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 year – but 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.)
I had hoped for a 5 hour swim this week – but it didn`t happen. Thursday (holiday): by the time I was ready to head to the “nice” pool they announced they would close it due to the weather. The warm pool of course was overcrowded, plus too warm, and the lake no option again.
Saturday the weather was perfect and the nice pool pretty emty, but I only managed 2,5 hours – just not enough inner intensity, energy and mental patience. Sunday only 1 pool hour in the morning and one lake hour with fins in the afternoon – not even 5 hours over the whole weekend!
Looking at my training schedule from last year I just cannot believe what I did then and where I got the power to do it. Totally different focus. But it’s fine. Just getting ready for the Zurich lake now. Trying to find my extra boat.
At the same time I am constantly thinking “I want to loose weight”, I feel so heavy with my extra kilos, especially for running – and I may not need them this year. Last year they would have been perfect. But then, a spontaneous solo end of September if the weather is fine is still in the back of my mind.
You might have thought I am training so hard I have no time to post – not quite.
Concentrating more on my new business this year I just don’t have as much time and energy for training as before – even though I love it as soon as I get into the water or out into nature. I enjoy arm- and leg-training using fins in the lake, backstroking (for safety reasons) in the Neckar when the pool is too crowded on a hot day, or the luxury of having a pool almost to myself on a Dover-weather day (quite frequent, lately, except that the pool closes on a complete rain day).
However, my best discipline right now is eating ice cream, and I have gained the weight that would have helped me last year – but I am not even sure I will need it right now. At the same time, the weight makes running more difficult. So I am thinking: last year too much training and too little ice cream, this year vice versa, and next year the middle path.
Realistically, my big triathlon will take place in 2010. (Some friends were right last year, but I didn’t want to accept it.) By then I will be able to train again with more one-pointedness, enthusiasm and intensity and not depend on others too much financially. It will be our team’s 25th Channel swimming anniversary, maybe a great way to celebrate. Still I want to keep up a good training level this year.
On the weekend of Pentecost (May 30th to June 1st) I did my first “long” swim this year: 3 hours in the outdoor pool – and I not only got a bad sunburn but most likely also a sunstroke, since I felt weak and almost fainted in the evening and was shivering in the pool the next day. It seems the sun is getting more aggressive, others felt the same. It was great to swim together with old Channel friends though, like in “olden days”. Speeds you up immediately.
Last year I did 12 hours indoors in February, 5 hours outdoors May 1st, and longer swims starting June. Looking back to 1985 when I only started training for the Channel beginning of May, I felt that now with more experience it may even be fine to start long swims only in June, but it may just be enough for a comfortable Zurich lake swim. The only thing is, the Zurich lake is booked out. Maybe a long training swim in Dover in August – just to keep it up? Or hope for last minute cancellations for Zurich.
My Swiss teammate Vedika, who has swum the Channel 5 times, once did it on the spur of the moment, because the weather was good and all swimmers had gone. She had been in Dover only to help – and then ended up doing her 4th crossing, with just the Zurich lake 2 weeks earlier as “preparation”. (So now she is afraid of going to Dover even as a helper – it might end up too costly!)
After 6 hours of running through the night - nicely showered and in fresh clothes
Basel 12/24 h race, May 9/10th
Last year my long distance events came naturally – 12 hours indoor swim in February in Zurich, 6 hour race in March in Nürnberg, Heidelberg halfmarathon in April, Mannheim marathon and 12 hours of Basel in May etc.
This year I just did the Heidelberg halfmarathon and Basel. But instead of 12 hours I only did 6 hours in Basel – the slowest six hours ever, I believe (don’t mention the distance, even if it was worth 3rd place for the ladies 50-60). How could I run the hilly and difficult Heidelberg halfmarathon in 2:33, but take over 3 hours for a flat halfmarathon 2 weeks later in Basel? My excuse to stop after 6 hours was that I was needed back in Heidelberg for translation in the evening and my ride was leaving early, but my feet hurt so much and I felt so heavy that I was grateful for that excuse. Plus it served as my first 6 hour run of the year. I did enjoy running slowly and steadily throught the night, but I was happy not having to run in the blazing sun later in the morning. When I look at the photos (click on the albums to see the photos) of the race, however, I am immediately inspired to do better or more next time! Another 12/24-hour-race in Berlin in July is beckoning – if I can only up my running discipline!