Westward Ho! has a sea pool. We had viewed it from afar but never ventured in. It looks cold and a bit uninviting to be honest and a little bit sad in comparison to the beauty of a sea pool we visited over in Bude a couple of weeks ago. The problem with Bude of course, is that is in Cornwall and we are in Devon, over 30 miles away.
However, after just two weeks fighting in the over heated swimming pool at Northam, Westward Ho! suddenly start to look a lot more attractive.
After a welcome rest day on Monday, our schedule for Tuesday was for a steady run and swim. G and I (after enjoying an extra hour in bed) decided we would combine both and headed off to the South West coast path for a run, finishing at the salt water pool to cool off.
The pool was blissfully quiet. One older chap swimming widths in his wetsuit and a couple of kids playing on inflatables. The pool is trapezoid in shape, the longest ‘length’ is diagonally across. But that would have interfered with all the other users so we opted to copy the old gent and swim widths.
After the hot and humid run, the pool was deliciously cold. We’d worn tri kit and relied on the salt water for buoyancy rather than a wetsuit. The salt didn’t protect us from the cold though and after half an hour we got out and moved over to the sea which was surprisingly warmer. We are lucky to have all of these swimming options.
Wednesday was a shortish heart rate zone 1 ride. G and I thought we’d combine it with a few shopping chores rather than drive into town. I got a bit of a bollocking for that one. ‘ Try and do it all in one go’ Jon said, ‘especially the shorter sessions’. Point taken.
The following day was a skills swim and for this we had no choice but to head back to the indoor pool. It was unfortunate that I managed to punch a bloke in the head during the fist drills. He wasn’t even in my lane. It was a good metaphor for how I feel about being in public pools. I did hit the session for the first time in my swim sets so it wasn’t all bad.
Later that day G and I headed to the park in Bideford for run speed work. 3 lots of 1km reps followed by one 3km run with a suitable warm up and cool down. The laps we though would be around a kilometre turned out to be much shorter. As I watched G pass the start point again and disappear off into the distance, I lost heart and stopped where I was. The psychological equivalent of a refusal.
Being fat and reasonably unfit I figured that k reps were probably beyond me right now and so completed them as 800m’s instead. To be honest, out of all the training this week, this was the day I’d feared the most. ‘You should have told me’ said John, I could have amended it’. But if I allowed fear to rule my life, I probably wouldn’t have achieved half of the things I’d set out to do. So, I declined and said that I’d attempt the schedule as set. ‘That’s the spirit’, Jon replied.
Friday’s spin was also a speed work of sorts. Five times five minute efforts followed by five minute recoveries. Much more up my street and although tired, I completed them comfortably.
On Saturday G and I headed back to Woolacombe for the parkrun. We got there early and took the opportunity to head off for a couple of warm up miles before the run. We met a lady picking blackberries from the bushes along the path. Although it was still relatively early, she held a carrier bag almost half full, a great haul. We also met several runners and cyclists heading along the South West Coast path towards a Woolacombe. The bank holiday combined with beautiful weather swelled the parkrun numbers to a record amount.
I’ve written at length about Woolacombe parkrun. The goal for today was to enjoy it and work hard on the flat action across the beach. Aiming for consistency of pace and significant reduce the amount of walk breaks required. Both goals were met and although the run itself was on the slow side, I reckon it was probably my best run there to date. A little bit pleased for myself and on a high, G and I headed down to the beach for another sea swim, this time focusing on bi lateral breathing.
The water was clear and cold (we were too hot and sticky and knackered to think about getting wet suits on). We acclimatised quickly though and soon got on with the swimming. The sea was beautiful and we relished being in there. Swimming felt easy and relaxing. I felt at one with the ocean underneath me. It was a bit of an epiphany really. I felt safe rather than scared, even in the growing waves.
After a while though we started to get cold and headed out to dry off and make our way back up the dunes to the Porthole cafe where our van was parked.
Sunday’s long ride ended in a broken spoke. So much for our quest for hills. Fortunately for me, we were only a couple of hundred yards from the front door. So we headed home and into the garage for a very sweaty hour and a half on the spin bikes.
By the end, my quads were cramping and really grumpy. I ploughed on through, contemplating that I should have lied to Jon about the amount of time I have available for training. But we did it, G is faithfully accompanying me on all sessions at the moment, bless him. Week 3 finished, tired and happy and heading into an easier taper week next week.