varne Ridge with my luggage and back to the harbour for just 1 hour of swimming. The sun is out – after a week or more of horrible weather. No swimmers were able to go on the last tide – and they have prepared for a year or more and come from all corners of the world. This is what Channel swimming is very much about!

Saturday night the bank relay teams went out for their wetsuit Arch to Arc relay triathlon (Marble Arch, London, to Arc de Triomphe, Paris), but it seems none of them made it. Many got seasick from the huge waves. They were still dropped in Calais to continue biking to Paris. Would I do the same if I don’t make it again, I mean, continue biking and running?

France seems to look closer than ever. Maybe due to our successful relay last year, where I was allowed to touch French sands again? And after swimming Lake Zurich only recently – France looks just that tiny bit further, and of course, the currents are a “little” stronger etc. My visualisation is more on the biking and running, strangely, as if the Channel was already done. Many times during training I had seen myself swimming safely alongside Anastasia and imagined swimming the last bit to France.

Miyuki (Japanese "Channel Queen" with 7 crossings) has been waiting also, she wants to do 2 swims this year!

Miyuki (Japanese "Channel Queen" with 7 crossings) is back, she wants to do 2 swims this year!

Woke up late on Sunday, but catching up with sleep is important now.

No swim before Wednesday at the earliest for me, basically agreed on Friday, if the weather is holding. Before Wednesday I would have no helpers for the biking and running. So a 3 hour swim without feeding on Sunday on Freda’s advice, maybe 3 hours again today, for best possible acclimatasation. Then more tapering.

Tuesday, however, now seems to be the first swimmable day now! Will we have to go earlier? Will meet my pilot around noon…

Freda, Barrie and Irene - Beach Crew with Channel General (sporting her new Zurich lake T-shirt)

Beach Crew with Channel General (Freda sporting her new Zurich lake T-shirt)

If anyone wants to come down to Dover to help on the boat on on Friday (start would be around 4/5 a.m.) – there is still room, also in the caravan!

My mobile for text messages: +49 152 26 59 30 34

MetOffice Pressure Forecast UK

Wind Map UK

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Dover training 2, family birthday and back to Dover again

Fr. 13th at midnight I boarded the Euroline bus again to Dover. We arrived late on Sat. morning, and the Dover Regatta was on, with swimming only allowed until 12 p.m. on Sat and Sun – so much for a last long swim!
In spite of horrible weather forcasts it rained only occasionally, more of a drizzle, and the sun came actually out quite a lot!
So I did 2 hours on Sat (was extended to 1 p.m.), gave Freda her Zurich lake T-Shirt (she had asked for one and liked it a lot!), did 5 hours on Sunday, then 2-3 -5 from Monday to Wednesday. Wednesday night I took the bus back. 2 hours of running up to Varne Ridge and over the cliffs with big blisters at the end – my feet have become tender for not running much lately!

Celebrating my father`s 75th birthday

The weekend of 21st/22nd I went to see my parents near Nürnberg – my father was celebrating his 75th birthday and was happy and proud I was part of it (most of the guests new about his adventurous daughter and many approached me about my swimming of course).  It was a hot weekend again and getting to swim in a (crowded) pool was out of the question. To my big surprise I still got a nice swim in on Sunday – we drove for an hour to a huge lake which I had not really been aware of as so great for swimming (Großer Brombachsee). The water was nice and cool (19/20°C), clear, and the distance to the other side and back was 5 km. I got two hours in and some fooling around with my nieces. My sister had joined my parents and myself with her kids and thy used the opportunity to get a little crawl coaching.

Tomorrow at midnight I will board the bus again to Dover. The last neap tides had been horror for swimmers and pilots – wind, wind, wind – not a single swim. The forecast for next week leaves a little bit of hope: from Wednesday on the wind might calm down a little. But you never know. The weather in the Channel can change overnight.

The helpers for my van are ready to go from Wednesday on – only for the swim I have no helper yet. I am not particularly worried,  since it has happened repeatedly with friends that their helper was useless anyway (“feeding the fish” most of the time), but I will have to keep asking around.

By the way, my goal for this year, if I make it across to Calais, will only be Dover-Aachen. Distance-wise it is about the same distance as Vedika did in 1998 from Dover to Paris – the original vision that emerged back in 1985 right after the first two successful Channel swims in our team – by myself and Adhiratha. It feel good to only have a “small triathlon” ahead – room for transcendence in a few more years. Dover-Heidelberg is still in my heart – an old dream that one day will manifest, I am sure.

