Final training, swim

Tonight, I headed back to the pool. This time to Washington Pool, where I will undertaking,  my Swimathon.

I wanted to be confident, that I knew where to go, what the parking was like, what facilities were available what the pool was like.

It soon proved to be a good move, as it took me ages to locate it, round the back of Asda. Parking, I discovered, was horrendous, with little room to manouver round the car park, no disabled bays were available, filled with, as so often happens, several people not displaying blue badges. If you want my parking space, you can have my disability! It infuriates me!

Once I’d  parked  up, I spent a few minutes outside,  just thinking and centemplating. It’s over-whelming, to think that in a couple of days time, I’ll be back here for swimathon. Where has the last 10 weeks gone?

I headed indoors and first, had a perusal at the range of swimming goodies on sale, but didn’t purchase anything. I then wandered up to the reception desk, offering my “Sunderland Council Active Card”

I was informed, the card was no longer valid, as the pool is now ran by “Everyone Active”, would I like a replacement, without thinking, I replied “yes”. I nearly had heart failure when I was charged over £17, for a card and a swim. Talk about taking your eyes out and coming back for the sockets! My Sunderland Active Card was only 10 months old!

I really don’t mind paying £16.00 for a lesson, because it’s worth every penny, but I thought that, that was a tad excessive. It’s all relative, I guess.

The “changing village” proved to be, an experience in itself. The cubicles, each, have two doors, come out the wrong one and your faced with a metal fence, it was a bit of a nightmare, to negotiate, to be honest. However, the changing rooms had one advantage; a shelf. A shelf for bunging all your essentials on, as you get ready, no scrabbling around, trying to locate everything you need, in limited space, dropping stuff on the floor, into puddles, as you go

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Eventually, once changed, I located a locker, stowed my gear in it and headed to the pool.

On entering the pool, two things caught my eye. The pool was rammed and secondly, the two amazing and fun looking slides. Can adults have a go, I thought? On Friday, I may bomb down them both, in celebration of completing my swim. They looked ace!

I leapt into the pool, to a bit of a suprise, the deep end, is at the opposite end to what I’m used to.

Thankfully, there was a lane avaliable and I bagged it, it was good to see people observing lane etiquette and not using the lane for their personal space, for a natter with their mates, as happened a few weeks ago.

As soon as I started to swim, I was able to recognise that tonight’s swim, felt much better than what it had the previous night, maybe because I felt better, more confident and assured.  A few lengths to warm up and then I then I set off, on a longer swim. I set myself the target of swimming for forty-five minutes continuous.

It was, at times, hard going. I am learning now, if breathless becomes an issue, to always switch to a “slow breast stroke” that way I can focus on  getting my breathing, back under control. At the same time, I’m thinking, in my head, relax, relax, relax! as advised by J. I am beginning to recognise,  that trying to speed up, to reach the end of the lane, when I am feeling puffed, actually makes it worse. It’s a continual learning process and not one that’s easy. It’s about being aware of me, my body, my stroke, everything.

The time, crept round, I kept going, up and down the pool.  At the same time, identifying the landmarks, telling me where I am in the pool, how far up the lane I am. Washington pool, I found is great for this, it has a number of posters along the side if the pool advising parents and participants of different ASA levels, where to meet. I just need to remember, which way round they go, That’s not to say, I don’t know how to count!

As I swam, I felt myself, fall back into my regular rythym and pattern, it started to feel really comfortable again. The time slipped by, suddenly fourty  minutes had elapsed.  I determined to swim another six lengths. And then I stopped.

Fifty two minutes had elapsed, since I had started, I had swam 1250m. I was happy with that, pleasantly suprised in fact, yet disappointed at the same time. I had another 10 lengths to complete, to reach 1500m,  meaning that I would not of completed my challenge sub-one hour, my goal.

However, there is little point, in me being unhappy, with where I am. It’s not a race, it’s a challenge, 10 months ago I could barely swim, three months ago I could manage 800m,  I’ve come a long way. I need to be proud, happy, not disappointed. Last week, I was unwell, too unwell to swim, this week I’m better, but asthma is still not great.

