Tag Archive | swim

10km Caramoan open water swim race

This summer in August, I completed a 10km open water swim race. The location was remote but amazing. Set amongst the Caramoan islands – a location popular for filming Survivor (the reality TV show) around the world including a US series.

The race was a 10km island hopping swim. My first 10km in open water.

I finished. An official time of 4 hours and 16 minutes which was slower than I would have liked. A great swim though. Couldn’t have picked a better location to do this epic swim.

There’ll be more to write about on this later but here are some pics from the personal milestone and one of many more racecations.

Coming up onto the shore with a smile.

IMG_1252 Feels weird to be vertical: IMG_1251

IMG_1247 Action finishing shots: IMG_1245

IMG_1241 Feeling chuffed to have finished: IMG_1261

The Caramoan 10km swim challenge

IMG_1289 IMG_1283

I got second place female in my age group which I thought was pretty decent. Didn’t think my time was very decent but compared to the field, it wasn’t too bad.

IMG_1336

I hit the proverbial wall at 8km. The first 3km I did an an hour, and I thought I was on track for a 3.5 hour finish. That time lapsed and I aimed for a sub-four time. 4 hours passed and by then, it was just a matter of getting to the finish line. The last 2km took me over an hour. 8-10km was brutal with very little left in the tank. I hadn’t ever swum more than 8km in the open water before, so it was a first and a great personal achievement to even finish a 10km open water swim. Would like to get a few more under my belt.

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Oshima Fuji open water swimming

Went to Oshima a few weekends ago. Finally got to tick that one off the list. Of the seven Izu islands, I only have one more to do. Was in Oshima for a triathlon – not an individual one, but rather a team relay. Naturally, I’d be doing the swimming leg. Unfortunately, and to everyone’s disappointment, it rained. A lot. The race was cancelled. And, of course, the next day was a perfectly sunny day. Oh well, hiked a volcano on the Sunday instead so all was not lost. In the absence of a swim on Saturday, some of us got up early for a pre-breakfast swim. Gotta love a 6am swim on a Sunday. Who needs sleep, right? It was worth it though coz we got to see Fuji.

From Oshima tri day 2
From Oshima tri day 2
From Oshima tri day 2

Mount Fuji in all its glory. Was a drastic change from the previous day of rain and cloud.

From Oshima tri day 2
From Oshima tri day 2
From Oshima tri day 2
From Oshima tri day 2

This particular spot was called Akinohama (on Oshima Island). We jumped off from a small rocky point.

From Oshima tri day 2
From Oshima tri day 2
From Oshima tri day 2
From Oshima tri day 2
From Oshima tri day 2
From Oshima tri day 2

A fine morning for some wild swimming. In we jumped. Everyone wore wetsuits except me. Triathletes are such wimps in the water 😉

From Oshima tri day 2

The water was cold. I’m guessing about 19 degrees. Definitely made the heart stop beating for a second when I first jumped in. Took me a while to get my breathing right. Water was chilly and it was surprisingly choppy. Felt a bit seasick out there. Didn’t help that I was seasick the day before on the boat from Tokyo to Oshima island. We had had some wild wet weather the day before.

From Oshima tri day 2
From Oshima tri day 2
From Oshima tri day 2
From Oshima tri day 2
From Oshima tri day 2
From Oshima tri day 2

This is open water swimming at its finest. Refreshing cold water with Mount Fuji looking over us. C’mon in!

From Oshima tri day 2
From Oshima tri day 2
From Oshima tri day 2

The pensive swimmer:

From Oshima tri day 2

 

The water is open: spring swim

Braved the cold waters again for a pre-summer swim training session. Headed down to Hayama Isshiki beach (more like a bay) with a couple of other brave souls.

From Hayama April swim

It was another early start to the weekend. Why do I find myself getting up earlier on weekends than I do on weekdays (work days). It’s almost as if I look forward to Mondays purely for the sleep in (the luxury of getting up between 7:30-8am).

