Spotify Playlist of the Day– Janus Blowing in the Wind
The 12 Days of Christmas Party is over and whilst my good friends are rushing around trying to fill their comments in for the draw I am reflecting whilst looking forwards, starting a New Year with challenges. The first is the weather, after the raw cold of last year it is unseasonally mild and very windy, the catkins are fully out. I’ve just checked back to last year’s photos and it was 25th January last year when I was taking similar pictures. Whilst it’s great not to have the ice underfoot for learning to run, the very stiff winds have put me off cycling. Hopefully I will do much more on the bike next week.
Yesterday I failed to do a Janathon activity so have made up for it today with two. This morning I did my final walk/run in my couch to 5K with the Get Running App on the iPhone. Then this evening I went to Framlingham College Pool for a swim and did an 800m swim to help team China on their way to Olympic gold (we are currently ahead!).
Tomorrow I will announce who has won the mystery prize in the #12DCP, which then gives me a week to try and write my Ghost story. The lovely @Jaydubblah has alread written hers and you can read it here.
Today I attended my second local writing group, I’m really enjoying these sessions, the current focus is on dialogue and dialect. We have been discussing the extent to which the text should accurately reflect dialects or just indicate them. We had been set homework, which was to write a piece where the dialogue tells what is going on. I decided to take this both literally and figuratively with a bit of an Argentine Tango, see what you think: –
The tablecloth was tied around her waist to indicate a skirt and his shirt was open to the bottom button.“Lean in to me, your hip should make contact yust here on my pocket,” he said. “Our noses should be touching – and look at me.” She looked. Garlic sweat poured from his forehead.
“What next? I’ve got bloody cramp from these heels.”
“Retht your left leg on the back of your right leg; now as my legs cross I will drag you to the side. Good, now we rise; your weight transfers back and your right leg is free. Whip your knee up into my hand and when you drop it back plathe your foot between my feet like a thandwidge. Now giro; turn.”
“Did you have to pinch my knee then?” she winced at her own reflection in the full height mirror, flushed skin and a frizz of hair. The village hall smelt of damp, there were lumps of soil scattered by the football team’s boots earlier in the day. She wondered why she had agreed to this ‘treat’ from her boyfriend, who would now be propping up the bar at the Parrot and Punchbowl.
“Lean back, your hair should nearly sweep the floor.”
“It’s covered in crap,” she sighed.
“Just do it, trust me; I’ll support your weight. As you swing come up and look at me again; fix my eyes.”
“Less of the weight, cheeky. Christ that hurts,” she pulled herself up to her full height and attempted to stretch out her spine.
“Then we walk, figure of eight ocho, at the end, rest, lean and quick flick or your leg around mine, gancho. Perfetto, then I push you back upright, I stroke your face then lock my eyes on yours. Now back away. Thrusting your hands down to the floor like I shewed you. OK, I put the music on now.” He pressed the iPod in the huge boombox and started the track.
“Ready?” he breathed.
“So; lean on my pocket, look at my eyes.” She looked, they were deep and dark, with a glint where the light reflected on his contact lens. He fixed on her eyes, their noses almost touched.
“Oh. My. God. You’re strong.”
“Good, you should trust me, fix my eyes. Ok rethst your left leg, I drag, rise; Knee up, I grip. Thandwich feet, giro, lean back, I pull you up towards me. Ocho, then rest, lean and now – gancho, flick your leg around mine.”
“Like this?” she asked.
“Si, yes, but firmer, then away quickly like it was too hot not slow like a dodman. Now, upright, I stroke your face, lock your eyes, you back away thrusting your hands towards the floor.”
The damp of the hall was melting away, the music suffused her sinews, the air was slowly being exchanged with the atmosphere of Plazzo Dorrego, Buenos Aires.
She took a swig from her water bottle and looked across the room at him. The music restarted and he put out his hand, as she moved towards him, she murmored.
“I lean on your pocket; just here, our noses touch, your eyes are dark, deep chocolate. I retsht my left leg, you drag me, I rise; knee up, you grip. Giro, I lean back, you pull me up, you are strong, I trust you. I love your eyes. Ocho, then rest, lean and gancho, I flick my leg round yours, it’s hot, too hot. You push me upright, you stoke my face, I like it when you stroke my face, your hands are cool. I lock your eyes, you lock my eyes. I’m supposed to back away, I can’t back away, I am locked.” She choked briefly on her words, her voice drying. He flashed a mischievous grin.
The hall door swung open, Clive staggered in.
“You all right then? How’s it going Fred me old fox?”
“Pretty good bah, she’s probably in love with me by now!”
“Fred? What ‘appened to Alfredo?” she asked colouring as she did so.
“Ah, that’s my professional name. Same time next week?”
