So here we are, over 2,800km into my 'trip' and it is time for my end of month 'wildcard challenge'! It seemed fitting to Coach Tom apparently that as I was nearing Lima, overlooking the Pacific Ocean that it was time for a 'watery week'. The challenge?
"To cover at least 10km of your distance this week in, or on water - and it must be outside"
Quite the opposite then of last week where I was told to do at least one indoor pool session! But that suited me, as I am much preferring my open water swimming. That said, the April weather had taken a bit of a turn, with the water temperature dropping back down again by about 0.5 deg per day. Add in the cold wind and my distances swimming outside were going to be a bit less than last week I thought. How to make sure I achieved my challenge? Well of course my newly added in sport of paddleboarding!
But before all that, let's check in with where I am in terms of distance, and did I manage to achieve my challenge?
The distances this week are looking like this:
So that's a yes to achieving my challenge - covering a total of 11.6km in the water!
I had decided to take a full week off running given the training time I was having to spend on my other disciplines, and also it was an unusually busy week with work. Not a bad idea too to give my niggly achilles a bit of a break now and again.
But onto the watery activities! Well as a GoPro novice, not only have I been navigating how to set up the various shooting modes, but also getting my head, quite literally around how and where to attach the camera for my various activities. I really wanted to capture the joy I feel when swimming and looked at various YouTube videos for inspiration. I wondered why no-one was using the headcam attachment for this and we are probably about to find out why...
I felt very creative adding an extra layer of security to my new camera friend by cutting a hole in an old neoprene swim cap to make sure that the head strap (think miners helmet type affair) wouldn't slip off my head mid swim. Much as I am keen to capture the beauty of the Serpentine, I thought my lovely solo swimming buddy, Nerina, would be a lot more forgiving of my camera experiments at a swim in the Thames at Teddington.
So here is the aforementioned 'seasick' footage'! I now realise why headcams are better suited to sedate breaststroke swimming, and not so much to the side to side breathing motion of front crawl! This clip shows both perspectives, from the slow dip and front moving stroke as I enter the water....through to 'whoah, the river is upside down!'
But watch it through to the end if only to see our life guard doggie appearing for duty.
I'm loving the various capabilities of the GoPro, including the ability to capture any frame of a video as a photograph. I went a bit 'arty' with some of these, but also looking back at them realised how brown the Thames is! Best not to think about it...
Well that was 4.2km done in the water, and so now to make up the distance by other means...
I like to think I am making another tenuous South American reference by the fact that I went paddleboarding in Paddington. I mean wasn't that little bear from darkest Peru?
I hired a board to go along Regents Canal, although paddleboards can only go west on this water channel so as to avoid the long tunnel at Maida Vale. I was happy with that option as it means avoiding the numerous 'Go Boats' full of people drinking and not really looking where they are going as they head towards Camden. I definitely didn't need any more obstacles to navigate as the board I was given seemed to be a lightweight racing one, which certainly challenged my balance! In fact at one point as the board went over a piece of floating driftwood and it caught the fin at the back I was thrown forward and almost went into the canal. Quick check, no-one looking? Phew.
Needless to say there are endless videos I have to go through courtesy of my GoPro, but here are a couple of the photos which I think captured the serenity of this afternoon.
And the other water themed highlight of my week? During a wardening shift at my beloved Serpentine swimming club I checked in Duncan Goodhew for a swim.
He's a bit of a childhood swimming hero of mine, and what a lovely man too.
Denise Yeats is an events director, communications consultant, endurance athlete and avid adventurer.