After the Polar bear dip on New Year’s Day and nearly dying, I donned the wetsuit this time. A summer wetsuit (sleeveless and short legs) but a wetsuit nonetheless. Air temperature was 10 degrees. I’m guess water temperature between 13-15 degrees. Stung like ice and your chest constricts making it hard to breathe. Legs are numb and your arms feel like lead pushing through the water. It takes a good long while (about half an hour) to warm up and not feel numb. Makes breathing really difficult. We managed a loop around the bay and swam about 1.2km all up which is not bad for my first open water swim training session, considering it’s still only April.

Perfect conditions for it though. Flat as. Just the way I like it. Was a bit hard to get into a good stroke and breathing pattern and my sighting was terrible. There were quite a few people out there on SUP boards and in dragon boat boats.

From Hayama April swim
From Hayama April swim
From Hayama April swim
From Hayama April swim

Perfect conditions to SUP:

From Hayama April swim
From Hayama April swim

Am soo looking forward to SUPing again this summer.

From Hayama April swim
From Hayama April swim
From Hayama April swim

It was a struggle getting down there early in the cold temperature, but it was totally worth it. Will be needing to get in a few more open water training sessions.

Last night, I did a really good solid training session in the pool. I’ll share my set with you – good for building endurance and speed and kills the boredom of a straight 5.5km swim:
1km warm up (1km). No rest
10 x 100m sprints (1km). 2min turnaround (ie 100m sprint + 10-15 second rest + start the next set all within 2min)
5 x 200m sprints (1km). 10-15 second rest between sets.
10 x 100m slow/easy (continuous 1km alternating between sprint down 50m, recover 50m swim back). No breaks.
1 x 500m sprint
1km cool down/recovery swim
Total Distance = 5.5km

Bucketlist swim: Coogee Wedding Cake Island Swim Challenge 2013

One needs to work off all these high teas, so I timed one of my trips back home last year with an open water swim race back in Sydney – a mecca for open water swimming, or as we call it “ocean swimming”. It’s pretty big in Ostraya.

Sydney is where I did my first open water swim race back when I was a wee uni student. I went along to a beach race on my own having decided to enter it without ever having done an open water swim ever. I’m not really sure what possessed to try open water swimming given that I didn’t really grow up near the beach.

My first ows race was the Cole Classic – a then-2km swim from North Bondi beach to South Bondi beach (and back?). They have since moved the Cole Classic to a different beach. I’m glad I got to swim the original Cole Classic swim at the iconic Bondi Beach before they changed venues.

One of the things I’m really looking forward to when I come home (on a permanent basis), is all the open water swim races available in Australia. We have quite the ocean swimming scene, and a lot of beaches and races I’d love to swim. So I’ve got that to look forward to.

One of my bucketlist swims has been the Coogee Island Swim Challenge aka the Wedding Cake Island Swim, and I got to tick this off last November. This particular swim is pretty popular. They actually hold it twice – once in November (beginning of Oz summer – the cold water challenge) and again in April (end of Oz summer – the cool water challenge). The difference is degrees.

The last Sunday in November last year was a beautiful sunny clear day. Water temps about 19 degrees, but air temp was in the low 30 degrees.

The race was at Coogee Beach and it’s a 2.4km swim from the beach out and around Wedding Cake Island and back inland. Wedding Cake Island is a rocky reef. The crashing white waves over the top of it makes it look as though it’s icing…hence Wedding Cake Island….I think. It is a challenging swim. Conditions can be tough. And in some previous years, they’ve had to change the course bypassing the Island loop….which kinda defeats the challenge of this swim.

Picturesque Coogee Beach:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

This is a typical Sunday in Sydney:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

From the beach out to Wedding Cake Island, around the island and then back in.

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

A big turn out for this race. About 800 people or so, with wave starts – mixed gender by age group.
Ocean swims in Oz are very different to those in Japan. In Oz, you have to deal with waves and the surf. Most swims in Japan are very flat and tame.

