Asthma and open water swimming

For the most part my asthma doesn’t really affect me in the summer, it can be a real pain in the winter – last year I missed about three months training but summer is ok.

On Saturday I joined East Essex Tri for their open water swim for the first time. This is held at Lakeside, in the lake of the name of the shopping centre. My, but it was COLD. Much colder than Dorney lake, although as G pointed out it is deep at Lakeside, 45 feet in some places, so it is going to take much longer to warm up.

What I found, which didn’t happen at Dorney, was I actually felt my lungs contract and my body start to react as if it was having a panic attack. Luckily, due to meditation practice, I was able to over-rule my body and just keep breathing slowly and steadily. Swimming was extremely hard work to start with, but the leader of my group said that this is quite common for asthmatics due to the way the lungs react.

I rather hopefully asked if my lungs would train as it were and not react in this way over time and he said no. Which is a pain. He went on to say that one of the coaches is asthmatic and he gets in the water in advance to acclimatise on race days, at least where possible. After about 15 minutes of swimming my breathing calmed down and settled back into its normal pattern.

We swum for about an hour and I was consistently at the back of the beginners group, which I have to say was a bit of an ego popper, after doing so well in the swim section of the race. It has shown me how much work I have got to do and I need to start to introduce the equivalent of a long slow run into my swimming, I don’t normally swim for an hour, let alone in a freezing cold lake.

I got up on Sunday to do my LSR, it was going to be 8 miles as I start my half marathon training. However I got up, meditated and when I went to get my running gear on I thought – I just can’t do it. And went back to bed until 12.30! I don’t sleep in like that any more and I haven’t for a good few years.

I don’t know if it was the swim, or my three-year old niece’s birthday party in the after, but there was no way I was getting up to run yesterday.

This has really shown me that I need to up my training, I have taken quite a lot of time off recently as I had two races so close together, but I need to increase my base fitness, hopefully that will allow me to manage the asthma better come winter.

I have to say, although swimming outside was really hard work I really did enjoy myself a great deal, it is such a different experience to swimming in the pool.

My first tri

On Sunday it was my first ever triathlon and it went so well! I had  such a wonderful time.

It was Human Race Shockabsorber Women only triathlon and I could not fault the organisation, so slick and well put together, as well as exceptionally friendly and encouraging marshalls and competitors.

It was at the rather beautiful Dorney Lake and it was overcast, but the rain held off (for me at any rate) until after I had finished my sandwich and pint at the wonderful Pineapple pub, which is as great as it was over 7 years ago, and it is not often you can say that!

It was relatively cold and the water was 18 degrees. G very kindly decided it was not good enough for me to swim without a wetsuit and so we had a mooch around and the people atTriUK were wonderful and I got a Foor classic wetsuit at a bargainous show price too. Do you know what was nice – they obviously knew what they were talking about, did not try to sell me an advanced level suit when I stated that we wanted something entry level and the lovely man helped me put it on, giving me tips at every stage, even letting me clutch onto him while he was pulling it on. The first one was the right size! It is so lovely to have people know what they are talking about, it makes such a difference. So G wonderfully bought it for me for my birthday (along with another exciting fitness gift which I will tell  you about when I am officially allowed to open it today!).

Setting up in transition was fine, I went on an East Essex intro to triathlon last year and I remembered all that they said about laying stuff out in the right order. But I have to say nerves were rather getting the better of me, but everyone around was so lovely. And G and I sat and had a cup of tea before hand. Cups of tea are very important. I don’t drink caffeine, so I always carry a herbal tea bag!

Waiting for the swim to start was nerve-racking, but this is where this event showed me it was the right place for me to do my first tri. Loads of people hadn’t done one before and so we were all talking to each other and encouraging. It made such a difference, and I really think it being women only made it a lovely and supportive environment.

I got into the water and boy! was it cold! However, the wetsuit made such a difference to my buoyancy – I could actually sit in the water, almost like I was on a chair. So much fun. Before long we were off!

off we go!

I was really surprised how easy I found the swim, well apart from people being all around me, I think I would have gone  much faster if it were not for the fact that we were in a pack. I would not like to say how this would have gone if I didn’t have the wetsuit though!

coming back in

I got into transition fairly quickly and ran right past my bike! Doh!! Beginner’s error! I realised and went back again. My laying things out in order worked well and I struggled out of the wetsuit and onto the bike. I made it out of transition without issue and onto the ride.  I was so slow, but this was to be expected so I just kept on going. Lots of people were whizzing past me, on some very, very pretty bikes. One lady was all in coordinating clothes matching her bike. Another lady  has seriously beautiful tattoos all down her arm, I got a good look as I over took her and then she over took me later on! Someone even gave me a hearty ‘” Yea, East Essex!!” as they flew past me.

