I am swimming the length of Bala in 4 weeks.
When I have swum it one way, I am going to swim back again.
All in the same sitting.
In total this will be 6 miles or 10km.
My plan is that it will take me around 3 hours and 30 minutes.... That said, I'm aware that anything can happen on the day.
There are lots of variables that I can control and lots that I can't.
I know to practice my nutrition.
I know to make sure I am ok with the distance and my long swims.
I know that I can't control the weather.
I know that I can't control the water temperature.
To say the water temperature is currently freaking me out is an understatement.
I cannot get my head round it.
My long swims in the pool are fine - my speed is dramatically reduced - and actually, I'm fine with that, a slower pace suggests that I'm doing it right for the distance I'm undertaking.
That's a good thing.
I want to finish and if that means going slower, well, that's ok.
The problem with going slower means that I'm gonna be in the water for longer.
Now, usually, I would be ok with that.
Time in the water is ace.
Except, I'm struggling with the cold at the minute.
I'm struggling to stay in the water.
I am feeling the cold and starting to shiver while I'm swimming.
My tolerance for the cold is through the floor.
I can manage about an hour.
I need to be able to manage anything up to 4 hours.
I have 3 weeks to find 3 hours spare tolerance.
I can't work out if I'm being over-cautious and getting out too soon.
Suffer but NEVER surrender certainly doesn't apply to some aspects of open water swimming.
I do know that when I get out, I am shivering and my speech is starting to slur.
These are my tells.
So what do I do?
When I was swimming today, all I could focus on was the cold, the way my body felt.
I couldn't relax.
When I was walking down the side of the Quays, before I got in, I was apprehensive.
I'm now worried that I went in with the wrong mind-set.
Could I have done another lap?
Am I scared to test it?
I can't not be mindful of it though.
I have never experienced the cold the way I am currently.
Even winter swimming was easier than this.
I have swum in water that has been as cold as 2.5*, water that has been 5* and 8*
Today was reported to be 16*.
If I could only cope with 16* for an hour then I am looking at a DNF.
2 weeks ago, Bala was 11*
The only thing I can do, is work on my mind-set, get as much cold water exposure as I can, work on a pace I can sustain over the distance (I REALLY don't want to blow myself up on the day).... and ....well, hope for the best.
I'm even contemplating watching my weight doesn't drop any to help stave off the shivers.
If only it were as easy as "just keep swimming".
I don't want to go into it with DNF as a possibility.
That is the last thing I want - but I have to be aware of what could happen.
I just don't want to take it as an option.
I have a few short weeks to work on this and get my head and body where they need to be.