Half Way There – 3 weeks to go

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What a Sunday 11.5 mile swim in 7 hours, I decided to watch the Netherlands v Costa Rica game to the bitter end, not one of my best decisions i realised as i reached over to switch off my alarm at 4.05am.
With my car packed the night before, i dashed down stairs, made my porridge (What else when you are about to swim beneath the “Bonnie Bonnie banks of Loch Lomond”) and headed out the door to meet Big Chris my usual sole accomplice, however today we were accompanied by Cammie in the water (he is also looking to complete the feat in August as well) Dave and Stevie who had so kindly volunteered to give us boat cover for this important training swim.
We parked one of the cars at Luss and headed back to the starting point at Balloch, chosen due to the southerly wind direction that morning. What a stunning morning greeted us.

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Setting off with a planned route and stops, i have to say that we kept to this plan practically to the letter. Balloch to Inchmurren (2.8 miles) food stop, Inchmurren passed Loch Lomond Golf Course, another stop at the start of the Channel to Luss (3 miles) through to Luss (2.2 miles) then onwards and upwards to Inverbeg.
7 hours in the water and your mind goes to several places, i have to admit i was expecting to head to the dungeon that i encountered 15 miles into the Ironman run 3 years ago, this place can never be explained, if you’ve been there you will understand.
To anyone who has read my blurb previously i like to detail all elements of the day, good or bad. When you get up so early on the morning, lets just say that your body and your “Morning constitutional” may not realise you are up yet.
Everyone has heard of the saying “Does a bear shit in the woods” well you can now expand that saying to “Does a bear, Chris and Cammie shit in the woods” as we have photographic evidence to prove this. I just hope not many people actually set foot on Inchtavannach island.

Bog Roll
I have to say that we were advised by James (one of the swimmers that holds the world record) that the Luss to Inverbeg was the longest stretch visually in the Loch and he wasn’t wrong, i felt like the treadmill nightmare where you can see where you want to be but it never gets any closer.

But we made it in the end, the route can be seen by my much ridiculed “Mapmyrun” device on my iPhone

MapMyRun Swim 11.52 miles

 

 

I am pleased to say we have decided not to go any longer than this until the big day, hopefully this experience will put us in good stead to now look at tapering down over the coming weeks, an 8 miler is planned for tomorrow – alarm is set!!

On the big day in August hopefully we will have the same look of satisfaction with completing the full Loch

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Controlling the Controllables

Controlling the Controllables

Just when you think you are getting there with the training, you are reminded how weak we can be psychologically.
I’m preparing for the 24 mile swim and all the variables are taken into account, I call this “Controlling the controllables” there are so many factors that make up the whole event and I was faced with one of the Uncontrollables this morning.
With 2 x 8 miler swims in the bag we plan on reaching a 11-13 mile swim on Sunday so I decided to head to Loch Lomond this morning for an hour swim with the troops for a loosener – 1.6 miles later the doubts were abundant!!
In the space of 5 days the Loch temperature had plummeted. From a balmy 17-18 degrees to what felt like more in the region of 13 degrees.
These temperatures are ok for shorter bursts however we plan to be in the water for 8-9 hours on Sunday and as I look out the window the rain and wind is in full swing so I can’t see any great increase before Sunday.
No turning back though, the support boat along with two willing volunteers is booked for Sunday morning for a 5.30am departure. Big Shoulders and I are heading into the unknown distances.
I’ll report back post swim, hopefully the Uncontrollables don’t ruin our day

Midge and Pike!!

Another weekend and another long swim, yesterday saw us leaving Luss at 5.20am and setting off on the Balloch route as featured in the next image. It was a stunning morning that gave us another glimpse of the beauty of this part of the world.

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I thought today i would speak about the more negative side of OW swimming as everyone who reads my blogs must think that all i every do is promote my wonderful relationship with the Lady of the Loch. Don’t get me wrong i still believe that the positives totally out weight the negatives but i also prefer to give the other side of the coin with a few of the dangers and annoyances.

Fecking Midges!!! – You arrive at the Loch at 5am on the morning and the second you exhale one breathe as you head to the boot of the car for your wetsuit the midges are attacking you, i even think they have the ability to bite while we are swimming as i only ever get bites on my feet, hands, neck and face. Here’s a picture of my foot from last week, apologies that my pedicure was booked in prior to the photo

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“Surely you must be scared of the fish” – I’m not a specialist on fish, i love to eat them and i have to say in my 4 years of OW swimming i have only ever seen one and i swam into it, it was dead, and yes i needed to empty out the rear of my wetsuit! The only times i have ever heard about these Pikes biting anyone are the fishermen, and i believe i would do the same ALA Saurez if someone had just lanced my cheek with a one way spike. When you see what these Pikes look like they are an ugly creature with huge teeth, the fishermen are always asking us if we want to see the photo of the “one they caught in there last week” i decline graciously – ignorance is bliss

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The Cold – The temperature in the Loch’s varies depending on a few factors, predominantly (and all you geography experts out there please this isn’t a lesson!) depth of the Loch, recent rainfall, winds, currents and the time of the year. We went for a dip on Boxing day and the water temp was in the region of 3-4 degrees, during this weekend the temp was approx 17 degrees which i am hoping will be the temperature for the big swim, anything below 15, for the length of time we will be in the water may be an issue. 

Other water users – For many years us OW swimmers i believe have been quite ignorant about our use in the water and ultimately our own safety. Just because we wear brightly coloured hats doesn’t mean we are instantly visible. Lately we have all been buying these brightly coloured Buoy’s which you pull along behind you and are the size of a beach ball, many Loch users have been complimenting us on these inventions as they state they see us from further away. The only real danger now is the rowers, which i have mentioned previously who haven’t got the foggiest whats behind them.

Please don’t let the above put you off, the slight issues are far outweighed by the stunning scenery, here’s a short video (1 min 36 secs)  taken last weekend of the over riding positive of OW swimming in Loch Lomond