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

2.4km course map (there was also a 1km option as well):

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Aerial view:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Here are some pics from the previous wave starts:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

And now for some action:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

It’s a battlefield out there:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

It’s nearly my turn to swim.
Swim essential: Check.

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

I was a little disappointed that the race-issued cap didn’t come with a race-feature logo. They often make a nice memory-sake. I keep all my swim caps from races.

Preparing to swim:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

And my purple wave starts. I’m somewhere in the pack:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Now, I thought sharks would be my biggest worry because the swim involves going out further past the shark nets. And I have actually done a training swim here and seen a wobbegong shark here at the beach before. I saw this “thing” at the bottom of the water, and it wasn’t until afterwards I was told that “thing” was a shark. Argh freak out. Ignorance is bliss. Kinda glad I didn’t know it was a shark whilst swimming over the top of it.

Turns out on race day, my biggest problem was the gazillions of jellyfish I would be swimming through. Never have I seen so many jellyfish. Gah, my worst nightmare. I was nearly going to pull out of the race because I was not coping. They weren’t the stinging kind, but every hand stroke through the water, you felt them. They gave me the heebie jeebies. They were kinda going in my cosies. And made very sure to keep my mouth closed in the water. There were so many jellyfish that it got to a point where I refused to put my face in the water and basically was swimming freestyle with my head above water.
The majority of the course was jellyfish infested. Just making it to the finish line was going to be an achievement. I was so close to pulling myself out the race. Just mentally was not coping with the smacks upon smacks of jellyfish. (Did you know the collective noun for jellyfish is “smacks”?)

You don’t really ever see the island at any point even though you swim around it. I had been told that one should take a look at the reef island as you swim around, but even then it’s hard to catch a glimpse of. I was too preoccupied with jellyfish.

I felt only a sense of relief, not a sense of accomplishment when I finished this race.

That finish line could not come soon enough. Was so glad to be out of the water:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

About to cross the finish line…hooray:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Swam terribly slow.
A time of a flat 51 minutes for the 2.4 km swim. So so slow. But glad to have just finished considering this is a race that I was prepared to pull out of. I should add, that my dad also entered this swim. His longest open swim distance race and was only a few minutes behind me time-wise. I need to lift my game! (I came 523rd out of 822 people. Was 134 out of 248 females. And 33rd in age group. Not great stats). Although I am glad to have finished, I can’t even say it was an enjoyable swim really. The jellyfish really bothered, even though no one else there seemed bothered by it all. It was a beautiful day though. The sun was shining, and I survived the swim. So win-win.

It was nice to enjoy the scenery. Bucketlist swim complete. Got a few more up my sleeve though.

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

The best part about finishing is eating.

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

And I have to say, a good ol’ Aussie meat pie beats a Japanese onigiri as a post-race snack anyday!

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

This pie sums up how I felt:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

And a mini sausage roll as well:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Ahh, beautiful Coogee Beach:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Look how clean and clear the water is. You can see Wedding Cake Island to the right of the photo. And to think I swam out there and back!

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Coogee Island Challenge – complete! Got a heap of merchandise – the hoodie and the towel to commemorate.

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

2014: Day One

Happy New Year!
May 2014 be a good one for you. Good lord, I need it to be.
2013 was a shocker of a year (hence the lack of posts over the last few months. You wouldn’t believe the lousy times I went through). Here’s hoping this year is going to be a lot better.

Anyway, what better way to see in the new year than a New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim! You could say it was a “cool” way to see in the new year. Quite literally. It was freezing.

More like a polar bear dip for me though. Air temp was about 10 degrees. Water temp about 16 degrees and plunge into the water we did. Mind you, I was sporting a severe hangover from the previous night’s New Year’s Eve festivities in Roppongi. Probably hit bed around 3am and had to be up at 8am to make the trek to Hayama Beach in Kanagawa prefecture. I was throwing up on the 1.5 hr train ride down there. Not a pretty sight.

A couple of trains and a bus ride later and a few more throw ups along the way, we made it to the beach.