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Aug. 8th – Zurich Lake surprise

Here the results and photo gallery:

http://ch.srichinmoyraces.org/veranstaltungen/zhlake

I had hoped for an 11 hour or so training swim – but it was not to be.

 

Looking forward to an important training swim

I had joked with Nick Adams who had sent good wishes to all the swimmers that the Zurich Lake is only like a “big bath tub” (that was the feeling when I swam it after the Channel) – mostly pretty calm, except for the end which is more open and often quite windy and lumpy – great to power through to the finish. With scenic green and hilly shores left and right it feels quite protected – as opposed to Channel vastness and dynamics.

Zürich Lake evening magic (photo from 2007)

Zürich Lake evening magic (photo from 2007)

Not quite a bath tub

This time, however, the Lake seemed intent on showing us it was not a bathtub! After a serene and beautiful Saturday evening the early Sunday morning was still calm but cloudy, after 2 hours or so the sun came out –  like on a normal Zurich lake swim day (we had mostly been very lucky with the weather). Soon, however, the rain started – good if helpers had thought of some kind of protection, no problem for the swimmer of course. Then the wind came. Luckily from behind – otherwise rowers would be in more trouble than the swimmers. One time only the swim had to be stopped due to strong headwinds.

Leisurely Zurich Lake

Leisurely Zurich Lake (Valishta and Anete are my rowers – they also had a couple of dips in the lake)

Swimming in the waves is actually much more fun than in just flat water, at least in the Zurich lake, and even more so when the waves are pushing you. At the same time the lake had cooled off considerably – from 25°C over the last weeks down to around 19°C in the beginning – good for Channel training! Maybe it was due to the intense training weekend in Dover only a week before – but I did not feel the joy I expected, and I even felt chilly at times. I rather had to work and concentrate. Not that it was really difficult or hard, but I was waiting for the joy of swimming to come – and Meilen to appear! When we reached the halfway point at Meilen under 5 hours and the ferry after only 5 hours 20 I was happy and amazed! Was it the wind or the training and more kicking or everything combined?

Downhill with the Monkeys

Team Lisa Cummins - the Monkey Puzzlers

Team Lisa Cummins – the Monkey Puzzlers

Finally downhill, but still I kept calculating the hours and the distance in my mind, although I was trying to just  swim, enjoy and focus here and now. Some nice distraction, when Lisa Cummins (EC double 2009) and her Monkey team passed us, then our German relay team – always something to watch and exchange a few words. After only 8 hours we arrived at Küsnacht, the last “land corner” before the 4 km stretch until the finish – again, I could hardly believe it. By this time I was feeling the joy, sometimes exhilaration  – being pushed even harder now by the waves coming from behind, knowing the finish is only some 2 hours away and I could just swim as powerfully now as possible. My arms felt better now then during most of the swim so far – maybe all the accumulated acids and fatigue had gone by now. But to continue for 7 hours or more? – No, today I was definitely not yet in Channel shape! (But who knows – I only fed every hour, and good feeding makes a big difference.)

Lake magic

More lake magic

My second fastest time!

The last open patch was the best, like so often – others loathe it, because it seems endless, but if you know it and are prepared you can enjoy it. There is no “wicked French current” to drive you away from the finish – just a tiny wicked Swiss current, but everyone can cut through that, with a bit of patience. The sun came out for us again, while the slower swimmers – and crews – were up for some torrential rain alternating with the sun only a little later, just when I had made it into the warm shower! The feeling of swimming in the vastness and ploughing through the waves was swimmer’s delight, and near the finish the wind even subsided, very unusual. I was going as fast as I could – sprinting would be the wrong word -, remembering our Channel relay with Eddie on Anastasia last year, where Eddie had told me to go FAST in the 10th hour to use the tide as much as possible – and then France was so near! To finish under 10 hours now would be a dream I did not really expect to come true, 10 hours would still be fine – but when I finally touched the finish line, the clock showed 9:48 – unbelievable! Last time, in 2007, it had taken me 11 hours 20!

