Yesterday was challenging. Good challenging, mind. The sort of day that, when you’re done and know you have given it your all, squeezed every ounce of effort from your muscles, you know you can sleep happily, satisfied that it was a day well spent.
A couple of years ago, while stand up paddleboarding (SUP) at the Blue Mile event in Plymouth, I wondered if I would ever be able to swim a mile. Given that I am not a strong swimmer and have always been scared of deep water (for fear of toe nibblers), I put it on the ‘some other day’ list.
Arriving home post-Pacific in June and needing a short term goal, I decided some other day had arrived and that I ought to get swimming. I signed up for the Aquatriathlon in this year’s Blue Mile event. Swim, SUP, kayak – one mile of each. For training I clocked up a few hundred laps of our local pool and did a couple of river swims with handy tips from swimming machine Dan Martin.
As a warm up, I raced in the SUP mile on Saturday against Olympians Etienne Stott and Tim Bailie (winners of the C2 whitewater slalom in London this year) and loved it. As a rule, Sarah + ocean + paddle = happy, so to round the harbour wall and look across the Hoe into the late afternoon sun was deeply calming and invigorating at once.
Sunday’s triathlon was a mission and a half. I clocked my mile swim thanks to stamina rather than style and in spite of drinking heaps of the sea with every attempt at a breath as the waves chopped into my face. It was peaceful to look down into the greeny blues of the water, watching bubbles spinning off my wrists and the occasional fish glide by. I was happy to make it back to the transition for SUP and kayak, triumphant inside at having nailed my mile. What a great event – for the challenge, for the atmosphere, for encouraging folk out on the water.
And everyone knows, once you’ve nailed a mile and accepted there are mostly no toe nibblers in the water…there’s no stopping you.
Here’s my friend Dave Cornthwaite showing the world just that as he swims 1,000 miles down the Lower Missouri. As yet, no toe nibblers.
PS Triathletes, I salute you. Your game is hardcore.