Swimming trunks…

This story, caught my eye in yeterdays news…it would appear that thanks to some vigilant sailors and the navy, it all ended well.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-asia-40599521/elephant-found-swimming-16km-out-to-sea

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Rest more, to do more.

The weather, in the North East, continues in it’s awful, autumal fashion. Meanwhile, down south it’s baking…

While we have grey skies, three days of continuous rain and temperatures topping out at 12c, the South of the country enjoys glorious blue skies, summer sunshine and 30c plus. 

I haven’t been able to get swimming, this week. Monday I had meeting to attend, Tuesday and Wednesday, Brownies and Guides. On Thursday, my lungs were awful, tight, grumpy anf frankly fIling in their job. Walking through the town hall, for a meeting was hard enough, never nimd swim. 

Today was better…but then things went very wrong at work. I’m not in a job, where I can close the door, at 5pm amd that’s it, done. Consequently, I finally headed out the door, at 7pm. One pool, shuts at 8pm…the other pool, 9pm.  The problem is, the one that shuts at 9, is absolutely heaving on a Friday  

I decided to head that way, irrespective. As I was preparing to turn right, towards the pool, my work mobile rang and then rang again. Thinking this was something serious, I turned my car round, drove over a mile to a quiet spot and  checked my phone..it was a no win no fee, sales call. As my mobile number is protected and not used for any other purpose, than work, no one should have this number. There nearly was as an accident, as I was tempted to throw my phone and punch my steering wheel in pure frustration…

It sounds ridiculous, reflecting on it, but I just couldn’t be bothered to turn my car round, to go to a crowded pool and struggle to swim, amongst social swimmers, who prefer to natter than swim. The other day, I over heard a 15 minute conversation discussing the relative merits of gas fires…

The “knit and natter movement” is a popular one, perhaps it could be moved to swimming pools, for an allotted period of time, though given tbe conversations I’ve heard, maybe it should be renamed “bitch and stitch”. 

What I have tried to do though, is walk more. I love walking, as I’ve referred to before. I can walk for miles, a love I’ve inherited from my nana. 

In doing so though I’m discovering, to my frustration, that the distance I can physically walk, particularly given my increase in fitness resulting from regularly swimming, is restricted considerably by pain resulting from my arthritis. Walking is weight bearing, swimming is no. 

A reasonablely slow, 2 and half mile walk is probably the furthest I can comfortably manage, with the aid of my stick. This still causes me discomfort, but with codiene and paracetamol, it’s easily bearable. After this, my hip becomes increasingly painful, once I reach three and half/four miles, it’s close to unbearable. The pain will then continue, for many hours, impacting on my sleep and quality of life. 

So, I’m having to rethink my plan, my vivoactive watch sets me a distance to walk each day, I do aim for that distance, but I also aim for 5000 steps over a day. This is always less than what my watch, sets me, but it’s what I judge myself to be able to do, on a good day. Also, instead of marching down the park and doing the whole walk, at once, I try to keep to relatively short distances, before resting. The more I rest, the more I can comfortably, do. 

When is enough, too much?

It’s summer…or so rumour has it. Here in the North East, our summer has consisted, of Autumnal feeling days, lots of rain, a couple of thunderstorms, peppered with occasional warm days.

Encouraged by the positive outcome, from both my hospital  asthma clinic and annual G.P practice check up, I decided that I should really try do more this summer, to take advantage of the better weather. Though the definition of “better weather” is rather a loose one! 

Both my arthritis and asthma, particularly my asthma, is much better in the summer. Last week though, mpst likely triggered by the wet, colder weather my arthritis flaired up, this week, the weather is better and my arthritis is more settled. 

I decided, that I wanted to try and do, lots of physical activity, this summer, both swimming and walking. My Garmin measures both my swim distance and my steps, so I can measure just how much I’m doing. My hope is, that the more I do this summer, the fitter I will be when winter arrives with it’s  icy blast, bringing with it the usual plethora of coughs, colds and chest infections. I am really hoping, that increased fitness levels, will mean it’s easier to fight off the repeated infections, I suffer in the winter and maybe even, reduce number of infections I get.

Last week, I didn’t walk much, due to the poor weather conditions, but I swam a total of nearly 10km. 

