Libby’s Excellent Adventures!

Posted on: 29 Jun 2017

Yet again I have slacked on Blogging, however this does mean I have a few tales to tell since my Dorchester Marathon adventure!

First up was Chipping Sodbury parkrun on 17 June.  Now this was only my 3rd outing at a parkrun, short distances are really not my forte, however this was the weekend of the Hawkesbury 5k Bloggers get together so it would be an ideal warm up being only 10 minutes down the road.  When I had initially thought ‘warm-up’ I hadn’t allowed for the temperature by 9am to be already in the high 20’s!  I met Dave (Hobscowboy) at the start, both resplendent in green, and we had our obligatory photo taken (please note Dave is quite tall rather than me being a midget!).

My plan was to go at a steady pace; 3k at full pelt in the heat is not my idea of a fun time!  I expected at the start line for Dave to push to the front but his plan, as he was coming back from injury and saving himself for the Hawkesbury 5k, was unexpectedly to jog around with me which I was delighted with.  The pace was conversational and thoroughly enjoyable and I will admit that I probably ran quicker than if I’d been left to my own lazy devices!  So thank you Dave as I was thrilled to learn from the parkrun email that ‘You finished in 160th place and were the 23rd female out of a field of 343 parkrunners and you came 1st in your age category VW45-49’.  I’ll take that!  It was then onto Hawkesbury for my second 5k of the day and I don’t do 5k’s!

10 minutes later and I arrived in Hawkesbury!  It doesn’t seem 12 months since we were last there and again the sun shone on the righteous but even brighter and hotter than last year, the temperature was now in the 30’s!  At Jim’s house I met up with John too and we then took a walk down to the village hall where we were all quickly reunited with Kathy, Richard, Helen, Dave, Marc and Vicki.  It was great to catch up with everyone; Bloggers reunited!

Hawkesbury 5k started at 11am by which time the air temperature was rather toastie!  Marc had mentioned that as he was coming back from injury he would be taking a run/walk approach so I asked if I could tag along with him as again running 3k at full pelt in the heat is not my idea of fun!  The gun went off and Marc was off, I suddenly realised that his running pace was nowhere near my running pace but on the first uphill I caught Marc up as he’d moved on to his walking strategy, thereon after we stuck together; run and then walk the uphill’s.  The conversation was flowing and with the wonderful scenery and fabulous camaraderie we were all too quickly, even in that heat, coming back towards the finish.  I mentioned to Marc that if he put on a bit of a sprint finish he could still break 30 minutes, it seems I told him a nanosecond too late as his official time was a nanosecond over 30 minutes!  However the race was not about time it was all about great friends coming together which all started because we wrote Blogs on Realbuzz!  Marc unfortunately had to dash off after the race to fix the shower at home, I suggested as we were having a heatwave that the garden hose and a sprinkler could be used in the interim so he could stay for the barbecue but he didn’t think his family would appreciate this alternative (and to be honest if I was them I probably wouldn’t have either!).   So it was back to Jim’s for a shower, refreshments, a banquet of marvellous food and some fantastic company which for some of us carried on until late in the day!  Thank you Hawkesbury and see you in 2018!

Fast forward to last Sunday and I had a brand new excellent adventure to contend with; my first open swim race at Marlow 3k!  This year has been my first foray into open water swimming after entering the Long Course Weekend last year, another of my bright ideas!  The Tenby LCW comprises of Friday swimming, Saturday biking and Sunday running and for each discipline there are varying distances you can enter, alternatively you don’t have to enter every discipline or stupidly as I did you can enter it all as one whole event; 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run.  I have since decided to withdraw from the bike event as I have just not been able to get the miles in so I have been concentrating on the open water swimming and of course the running.  We luckily live near the Cotswold Lakes which offers an array of swimming sessions so I have been trying to go twice a week to improve my freestyle which I only learnt 5 years ago having until then only swum breaststroke.  I am a confident swimmer but swimming freestyle continuously for long periods has been a challenge, especially with the breathing!  Up until Sunday I had swum the full 2.4 mile distance twice and 3k a few times so I was confident I could finish it was just a matter of how long it would take and the challenge of being surrounded by lots of other swimmers and being most likely kicked in the head!  I persuaded Belinda that she’d love to join me in Marlow which is how we found ourselves on the banks of the Thames early Sunday morning, dressed in wetsuits, admiring the mansions that line the river bank whilst both being slightly apprehensive of what lay ahead!

There were also Triathlons running from the same HQ, sensibly they’d decided to use the swim course also for swimming only events.  There were two distances available; 1500m and 3000m and the race colour hat you were given denoted what distance you were swimming in which our case was green for 3k!  You were also given a timing chip to be worn around the ankle which would be started at the gun and would then record your time after you’d run through the finishing gantry, more of that later!  After a race briefing explaining the route it was time to get acclimatised to the Thames; not too cold but then I was in a wetsuit and not dirty but then it was Marlow.  My strategy was to start towards the back and to the side so I would have less chance of being kicked in the head! 

The course was 3 laps so my original plan was to take it easy for the first two and then go for it on the last.  I settled into a steady pace, maybe too steady as I did find myself at the back!  The difference I discovered between swimming events and the swimming part of a Triathlon is that the competitors in a swim only event are all very good swimmers whereas in a Triathlon you have a mixture of abilities!  So I changed my plan and after the first 1½ laps I started to push and finally I caught up with the pack in front and was feeling comfortable until one woman whose sighting was truly appalling swam into me for the umpteenth time but this time stopping me in my tracks!  It took a while to get back in to my rhythm but eventually I did for the last straight and really pushed, in hindsight I think I could have gone quicker from the start but that’s the idea of these races; swim and learn!  It was then time to be very ungraciously hauled out of the water, I’m sure if Greenpeace had been around they would have thought a whale had been beached!

Then a final dash of about 150mtrs to run through the finishing gantry and get my time.  Certainly not the fastest swimmer and I know I can certainly improve with experience but I wasn’t last; 1:08:37.  I learnt a lot and the swim has certainly improved my ability and definitely raised my confidence.  My first long distance swimming medal!

So now time to taper for the Long Course Weekend.  I’m not nervous at all, honest!

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