It will take an aweful lot of “Rule 1” to understand what I’m rambling on about

If you want to persevere and continue reading this blog regularly you will need a large amount of “Rule 1”. I am not a specific item that fits nicely on a shelf, I am a lot of things, so why shouldn’t I write about them?

I am a citizen of planet Earth, I am a man, a husband, a weaver, a manager, a trainee triathlete, so in that I am am a swimmer, cyclist and runner, a wannabe Ironman, an artiste manager, I cook, I sew, I fix, install and commission machinery (sometimes), I help produce music, I am a columnist, I am the manager for a textile factory. I watch movies, I eat in restaurants, drink beers and wines and whiskeys, go for jungle treks, I’m a Hasher too and a horse rider from time to time… well, just like you reading this, we are all lots of things, not just our job, or our religion or our family… we are multifaceted and so I don’t need to label myself as anything in this blog, though I’m sure there will be common threads as time goes on.

Today, my first real life “reality” post…25th June 2014, I got up at 7am, had some lovely Vietnamese Dalat coffee and headed down to the swimming pool at our condo.

It’s a 25mt (or 26.5mt to be exact) pool, which is great for getting my triathlon training done in the morning before I start work, as I have no need to travel to a local pool which cost money and wastes time travelling in Kuala Lumpurs chaotic jams. I am starting work at 10am and working till late, if I were on my normal hours, I would wake at 5am and start work at 7am, so I have enough time to get a few laps in before work.

It’s quite refeshing to swim before work, it gets the day off to a good start and I’m quite energetic when I get to work, thanks to the cool water and the exercise, though when I wake up, with all the training, some days I feel half dead, once I get in the pool, I feel invigorated.I’m pretty sure the coffee helps to… one fresh coffee to get the engine started. Being in Malaysia, the pool is never “cold” in fact it’s barely even cool, so slipping into the clear water is never a shock.. it’s an “aahhhh” not an “oohh, brrrr!!”.

I have this lovely salmon pink Ironman 70.3 swimcap, given to my age group 40 to 45 years, probably as a joke, as it might have better suited the ladies, however, I wear it every time I swim to remind me of what I am getting ready for, along with my 2XU triathlon suit and a pair of Speedo Aquasocket goggles that I probably need to change on the day for something with better vision. The difference between pool swimming and sea (open water) swimming is the ability to see beyond waves and quickly pick up the position of bouys in the distance that mark the direction you are going in. I try not to draft or follow other swimmers, it can be a little like the blind leading the blind, if they are not straight swimmers or if they are off course, they will lead you totally astray and that will waste time and more importantly, energy.

I first started swimming again after many years, early last year, 2013, in preparation for the April Xterra Malaysia 2013 sprint triathlon, an off road event, starting with a 750mt sprint swim in the lake at Putrajaya outside of Kuala Lumpur, which transitions to a 20km mountain bike race and a 5km trail run. I could swim, or at least I could still propel myself through the water over short distances confidently. I mean we all go to the beach or for an island holiday and have a splash around if we are confident to do so, but, we don’t swim up and down for half a kilometer, not stop using a trained style, unless we are actually very used to it. I could swim confidently, but I hadn’t swam that kind of distance in oooh, let me see…. 25 years…

I have swimming certificates from my first width, up to distance and speed swimmimg and even survival swimming certificates. We are given the opportunity to swim at primary school in the UK, it’s an invaluable experience and one I would urge parents never to opt their children out of, regardless of fitness, cost or even if for religious reasons, due to clothing etc.. find a way and make it happen, because it can save your childs life and perhaps someday, they might even save someone elses life, besides, it’s tonnes of fun once you get going, great for fitness and easier on the joints than running or weights or even racket sports, where you are jolting around.

Anyway, back to me, after all that’s what this is about… right?

So having lived in this condo for 7 years, it now seems strange that the first 5 to 6 years were spent with almost no pool time. This beautiful little cool box of water, lying there every day, just waiting for me, silently, patiently, just to dip my feet in it once in a while and I never even bothered.

So, I decided that this almost half mile distance would be easy, I mean it’s only 15 lengths of an Olympic pool or 30 lengths of this little pool, how hard can that be right?

