... so here are the official times:
I never really know what the points are all about – I guess if in a Club it goes towards determining which is the top club. But for Individuals like me, it's the time, and that alone, that is the marker.
I thought I might find it strange after so long without a competition - and I did.
There was a certain surrealism about getting on those blocks, and sometimes you just feel things and you can just tell how they are going to be.
I had to make a deliberate consideration of my start and getting into the 50 metres Free, whereas in days of old, all that would have been automatic. But I concentrated on NOT 'forcing', and thus tying up. So I suppose on later reflection, I was a bit too easy and relaxed off the block, and then I had a bit of a shock when I saw that a fellow, two lanes over, was not that much behind me. Now we were in with the slower entries, (yes you may call it 'sandbagging', but I call it 'having clear water to work with'), and that didn't exactly fill me with positive thoughts about my own pace.
So cutting a long, sad recount to the bottom line – I won, but the time was rather woeful. We will need to do more competitions to shake off some rust.
Certainly, as I said before this lame showing, nothing brings you on like competitions.
Only problem here for me is I have to find them, where I can compete as a US Master.
Having gone out the first 25 m so lazily, thankfully I did not 'die', as I feared I might, on the return 25 m (I didn't burn, down there either but I didn't die).
As I touched, my opponent in that other lane seemed some body lengths distant now but 'mental note' to self was, “more competitions needed for sure!!” I was unaware that there was an electronic display board, as it was something they had wheeled into place after I had swum the warm-up, so in honesty I don't really know what my time was, although someone said later they thought 30 something, so I will not make any excuses, I was just very slow and it may have been 30.99 for all I know. Need to get back around 28 or so, to feel right.
The 100 IM was as taxing as I had feared, and again I had an uncomfortable reality check when I turned onto backstroke and saw someone's leg-kick matching mine, level with me – oh dear !
The Breast-stroke was just an opportunity to get my breath a little, and the final 25 m Free was a bit of forced endeavour where one has the definite feeling one is going very slowly but just trying to hang on.
The time on that was 1:20:77 I think I recall accurately, but this one was really more a bit of 'training' and I knew it would be a good guide to my general fitness, and how much I need to do to get in shape – Plenty was the reply !!
So there you go – now I must look for another meet cos hopefully the more I do, the sooner I'll get back to some pace – fingers crossed.
Anyway, two entries, two medals.
Champion d'Aquitaine 2014, yo!
But, sadly, no “free shit” ... sorry, Alex!
Replies from MasterNatation advise that I can swim Sunday with my US Masters licence.
Now I'm in trouble … after all that 'saying what I'd do', given the chance, well they've bin and gone and dun exactly that.
But, we are Scottish and, having said I would swim, I will swim – nervousness after 4 years away notwithstanding, I shall show up and swim a 50 Free and a 100 I.M. and hang the consequences !!
So I only found out when I got back from the pool today, BUT I did swim today with the possibility in mind and, therefore, it was a leisurely loosening up session with very little order to it.
Obviously we're not trying for a 'taper', but any excuse to take it even easier than I normally do is A-OK with me.
So I believe I mentioned I entered times of 36 secs for the 50 Free and 1:28 for the 100 I.M. I will risk stating that I will post whatever times I record on Sunday, however embarrassing.
Saturday's session at my local pool will be very much a paddle around with one or two 95% efforts and, sooner or later, I will have to try a Fly to Back turn – I haven't done one for about 6 years.
Oh dear !
Well, here are some of the good points:
Hardly any traffic on the roads. Wide open and a pleasure to drive through. Hardly any people when you get out into the countryside, and it's a huge piece of real estate, so there's loads of room for all. Generally, spotless sidewalks and roads, and well-kept properties, and a minimum of graffiti evident and that only in the larger urban areas. So it is clean, fresh and charmingly decorative. A drive through the area around St Emilion did make me feel, at the time, that for anyone it would be food for the soul.
A fantastic Health Care system – Seriously, I think it may be the best in the world. Doctors are actually interested in helping solve 'whatever' you perceive as a problem. There is no dismissive, superior attitude about minor complaints and each is dealt with comprehensively and thoroughly. Their mission seems to be to find an answer, however trifling some other systems may consider your complaint.
And they have all the gear! The state sees to it that even outlying areas are equipped with the latest and, for example, on the roof of our local hospital serving a very limited rural population (although they have the latest gear, too) is a Helipad from which to convey serious cases to Bordeaux Hospital in about 7 minutes, I believe.
It really is something, their system, and one has to give credit where due. And here's an example: Dentist last week – two of us, full check up, 4 or 5 X-rays just to be sure, full cleaning and he took over 1 hour and a half. Cost 81 Euros, yes that is eighty one Euros, and the Health System refunded 70% of that.