In January, a tweet came through via the Stradbroke Web site, saying that the swimming pool had updated their page. If people wanted to sign up for the Great East Swim, they could do so and train at Stradbroke pool. With an impending 50th birthday, it being winter and feeling like there was plenty of time ahead, I signed up. At this stage I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. Although I knew I could swim like a girl; head out of the water and was not afraid of swimming in the sea, lakes or streams; I had no concept of how far a mile is when swimming. I walk and cycle, but at my own leisurely pace and have learnt that a mile is a very different thing depending on how you are propelling yourself.
A few days later I turned up at Stradbroke pool, bought an everyone active card and went into my first training session. Then the penny dropped. These people were very good swimmers, take part in competitions, do triathlons and there was me; never done crawl, never mastered face in the water breast stroke either. However, they were friendly, Len the coach was great at trying to turn my uncoördinated mass of wheeling limbs into some sort of stroke and steadily I started to make progress. Without the lovely James Zarro at Gilmour Piper, sorting my neck out, I may not have passed first base. Learning to breathe and turn my head, was testing parts that hadn’t been tested before.
A few weeks later, I signed up to use the pool at Framlingham College and started using the Take to The Streets website to provide training plans; which I followed religiously. From then on, I have swum three or four times a week, most weeks. Gradually building up my distance and stroke technique.
Then in early May, I swam at Spitchwick on Dartmoor and later in the month started swimming at Fritton Lake. I really wanted to swim crawl, having learnt how to; but despite changing to an Orca wetsuit from Wiggle I still struggled.
Along the way I have tweeted, facebooked, blogged and foursquared my activities.
Yesterday was the big day. Walking towards the lake it was clear that the day was squally, lumbering clouds, gusts of wind, patches of blue sky that whisked away as soon as they appeared.
Watching the Yellow wave leave, gave a fair idea of the conditions and I was lucky enough to meet another newbie who happened to work for British Gas, the event sponsors. We teamed up to get changed and generally support each other going into the holding pen and acclimatization zone.
Once the hooter went it was each to their own. I had taken the advice of others, held back and to one side to enter the water so as not to be swum over by faster swimmers. The route out to the first three buoys (about 600m) was hard work, into the wind, very choppy and a couple of stern chats to myself about ‘not finishing is not an option’ were required before finally making it round the bend.
Once being chased by the wind, a different problem occurred, a feeling of overtaking myself as my legs were lifted by the following waves. Around about 800m, I was convinced someone was splashing me, it was a torrential downpour.
At the 1200m point, I was expecting us all to turn for the orange buoys at the shore as instructed when we left, due to the weather; but we were told to keep going to the next yellow buoy and actually by then I was feeling in my flow. This was the point when the best of the white wave started passing me and by the time I went through the timing arch there were a few whites coming through too.
My time was 53:17, I don’t think the elites who do it in 14 minutes need worry. The light purples below are the sub 30 minute crowd.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me with chats and sponsored me along the way – you are great.
Would I do it again? Well, in a moment of madness I made an Olympic 2012 pledge to do it next year and the one after.
What would you suggest?
The theme this week on Illustration Friday is ‘expired’. In my mind was the image of all the chocolate people have given up for Lent, being burned on a pyre. Earlier this year when I started my #f450 campaign to be fit for fifty I gave up a variety of foods; I did feel better for it and now stay off meat during the week. The rest of the foods have crept in and my weight has stabilised at the new level. I might have another bash at losing some more. For now, I am hoping that swimming longer distances the weight will come off without the need for more dieting.
Today I completed the next block in my swim training. That was a 600m crawl, continuous without breaks. When I started this I could not complete one length in crawl so I am quite pleased. However, I did terrify myself by watching part of the great swim TV programme on Chanel 4 this morning perhaps that spurred me on……. The YouTube below is from last year’s Great East Swim; just remember to substitute the rather fit young people in it for a middle-aged woman!
The downside of my new found enthusiasm for getting fit is that I have been around less to blog/tweet and leaving the best camera on the other side of the country means only iphone photos. However, I have taken out the old Sony Cyber shot and dusted it off. I was certainly glad to have it with me yesterday for the sunset; which was blood red, filling the landscape.
I won’t do a list of the detox food each day as I did in the first week as people will have got the basic idea by now. However, I will try and photograph the odd dish or put the recipe down in a bit more detail occasionally.
The bike is now back in regular use which means at least 3 days of about 7.5 miles; as the evenings become lighter I hope to come home on longer routes to maximise the exercise. The swimming remains ‘interesting’. I am still using the take to the streets training room schedules; but floundering badly when it comes to breathing in the crawl. I am pleased tonight’s schedule is about arms and keeping the face up so I can see what I am doing.
After my blog on Saturday ‘Guilty not Innocent’ I couldn’t resist this competition on Innocent’s web site and entered with “If I’m lying in a ditch and you’re reading this – Take me home”.