I finished with a cool down, of a few more lengths, meaning that I totalled 1650 metres. I decided, that this was it, enough was enough, it’s time to call it a day on my training.

I’ve trained for 10 weeks, I’ve worked with my tutors, I’m continuing to make progress. My technique, is better every week. This week, I’ve swam three days, another day will make no real difference, I know I can do it, rest would be better.

So, my decision was made, rest on Thursday, there’s no point taking a tired, aching body into the pool, on Friday. A rested one, will be far more productive, so my aim for Thursday: eat well, drink plenty, rest lots.

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Tough training swim

Well, it’s less than 72 hours to “Sport Relief” and the nerves are really starting to kick in, but I’m excited at the same time.

Yesterday, I had a swimming lesson, it was a great lesson and there’s a post in progress, about it, but first I want to blog about tonight’s training swim.

My throat is still sore, my voice still squeaky, five people at work are now down with it. It’s almost like a role-call each day, as we identify each “new victim”.  It’s actually, becoming highly amusing, laughing at each others attempts at communicating, through squeaky, tortured, whispered voices.

I prepared for tonight’s training swim, taking my blue inhaler before I got in the pool. I was incredibly disappointed and frustrated, by the fact I quickly found myself really struggling. A minute, to swim 20 metres…what’s all that about? Five lengths in, had to stop. I started to worry, a 100 metres and I’m struggling. I’ve got to do 15 times that in three days time.

Ten minutes in, my chest was tight and sore. I thought “that’s it, I have to give up”. I conceded, that Sports Relief, was out of my grasp and decided to get out the pool.

Then I thought, “don’t be such a stupid idiot”. I stopped myself, mid-track to the steps, had a think and gave myself a good talking too.

I have been unwell, I am still not great, I’ve had to take time out and I’m still recovering. I had only taken my inhaler, just as I got into the pool, it takes 20 minutes to properly kick in, I’d been in only 10.

I decided, that I needed to stop being a “over-dramatic idiot” and get on with it. There are a lot of people out there, supporting me, sponsoring for me and my friend M is determined to be there for me, despite being barely able to walk herself, she’s planning on getting the Metro over to where I work 10 miles away. Hoe amazing is that?

I re-focused my thinking and set back off, up the pool, short sets, let myself warm up, keeping positive. I know I can do it. Focus on what my tutors have taught me.

After each set, I felt better, stronger, more positive. I can do this, I can smash it! Don’t let the negative thoughts creep in. Times were coming down, 45 seconds for breast stroke, thirty for front crawl.

Feeling happier and more confident, I decided to try a longer swim. I comfortably managed 400m, without stopping. I could of gone further, but I my decision is, to focus on sets of 400m, not to push myself too hard, not to exhaust myself ahead of the “big night”.

I am so glad, I worked my way through the massive brick wall I hit. That I didn’t just look at it and react like “Rex” in Toy Story 2, when faced with the busy road, turn round, give up, declaring “Oh well I tried”. Deep down, I know that if I’d taken that view point, I wouldn’t really of tried, I would of actually given up before I tried. I’m learning more and more, that learning to swim, like I guess many sports, is as much about psychological ability to cope with difficulties as well as physical. My mantra,  is becoming g more and more, “I’m nothing if not determined”

By the time I came out the pool, I’d managed a total of 900 metres, I’m really proud of that, really proud.

I’m exhausted now and my balance is shot, I’m really wobbly on my feet. Time to rest, tomorrow I’m heading, back in again. I am not and can not give up.

Following on from tonight’s swim, I received and E mail from swimathon, and news of another sponsor. It was just what I needed, both reminded me of why I am doing this. Why I am doing this.

I will swim myself proud!

Swimming with emotion…

It’s Monday, it’s 2am and I’m wide awake, I am due at work in 7 hours. I can’t sleep.

I’m laid here, thinking about the week ahead, the challenges of the week ahead. Finally this is it,  after weeks of anticipation, hard work, practice, training and brilliant support from my swim tutors at Swim NE, this is the week I take part in Sport Relief, a chance to “swim myself proud”.

