Something goes in there... it comes out different

KKB and I planned a trip to Lennox Head this weekend, so I did my open water swim in an unfamiliar location, Lake Ainsworth. We'd stopped off at Byron Bay to find that the surf was larger than I'd like, and the pool closed for the winter.

When we checked in to our apartment we asked about the safety of swimming in Lake Ainsworth. He was forthcoming with a detailed explanation of how the water is therapeutic because of the abundance of Tea Trees in the area.

And that's how it started.

As I was getting into my wetsuit, KKB smiled at me and said, "Therapeutic. Maybe the water's like the water in the Boag's Draught ad, and you'll come out with big perky boobs."

It was one of those moments where a man says something and halfway through forming the words, it becomes apparent that he's now thought about what he's saying, and realises that his wife / girlfriend / other present female won't find it as funny as he did in his head. This time it was just as he was pursing his lips to begin uttering "perky".

I responded coolly under the circumstances. "Really? What else would you like me to come out with?"

"Nothing baby. You're perfect," the response came very quickly.

We started to talk about all the things I could come out with - the riding ability of Jens, legs like Fabian Cancellara. (Then I stopped, just for a moment, and thought a little more about Fabian Cancellara...) I even asked KKB whether he would mind if I came out like my "turn gay for" woman, Cameron Diaz. (Redundant question really.)

I realised this was only putting off the inevitable so I stopped talking and got down to business. I tentatively I eased myself into the water. It was cold. And dark. The helpful man at our apartments failed to mention that abundance of Tea Trees discolours the water a lovely tea-like brown.

I inched forward, up to my knees, thighs, hips, waist. Up to my chest, before pushing forward for my first stroke.

I could barely see my elbows through the water, let alone my forearms or hands. This water was dark.

It's often the swim that gets the better of triathletes, especially the fear of the unknown lurking beneath the water's surface. Although I've never really been too concerned about the presence of sea monsters or squirmy lake creatures, I still felt just a little proud of myself to be swimming blindly through this darkness by myself.

It was then that I realised that I'd never done an open water swim by myself before. Ever. I'd always done open water swims in larger groups. Like many things in life there is safety in numbers. Groups are more visible in the water than a solo swimmer, something that became increasingly important as a flotilla of small sailing boats launched into the lake and headed in a path that directly intersected my route. I easily avoided real danger, but when I returned to KKB I changed tack to avoid any catastrophe.

I crossed the lake a few more times, each time my face, arms and feet felt colder and colder; with each pass they bordered more and more on numbness. The air temperature that day was forecast as 21 degrees and I reckon the water could have been up to 5 degrees cooler. Not what the Athletic Powerhouse considers to be ideal training conditions.

It wasn't the most amazing training session, certainly it wasn't all that taxing physically. But there was something different about it.

I am usually an early morning trainer. This morning we woke to rain, and reorganised our day entirely - by the time I got to the edge of Lake Ainsworth, we were on to Plan D, and it was late in the day. The water was cold, and its colour was unsettling to say the least.

It would have been really easy to just give it a miss.

I didn't. I pushed through the cold, the glimmers of fear, and, just like in the beer ad, maybe I did come out different.

1 comment:

  1. This is what it's all about AP. Totally out of the comfort zone! I'm so impressed with your efforts; you amaze and inspire me!