The over 40ies

The ladies over 40

This time we had tried to stay a little more to the center of the lake after Meilen to make use of the current and not get trapped in a counter current near the shore.  Whatever the reason was – favourable winds and currents, better training, more kicking, tactics – it was greatly motivating! My second fastest Zurich lake swimm ever out of 7 altogether! (In 1998 I did 9:39)

The icing on the cake was the delicious food afterwards (actually a good reason to swim fast!) – spicy tofu, salads, pancakes, deserts – you name it – and a long overdue extended massage, so that my arms and shoulders felt like new the next day.

Distinguished international guests, including weathered English Channel swimmers and some EC aspirants

 

Everyone a winner

Julie Galloway, Channel swimmer from Ireland, had finished in an amazing 6 hours 35 min. – faster than the boys. Even the wetsuit category was only 1 min 34 sec. faster! Abhejali, team member of our Channel relay 2009 from Czech Republic, finished in a very good 8:28 – with very little training and even less weight than in 2009, amazing! Bit of a British-Irish invasion again (Cork, Serpentine), with some Australians – 12 nations in all. No Indians, however – they had probably registered too late!

T-Shirt-Zurich-Lake-Impossible-Dreams

An inspirational message plus some British/Jersey humour on the “Cliff Hangers” relay team t-shirt

The British “Cliff’s Hangers” fun relay team with EC multi-soloists Cliff Golding and Sally Minty-Gravett plus Tracy Huish had a beautiful turquoise team T-shirt featuring a map of the Zurich lake on the back, with apt comments for every hour (like: time for a nap, time for a beer, mind the ferry, glad I am only doing a relay, beautiful swim) and one of Cliff`s favourite inspirational aphorisms – as far as I know –  at the top of the back:

“The fulness of life lies in dreaming and manifesting the impossible dreams.”
- Sri Chinmoy

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Dover Training July 31st – Aug. 2nd

typical Dover harbour training day

A typical Dover harbour training day (no corpses in the front - only garbage bags to protect our dry clothes) on Saturday July 31st

First training visit to Dover by Euroline overnight bus, since last year with direct connection from Heidelberg to Dover via the Channel Tunnel (which had been on fire during my swim on Sept. 11 in 2008!) Arrival Saturday around 9 a.m., quick check-in in Bluebells B&B and off to the harbour to greet Freda and the beach crew. Yellow cap for my first cold swim since May –

Happy after my first 6 hour swim in 17°C this year

Happy after first 6 hour swim in 17°C this year - on a sunny Sunday!

which went well due to

increased body fat percentage. Nicely choppy at the eastern end, so good training. Sunday 6 hour swim (no official 7 hours that day) – which was fine for me, but I still felt good at the end.

Vasanti and Dori Miller

Vasanti and Dori Miller (tapering for her 2-way attempt), Monday morning

Monday 2 hours in the morning, with Dori Miller (USA, but based in Sydney, fast solo in 2008) who was tapering for her 2-way attempt and a few other Australians, then a short break, and around 2 p.m. back into the water for another two hours after meeting up with team mates from Serbia, who were waiting to go as soon as weather – and Alison’s broken boat – would permit (later we went to the Marina to see the boat – it was an absolute mess of repair, something had burned, and it did not really look like it would be ready for the start of the tide on Monday). The last half hour of swimming was the best – into the late afternoon sun lighting up the water and into glittering waves.

Shakespeare Beach (or "Shaky"), departure for many swims, with Shakespeare Cliff in the background

Shakespeare Beach (or "Shaky"), departure for many swims, with Shakespeare Cliff in the background, Monday afternoon

Short visit to Shakespeare beach with my Channel aspirant teammate and his helper (both accomplished long distance runners, only Anigkar does not look like a runner any more, which is good for him right), followed by collecting my stuff and a going for a final Pizza with more talk about Channel swimming details, before boarding the bus at 7 p.m. back to Heidelberg.

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12 hour indoor swim Zürich

Sorry for being so much behind.

I am definitely booked with Eddie for the tide August 30th to Sept. 6th or so, paid my first deposit for staying at Varne Ridge – and am getting back into more serious swimming again after my 12 hour swim in Zürich (indoors!) on Febr. 28th.

12 hour swim Zurich

12 hour swim Zurich

Zurich was a very nice experience again. Because of overbooking, some swimmers graciously swam already on Saturday – in a narrow crowded lane with breaststrokers, which luckily was widened after my Channel sister Vedika (5x EC including one Channel triathlon Dover-Paris) was about to quit if conditions were not changed.