This week, the weather is much better, so it’s time to get walking. I love walking and can, walk for miles, the difficulty is that, the dostance I am fit enough to walk, is longer than the distance my arthritis is able to cope with. I had a decent walk on Saturday, on Sunday I visited a nature reserve, with the aim of following a marked walk. Except that I missed a directional arrow, got lost and wandered around for ages, utterly bamboozled as to where I was and where I was supposed to be going. 

Eventually I worked my way back, but my 3 mile walk, turned intp 5 miles. By mile four, I thought I might have to “phone a friend” to get someone to come anf help me out. My left hip was giving way and the pain levels were getting to the point of being unbearable. I was so, so grateful to see my car, its red colour acting as homing beacon, as I spotted through the foilage and bushes. 

Last night, I was in so much pain, thank goodness for both codiene aand my heat pack. 

This morning, I hobbled round my flat as I struggled to get ready for and to work. Thank goodnrss for flexible working…

Today, I really should of rested, my body is telling me to rest. No in fact, It’s screaming at me.

But no, like a defiant teenager, I chose to ignore it. Not satisfied with walkinf 2000 steps at work, I walked to my Arthritis Care support group, another mile and another 2000 steps. Then I took a stupidly, long route home, striding through the park. Another two and half miles…

I am now home and in a great deal of pain, I knpw I’ve done far to much. Its so frustrating, physically the walking distances I have, does not provide a particular challenge, but my arthritis does. The next few days, I will do as much as I can, but do much less. My painful, achy, stiff joints need tp rest, but doing too little are is just as bad, for my arthritis, has a similar negative impact.

Frustrating as it is, it also highlights the benefits of swimming. It low load bearing, the water supports and though I can come out the pool, sore and aching, thankfully I never experience pain like I am now, after just three days of increaing my walking distance. 

What you can’t do in a swimming pool…

Think for a moment, what things are you not allowed to do, in or at a swimming pool. Many of us will remember, this poster, from the 1980’s.

There is, however one thing missing from that poster, swim. That’s right, swim in a swimming pool…

The other day, I encountered a lady who said just that, or rather “swim to well”. The other day, swimming in a lane, a lady asked if she could join me. I was happy to say yes.

She then turned to me, in a voice full of venhem and spat out  “he should not be allowed in the pool”.  I turned to see her, jabbing her finger, towards someone who I thought was a perfectly innocent swimmer. The subject of her ire, the reason for annoyance…she loudly complained that “he”s swimming to well and too fast”.

I was slightly confused by this, the whole purpose of visiting a pool, is to swim. It seemed, however that she believed that if.you were too good, or too fast a swimmer, you should be kicked out, according to her bitter complaints, because “you get in peoples way”. 

Where’s the thanks? 

Swimming pools are communial areas and I’ve overheard all sorts of weird and wonderful conversations…sometimes, I hear, and see, things that really annoy me. 

I’m going to take a moment to apologise here, to some I may seem old fashioned or a bit of a prude. 

In a communial, local authority run pool, there will be people from all walks of life, young and old. One of my local pools, has two water flumes. The children love them. So do the the adults. 

To reach the top, of the slide, means walking up a long winding stairway. Stairs are not my strong point and I don’t mind letting children past me, often though, they barge past with little thought, or consideration. Even, when I allow them past, or offer to allow them to go before me, on the flume, rarely do I get a word of thanks. 

Then there is the language. Yes most of us, in our childhoods, went through a phase, when out of earshot of our parents, thought we were big or hard, to swear, particularly the “really naughty ones”. However, I regularly hear young children, swearing vehemently and loudly, leading to me (and others) shoutung at them to “mind their language”. 

Maybe I’m old fashioned, a “fuddy duddy”, but surely there’s nothung wrong, to expect little courtesy and manners, from other users. 

#Challengeaccepted 

It’s been nearly three months, since my last post. Obviously, I have been very neglectful, of my blog, that’s not because I haven’t been swimming, far from it. I have been swimming lots…

There is little point in me doing, as originally planned a post about every single swim, for Arthritis Care,  but I will summarise the past three months.

It’s been amazing!!!