Crazy windy and freezing. And quite the swell. The waves were rough.

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Ax7KyGH821c6npappSAvTNEAJXZdkKLe2njuguxH8bw?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-4XfAM_8cM8s/UsUAke5g6ZI/AAAAAAACdFo/rX2r9UBblbA/s640/IMG_6414.JPG&#8221; height=”480″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/PolarBearDip?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Polar Bear Dip</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/ojxAumCfeh3Anp7J8EvW59EAJXZdkKLe2njuguxH8bw?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-lcYUpHaPhb8/UsUAkTPaLXI/AAAAAAACdFk/0ir-5p7PS38/s640/IMG_6412.JPG&#8221; height=”480″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/PolarBearDip?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Polar Bear Dip</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/JHPDiSmW-whD3jQrEDh8z9EAJXZdkKLe2njuguxH8bw?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-1p99TCiZoy0/UsUAkdSygXI/AAAAAAACdFc/j5r__K7hMH4/s640/IMG_6413.JPG&#8221; height=”480″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/PolarBearDip?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Polar Bear Dip</a></td></tr></table>

A few of us braved the cold temps, <em>sans</em> wetsuits, of course! The boys got in:

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/XeQiPuTQHF0BwdkWUx1cNtEAJXZdkKLe2njuguxH8bw?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-po_mTGuaveY/UsUAvxwZSOI/AAAAAAACdIA/tlIwy9kzOCo/s640/RIMG0702.JPG&#8221; height=”480″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/PolarBearDip?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Polar Bear Dip</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/4VugJRsKO5PiprjMzgnsrtEAJXZdkKLe2njuguxH8bw?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-9HJnX_qnQ_U/UsUAw8lsiZI/AAAAAAACdIQ/RemnG9Fgmwo/s640/RIMG0705.JPG&#8221; height=”480″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/PolarBearDip?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Polar Bear Dip</a></td></tr></table>

Meanwhile, at the water’s edge….(I’m the one in the pink cap):

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/EryuDmFIBPXBEUJ5r_ztfNEAJXZdkKLe2njuguxH8bw?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-1xkySEvKBtg/Usj34XlHG9I/AAAAAAACd9k/TaLjPKOHmjw/s640/polar.jpg&#8221; height=”427″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/PolarBearDip?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Polar Bear Dip</a></td></tr></table>

Am still not convinced about going in:

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/gWKz2OOjSW7EQHl_ONS8UtEAJXZdkKLe2njuguxH8bw?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-XnbpBZRp6vg/Usj2bm8LUsI/AAAAAAACd9A/Ch5VhJGwCHI/s640/dip.jpg&#8221; height=”626″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/PolarBearDip?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Polar Bear Dip</a></td></tr></table>

C’mon in the water’s lovely.

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Mv7N_7Hv1leJX92C3fri9dEAJXZdkKLe2njuguxH8bw?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-EQDxy6kxkSU/UsUAmw2BS3I/AAAAAAACdGc/8BAAAkXSDRk/s640/IMG_6420.JPG&#8221; height=”480″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/PolarBearDip?authuser=0&amp;authkey=Gv1sRgCObBn4fm9fei6QE&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Polar Bear Dip</a></td></tr></table>

I finally muster the strength to take the plunge. Might help rid the hangover, me thinks:

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Mie8jtnd7tqFqhp10mbRJNEAJXZdkKLe2njuguxH8bw?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-s98EZkfeGjA/Usj2eTohRZI/AAAAAAACd9I/agPM4ViAZTw/s400/plunge.jpg&#8221; height=”400″ width=”313″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/PolarBearDip?authuser=0&amp;authkey=Gv1sRgCObBn4fm9fei6QE&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Polar Bear Dip</a></td></tr></table>

Oh holy crap it’s cold!
I couldn’t breathe. I cannot breathe.
I had to get out of the water. Because I couldn’t get in proper breaths, I had to get out of the water. Know your boundaries.
Survived the polar bear dip, but not the swim sadly.
My body did not take kindly to the water especially in the state I was in.