A well-earned massage for Vedika

A well-earned massage for Vedika

Sunday was crowded again, but I was lucky to be in the wider 1st lane. I went with no expectations, except to swim at least 25 km in honour of the 25th Channel anniversary of our Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, and I was very happy when I ended up with 27,2 km with some sprinting in the end – the same distance I had done in 2008, quite lighter then and 2 years younger.

Although I had swum 5 days a week for a couple of weeks previously, I had only done 2 x one hour or more – otherwise only 30-40 minutes in the much too warm indoor water.

The Czech Team

The Czech Team: Jayalata, Blanka, Miloslava, Abhejali (they did 32,8 km)

Nice surprise was to meet some good friends: Vedika on Saturday, on Sunday Prafulla (EC 1987, EC relay 1989), the initiator of the  Zürich lake marathon swim (after she failed in her first attempt to swim the English Channel in 1986 she did a double of the Zurich lake which inspired her to organise the Zurich lake marathon swim from Rapperswil). Also Abhejali and Jayalata, relay swimmer and helper from our English Channel relay swim last year, they had travelled all the way from Zlin (13 hours!) with two friends to swim a relay again. Which made me feel a little like out there in the Channel with friends, heading towards France again.

mit Margit Bohnhoff

mit Marghit Bohnhoff (center)

Margit Bonhoff from Berlin, successful EC in 2007 (11 h 40),who I had met in Dover 2 years ago, also participated, but was put off by the crowded lanes. Still she managed to place first for us “seniorladies” and looked quite happy at the end.

I used to take a P-break after an hour or so, soon combining it with a cold shower (felt like sweating in the water). After 6 hours I got some lunch and  my massage break – the main reason for coming :) , and the final downhill part was amazingly easy, with sprints towards the end to get in as many km as still possible – with basically everyone picking up their speed again.

Feeding was simple: lots of apple juice with maltodextrin, cold herb tea with a bit of fruit sugar and vit. C powder, some bananas,  a few raisins, porridge, salty veggie broth, a few potatoes with tamari and lots of fruit sugar towards the end. And some Chi (an alkalising combucha drink – Vedika´s staple).

More photos and results

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Glued to the monitor

The first 2 successful Channel crossings of the season have happened: two relays, on June 13th and 18th (see Dover life). Today a couple of pilots went out with their swimmers (maybe around 4 a.m.?) – and I was glued to the screen, following the little dots online via ship-tracking as far as they show up (about halfway to France) while working on my website business. Today was only the beginning of the neap tides (maybe even still spring tide), meaning the current was still strong. The only thing I know right now: Alison`s relay team on Roco did it, getting swept way past the Cap towards Boulogne, but then turning towards France in a sharp angle and soon afterwards touching land. “Nice and sunny, wind 3/4″ Nick Adams wrote 10 min. before his last turn in the relay.

The German swimmer, Peter Hücker with Andy King, was swept quite a bit East in the beginning, much more so than the other boats, but with the changing tide made a sharp angle South. I thought it might be a variant – making a bigger curve in the beginning to avoid getting swept past the Cap. He took very long to reach the halfway point, and then the boat disappeared from the screen. Later I heard he had to abondon the swim. So unfortunate! So much preparation – and that’s it for this time!

My training is still too easy for a Channel swim – it’ll be next yearbut I did my first 5 hours on the weekend – split in 3 sessions, that is. Pool, pool, lake. For some fun and leg exercise one lap with fins in the lake. How I enjoyed the open water finally! After last year’s endless hours in the lake and Dover harbour I have long been enjoying the luxury of clear, and in the mornings pretty empty pools where you can see the bottom, with the sun painting dancing patterns on the turquoise floor –  and of getting tanned also on the front side by the reflected sun. If the weather was good enough for the non-heated pool to open, that is (at 9 a.m.!). Another luxury of beeing self-employed – I can take my time off when I want to, mostly.

Not doing weight sessions in a gym like last year my shoulder muscles have shrunken. Maybe backstroking regularly in the Neckar, like tonight, when I can`t make it to the pool at an empty hour, is a good idea, better even with paddles and fins. Another luxury, which I would never enjoy were I not training for something a little bit outlandish: swimming in this peaceful setting of the Neckar nestled into green lush hills, at the feet of a monastary, so to say, at a spot nicely sheltered from the public. (Hardly anybody sane swims in the Neckar these days, unless for the Heidelbergman.)

