The Great Scottish Swim

Posted on September 27, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Rory hangs out in cocktail bar on daddy’s 40th

OK, admittedly it has been a while but I’ve not given up.  Yet.

As mentioned in the last post I turned 40.  Pam organised a very nice party with some of my closest friends which was brilliant.  It didn’t really hurt.  No depression this year.  Enough said.

Oh, and I got a tattoo.  I got it in Germany and didn’t mention it until now because I hadn’t told my mum but someone has now blabbed so I might as well tell the whole world wide web.  Hopefully the design is self explanatory of which more later.  Training has been poor and the weight has been creeping back on.  I still have the hunger of someone who is doing 14 hours of hard training a week but I’m not.  And I have allowed a few stellas and a packet of Monster Munch or two to slip in to the diet.

I have had 3 swims including one on the morning of my birthday; saddle sores have prevented much enthusiasm for the bike; but I have had the odd jog.  On the Saturday evening that I decided to try a long run my trainers that I had worn in Regensburg were in the garage.  I have another newer pair that I keep in the office for lunchtime runs but it was time to face down the ones that blistered me until my feet were too swollen to fit in them.  Anyway, I took no joy on a windy evening to look at the mud encrusted trainers with the charity Chrissie Wellington laces that had been so pristine looking truly sullied.   And my evening didn’t get any better.  Every step of the 6 miles was absolute purgatory – I think partially because my body was still healing and partially because my mind was still a little run fragile.  Anyway as I have already said I have put on a little cuddliness in the last month and as I rasped past the lady drawing on a fag in the bus shelter outside ASDA she looked at me with the kind of pity that is reserved for chubby novice joggers in cotton shorts that are going to chafe their thighs.  I was offended, I wanted to shout “I AM AN IRONMAN”, I wanted her to notice the tattoo that signified the journey that I had been on, I wanted her to know I wasn’t just another chubby jogger wheezing on a downhill.  But really she was just a big, big lady, puffing outside ASDA wondering whether to have chips or pizza or both or a pie on a roll for her tea.  She was more likely to understand if I said I was America’s Next Top Model or I had an Embarrassing Illness rather than an Ironman and that was when I realised that the Ironman is done, I’ve got the tatt and now I need to think about how I am going to challenge my mind and body next.

So, to the point of the blog – I did the Great Scottish Swim at the weekend.   While travelling during the week I received an email from Shakey with the longest woooooohooooo you have ever seen in the title line.  I don’t do the Spacebook so I tend to find out things second hand and old social network Shakey had just found out that the GSS had been shortened from 2k to 1.6k because of the cold.  I have been known to be unsympathetic in the past but hear me out.  An open water swim is organised in Scotland for the 24th September and people enter it.  They are hardly expecting the Indian Ocean are they?  And why knock it down by 400m and not half it or cancel it.  Seriously there is a great deal of MTFU required in the nanny state.  Anyway, now grumbling that I have been robbed of 400m I am also faced with the prospect of several days of Shakey whingeing about how cold the water is going to be.  Pitiful.

Saturday morning arrives and I set a departure time to pick up Shakey and Allister at 815am.  As we leave our appartment at just after 815 Pam points out that we are late so I have to confess that I don’t think we really need to leave Edinburgh until 830 but I am giving both Pam and Shakey 5 minutes each to run late and 5 minutes for general fannying about before I even have to start thinking about getting stressed.

On arrival at Strathclyde Park the sun was shining and the loch looked like a mill pond.  We didn’t really waste a lot of time and we were pretty quickly through the changing marquees and into our rubber suits.  Pam and Allister by this time had steaming coffees and Rory was fast asleep under several really thick blankets so we headed off to the warm up area.  We got a quick race briefing from Bryan Burnett off the telly and then mid briefing this official looking lady with a walkie talkie asks Shakey if she is Shakey (that’s not strictly true but I’ve written that to protect her anonymity – that is Shakey’s anonymity and not Walkie Talkies.  I don’t have a clue who Walkie Talkie is.).  It turns out that because Shakey is such a media ho that they want her to wear a different coloured cap so that they can take photos of her.  Tart.

Things then started to go awry when we got into the warm up area.  When I did this race a couple of years ago you could warm up (acclimatise is probably a more appropriate term) for 10 minutes which was insufficient even at that but this year you got to do one circuit which took about a minute and then you were lobbed out.  We were only in long enough to lose sensation in the extremities (which was a blessing compared to the pain when we first got in) and for uncontrollable shivering to start.  While waiting for the start Shakester asked how to stop her goggles misting so I said to spit in them – an old swimmers trick.  There were some unattractive noises and then I looked round and to my horror, a few seconds before the start, Shakey’s goggles were literally brimming in snot and gob.  We grabbed a bottle and rinsed them just as the gun went.

Now there are times to race and there are times when you just have to stick by a friend in need.  And I needed to be a friend to get us both to the end.  We got in the water last and while I am not used to being there in the water it is a familiar position for me in a run.  It was a little intimidating to have the rescue boat right on our asses but we pushed on.  Our swim shall largely remain private however there are a couple of highlights that I would like to tell you about.

About 400m in a boat pulled up alongside us and I asked Shakey to do 10 strokes of front crawl and make it look good.  She obeyed because sometimes she does what I say.  I then told her that we had a camera boat filming us but not to worry about her make up as they were filming me because I was an Ironman.  How she laughed, well I think it was a laugh.  Anyway, the camera boat stayed with us a long time and at one point had a camera on a long boom about 6 inches in front of her face.  I probably should have told her about the big snot.  I wonder if Shakey will be excised from the programme so as not to people off their breakfast at 7am on Nov 6th.

The second highlight was how I eventually got my frozen ass out of the water.  Going nowhere quickly I thought I would appeal to Shakeys’s competitive spirit I suggested we might want to start picking off the weaker swimmers and before we knew it the rescue boat wasn’t right behind us anymore.  In fact we overtook loads of people including 3 in the last 200m to have a very respectable finishing position.

Before we set off I did point out that as a condition of swimming together she had better not put her foot across the timing mat before mine and true to her word she offered to let me get out of the water first.  But after the epic swim of 44minutes I could only insist that we finished together.  I don’t know if this link will work but the moment was captured for posterity here.

Pam and Allister were busy getting another (!) coffee when we finished and missed our heroic last few metres.  When we found them they didn’t even have spare coffees for us.  We had a quick photo for posterity that could only ever be classified as “special” and we hit the road with only  pee breaks and nappy change at Mothercare on the way home to interrupt the journey.

This season officially ends next week with the Great Edinburgh Run.  It is wonderful symmetry for me as it was that race that inspired me to do The Ironman in the first place.  Ironically I am so deconditioned I will probably do it in about the same time as I did 3 years ago.  After that I’ll decide whether to keep the blog going or retire it once and for all.


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2 Responses to “The Great Scottish Swim”

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Mustn’t break a habit, so here is your comment…

I’d miss the blog (but then I am sad!)…
retire !


So is that a vote for retiring or keeping Steve? Exciting news for next year is starting to develop.


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