He's the best dentist I've ever had. On a crown he took over 7 hours over 5 appointments, and he can do a root canal without any pain!! Total cost 480 Euros including the porcelain crown.
On Medical: Doctor's visits and such, they refund 90%. Prescriptions are similar but I forget exactly how much.
But the main thing is they 'care', they really want to solve the problem and will refer to specialists at the drop of a hat. Cost for roughly 1 hour with a specialist has been between 23-60 Euros depending on the issue. But that is refunded at around 70%.
So the health system is outstanding, as is their other pride and joy, La Poste.
A letter mailed today, even this afternoon from Bordeaux (in fact anywhere in France) will be delivered tomorrow morning. It is amazing. However, it might be explained by the fact that I think about 30% of the population work for La Poste, but nonetheless it is impressive.
And finally, I don't want to tempt fate but I'll just say that there is a more relaxed acceptance that not all goes their way and so serious arguments or aggression are rare. It is laid back, it is true – just have a watch of Russell Crowe's 'A Good Year' – it's not far from the truth, in fact the director living here in Provence has captured the feel of the place pretty accurately. Ridley Scott.
I'm waiting to conclude the farce of my entry for the 23 Feb competition, but we'll leave that for another day, and I'll leave you by referring you to some nice photos my wife took of our place.
Spring and summer are coming … I can feel it. 14ºC today and clear.
Here's the link: http://frenchcountryproperty.weebly.com/
Pool day tomorrow. Bonne soirée.
The French swim associations, Comité Aquitaine Natation and Master Natation (national, I think) – well, they're responding – sort of.
But never mind, in the meantime let's talk about a different kind of meet prep, and here's mine.
I listen to these guys from Manchester to get pumped, and they can play a bit.
I like to start off with something kinda mellow to ease into it, like “This Is The Time” and then I go to “All This Conflict” and then “Stranger's Hands” cos that's kinda how I am over here, competing with the French. But all the tracks are class; just click the “all songs”.
Seriously, DO LISTEN ALL THE WAY THROUGH, cos I am trying to help Dave, who may be reading - you remember Dave from my short story “Santa Barbara” - … well, late night show or not, he's kinda always behind the curve on sounds. So let's see if we can't get him out in front, for a change, with these guys on his show. I'll even play piano with them, if he wants.
The link here is absolutely safe, it's Reverbnation a portal for guys and ladies 'what' play music.
And if you're into Jazz/Blues smooth Soul, well the frontman, JV Johnston, has a killer solo album out, called “Knockturns”.
Now the swim folks have said, if I send them a copy of my licence, I can swim cos it's “open” - BUT I think they mean “a copy of my French” licence … we'll see.
And tomorrow I'm going to tell you all the positive things about living in France … yes, I am. And you may be surprised but there are many. So much so, that the relaxed and comfortably unstressed life here makes former worries and concerns a forgotten memory.
But, on contemplation, I can recall some, if not all.
A demain … the group is Mamma Freedom, on iTunes, Facebook, Twitter and working on their second, and double album right now, Listen … you will like.
I am going to stick strictly to the workout today. No commenting on my hosts, no, ... I am going to refrain from this negativity that has entered my narrative – disgraceful, I chastise myself.
No, nothing negative … but ... I will just observe that it is President's Day over there in the US of A, and I will simply say, 'How lucky you are !!'
OK, started out with 100 m loosen up – bit of this and a bit of that, and sometimes you know they add up – NO, no, hang on, I detect I'm slipping into Clouseau parody territory … this must stop, Non?
So all done, I felt I was particularly talented in the shower afterwards, if I do say so myself.
Haven't heard back from the folks I e-mailed re competing on the 23rd. Believe I already mentioned I was suggesting that, if they were not open to foreign entrants, I would go “hors concours” i.e. I don't count in the competition results. We'll see … but I have my suspicions … you see I suspect everyone, and I suspect no-one … Stop! I'm off on a Clouseau reverie again … but he was good! Sellers early ones I mean, lesser so the later, and then absolutely NOT the lame Steve Martin train-wreck – sorry, Steve, but you just don't want to come on after Peter Sellers; it was, as they say in England nowadays, “PANTS!”
Next workout: Thursday 20th Feb.
As you may have gathered, I sometimes find the bias of my French friends somewhat restrictive and infuriating. They're kinda, “if it's not French they won't touch it”... so anyway, I have a couple of pool acquaintances come round to the house, and I'm at lunch, and I go out and greet them with plate in hand and, as we're talking, I continue to dig through lunch with my silvery, metallic-looking knife and fork. So we talk and all that and, as I get towards the end of my dish, I find an outside garbage bin and chuck my knife and fork in the bin.