So I got my old swimming trunks out (about 15 years old to be precise) and bought a set of big goggles and a nice Speedo swim hat and started telling myself I was going to train everyday and I would be an Olympian in no time, I would mountain bike at the weekends on my second hand Rockbike and as I was a Hasher and spent many an hour trail running, I would just continue Hashing as I was fast anyway, so not much need to train on something I’m good at already.

I’m not sure exactly the date of my first training swim, I just know it was a Saturday shortly after I had confirmed and paid for my entry into the Xterra Malaysia Sprint 2013. I got a little waterproof bag for my gear (to look pro) and with my swim towel, goggles and hat and a water bottle all inside, I made my way to the pool. It was a blazing hot day, as ever in Malaysia and I took a little time to get everything ready. I had a stopwatch to check my record breaking time and took a few gulps of water before slipping into the water. I didn’t warm up, I didn’t stretch, I just got on with a high powered 750mt swim… well….. not exactly…

I got my goggles on, then realised I needed to put the hat on first.. duh.. yes, I know, if you know about swimming it’s obvious, I must have known when I was 13.. it was just memory lost somewhere in the cobwebs of time, I was a little conscious of my appearance, I was about 97kgs, that’s something in the region of 15 stone, I am 6 foot 3 inches tall, so it’s not so bad, but I was certainly a bit… well… blubbery.. I was almost hoping I didn’t get harpooned in mistake for a dugong, but anyway, there were plently of kids in the pool, old folk, bad swimmers etc etc.. so I wasn’t goint to feel too bad about my spare tyre.

Breathe in, out, in, out, in out, bob up and down in the water to “feel” it.. then, with a good old “heave ho”, I set off swimming.

I hadn’t researched open water techniques, despite all the wealth of knowledge and advice on the internet, I just wanted to have a fast time, so I tried swimming front crawl (freestyle) breathing on the 4 stroke, like you see in swimming competitions… yeah.. right!!

It was evident in the first 25mts that my muscles weren’t used to the speed that I was trying to get out of my dugong like body, and my oxygen requirements had somewhat increased from that of my trail running. I also hadn’t turned around like they do in the fancy races, so I had to sort of stop and turn myself around and start again when I had reached the end of the first 25mts, I continued, attempting to get down as much air as possible whilst having a good, slap of the water and attempting to kick, which wasn’t working very well but it was the best I could muster.

By the end of my first 50mts I was feeling tired, I wasn’t sure if I should stop, but I decided to carry on, just taking a few extra breaths at the end of each 25mts. I did feel like my heart was pumping overtime and my arms were getting like lead by the time I reached 100mts, normally if I have issues like this when running, I stop and walk.. there’s not much of a way to do that in the pool, so I slowed down my arms a bit, which made me feel like I was going to sink through lack of momentum and just persevered to 150mts, at which point I had begun to feel very very tired, arms were like big dead oars, just slapping away trying to keep me moving and as I lookad at the tiles on the bottom of this shallow pool, I seemed to be crawling, despite my best efforts to break the world record, though what record that was I wasn’t sure. I would like to say I “managed” to get to 200mts, before I was brought to an exhausted stop. I hadn’t actually managed anything, just a very strenuous battle over a terribly short distance. As I got out of the pool, I sort of went wobbly and staggered around a bit, I can’t say if it was dizziness from all the flapping around or exhaustion from the sheer effort of the trauma I had just put myself through.

I tried to pass it off as something to do with the muscles not being used for years and my age. I had recorded a time a time of around 6 minutes something for the 200mts, putting me in the 22.5 minutes marker for the full 750mts. That was my maths at the time, I just take 200mts of thrashing like a dying squid and multiply it by 3.75 and that’s my time. Ah, Rob, you silly boy…. As I could barely manage 200mts at that effort level, how could I do 750? The staggering around wasn’t cool either, I mean what if I do that on the day.. I’m going to look like a total plonker if I don’t just pass out and get stretchered away. What was I thinking when I registered for this thing? Time is a great healer as is “Rule 1″… sleep is also helpful, nutrition too, but the key is training.. getting on with it, building muscles and repeatedly thrashing around until you are able to thrash around up to 750mts… obviously………


Rule 2…. ¬†Perseverance

When you know everyone else can do what you want to do and you think you are more than capable of it, perseverance will be of great use, it will eventually, somehow, someway, someday, get you where you want to be

When added to Rule 1.. Rule 2 will help the one legged centipede dance the salsa


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