The others did well, and we’re in the water swimming away for at least another 20-30 minutes.

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Vc_PL5I8D_LwzlyVMeMlq9EAJXZdkKLe2njuguxH8bw?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-WdzlVbsVmYI/UsUAmZryNkI/AAAAAAACdGM/GW4Jzt69t90/s640/IMG_6418.JPG&#8221; height=”480″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/PolarBearDip?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Polar Bear Dip</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/V_AQgpKNfnCjQ18j_x_W7dEAJXZdkKLe2njuguxH8bw?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-uvuIXdhUNk4/UsUAlal2YUI/AAAAAAACdF4/ludcYkXFsBw/s640/IMG_6415.JPG&#8221; height=”480″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/PolarBearDip?authuser=0&amp;authkey=Gv1sRgCObBn4fm9fei6QE&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Polar Bear Dip</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Hxut6mlTye9itlz_4BNVMNEAJXZdkKLe2njuguxH8bw?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-71GXI8iLeHs/UsUAloZFOXI/AAAAAAACdF8/6qQkPLSqZbo/s640/IMG_6416.JPG&#8221; height=”480″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/PolarBearDip?authuser=0&amp;authkey=Gv1sRgCObBn4fm9fei6QE&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Polar Bear Dip</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/6ZuffkCVJ8FnaPYU5vo36NEAJXZdkKLe2njuguxH8bw?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-HbjRF6i3EIk/UsUAmG-kLkI/AAAAAAACdGE/dL0BBFLJTZo/s640/IMG_6417.JPG&#8221; height=”480″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/PolarBearDip?authuser=0&amp;authkey=Gv1sRgCObBn4fm9fei6QE&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Polar Bear Dip</a></td></tr></table>

Cold, cold, cold:

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/-KFnu2DRSc7A0zGgsXECMtEAJXZdkKLe2njuguxH8bw?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-9KFJqL_c4sE/UsUAnksYEdI/AAAAAAACdGg/_KWXjzrYU44/s640/IMG_6421.JPG&#8221; height=”480″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/PolarBearDip?authuser=0&amp;authkey=Gv1sRgCObBn4fm9fei6QE&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Polar Bear Dip</a></td></tr></table>

It then took a few hours to get warmed back again. But a breakfast of pancakes, soup and muffins and cups of tea helped. My head and liver still not in good shape though.

Was a very cool thing to do though on New Year’s Day. I’m glad I did it, even though my body didn’t really hold up to the challenge. Still, I went in and took the plunge.

Here’s to a swimmingly hopeful new year!

SUPING SYDNEY

I had been wanting to try out SUPing for ages, so when I was back home for Christmas last year, my dad gave me an IOU voucher as part of my Christmas present, thinking I’d get a chance to try out whilst back home for the summer last year. I never got around to using that voucher and lo and behold I actually tried out SUPing this summer in Japan and got hooked.

During my most recent trip home, I redeemed my voucher. Check out my dad’s mad computer skills (Word and google image search).

From SUP Balmoral

My dad took me to Balmoral where I SUPed and he kayaked. I got to have my own photographer for the day. He took heaps of photos of me in action. It was crazy windy on that particular day which made SUPing really difficult, and had to weave through all the moored boats. Was not so fun paddling with the wind.

When it’s not windy, Balmoral is incredibly flat. It’s more like a bay. It’s not a surf beach. It’s actually home to a sailing club.

From SUP Balmoral
From SUP Balmoral

Sydney water is so clean and clear. So beautiful and refreshing.

From SUP Balmoral
From SUP Balmoral
From SUP Balmoral
From SUP Balmoral

Lots of action SUP shots:

From SUP Balmoral
From SUP Balmoral
From SUP Balmoral
From SUP Balmoral

All that paddling is hard work. Taking a break:

From SUP Balmoral
From SUP Balmoral

Sydney, Sunshine and Smiles:

From SUP Balmoral
From SUP Balmoral

On the other side, is the leisure swimming area. Just so happened to be school holidays back home so the place was pretty crowded for a Thursday daytime.