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Run and become – Heidelberg Halfmarathon

10 km into the half-marathon.... (photo taken on a training run 2 weeks before)

10 km into the half-marathon.... (photos taken on a training run 2 weeks before)

On Sunday, during the Heidelberg halfmarathon, I was thinking a lot of my friends who are challenging themselves in the 6- and 10-day Self-Transcendence-Race in New York. That makes 21,0975 km feel so short!

Still I knew it would not be easy, but I wanted to enjoy the journey. I had not done any serious really long runs since last year’s triathlon training, and I am at least 5 kg heavier than last April, plus one year older..  The course is hilly with a number of steep sections and the sun would be blazing part of the way… So my only goal was to focus, stay happy and hopefully finish under 2:45 (I am a slow runner anyway).

past the Castle...

past the Castle...

And I totally enjoyed the run. The 3500 runners started in blocks to fit through the narrow streets and forrest paths. I was way in the back. In the beginning my running was so slow, I saw the “Besen-wagen” (pick up van for the drop-outs) only a few  hundred meters behind. At the end it only took me 3 minutes longer than last year – not bad! And I felt strong – the Channel training is still there.

Finally downhill again

Finally downhill again

However, with no serious sports challenge since last year I had almost forgotten the inner joy and intensity they give. It was like a wake-up call. “Run and become” – a phrase my teacher Sri Chinmoy coined, is so true! (Of course also for swimming etc.) Setting goals is important to challenge oneself, but the main thing is happening along the way. I love the many special training experiences – sometimes mystic or ecstatic, when you are running into the rising sun or under the stars, the purified feeling after a swim workout and the intense feeling of inner peace and vastness after a bigger challenge which may stay for days or weeks or even months (like after my first ultra-triathlon in Australia) – this is what for me sports is all about. A form of meditation, or an intensification of meditation, a door to inner experiences. 

During the half-marathon, the memory came back why I had started to train for the Channel at all in 1985 . I was longing for real ultra-experiences, the spiritual aspect – but shin splints and other problems kept me away. Then the Channel opportunity presented itself. –

The last mile....

The last mile...

So the half-marathon was tough as usual, but also tremendous joy. A great feeling of oneness – oneness with the other runners,  with the cheering, clapping, drumming supporters along the route, offering water and food at private stations, with the beauty of nature and the scenic route.

After 2 h 32:40

Happy after 2 h 32:40

Not sure what my next event will be. Last year was very different – I took all ultra-opportunities without question. This year I am going with the flow, right now I still have to concentrate on my work. But May will show how serious I can become this year about my project.

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Sahara-Training?

neckar_in_springSpring has arrived in Heidelberg – with summer temperatures.  Even last weekend it was warmer here than in Dover in August, but now temperatures are up to 24 °C (75 Fahrenheit)! The Heidelberg halfmarathon, which I registered for again, is on April 27th – so I do have to get a bit of hill-training in. Without my training partners from last year, I have a little bit less dicipline. So today I went for my longest run this year – 2 1/2 easy hours, over the Philosophenweg from Ziegelhausen to Heidelberg in the midday heat with luckily some parts in the shade, all the way down, and all the way up and back again, with some rest and stretching in between. The heat really is a problem for me – that was the reason why last year I did not want to put on too much weight. And that is why I don’t think I will ever do the Marathon des Sables. (Two years ago the halfmarathon was in similar temperatures and people collapsed!)

This is one of the most tricky things about the triathlon project: finding just the right balance between heat and cold tolerance.

After my run, I changed into my bathing suit (and some more clothes) and went down to the Neckar. It was incredibly peaceful, no soul around in spite of the holiday (Good Friday), hardly any clouds in the blue sky, the water much clearer now with the dry weather, but still not inviting enough for me to put my head into it. It was easy to stay in for 30 minutes, it must be over 10°C now. I love it, even though it is not real training – breaststroking against the current. Some people passed by and asked about the temperature – I suppose it must have looked quite tempting to take a dip.

Since I am staying in Heidelberg over the Easter Holidays, which is quite unusual, I might just as well use the great weather and make it a new habit to swim every day/morning in the river, as long as it is still moderately cold. No danger anymore that people will call the police, I suppose.

neckar_in_spring21 cherry-blossoms2

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