Friday, 30 May 2014

52. 200m Freestyle

Event: 200m Freestyle
Date: 30th May 2014
Location: London Aquatics Centre, Stratford.  
Cost: £4.50 each
Rules:  Competitors swim four lengths of crawl as fast as possible. Some part of the swimmer must touch the wall at the end of each length and at the finish. Most perform tumble turns, somersaulting in front of the wall and pushing off with their feet.

The Event:

London 2012 Olympic Gold: 1.53.61, Allison Schmitt, USA.  
Sarah: 5.43.79
Ellie: 6.00.44
Sarah: We returned to the Olympic pool for event 52. It's a shame we don't get the lane to ourselves (!) as it was pretty busy tonight. We chose the medium lane, and managed to find suitable gaps in the traffic, though we had to mainly touch-turn so not to kick other swimmers in the face. My first attempt at the event went wrong after a disastrous dive forced my goggles and nose clip off; the latter sinking to the bottom of the pool, until a kind lady dived down and retrieved it for me. The second dive went more to plan, and I'm pleased with my time, although my pace was definitely lagging on the third length.  

Ellie: The pool felt cooler tonight and certainly busier... Why can't I pay my £4.50 and have the pool to myself? I don't think that's too much to ask... seriously though, it's really encouraging that you can pay as little as that and swim in a modern Olympic pool. 

I'm still taking it easy after my 20k walk experience so I'm really pleased with my time - I also really like it when my time is a round number! It did feel quite slow though and I didn't feel particularly at ease with breathing. I also only managed one tumble turn as there were so many people in the lane with me. We now need to gear up to the very long distances and with at least one 50m pool on the route for our annual 'All the Lidos' swimming day we should be getting those started before the midway point.

Monday, 12 May 2014

51. Road Cycling: Individual Time Trial

Event: Road Cycling: Individual Time Trial
Date: 11th May 2014 (Sarah) / 19th June 2014 (Ellie)
Location: Tour de Tendring (Sarah) / Essex countryside (Ellie) 
Cost: £17.50 entry fee (Sarah) / Free (Ellie)
Rules:  The road cycling time trial consists of a timed lap over a 29K course (or 18 miles), with the athletes starting in staggered 90 second intervals. The aim is to complete the course in the fastest time possible. 

The Event:

The Route
London 2012 Olympic Gold: 0:37.34, Kristin Armstrong, USA.  
Sarah: 1:38.52
Ellie: 2:15.00

Sarah: I recently dragged out my trusted mountain bike and started training for our road cycling events. I got the bike 17 years ago; it's built like a tank, as heavy as one too, but it's still in pretty decent condition, and I've loved getting reacquainted. It had a thorough service from the lovely volunteers at Wivenhoe Bike Kitchen and we've clocked up more miles over the last few weeks than we have over recent years. Cycling should be in my blood; my Dad was a keen cyclist since his first job working in a bike shop. He helped build the pro's bikes and accompanied the athletes on long test-rides to alter the set-up along the route. 

Dad on his racer
For as long as I can remember, cycling has been a permanent fixture in our house, and I regret only now starting to get the bug. I lost my Dad two years ago, and found this an emotional event to complete. Dad would have loved to have known about this Challenge, but particularly all the cycling events. How I would dearly love to pick his brain, hear more of his cycling stories, and really share his enthusiasm for the sport. 

I rode the race with my boyfriend Greg (riding Dad's old bike), and on the morning we were greeted with cold drizzle and strong gusts of wind. Rather than putting a dampener on things, the weather created a really great atmosphere. It was such a lovely feeling cycling along as part of a huge group. The memory of Dad was in my heart and mind as I drove down on the peddles and slugged my way up the hills. The route we were doing was 20 miles, so I timed myself over the first 18 miles to form the Olympic Time Trial course length. I wish I'd put a bit more pace into the first more conservative ten miles (I didn't want to burn out!), as I felt in the latter part of the race I really settled into a rhythm and was motoring along. It was strange doing the event without Ellie (she wasn't able to compete due to injury, but will be completing it soon), but I've definitely caught the cycling bug. I got home and looked up other, longer races in the coming months; I'm actually looking forward to training up to our 87 mile road race! 


As you know I had a tough time after the 20k walk race. So much so that I couldn't complete the Time Trial with Sarah on the 11th of May. Yesterday though, I jumped on my glorious 20 year old bike and headed out into Colchester. I was helped through the 18 miles by the Mapmyride app which has a lovely soothing voice which spurred me on each time I clocked up another mile. There were also some really lovely smells about yesterday - grass, flowers and seaside and some very pretty scenery. 
The cycle gave me so much to think about. What do you do if you want to cycle but don't have a bike? or a helmet? or you're unsure about cycle paths? or you have to change your regular route at short notice and don't know where to go? or what if the city you live in is just too busy? There are lots of things that I'll be thinking about before the long ride later in the challenge. Back to yesterday; it wasn't the nicest of summer days but it was still quite pleasant and it was really just the last 3 miles that caused me any issues - thinking about cheese and biscuits got me all the way home!