From SUP Balmoral
From SUP Balmoral
From SUP Balmoral

White sand. Blue water. Sunshine. Seriously, get yo arse to Down Under.

From SUP Balmoral
From SUP Balmoral
From SUP Balmoral

Aussies: we’re a hardworking bunch:

From SUP Balmoral
From SUP Balmoral

SUPing in Sydney is pretty SUPer.

Lake Biwa OWS

Having already cycled part of Lake Biwa, and SUPed on Lake Biwa, on Sunday it was time to swim Lake Biwa.

From Biwako OWS

The Lake Biwa open water swim race is annual race, and has been on my bucketlist for a while now.
It’s Japan’s largest lake, and it was also an excuse to cross off another prefecture to my tally, bringing it to 35 prefectures (out of 47). I’ve got another 12 prefectures to go!

On the Sunday morning, I was not looking forward to getting back on a bike saddle. That damn mamachari. A 60km cycle and a couple of hours of stand up paddleboarding was probably not the best thing to before a swim race.
It was thankfully only about 20min cycle to the race venue.

I got to see the local Nagahama castle along the way:

From Sunday Biwa cycling
From Sunday Biwa cycling

Again I cycled along the bike path around the lake this time in the opposite direction (north, anti-clockwise):

From Sunday Biwa cycling
From Sunday Biwa cycling
From Sunday Biwa cycling
From Sunday Biwa cycling

To my left was the lake:

From Sunday Biwa cycling

And to my right were rice fields and mountains:

From Sunday Biwa cycling
From Sunday Biwa cycling

How very Sound of Music of me to be cycling through the countryside.

From Sunday Biwa cycling

The Lake Biwa open water swim race was held at Minamihama swimming spot. I cycled there from Nagahama. The previous day I had cycled from Nagahama to Shiga and back.

From Biwako OWS

I got to the race venue and parked the bike in the shade and settled in for a long hot day.

From Biwako OWS
From Biwako OWS

I usually do beach swims, but a freshwater lake swim was going to be a nice change. None of that saltiness.
The most surprising thing about this swim was how disgustingly warm the water was. It was 30.5 degrees. It was in truth, a little dangerous. Especially when you’re going flat out, air temps were about 35 degrees, and you gotta swim 3.2km!

The lake though is pretty flat so conditions were pretty good for swimming, apart from the heat factor.

From Biwako OWS
From Biwako OWS
From Biwako OWS

I was entered in the 3.2km race which didn’t start until about midday.
It was 600m straight out, 700m across, and then 300m back in, times 2 laps of that course.

From Biwako OWS
From Biwako OWS

Race number 514:

From Biwako OWS

It was a super hot day. Most people had brought along tent shades to camp out for the day:

From Biwako OWS
From Biwako OWS
From Biwako OWS

Here are some action shots from the 500m race:

From Biwako OWS
From Biwako OWS
From Biwako OWS
From Biwako OWS
From Biwako OWS

Eventually it was my time to race. There was about 200 people in the 3.2km swim.
I swam pretty fast and overtook a lot of people. The water was dangerously warm though. Not good. Not good at all.

Ended up with a time of 58minutes for a 3.2km swim which I was super happy with. I barely ever break the hour for a 3km swim. I felt dizzy and lightheaded afterwards though….a bit of heatstroke I think. I came 19the female overall (out of 35), and I think I got between 4-6th place in my age group. No prizes but I did walk away with a PB.

From Biwako OWS

Swim Lake Biwa. Check.

From Biwako OWS

Watch this space. There is talk of a Lake Biwa swim crossing next year which a friend or two and I are tossing around. There is an annual Lake Biwa crossing swim race – 16km, but it’s a relay event. We are thinking about solo crossings….whether this will actually happen or not, I’m not sure….

Only one more swim race of the Japan summer season to go….but there will be an Aussie swim race to report back on later in the year . I’m excited about that one!

