It's been a much needed lower volume week after my long hilly race last weekend.
My swimming was also reduced due to the presence of blue green algae at the Serpentine, shutting the lido down until it clears. Although this initially caused me panic to think of how I felt during Covid closures, it then afforded me the opportunity to return to my initial open water swimming location in London, the mixed ponds at Hampstead Heath. This is a lovely oasis of calm a short bike ride away from my flat. I can see why there has been such a furore that the City of London have doubled the entrance fee to swim here, however, which takes away from its accessibility for so many people. I feel very lucky to have my £20 Serpentine membership which allows me to swim any morning I like (blue green algae aside of course!) Once in the water though, with only another half a dozen swimmers around me I was embracing this change of scenery for my swim.
I also used this week as an opportunity to get some more paddleboarding in with some paddling along the Grand Union Canal. There was another glimpse of nature in action here as I could see the effect the warm weather we did a few weeks back has had on the water - a multiplying of duckweed on the surface. It's a bizarre feeling as you go through this bright green carpet lying on the canal. Apparently back in 2016 the Canal River Trust removed over 70 tonnes of the stuff which deprives wildlife of oxygen.
So the reduced distances look like this:
This distance would now find me at La Serena in Chile. Founded in 1544, it is the second-oldest city after Santiago and the thriving capital of the Coquimbo Region. Blessed with both beautiful architecture and a long golden shoreline, the city absorbs hoards of Chilean holidaymakers in January and February, though it is fairly peaceful outside the summer rush. Sauntering through downtown La Serena reveals dignified stone churches, tree-shaded avenues and some pretty plazas. Some of the city's architecture is from the colonial era, but most is actually neocolonial – the product of Serena-born president Gabriel González Videla's 'Plan Serena' of the late 1940s.
I also completed my 'Menopause for Athletes' course this week.
Delivered by Stacy T. Sims, Ph.D., this course gives the science-based knowledge and research needed to understand the changes happening to your body and give the strategies needed to optimise your performance and health. Prior to her life as a key researcher and author in this area, Stacy served as an exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist at Stanford University where she specialised in sex differences with environmental and nutritional considerations for recovery and performance, specialising in women's health and performance.
There were 57 chapters of enlightening content in this course, covering the science behind these hormonal changes, and how to adapt nutrition and training to work with your body, not against it. I am very much realising that most research on training and nutrition has been created for men and simply scaled down for women. As Stacy sums it up 'Women are not small men'. I will be putting this knowledge into practice not only for my own training, but for women I coach.
On the subject of certification, I stumbled upon this other little gem below 'awarded' to me by my creative friend Moz, after he and Dawn were my support boat crew in one of my loch swims in Scotland back in 2001. As I sent a shot of it to him he mused "nothing much changes, does it?"
This week also saw the welcome return of some activities that had been affected by Covid restrictions. I had my first sports massage in over 6 months, which was heaven after last week. Not only Covid, but mostly financial resources had prevented me from having regular massages, and I definitely felt the benefit after this one. It was made all the sweeter by the fact that my lovely friend Martin had surprised me by booking in two credits for me for massages after my recent race. Cheers Martin!
But the highlight of my week had to be my first face to face singing lesson in over 18 months. Prior to that I had been going to singing teacher Matt Thompson at least twice a month, and to his choir every week. My friend Tracey and I went to Matt to indulge our love of singing and managed a duet of 'Everybody's Talking' within the hour. And oh it felt wonderful! There is also a choir get together and singalong planned for next week and I can't wait. I have such fond memories of when we performed some songs as part of my 50th party back in 2018. As someone commented looking at this photo recently "Wow, look how close together we are there!" Bring it on!
Denise Yeats is an events director, communications consultant, endurance athlete and avid adventurer.