The run was fine, but I honestly felt like both of my calves were going to cramp up at any given moment, they felt so tight and painful, but they didn’t and I just kept on going along.

and the run starts

I got to run past G on the way out and the way back – don’t you just love my trisuit? What you don’t see is that it has East Essex Tri written on a yellow strip across my bum! It was really nice to hear G calling my name during the race, that never normally happens.

coming up to the finish line!

Gosh my shoulders are high – no wonder I am tense all the time!

at the end of the race

Wrapped up, wearing my comfy crocs and clutching my wetsuit!

My total time was 43.38 and I am very pleased with that. What I am even more pleased with is my breakdowns:

There were 156 competitors and I came 112th overall. I came 34th in the swim, 145th in the bike and 88th in the run. I am very pleased with the swim especially. It really does show that my bike seriously let me down and I need to work on that for next year.

I was very happy with this race, the organisation was great, there was no medal – BOOOO, what is that about?? But there is an excellent fitted t-shirt in my size and purple too, which is by far my most favourite colour! Everyone was lovely and G was amazing as my support.

The next day I had a cold, which I am not surprised about, I spent Friday on the sofa as I was feeling rubbish and I wanted to be well for Sunday. So I spent yesterday on the sofa as well. I didn’t ache at all, but my calves are so tight that they hurt constantly and it really hurts to stand up. As such no running, biking or swimming for me until they ease off a bit!

But, why have I said next year for my next tri? Well, I promised G that I would only do this as a one-off birthday treat as I have other things to concentrate on. Mainly finishing my MA in Arts Administration & Cultural Policy at Goldsmiths, setting up my business, training for my first half marathon in October and then a full marathon in April. Due to my hypermobility G is worried about injury and also overloading myself with stuff to do, which then stresses me out. So, I will be going to EET training sessions for cross training purposes, but with the main focus on my running.

But, oh I did love it so!

Notorious night race

The first race this year was the Rat Race Henley Horseplay Notorious Night Race, which was awesome, although exceptionally exhausting. I raced on Saturday evening,by Tuesday I was still very stiff and sore! My calves were far too tight and screamed every time I stood up!

Here I am before hand – clean and excited! In case you are wondering about the rosette (and the headscarf which you can see in the other pictures) it is becuase it was the horseplay race! Lots of people made a real effort in the dressing up, so I felt like a bit of a cheat.

Mmmm energy drink

coming out of the scramble net

This was the hardest thing I think I have ever done, we quickly had to run through water, very near the start and I have never run through water before, let alone run more than 10K with wet shoes. There were jumps and vertical hills through the woods and trees. At night! When I got to the end and had to go over a waist high jump, through water and then got to a scramble net I shouted ‘you have GOT to be joking!’ . But I wasn’t sure that if I went down onto my knees to get through the net that I was going to be able to get back up again.

The very last thing was this

this is actually quite high to get up!

and I was at the end of my tether by that, point, I heaved myself up and then ran through the finish line.

grinning like a lunatic

As you can see by the end of the race I was soaking wet and filthy dirty, but grinning like a lunatic with sheer pride and happiness. I am not a fast runner and I have never done anything as challenging as this before, but I was delighted to have completed it. My time was 2hr 6min, which I don’t think is too bad, especially as in some parts there were bottlenecks and I had to walk up some of the hills, I was even contemplating using my hands as they were not far off the ground. There was some hills that I couldn’t run down because it was too steep and I have never run anything like that before. I did think about dropping to the ground and going down it ‘sausage roll’ style, but didn’t think I would be too popular if I wiped people out on my way down.

The fastest person did it at around 50 mins, by which point I had just about reached the drinks station at the halfway point. I cannot even contemplate running at that speed.  But that would have meant they would have completed it before it got properly dark, so actually they were cheating, as declared by me ;-)

I have to thank my wonderful other half who drove me there, waited in the dark for me to emerge from the woods and then helped clean my feet when I had a blister/cut and I wanted to disinfect it (there was a serious bog at one point on the course). He hates feet, so this was a real labour of love!