Life’s a beach

週末のために生きている。
I live for my weekends.

Spent an awesome day at the beach yesterday.
It’s not often I get to enjoy a lazy day at the beach.
My trips to the beach are usually to compete in open water swim races.
Was nice to finally do a lazy summer beach day.

Headed out all the way to Onjuku Beach – the far side of Chiba.
Totally worth the 30buks and 90min train ride to get there.

From Tokyo station, you can get the express train “Wakashio” and ride the train in air-conditioned, reclining seat comfort.
Note: the train departs from Platform 1 at Tokyo station. There are TWO platform 1’s as we discovered the hard way as we stood waiting at the wrong platform and had to sprint through Tokyo station, the whole 500m to the other platform 1 to make our train. We literally got on the right train on the right platform in the nick.of.time. *You will want the Keiyo line, platform 1 and not the Chuo line platform 1.

From Onjuku Beach

You know you’ve reached Onjuku beach when you see the camel statues:

From Onjuku Beach
From Onjuku Beach

Onjuku Beach is one of the best leisure beaches I’ve been to. Way better than the Shonan beaches. The water was beautiful and clean and clear. We parked ourselves on the sand for 5 hours enjoying the sun, surf and champagne (BYO champagne).

From Onjuku Beach
From Onjuku Beach

This is how you beach, in style:

From Onjuku Beach
From Onjuku Beach
From Onjuku Beach
From Onjuku Beach

We rented a beach umbrella for the day. The sales assistant not only carries the umbrella to your beach spot, but even digs a hole in the sand and sets up the umbrella for you. At the end of the day, you just leave the umbrella and they’ll pick it up at the end of the day. Bless, Japan. And the beach has beach shacks which sell food and more importantly, beer.

Beer, books, the beach. Bliss.

And just when you thought the day couldn’t get better, the day was topped off with an onsen. There’s an onsen right by the beach. The water was amazing. It was a dark brown colour (the colour of coke)…it was like a bathtub of coca cola. It made your skin feel amazing.

The day was so ridiculously awesome, that I plan on doing it all over again next Sunday (except maybe try and get to the beach even earlier!)

Inage OWS: Medals and mullets

Without any swim training, I went along to yesterday’s OWS race at Inage, Chiba. A beach it is not. The Inage seaside park OWS race is in fact in Tokyo Bay. At least the race venue was close to get to. Can’t say much about the scenery though.

I had signed up for this race at least a month ago, and with the burn injury in early June, I haven’t been able to do any swim training. It was painful to wash in the shower, let along jump in the pool. In spite of lack of training I went in the race – my first swim since the burn. I wore a wetsuit, mostly because I was dubious about the water quality of Tokyo Bay. Water temps were pretty warm though. Actually, this race was probably had the highest number of people competing without wetsuits that I’ve seen so far in the last 3 years.

The Inage swim venue is surrounded by industrial factories and airplanes overhead from both Narita and Haneda airports.

From Inage seaside OWS

The water was super flat on arrival, but got pretty choppy by the time it came to race:

From Inage seaside OWS

The conditions got too choppy and the wind really picked up, so they had to shorten the race distances – the 1.5km would only be a 1km race, and the 3km race would only be a 2km race. I was a little relieved. I had signed up for the 3km! Was grateful that I would only be doing 2km especially without any swim training.

From Inage seaside OWS

The “beach” had more pebbles than sand. One of those rocky beaches.

From Inage seaside OWS
From Inage seaside OWS

I ended up swimming not too badly, all things considered. I swam the 2km course in a time of 35minutes and 7 seconds, which was decent for me. I got second place in my age group, which was enough to score me a medal.

From Inage seaside OWS

I got 6th place female overall. Granted, there were only 10 of us. The girl who was first female, I later found out is currently training for the Olympic Games — pretty impressive. But I actually did pretty well, out of all the competitors – of which there were about 60.
A couple of friends even came along to the race to watch and we had a bit of chill out day at the beach.