On the 8th April, I partook in Marie Curie swimathon. My swim, though, didn’t go quite as I’d planned. On the day in question I woke with the start of, what wato transpire to be, a heavy cold which then developed in a chest infection and resulted in a severe exacerbation of my asthma, This swim, was to be my last swim, for three weeks. Despite this, I still swam it, in 1 hour 24 minutes and three seconds, smashing my previous PB for 2,5km and swimming nearly six minutes, under the time my coach, told me to aim for. My previous PB was 1 hour 50 minutes and 28 seconds.

I have my tee-shirt and my medal, the medal I display with pride and the T-shirt I wear with pride. Unfortunately, it’s white and the first wearing, I dropped curry down it, no amount of soaking and washing, have shifted the stain!

Going back, to the swim itself. I swam it at “Chester le Street Pool” near Durham, the dated interior and freezing waters, where more than made up for, by the amazing staff. They shouted, cheered and hollered me, to the finish line. 

I was the only one, taking part, but that didn’t stop them making an effort. My final lengths were swam with, “Calvin Harris, This is what you came for”, blasting out. it was particularly meaningful, as the pool who I had previously booked it, to swim it at, cancelled at the last minute “as not enough people “had signed up”.
Then, it was on to the next challenge.,,

This was planned, to start on the 13th April and was my much anticipated and planned “marathon challenge”.  I reluctantly, had to pistpone this challenge, due to my asthma. 

Finally, on the 4th May I started, only 5 days after my enforced 3 week break, on account of my asthma. It goes without saying, it was incredibly tough. 

I had to make a lot of sacrifices and I hated, how it led to me feeling that I was putting swimming, before my friends. I had to be so focused and disciplined.

Arthritis Care Week was the 8th-14th May 2017, my plan was to swim at least 10km, during that week. This equates to an Olympic Swim Marathon-in the end I swam 13.1km during AC week. 

The other aspect, of this challenge, was to swim the  equivalent distance of the London Marathon, from the 4th May-4th June. Two and half weeks, into my challenge, I came into contact with two people, with colds. I knew a cold, would destroy any chance I might have of completing my challenge, so I made the decision to complete it as quick, as I could.

I pushed myself hard, to hard, swimming 15km in just 5 days. I also finished on Tuesday 30th May-5 days early. It was a brilliant evening , several members of the branch, sat at the side of the pool encouraging and supporting me to the end. Then the celebrations began, wine and procesco was drunk and congratulations given.

I totally crashed, after this. I slept much of the following  and mt arthritis went into a massive flair up, but it was so worth it. The sense of achievement, is amazing. 

My coach often states that we often don’t do things, because our mind tells us, we can’t, but often we are capable of doing far more than we believe we can. This was certainly true, of this challenge. Despite severe asthma, for which I’m on 10 different medications, polyarthalgia/osteoarthritis, gluteal neuropathy and significant muscle damage to my back, I swam over 26 miles (42200m) in three weeks and two days. I couldn’t, however of done it without the support of my friends and members of Arthritis Care.

During this challenge I threw in lots of micro challenges, I improved my front crawl distance, from 200m to 1500m and I am regularly doing half a mile, freestyle sets, now. My next plan, is to add tumble turns, into this.

My one mile PB is now 47 mins and a few seconds and my 2km PB sits at just over a hour, by a few seconds. Fourteen months ago, my one mile PB was one hour and 8 mins, so this represents, huge progress.

I also completed my longest distance swam, in one session, 4km. This wasn’t swam, without stopping, but only took 2 hours 50 mins to complete. My next aim, is 5km. 

 Then, finally, in the middle of May, I took part in the “mile in an hour challenge” for the Alzheimer’s Society. I swam this, un memory of my amazing grandma, who suffered (and I mean really suffered) from Alzheimers Disease, prior to her passing in 2003. 

I was, initially, a little disappointed with my time of 50mins and 35 seconds. My total swim distance, in the hour was 1900m, I’d aimed for 2000m, however it was a tough swim. The pool lacked “anti-wave ropes’, with at least 12 people in the pool, it was, at best, choppy, making swimming harder work. It also meant, that when freestyle  (frontcrawl) breathing, I was often hit, with a faceful of water.

It also didn’t help, that midway through, someone swam into me, head first, resulting insome minor bruising, it was more of a shock and took a while to get back into the pattern of swimming. 

So that is currently, where I am up to. Hopefully, my next post will appear, a lot quicker than it took me to post this.