#f450 swift update……
Good news; the session on the Wii fit proved to me that the back pain was a strain from badminton. I admit resorting to the brufen but even better news the pain has now gone, so the yoga session probably helped pull things back into their rightful place. Yesterday was a lazy day exercise wise, just dog walking and housework. Food yesterday; breakfast the usual porridge and honey, lunch was home made leek and potato soup and for supper I actually used a recipe book. I concoted a ‘bake’ with veggies in the base and a topping which is basically a hummus of chick peas, tahini, garlic, herbs and lemon. The end result looks suspiciously like a pie when cooked but actually I didn’t find the combination of textures that pleasing. I think I would rather have kept everything raw and just dipped the veg in the hummus; saved on the electricity and the wait. Today I made watercress soup, which I love. I haven’t worked out what to do for supper; some kind of chilli I reckon.
Today I went back to Stradbroke for my second swim as part of a group with a coach. I am still very much the newbie amongst a group of experienced swimmers. If I can just master swimming and breathing in crawl this could all come together yet – otherwise I will be a drowned thing in June.
Now back to the question setting for the next quiz at Saxtead, 29th, 7.30pm – book in advance on 01728 685 064
Day 5 of detox has passed and I am beginning to feel like I am in the groove. It was a home day for me, which would normally mean fridge raiding for cheese and as many cups of tea as I care to make. Instead I had the usual porridge breakfast, left over Thai soup for lunch and made a curry of sag aloo, bombay aloo and a mushroom dahl; all served with rice. I also managed the dog walking and an hour of yoga/aerobics and fun on the wii.
Whilst on the subject of dog walking; my pet peave is rubbish slung from cars. Every few weeks I pick the darn stuff up; but seriously if people can drive a car surely they can drive their bloomin rubbish home or to the nearest bin and not sling it out of the window of the car.
Framlingham College has a large pool which allows public access via Framlingham Swimming Club. Their website explains that the college is taking over the standing orders side of things; I hope the basic times and other arrangements will not change too much as this all fits well with the training plan I have set through take to the streets. Yesterday the plan required me to do a total of 400m as a warm up, then a focus on technique and then a cool down. The advantage of the college pool over Stradbroke is it is closer to home and longer. The disadvantage is no coach there to tell you if you are doing things right. I am sure the others must wonder what I’m doing as I keep stopping to rest per the plan and don’t swim neatly as each length you focus on some skill. This time it was trying to do crawl not letting the stretched hand drop until the swimming hand has touched it. – Remember I had not attempted crawl until last week so I must look like one of those wind up bath toys.
Food – Porridge and honey as normal; Lunch: salad, oat cakes with pesto, fresh pineapple, almonds. Supper: Thai style noodle soup; mushrooms, sweet potato, bean sprouts, carrots, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk, rice noodles.
Day 3 – the back pain continues and then there’s the ethics…..
One of the considerations in this detox is the ethics. I am tending to eat more foods than usual that are out of season eg salads and imported fruits; but January is rather like that at the best of times. Then there is the palm oil issue. This stuff turns up in the unlikeliest of places; like oat cakes. Finally I have found some made with olive oil and stocked by our local co-op so much happier about that.
Food: Porridge and honey again.
Lunch was quinoa with the remains of the chickpea casserole stirred through and cucumber and fresh tomatoes added.
Supper was a stonking great risotto with sweet potato, aubergine, tomato and leeks.
Managed 2 miles of walking, 7.54 on the bike and 14 lengths of swim training.
Yesterday was a low exercise day, just two miles with the dog.
Food was much the same as yesterday but for supper it was crispy roasted potatoes and parsnips with chickpea creole casserole and cabbage.
The headache is now properly gone but all day my lower back ached, was this from the badminton or is it my Bowman’s capsules telling my kidneys ‘things have changed’? I may never know which but I hope it will go away today. The ache did make getting to sleep harder, but that could also have been because I was out late at a meeting, so my head was spinning. Still managed a good six and a half hours uninterrupted tough.
I had planned to do a detox from mid January to mid February long before the swim idea came up. I have done this before and was really pleased with the results. However, I know I have to be feeling strong and happy before I start and preferably not have anything on the social calendar for at least the first week. So Day 1 was yesterday 18th January. The rules are simple no meat, fish, dairy, wheat, tea, coffee or alcohol and avoid processed foods especially sugars as much as possible.
Breakfast – Porridge made with water and manuka honey
Lunch – Salad, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, green pepper, carrot sticks. Almonds and dried berries and satsuma to follow.
Snack – Oat cakes, with green pesto
Supper – Enormous veg curry, sweet potatoes, swede, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, butter beans, tomatoes with rice.
Feeling physically good; but as expected, a gnawing headache which cleared after my foggy morning walk with the dog.