Surely it won't be long before the dog is upstaging me...
it's all good. I reckon I can get the whole family trained up to keep
things ticking over here while the new series of I'm a Celebrity is on.
Before I hand over the reins to the Old Man, his suggestion for a post struck
me as a nice idea for others to join in with. Hopefully it will give you
more of an insight to our family life, and I'm a nosey beggar - I'd love to
know what your partner's obsession hobby is while you're busy
reading or writing blogs, or endlessly twittering away on social media.
So, if you can persuade your other half to write a post about what makes them
tick, or if you can write one on their behalf, please do link up below with
'How the Other Half Lives'.
further ado, I give you....the Old Man...
When I used to play regular Sunday and Saturday football
there was nothing I HATED more than cold showers. I could not stand it... But
it was a necessary evil that you often had to subject yourself to in exchange
for 90 minutes of running, kicking and falling over (this is how my daughter
describes my footy technique having seen me play once – her powers of
observation and insight are sublime, unlike my skills on the field of play).
Old father time finally caught up with me last year. After two years out I
donned the boots for a final swansong season - it lasted two matches. But in
all honesty after the first 5 minutes I knew that my legs, strength and most
worryingly, my desire, had gone. So I hung up the boots at the grand old age of
Of course the OH was delighted. Secretly I was devastated and
have since been desperately seeking to fill the void. Not only for the
chest-aching exhaustion from stretching every sinew in your body to breaking
point, but the sense of personal triumph (and failure), the companionship and
camaraderie and the feeling of freedom for 90 minutes a week. I am pleased to
say I have resisted the obvious transition into golf or donning garish
lycra and spending thousands on a push bike, or fast cars, or even looking for
other forms of excitement :-). But my regular diet of circuit training, squash
and the occasional run have left me strangely lacking. Until recently….mid life crisis I hear you say… read on and then judge for yourself.
On 13thOctober I joined an old mate who’d organised the
inaugural ‘The Swimmer’experience. Pitched as a gentle meander through
London’s ponds, lidos and parks - it is in fact a half marathon with a
difference. Was this the mid life crisis kicking in? I am not sure, but the
attraction for me was to do something different - once - have a run through
London and get the opportunity to go for a dip in the Serpentine, something I
was unlikely to ever repeat again.
Epiphany may be too strong a term, but something
happened during our journey on 13thOctober….
I met my fellow intrepid explorers at 07:00 at
Hampstead station (yes 07:00, and yes it was the weekend, and yes its 30 miles
and a one hour drive to get there). I was so excited about the adventure, but
it was short-lived and soon replaced by a totally different sensation! My first
experience of cold water swimming was plunging into the icy waters at
Parliament Hill. Even though I am told it was a veritably barmy 14 degrees, I
thought I was literally going to die when I jumped in the water.
It is difficult to articulate quite what that first moment
felt like, when I struggled to breathe in or out and I thought my heart had
stopped. But it soon dissipated and I managed to complete a couple of lengths
of the pool.
After a gentle 5 mile run to Hyde Park (what a glorious sight the streets of
north London are at this time of the morning) we took a dip in the Serpentine
courtesy of their swimming club,
who kindly welcomed us as guests for the day. It felt colder again, but
swimming in the Serp alongside my fellow Swimmers, and a swan or two, was an
stop Tooting Bec! The final leg of the journey was somewhat more arduous, with our numbers dwindling, conversation drying up,
and the mean streets of south London taking their toll on my ankles and knees.
Never has Tooting Common been such a welcome sight, with the lido tucked away
alongside the South London railway line as it snakes its way through the suburbs. The pool itself is a monster,
looking 12,000m long rather than 120m and feeling like it was -120 degrees... I
was too cold and too tired for a proper swim, but I had a little paddle and
next time I am determined to do a length… did I say ‘next time’?
I certainly did. Tomorrow (November 10th) is The Swimmer 2, when it will be colder and harder no doubt.
So I have been 'training', or at least seeking out places to
swim. In a recent visit to County Cork I took the plunge at Lough Abisdealy and
Lough Hyne (perhaps where the epiphany really happened) and have since been
scouring Google Earth for the local spots for some wild swimming. The wilder
and colder the better.
I was blown away by the sense of community evident
at the Tooting Bec lido and the welcoming nature of the cold water swimming
movement that I never knew existed. The Outdoor Swimming Society has over 9,000 members each one with a passion for
this way of life and willing and able to give friendly and useful advice.
In short I am hooked. Tomorrow will be the latest step in my
cold water journey. This time 20 of us, of all abilities and
motivations, and we will experience another of London's great lidos at Brockwell,
with the promise of tea and cake at the end!
This is no mid life crisis, but it has been life-changing for
me. If you too want to feel A-L-I-V-E, try cold water swimming. Adrenalin,
exercise, endorphins, companionship, adventure all available at a lido, lake,
river, pond, sea front near you... You would be mad not to try and I promise
you won't be disappointed.
Please do join in and link back here with How the Other Half Lives...