Today marks the seven week point, meaning there are just 49 days until my swim.
I am now into my last five weeks of hard training. After that I will taper down for week six, and rest for the week prior to the Channel crossing. I have used the remaining few days of my annual leave from Dovetail to book several Friday's off, and Ali and I plan as many trips to Bournemouth as the weather will allow.
It's all getting very real now. An ex army colleague, I an Davies, embarks on his relay challenge this week. And with the season well underway now, challenges are being attempted regularly.
My JustGiving total currently stands at £5.500, with a further £360 still to be added.
It's not too late to donate! Please go to https://www.justgiving.com/Alan-Gale1/
Certain words become 'devalued' in the current context within which they are used. The Americans use the word 'awesome' where the Brits might say 'quite good', for instance. When something truly does inspire awe, you therefor often need to use an expletive before 'awesome' to emphasise that it really IS awesome.
The word 'daunt' originates from around the 1300's. It was derived from the French (appropriately enough in this instance) danter, a variant of donter meaning 'be afraid of, fear, doubt' (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php).
In this original context, following a three hour swim today, I reflected on the fact that I would have to do that same swim more than FIVE times in order to successfully arrive on a French beach.
I think that to label such a task as 'daunting' is fully justified in this instance.
With just eight weeks to go before my Channel swim, it's time to really start to plug the fundraising.
Esta is approaching every school in the Worcester area she has any dealings with, but if you know any schools (or businesses!) who may benefit from an educational/promotional talk, please do let me (and them) know. I will cover the concept of commitment, and how something like a Channel swim takes a year's worth of hard work and training. I'll also talk about Acorns, of course, including what they do, and why I'm subsequently taking on such an insane challenge - considering I'd never swum further than 2km when I came up with the notion of taking on the Everest of open water swims!
I am also due to hold a stall at one or two school fetes in the next few weeks, complete with a collection bucket and happily handing out flyers.
If anyone can think of any other promotional or fundraising ideas, please do get in touch.
Feel free to continue to direct donors here: https://www.justgiving.com/Alan-Gale1/
Thus far my blogs have all been brutally honest. There is not reason to change that now. Though I could lie to anyone reading this, what would be the point?
So today was another disappointment. I had planned for a four hour (10km) swim at Tooting Bec. In the end I stopped after just 1.5 hours (3.75km).
I could try and contribute this to a host of reasons, but each has to be unhesitatingly dismissed:
So what was it? There is only one answer I can give, in all honesty:
I was bored.
You may think that having completed three, four and six hour swims, another four hour swim would be easy. But that is simply looking at it from a subjective point of view, trying to apply a form of mathematical logic that simply does not stick.
For me, these pool training sessions seem to be getting harder as they increase in duration. It's not like going for a run or cycle and being able to admire the scenery. It's not as if I'm swimming from one location to another either. It's endless laps of a pool, and is akin to training for a marathon on a treadmill facing a wall with no music or TV. Also, the challenge of swimming in a pool for this length of time has already been achieved, so now it seems like nothing more than mental endurance. And sometimes (like today) I just do not feel able to take the mental torture.
On this swim today, I found I had nothing to think about from ten minutes in. That meant that for the remaining hour and twenty minutes I could not take my mind off putting one arm in front of the other. It was soul destroying. I kept thinking, 'I'm not cold, I'm not tired, I have plenty of time.... but I SO want to stop and get out!'
Obviously I still do need to train, and I have to get over this somehow. I've already decided that not only am I no lover of long distance swimming, I'd go as far as to say I actually dislike it. Not a good discovery for someone who has to face the Channel in nine weeks!
'Luckily' for me, it is now also time to begin sea training in earnest. This will be a change of scenery for me, and will introduce some new challenges. I have a 13.5km sea swim booked, and then need to plan some longer sessions, ultimately trying to build up to 20km.
There is relatively little time left before my swim now, especially when compared to the 11 months of planning, training and organising I've already gone through. I'm just at the stage now where I want to get on with it, one way or another.
And to add insult to an already bad day, it's only now that I am at the airport ready to fly to the US for the week, that I've realised I left my swimming trunks at Tooting Bec! Damn!
Monday 9th June saw me hit the ten week countdown mark (assuming I get to swim on 18th August).
With all corporate sponsorship now in place, courtesy of Dovetail, Hallmark Hulme, Kendall Wadley, Rybrook Worcester, and Spire Southbank, I now want to heavily focus on closing in on the £10,000 for Acorns.
My current total will stand at £5,500 once the final monies from the Dovetail Bake Sale have been allocated to the pot. What I need now is for everyone to really begin to network and to spread the word.
This swim is no longer in the distant future - it's happening the month after next!
If you know anyone in media - radio, TV, newspaper - please make them aware of this event. Swimming the Channel is a HUGE task, and I really do think that £10,000 is not a vast amount to raise within the Three Counties for something of this magnitude. I cannot find reference to anyone else having done it, so it does seem to be the first attempt from our region.
Please also feel free to point people directly to my JustGiving page.
Thanks in advance.
After five days of stomach flu, and all the unmentionable unpleasantness associated with such an illness, I now have less than 24 hours before I enter the chilly waters of Windermere again - this time for my crucial six hour qualifying swim.
My initial plan of having milestones #1 and #2 gradually build up both my cold water resilience and my overall confidence has been utterly thwarted by the onset of this sickness bug, and consequently I find myself almost back at square one. Though I can call upon the memory of having easily lasted four hours in the water a few weeks ago in Eton, I'm currently feeling only 85% fit. I'm still weak, I tire easily, and I'm feeling the cold far more than normal.
Today will be a careful balance of preparation for an early start tomorrow, rest, and taking on board as much food and liquid as my weakened stomach can comfortably handle.
Given my current condition, the only thing I know for certain at this point is that tomorrow is going to be a real test of mental and physical endurance for me, and will undoubtedly be one of the least pleasurable experiences of my life.
Whilst I have been laying bed, clutching my belly and feeling generally pathetic, Sophie and Rachel at Dovetail have been busy rallying the troops to organise a Bake Sale to raise additional funds towards my goal of £10,000. With the majority of Dovetail staff split across two offices, London and Parsippany (NJ), simultaneous sales were organised, with all employees encouraged to bring in some home-baked goodies for sale.
The photo shows the selection on offer at the London office.
Initial indications are that around £150 was raised from these tantalizing efforts, so my thanks go out to everyone involved!
All monies raised will go directly to Acorns Children's Hospice, with a view to supporting them in their continued work helping life-limited children and their families.
My last post highlighted the fact that all my swims after the Eton Dorney 10km have been a disappointing struggle. Yesterday it all came to head.
Having done nothing more energetic than a one hour swim with Leiws, Ali and I decided to put our tent up in preparation for camping at Windermere next week. When we'd finished, though it was hardly a complex or physical task, I had to sit down. I simply had no energy left.
Having dropped Ali back home, I promptly put myself straight to bed (even though the sun was out - which is always a clear sign of a problem!).
This morning my body feels as if I was a participant in yesterdays Aviva Premiership final. I ache absolutely everywhere.
In a way, I like to think this was building up, and was the cause for all my poor performance last week. All I know for certain is that I have my 6 hour qualifier on Friday, and I simply have to be ready for that somehow. I guess, whether I like it or not, I'll now have to rest all week. I simply have no strength whatsoever.
One time soldier, part-time author, full-time training manager, husband and father.