So, did it get better? Well, yes and no. I decided pretty early on that for whatever reason, it wasn’t going to be the strongest swim of my life, and decided to relax and enjoy it instead. This was as I was coming up to Peel Island, aka Wild Cat of Swallows and Amazons fame, when I was feeling a bit depressed that I’d only done a mile. At this point I realised I had a choice: to keep going, whingeing mentally at every buoy, or start thinking about something else. So I started thinking about my surroundings instead – after all, I was swimming past Wild Cat Island, so it seemed a real shame not to appreciate the moment. It was also at this point that I started to catch up with, and in some cases pass, my wave, which was a great morale booster. (Having said that, I was passed just after mile two by the first swimmer from the final wave, which went off fifty minutes after ours. Mile two! That’s just rude, frankly. He was going like a human torpedo, though.)
I stopped every so often for a pee and to take in the scenery – peeing whilst actually swimming in a wetsuit is in any case, I believe, physically impossible. The first time I stopped the kayaker who was following me asked if I was OK. The conversation went thusly: “You OK?” “Yes, fine. Just taking a little personal time.” “But you’re OK?” “Fine! Just, er, deballasting.” “But you’re not having any problems swimming-wise?” “No! I’m fine! I’m having a wee!” “Oh, right! Sorry!” “No worries.” Actually I thought it was nice that they were taking such good care of us.
All of the volunteers were spectacular, from start to finish. The guys on the feed station boats were great. I stopped at all except the last, having decided to take, as it were, the scenic route, and they were always efficient, smiley and ready with drinks and snacks. My favourite was the lady at feed station three, who, as I swam up to the boat, leaned over and handed me a banana, neatly whisking the skin away so I was left with just the fruit. Me: “Oh wow! A banana!” It reminded me of being a very young child in a high chair, seeing a rusk coming towards me and thinking “A rusk! For me! Good times!”
So, how did I do? Did I enjoy it? Well, yes, mostly. Am I glad I did it? Oh yes. And would I do it again? Hell, yes! And what about my time? My guess of three and a half hours proved pretty accurate. Was my time three hours thirty six? I wish I could say yes, because it would make a better story, but actually my time was three hours thirty two dead. Close, but no cigar. Whether I would have been faster had my subconscious not known about Luke Jermay’s prediction, I cannot say. It was a pretty good trick, though, and I still have absolutely no idea how it came to be my piece of paper he was holding.
Tomorrow, we will be back to Force of Habit, but in a break from habit, I am going to Monaco on business (not as glamorous as it sounds, I can assure you…), leaving house and puddy tats in the good hands of my cat nanny. As usual, I shall write every day and post when I can.