At The Risk of Boring You……

Posted on August 29, 2017. Filed under: 10k, great scottish swim, marathon swimming, swimming |

This could be repetitive.  For two reasons.

Firstly, this is the only race that I have done consistently since it launched. The Great Scottish Swim has taken place seven times and I have done it eight of those times.

“Eh?”, you might say. Rightly. Back in it’s old hell swamp of a location it was cancelled twice because of blue-green algae. One of those times, though, I refused to take no for an answer and headed to the hills and did it anyway (gosh, don’t we look so young?) and still got a medal.

So, it is safe to say I am a big fan. And I have blogged about the Great Scottish Swim many, many times and, in a moment of swim tourism, I’ve even blogged about it’s English cousin the Great North Swim.

And secondly, open water swimming doesn’t make for riveting bloggage. If there isn’t a wetsuit malfunction or a federal penitentiary involved there usually isn’t that much to banter about. Even more dully I had entered the 10k, so that is a whole lot of swimming to not have many stories!

Fresh from his bionic upgrade my Thames Marathon swim buddy, Jan, entered the GSS and Team Rasmussen duly arrived on Friday evening. Sharon, who takes physical endeavours considerably more seriously than me as evidenced by her outrageously speedy marathon time, looked as visibly shocked by my acceptance of a first beer as she did by my acceptance of my nth beer several hours later. What can I say? I like a beer the night before I swim. Or wine. Or gin.

Swim time was kinda awkward. 8am at Loch Lomond, an hour and a half away. So we went for a two course breakfast. Porridge on waking up. Coffee for the road. Porridge on arrival. In addition I took a banana to the start.

As we walked down to the Loch to check out the course we bumped into another swim buddy, Bean, who was steadying herself for her first 10k. Some brief nervous chatting and then the three of us went to get changed.

Which turned out to be very disorientating. They only went and moved the change tent this year which confused the bejesus out of me.

When we had finally discovered the errant marquee we chose a spot in the pretty much empty tent. Within seconds I was sweating. Then I noticed my swim cap on the floor was shrivelling up and then I thought my feet had actually melted off. Apparently I had chosen the space where the solar flare of the sun was being pumped in and I was about to spontaneously combust.

We wandered down to the registration area picking Bean back up on the way and then bumping into Andy, my swim run partner. We were like rubber clad pied pipers.

Andy feels the cold and in an effort to combat this he had come dressed as Daffyd in a very tight rubber tank top. If the neoprene didn’t work he’d surely get himself a big ole man cuddle out there.

Robert Hamilton, the race director of the Forth Crossing, came over for a chat and told us the temperature was 15.7c, and tried to encourage the last stragglers to sign up to swim the Forth.

And just as Robert left we had final bants. My shiny new neck protector which was much coveted by strangers was the subject of substantial mockery from my friends. In a tactical change of subject from my rubberised garrotte, I noted that I had gone for a very light tint on my goggles as it was quite dull. Jan and Andy had gone darker. Bean, well Bean was running towards the change marquee. Evidently she had forgotten one of the three things that were required. Bless her when she sees the packing list for Lakesman next year.

And then it was time to acclimatise. I got into the tiny swim area and swam one lap at super slow speed. Then a second pausing at the end to, ahem, heat up the Loch..

As is standard we had some aerobics before the start, trying to do squats and lunges in a wetsuit with all the dexterity of a wrecking ball.  The 10k wave were called forward – Bean and I gave Andy and Jan hugs and well wishes – Keri-Anne Payne gave us some wise words that I forget and honked the horn. WE WERE OFF.

I high 5’d Bean on the slipway and waded to my belly button and then started to swim. Ever so gently. Avoiding the crowd. Avoiding the coldshock.

I went so far to the right that I swam right alongside the Maid of the Loch.

I had a long way to go but a couple of hundred metres in everything felt uncharacteristically perfect. This wasn’t intended to be my “A” race, just a long training session in readiness for Loch Earn. I know my body responds well to high volume just before a long swim and this was perfectly timed to peak at Loch Earn.

Because I was so far right it took me a while to get back on the race line for the anti-clockwise course. At the end of the first straight the turn was congested. Someone on my left hand side kept swimming into me. I enjoy the rough and tumble of open water swimming but some courtesy is required. Twice I moved right and twice the swimmer started hitting into me again. On the third time they got a clear and unequivocal message to swim straight; I didn’t see them again.

Around the top buoy I couldn’t find anything to sight. Only when I was on top of it did I realise that there was an almost totally black Suunto buoy.  I could spot it on subsequent laps but new waves that were introduced had similar buoy blindness.

The remainder of the first lap and the second lap were without incident. At the end of the second lap I tucked behind the buoy, took the gel from under my goggles, swallowed it and shoved the empty wrapper in my wetsuit. A 20 second pitstop. Watch check: 51 minutes for 2 miles.

At this time the next wave was released into the wild. I was swamped by a swarm of 5k and 2 mile swimmers. The next half lap was hard work passing through a thick soup of slower swimmers and breastroke kicks to the face.

After lap 4 (I am saving you a lot of underwater dullness in this summary) I followed the same pit stop routine. Watch check: 1:41 for 4 miles. Holy shit – a faster split than the first one and on track for an outrageous PB.

At the half way buoy on lap 5 the 10k leaders came past me as if I was standing still.

I have a social crisis on lap 5. I haven’t spoken to anyone for 2 hours. I think about dropping into the aid station for a gel. But really just a chat. I immediately HTFU.

Lap 6 feels heavy. I feel heavy. The waves feel heavier. At the turn I start a gentle kick readying my legs for returning to land use.

I exit the course and into the bay with the sun in my eyes. I pause to work out where the hell I am supposed to go.

With so much experience of finish line cramp, I put my feet down as soon as I can and walk in. I feel relatively fresh but under the pressure of gravity I am done.

Jan gets my attention. Or what attention I can summon up. I stumble onwards down the chute.

An man with a camera around his neck and what looks like a pot noodle in his hand approaches me.

“Do you want your picture taken?”

“Eh naaww. I just need to eat”

“The noodles are braw”

A very chirpy lady thrusts steaming noodles into my hand. She was literally my heroine in that moment. A proper super hero.

The kabuto noodles were an amazing addition to the event this year. A burger would make it perfect.  Just sayin.

I lost time in the last two miles taking 55 minutes. Definitely an issue with long endurance.

My final time was 2:36, 5 minutes better than last year’s 2:41. I came 26th (36th last year) overall and 3rd (yaaaaay) in age group (6th last year).

Jan and I then horsed down a giant burger at the Champany Inn.  All in all a good day.

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Based on this performance we’d recommend moderate alcohol intake tonight. We’d also recommend you arrange to have Pamela and a friend crash around at some time just gone midnight then all measures should be in place to optimize performance tomorrow.
May the Forth be with you
Team Rasmussen

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