Waddle, waddle, splash

I appreciate that pregnancy is a binary state – you either are or you aren’t, there’s no being ‘a bit pregnan’t – but over the last week or so, I have felt Very Pregnant. Certain movements, bending forward to reach something when I’m sitting down for instance, are somewhat hit and miss and are often accompanied by a chorus of ‘ooooofs’, ‘bloody hells’, or sometimes even ‘ooooof, bloody hell’.

It’s a bit of a cliche, but one of the times where I feel slightly less lumbering is in the swimming pool. Just as the penguin is a bit ungainly and waddly on land, but sleek and gymnastic in the water, I am a bit ungainly and waddly on land, but a bit less ungainly and waddly in the water. I am still managing a nice 20 lengths on my trips to the baths, albeit a bit slower than before, and am now 65% escaped from Alcatraz. I think I would like to complete my daring swim to freedom by my due date.

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Me at the pool

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve also been looking ahead and doing some forward planning (conveniently ignoring the last couple of weeks of pregnancy, the actual birth and the first couple of months with a newborn baby). This has partly been triggered by other bloggers (particularly the inspiring words of I run because I love food) and hearing about Australian cricketer Sarah Elliott, who was back in the gym after six weeks and scored a Test century in between breastfeeding. I will concede that it’s probably a bit late in the day for me to contemplate an international sporting career and if I’m totally honest, at the moment the concept of running for a bus is as unimaginable as running an ultra. However, there’s only me that can make it happen when the right time comes and so I’ve been pondering my return.

My ultimate goal is an autumn half (to keep up my ‘half-marathon a year’ that I’ve done accidentally for the last three years). This might be helped along by the Lancaster Race Series Wagon and Horses 10 miler. We were up in Lancaster a couple of weeks ago when we saw the organisers setting up this year’s race, and I’ve always got time for an event that starts and finishes at a pub…

The other news that’s made me a bit excited is that I have a new local parkrun at Cuerden Valley. The inaugural event was last Sunday and I did consider having a waddle down, only to fall asleep instead. I’m not sure how the route works, but it looks intriguing and I assume that it will be somewhat undulating. Either way it’s a lovely setting for a run (it’s where I did one of the Badger 10k series¬† and I last ran there in the snow during this year’s Janathon) – country park rather than municipal park, and it’s handily close to the M6 for all you parkrun tourists out there.

Juneathon day sixteen: Alcatraz

Today was another watery day. One of the local pools opens at 7.30 and somehow I managed to be in the water by 7.45. I had been expecting it to be pretty quiet, but it turns out that at that time of the morning it’s full of of a more mature demographic (to quote my manager on our Christmas do “It’s like Cocoon in there…”).

I ploughed up and down doing my usual 24 lengths (but in a 2 x 10 +4 format, instead of my usual 6 x 4), taking a break after the first ten. As I lounged and did some strange underwater stretching things that I always do in the shallow end (despite them having no purpose at all), one of the more mature ladies hopped out of the water with a grace and agility that I can only dream of (when it was time for me to leave, I heaved myself onto the side and then had to roll over into a standing position). As she dangled her feet in the water, she told me that, until last week, she hadn’t swum for thirty-odd years.

Apparently she does a lot of walking, but fancied something different. Her first love is golf, but apparently when you get to her age, all the ladies are “all crocked with new hips and new knees and spondylosis…”. We had a bit of a natter and she finished off my telling me that they didn’t bother with swimming lessons when she was young (“…about a thousand years ago, before the war…”) you were just chucked in the water and got on with it.

Even though swimming is just a question of getting chucked in the water and getting on with it, these days it doesn’t count unless you have an app for it. My app of choice is Splashpath (which also has a desktop version). Basically, it’s a database of swimming pools, some of which have the pool timetables available (all of mine do, which is really handy) and you can record your swims dead easily.

It also has challenges… You can record your swims to show how far you are along various waterways and the like. At the moment I have completed 55% of my swim from Alcatraz.

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Apparently I’m aiming at the Golden Gate Bridge, which seems a slightly daft escape route as this clearly isn’t the nearest point on the shore.

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Given that there no one is known to have escaped Alcatraz and survived (and that it has taken me over a month to get this far) I don’t hold out much hope for this being an effective plan for the future.

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Juneathon day nine: foreign swimming

When we went swimming last weekend, I realised that my emergency-purchase Sports Direct swimming costume would not last me much longer. I wasn’t quite breaking any decency laws, but it was pulling me forward a bit so I was starting to look like a Hunchback of Notredame tribute act. A new one was called for and a bargain one found in the Debenhams sale.

Body: Not blogger's own.

My new costume. Body: Not blogger’s own.

This morning I peeled off the “for hygeine reasons…” label and took it for a test swim at the baths down the road from my mate’s house. This was a very straightforward pool, no moving floors, no changing villages, no fancy water features. Just a 25m pool with no nonsense white tiling and two diving boards (at 11′ 8” in the deep end, you don’t need adjustable floors…). Oh and some slightly scary sea creatures painted on the walls; a frog apparently joy riding on a jetski, a slightly stoned looking dolphin and (my favourite) a shark whose smile said “I want to be your friend”, but whose eyes said “I want to rip you limb from limb”.

I enjoyed a pleasant 22 lengths with breaks for socialising and the heightened danger that comes from having an aerial bombardment of small children diving fearlessly from the board.

Juneathon day two: Swim

I have a chequered swimming history. As a small child I was rubbish in swimming lessons (too easily distracted) but didn’t let this stop me jumping into the deep end of swimming pools without wearing arm bands. And not being one to let optimism be outweighed by experience, I didn’t do this on just the one occasion… If nothing else, I proved at an early age that I wasn’t a witch. Eventually, I did get the hang of floating and even notched up a few swimming badges along the way, but I haven’t swum much as a grown up.

We’re lucky enough to have two pools in reasonable distance and I have graced both with my presence recently. Some things seem to¬† have altered somewhat while I’ve been away, I’m still somewhat fazed by the concept of a ‘Changing Village’ for instance. Anyway, this morning we made it into the water by 9 o’clock and had just enough time for 22 lengths before it started to fill up at what we call Noodle Time (when families appear with various floats and small children chase after things thrown for them, like excited spaniels in the park). Three lanes of the pool are dedicated to lane swimming, but I’m still too nervous to even consider splashing my way down one of those. I do however look on in awe at the Amazonian women in the fast lane; they are broad of shoulder, sturdy of thigh and look like they could wrestle an alligator should one be foolish enough to venture into the baths.

No one wants to see a picture of me in a swimming costume, please accept a knitting flipper-wearing meerkat as an alternative.

No one wants to see a picture of me in a swimming costume, please accept a knitted flipper-wearing meerkat as an alternative.

Oh, and Flymos… Well, when the Flymo was first invented, people weren’t too convinced by the concept. Until then, lawn mowers had been feats of engineering brilliance, built to last and weighing a ton (at one point they were categorised by the amount of pulling power needed to shift them – one man, man and boy, two man, one horse, one elephant etc). The funny-looking Flymo was made of plastic, seemed flimsy in comparison to what people knew and the public needed convincing. The Flymo people went door to door inviting the ladies of the house to have a go with it in order to demonstrate just how simple and light-weight it was to use. Clearly knowing where the decision-making power lay in most homes, they asked 5000 women what colour they would like their grass cutter to be and the resounding answer was orange. Well it was the Sixties.