Well these guys look aghast ... and I can't resist it. “Oh, I only use my cutlery once and then I just chuck it,” I toss out as a farewell line, with a certain amount of Oscar Wilde-ish dismissiveness.
Just loved the look on their faces – Well now, to be honest, I was using this “whiz-bang looks like real cutlery” set called DisposaBling. Yeah, they're like those white plastic disposable cutlery that you use at picnics BUT they look like the “real thing” silver plate. Anyway, NO, I am not on the payroll, but when something like that works, I don't mind mentioning it (and I wouldn't chuck 'em normally cos they last pretty good, AND they look good.)
Like, for instance, and I guess I should have mentioned them before, my only swimwear choice and, of course, it's the best – SPEEDO.
I have a pair of their Futura BioFuse goggles and they give a perfect seal, great visibility and do save the fairly heavy pressure around the eye that I get when I use my competition SpeedSocket ones. Yes, of course, for competition it's gotta be Speedo SpeedSocket, no question.
Swimsuit wise, well I'm sure you all know the different styles and types so I'll just say it makes it very easy to go shopping when you know it's gotta be Speedo, … and their website is cool. No, I'm not on their payroll either.
So if any of you out there work for Porsche, by all means just send over ANY model for a year's evaluation and I'll give you my best opinion, I'll even buy my own gas.
Swim logic to today's ramble: you've got to keep a sense of humour and not get too fixated or obsessed with training.
When I start to get close enough to being able to compete, I get a bit impatient and, frankly, the training starts to get boring.
I need to find a competition, to assess how far away I am from where I want to be, and all the trundling up and down the pool is all well and good but it's not competing, and that's a whole different world - thankfully!
So yes I'm getting impatient to find out … so I'm going to try an e-mail to this competition on the 23rd at Tissot asking if I can compete “hors concours” as my approach to associate with a club has been rejected as “too complicated” … ??
You know there is nothing that brings you on in your fitness etc. more than competing. I swam a whole season once using the 'meets' as my workouts. The rest of the time I just paddled up and down at a local pool twice a week. But those 'meets' really worked for me.
OK today I did:
That was until I realized that there was no-one with a 'France' cap on in the pool, and so the pace clock was not switched on. Was quite worrying for a bit, cos 60 secs for a 25 m is not really going to cut it, is it?
Hope all in the US and England are warm and dry – terrible weather you are having. Here it has been a very mild (touch wood) winter with no days below 8 ºC or so. Today it is 13 ºC . So far we've been lucky.
Next pool day Monday, and I'll tell you as soon as I hear from Tissot, whether they'll let me swim.
Didn't really feel into it today, and that happens, and so I just let it roll on by, and do what I feel like.
That's the great thing about NOT having a coach. I get to choose when I put out, how much and what I will make my work-out up of.
Some guy, or gal, reading off a previously pondered script and sticking to it like it was written in stone … nah, don't think so. But for a few notable exceptions, there are not many coaches who win at swim meets … they get the swimmers to do that for them.
So I did:
Funny thing was that today this guy got the clock started AND he was swimming in that very lane with NO equipment - Mon Dieu!!
But there we are, he did have the France cap on … and on the pace clock he was averaging 46 secs for a 50 m Free, full stroke.
I did a little Google search on Starbucks, I was intrigued to know actually how much is the plainest cup of coffee there. Results came in at around $2.00 US.
I've been there once, and I think anyone could get more real coffee flavour out of just one of my short stories “Villa d'Este”, from my book, and that's only 99 cents for the whole thing … you can lead swimmers to the water, but you can't make 'em win.
Next workout day, Saturday.
I was thinking about what I had written yesterday, and it occurred to me that perhaps I should mention the other side, so to speak, of working out at the pool.
I do experience a fair amount of feedback from my body and, for example last night, now that I'm upping the intensity of effort and, as you may have noticed a little gradual increase in the yardage, I'm paying for that in a general way. Bit of stiffness, an amount of fatigue in the evening and a less than tranquil sleep; because I feel I want to keep stretching those stressed muscles – so a bit of tossing and turning.
Now the reason I'm mentioning this is that, normally, you hear all about what you should be doing, and all that wonderful stuff, from a source who is all positive, gung-ho, and never gets tired.
Well I do, I get tired; and if you do, it's 100% natural. It is also natural to get a bit fed-up with training, and that's why I keep mentioning the “just keep on, keeping on” because it is a way to kinda switch off mentally and just wait for the benefits to show up.
And remember, go just as far as is appropriate for your condition, right now – you can always move that up when you feel it's all getting too easy.
~ Author of fiction