I am already incredibly happy with my progress so far, people tell me I’m an inspiration. I am only an inspiration if I inspire others to give it a go, to get in the pool, or to take up some form of exercise or sport.

If someone, had told me, 10 months ago I would where I am now, I would of laughed at them, yet here I am. Here I am, preparing for Sport Relief, having progressed to ASA stage 8 and swam a mile.

The excitement is beginning to build, I want to do this, no I want to smash this. My sponsorship total stands at £135, my aim was a £100, I thought it would be difficult to reach that. I have been left, humbled, at the overwhelming support and kindness from family, friends friends and collegues.

I want to stand on the side of the pool afterwards, smiling, proud and wearing the “Sport relief medal”, knowing that this is something I’ve worked for, something I’ve achieved. Knowing in doing so, I will have helped raised money for those in need, those in poorer countries, those in our country. It  may be only a tiny amount of the final total, but as a famous supermarket states “every little helps”.

The person, who helped inspire me, who shared his love of swimming with me, who took me swimming as a child, my grandad, won’t be there. He left us, many years ago.

Sadly, he had given up swimming many years prior to my birth, being announced to him in the White Swan pub, where he gone for a rare pint. Though he expressed a wish to teach us to swim, he never was able to. I remember, though, how he described with pride, the fact he’d swim the width of the River Humber as in his youth and I hope, that some of my ability to swim, was inherited from this wonderful gentleman.

This week, and the swim itself, isn’t going to be easy, but as my friend described me “I’m a stubborn, crazy red head” if I can find a way I will. It’s so frustrating, that I’ve worked so hard for this, yet I have no real control over when my asthma decides to “kick off”. I’m already maxed out on meds, there’s nothing else they can prescribe me, currently, to reduce the incidence and severity of exacerbations.

What I do have control over, is how I manage the exacerbation. I’m not going to roll over and give up. I’m determined, if it safe to do so, if my lungs are able to cope with the demands swimming places on them, to swim the 1.5km. Not just for me, but those who have sponsored me, supported me, taught me and for those who will gain benefit from the money raised.

I want smash this!!

Searching for an adjective

I haven’t posted for a few days, my phone had a fight with a flower bed and lost, because my laptop takes an hour to boot-up, my mobile is my main means of writing and posting on my blog. I am posting this, from my tablet, not as portable, but at least it works within a few minutes of pressing the “on button”.

I have four or five posts “waiting in the wings as it were”, hopefully this weekend will see me catch up, because I won’t be swimming. It’s ten days before Sport relief “swimathon and what I sincerely hoped, wouldn’t happen, has. I’ve got a cold.

For most people, a cold is usually a relatively mild illness, you feel bunged up and often pretty grotty for a few days. Then you get over it. Unfortunately, for me, like many asthmatics a cold, is a trigger. Frequently, colds then develop into a chest infection, this, in turn, can result in a severe exacerbation.

At the present time, I’m only a bit snuffly, so I’m really hoping it transpires to be only a very mild cold. Irrespectively, my lungs are already quite grumpy and the
potential, for my asthma to deteriorate significantly, is there. My asthma, tends to be very unstable and quite brittle during an exacerbation, hence why my consultant has prescribed a “home nebuliser” and a “rescue pack”. It’s not just to save me from sitting in the walk in centre, for hours on end, with “In the Night Garden” playing repeatedly, the telly!

There are a number of words to describe how I fell right now, some sit at different ends of the spectrum; concern I won’t be well enough to take part, but hope that I might be, frustration, annoyed, fed up and so forth. I will be gutted, if I’m not well enough to take part. I’ve looked forward to this for weeks and worked so hard, to train and so many people have sponsored me.

I’m determined to complete it, if I am well enough, and it will be an even greater achievement. I cannot, however predict how my asthma will be, over the next few days. It may be a relatively mild exacerbation, which will mean a 5-7 day break from the pool and a loss of training or, on the other end of the spectrum, a real “humdinger” that prevents me swimming for several weeks and complete abandoment of my plan to take part in Sport relief swimathon.

The next 48 hours are crucial…all I can do I wait, and hope