Sarah’s week

I think I’d been a bit blasé about the Scilly Swim as I’ve been so wrapped up in cycling these last few months. It was only as we got into the water at the beach on St Mary’s at 6am on Saturday morning (to swim to St Agnes) with 15km of swimming ahead of us, that I started to feel quite daunted – although I was also super excited. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I’ve worked hard in recent years to overcome my fear of the sea and this was going to be my biggest test yet.
There are 5 significant islands. You swim from one to the other and then walk across to get to the next beach so you can swim on. The first leg was really about adjusting to the cold water (10 degrees) and starting to get in to the swing of the day, at 3500m it was a significant swim. After a stop, some refreshments, and with a fresh layer of Vaseline to keep wetsuit rubs at bay we got back into the cold sea to face the biggest swim of the day –to Sampson, a 5km leg. It was so cold my feet and hands were soon freezing and wouldn’t work properly, my face was so numb from being in the water I couldn’t feel my lips. I was kicking hard to try to keep warm. I’d been told by others to ‘enjoy the freedom’ of the deep water but frankly having been terrified of Jaws for my whole life it took all my mental strength to not opt to get in the boat away from my imaginary deepest fear. The water was deep blue and of course there was nothing to look at as you couldn’t see the bottom, the water was freezing and we were battling the swell – most the time I was swimming alone as we were all swimming at different speeds, it’s too cold to go at someone else’s pace – although there was always a safety boat or kayak in sight. Reaching the beach at Sampson couldn’t have come soon enough – it took 2 hours 15 minutes and I think I pretty much hated every minute other than the bit where I walked up the sand to the person holding the big tub of jelly babies!
It warmed up from there and the next legs were more pleasant as the water was warmer and shallower as we were closer to land – the ‘pod’ spirits were high and we were all enjoying finding out more about each other as we recovered and recharged between swims and as we walked to the next beach to start the next swim. There were all ages, everyone had their stories and reasons for the event – for some this was a warm up for a channel attempt and for others a charity event to raise money, or like me just something to challenge themselves.
The last leg from the beautiful St Martins back to St Mary’s was epic. Chop and swell all the way, tired from all the effort of the day – that 2.8km felt like the longest and hardest swim of my life. I swam the last 1km with my friend Sarah and we hugged in the water when we finished and walked up the beach to a round of applause from spectators, some of the organisers and the swimmers that finished before us. I’d done it. 15km of swimming, facing all kinds of adversity both internally and externally. The hot pasty we were given at the end tasted like the best thing I’ve ever eaten.

It’s quite normal for people to tell me I’m mad/nuts/crazy – and there’s something very special about being surrounded by other crazies who enjoy challenging themselves. I made some great friends this weekend, it’s a bonding experience when you share this kind of adversity and adventure and we partied hard the next night to celebrate. I learn a lot about myself and my limits each time I do something like this and the sense of achievement is huge.
Next stop, Lands End to John O’Groats…..

Sam’s week

This week was all about solo miles, as Sarah was off to the Scilly Isles to swim around the islands, an amazing challenge, but definitely not on my list of things to do, as I am not a lover of the swim, hence the reason I transitioned from triathlon to cycling!

The plan this week was to get out on the bike every day, whether it was a commute to work, or a 50 miler. Every day was going to be leg day. Tuesday and Wednesday were made up of early morning, commuting and gym warm up/cool down bike time. However, even with low miles, I wasn’t sleeping well and was feeling the strain of multi day riding, especially after the miles I had covered the previous week.

Thursday’s ride confirmed how tired my body was, after reaching about mile 10 I had no energy left and swiftly consumed a whole chia charge flapjack, without it touching the sides. It was the only thing that kept me going on what was a super tough 25 miles.

The weekend was made up of 50 mile rides, with energy lacking and motivation low, it was a real struggle, especially without my bike bestie to keep my mind from wandering. Meeting family for one of my cake stops on Sunday perked me up and made the remaining miles that day a lot easier, so a great support.

Monday miles were towards Exmoor, meeting my husband for a cake stop, before heading up over some super steep climbs to reach Wimbleball Lake. Glorious sunshine and views and my sense of humour and energy levels started to return. I even managed to bag a couple of QOMs on my climbing that morning, which I was super pleased about. An afternoon of kayaking on the lake, followed by beer and pizza were the perfect finish to a fantastic day.

I thought this week would be much easier, knowing that I would be keeping my mileage lower, but riding every day, but it wasn’t so and is exactly why our training needs to be mixed up. Sarah completed her epic swim, a very proud bike wife!!