I think the highlight of the day, was not the medals, but rather the mullets. Yes, plural!
The only thing better than a mullet on a Japanese kid (or any person for that matter), are twins with matching mullets!!! Pure gold. Twice the mullet, twice the fun. You know what they say about mullets – business at the front, party at the back!

From Inage seaside OWS
From Inage seaside OWS

Just too goddamn adorable. Twins and mullets. Just kill me with cuteness now.

Seriously, what did these kids do to deserve such a hairstyle? Do their parents take joy in child cruelty?

Medals, prizes and a PB: Iwai Aquathlon

Summer is here! And you know what that means — the open water swimming season is open.

First race for the year was a sprint aquathlon – the Minami Boso Iwai beach aquathlon. I participated in this race last year and was back again this year.

I left home with a towel and goggles, and came back wit medals, prizes and a PB.

Getting up early on a Sunday morning is no fun. It was a 2.5 hour journey but at least I got to enjoy the scenery.

Crossing the Sumida River, with the Sky Tree in the background:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Crossing the Edogawa river:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Chiba countryside:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Finally, the coastline in view:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

The beach was deserted apart from us swimmers.

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Race course is set-up; yeah, this is not what I call a surf beach.

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Water temp was a fresh 20 degrees. Swam without a wetsuit as per usual. But I did wear my tri-suit. The locals like to wear wetsuits though. Granted, I probably have more natural insulation than most people!

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

The cloudy morning gave way to a nice sunny day complete with blue skies:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Where’s David Hasselhoff when you need him?

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Warming up:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

So first up, I did the sprint aquathlon. A 500m swim followed by a 5km run.
I am quite proud of myself. I came second out of all the females! I was actually leading the WHOLE race (out of the females), and was pipped at the post in the last 30 seconds. My swim gave me a really good lead in the run leg. Damn my shoddy running. I was so far ahead of all the other ladies. Got out of the water quickly and had a super fast transition. Whilst EVERYONE was struggling to get wetsuits off, I just took off on the run.

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

I held the lead in the run, and was overtaken right near the end.
Don’t have the swim and run splits yet, but my overall time earnt me second place female, and also second place in my age group. (Will update split times later when they become available).
My time was also a PB for the run which I did in about sub-30 which although is not fast by any standard, was good for me.
Total race time was: 40min, 41 seconds.
My time for the same race last year was: 47min, 45 seconds. I definitely was a lot faster and stronger in the run this time around.

2nd overall female:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

In addition to the aquathlon, I also decided to sign up on the day for the 1.5km open water swim as well. I needed the practice, because I’ve got 2 more 3km swims this month. My need to go fast in the run was partly motivated by the fact that I had signed up for the additional swim. The aquathlon started at 12:00pm and the swim started at 1pm. The faster I ran, the more break time I would have between the next race starting. I would only have about 15 minutes to spare.

After guzzling as much water as I could after the first race, I then braced for myself for a 1.5km swim. Man, I was so hot and thirsty.

The moved the buoys out further for the 1.5km swim and we had to do two laps of the course. Was definitely a lot slower on this swim having gone all out on the aquathlon.

I got second place female for the 1.5km swim.

Come the award ceremony, I got 2 medals and 2 prizes.

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

I still haven’t actually opened up my prize bag yet. I think it’s something like a year’s supply of acai power drink. Seriously, lots of acai products. They were the sponsor.

I am a STARfish:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Also took home a ridiculously bright orange race shirt (included in entry fee):

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

All paths lead to water:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Iwai beach is a really nice beach…probably one of my favourites. I love swimming out there. I’ve done about three races there now.

The day turned out to be really warm, I even spent the day there chilling out and went for another dip in the water. Practically had the place to myself.

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

I need to explore more of the Minami Boso region – they’ve got the ocean to the right, and the mountains to the left:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Stay tuned for more swimming reports this summer. Although don’t expect any more medals or prizes. That’ll be the last placing this season me thinks.