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Day 78: Swimming!

Today I returned to the York Sport swimming pool for a second round :) It was a nice swim although after the first 12 laps or so I felt my technique floundering. I spend a good 30 minutes or so working on various exercises that my swimming teacher had given me a few months ago.

The pool was nice and quiet so for most of the time I had a whole lane to myself, which was an absolute luxury. It was a lovely day in general, apart from the swimming, I had a lovely lunch with an excellent musicologist, and spent the evening with my newly married friends GentlemanTom and w00t. It was lovely and relaxing and I ate too many snacks, however I did own them at Halo, somewhat :)

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Day 77: Being cheered up and Swimming!

Before I go on I’d just like to acknowledge that two great musical lights went out today. RIP Jonathan Harvey and Dave Brubeck. Harvey, the composer, I don’t think got the respect he deserved in Britain. Brubeck of course known worldwide as a pioneer in jazz piano. Enjoy their music while you read this.

Things were looking bleak yesterday, however I am so glad I’m here and I have the friends I do. Coffees with friends TwoBlueNotes and KingCave cheered me up some (always nice to chat about music). But it was later when having dinner with The Awesome 90’s dudes, GentleGiant and 90’sChic and their wee one, SirPukesAlot that the dark vale of my mood suddenly lifted, and was further raised by drinks and geeky conversation with SirGeeksAlot, HoneyPie and SweetyDarling. I didn’t go to bed fully happy but certainly well loved. I feel so lucky to have my friends, and they are all really lovely cheery people.

Today I didn’t really have any plans except to find a swimming pool and get back on the exercise thing. I haven’t really been able to get any work done while I’ve been here so I may as well try and get some exercise done.

After bumping into another friend, whom I shall call Mr Christaintington Smythe, and having a nice (if an abstemious baked-potato based) lunch I went to check out the new York Sport facilities on the Heslington East campus at the university of York.

It’s great that they’ve finally built a pool. For years York university students have been wasting so much money to the local David Lloyd’s gym, including myself. York Sport consists of two sites of facilities, one on Heslington East with a pool, gym and (so far) basketball court, and another on Heslington West with gym, squash, track and raquet facilities.

Heslington East Campus

Heslington East Campus

The pool was a surprisingly long walk from the bus stop and stupidly I neglected to bring my coat and got pretty cold on the way. The site is in the middle of spacious flat Yorkshire moorland though and feels somewhat exotic. The views were very nice out there.

York Sport Village!

York Sport Village!

The pool itself is much better than David Lloyd’s, and much better than the one that I had been using in France. The staff were friendly if a little over-run. I had to wait for a session of octopush to finish but then I had a lovely swim. The water was warm and despite a swimming club being in it didn’t feel too busy (or at least the spaciousness of the 8-lane 25m pool prevented it feeling too restricted and competitive). The water was nice and warm and not too chlorined. There were also mixed changing facilities, which is kinda unusual in England but whatever.

The pool, with Octopush!

The pool, with Octopush!

My technique felt a little shot today. The first few laps were fine, but then I felt I was floundering a little, trying to try some stuff out and improve it a bit. I tried a bit of core work today, trying to lift my body a bit in the water and skim along the top. It threw the rest of my technique out though and I’m not convinced that I was doing very well. I might consider trying to get a lesson tomorrow. Of the sports I’ve been doing, swimming seems to be the hardest to master good technique doing. Partly it’s my size I think. Once I’m a fair bit less “graisse” then things should be easier.

Walking back from the pool in beautiful countryside with a nice twighlight light :)

Walking back from the pool in beautiful countryside with a nice twilight light :)

I managed about an hour and fifteen minutes of swimming. Coupled with about an hour walking today I felt it was good work.

Snowing in York!

Snowing in York!

In the evening I hung out with some more friends, CaptainAwesome and RampantPixie, playing board games (Last Night on Earth) and a Cthulhu variant of FLUXX.

A good day! And exercise to boot.

Day 40: Swimming Fail :-/

Today has been quite a strange day. I did do some exercise so it is all ok. In the morning I walked down to the bakery to get the bread for lunch. It’s an hour’s walk and not nothing so technically I’m still winning.

During the afternoon it was still cold-ish out (although sunny), there was ice on the ground and work was going well so I wasn’t in favour of a long outing really. Work is in general behind and when the wind is favourable I have to sail, as it were.

So during the afternoon I worked. Grumble Meister was to pick me up late afternoon to go swimming in Briançon. At one point in the afternoon I needed a break – I was feeling tired and a little weak, so I got out a computer game I’ve been playing – The Walking Dead.

This is an excellent zombie horror point-and-click adventure series with just the right balance of interactivity, awesome plot lines, characterisation and atmosphere. It’s very immersive and for some reason today it really freaked me out. A tip if you play this game: if you have a kettle that produces a high pitched whistle to say it’s boiling, don’t make yourself a cup of tea while playing this game, it is terrifying.

All in all, when GM poked his head round the door to pick me up, I felt really paranoid and a little bit weirded out, which didn’t bode well for exercise.

When we got to the pool, the signs were ominous – I found it hard to find a cubicle, and noticed I had forgotten to bring a euro piece for the lockers. As I returned to the front desk to get change, an entire coach load of teenagers arrived. As ill luck would have it they were an advanced swimming class. I managed 30 minutes of swimming next to 3 lanes-worth of constant, fast, splashy butterfly stroke, feeling more an more ill from the excessive chlorine in the pool before I decided to give up the ghost.

I waited out the remaining 30 minutes I had planned to swim by relaxing in the leisure pool and practicing my French verbs.

I think I’ve decided that the pool isn’t really worth it. Apart from the frequent business which does ruin swimming a bit for me, the pool is far too chlorinated and I feel really sick after swimming. I think I’m going to have to find an alternative.

So not a complete fail on exercise today, but I’ve been put off one type off exercise for the minute. Hmm.

Day 28: Swimming!

Today has been a reasonably productive day – 2 more scores down, 3 to go before I get on and finish the orchestral score. The afternoon was quite entertaining as we played hunt the gloves! Basically, I got home tired the other day, put my cycling gloves down somewhere, and completely forgot where. I spent the entire afternoon going through all of my belongings, emptying all of my many bags and pockets (discovering several ones I didn’t know I had in the process) and searching every possible place they could be.

I finally found them in my washing hamper. Doh!

So most of the day gone, and it being too chilly to cycle, Bike Fairy dropped me off at the pool for a wee swim. Surprisingly, the lane pool was totally empty today; I had the whole place to myself, which was lovely, apart from 3 small kids who decided to use the whole lane pool as their play-pool, and seemed to move into whichever lane I moved into to get away from them.

Eventually I said “Excuse-moi! Jouez dans le autre ligne s’il vous plais!” and they did. Yay for knowing more French!

It was great having the line to myself – it’s so competitive usually that you get out of breath feeling that you have to take really quick strokes. I worked a lot on my glide and stretch in long slow strokes, front crawl and breast stroke. I was able to connect up more lengths (4-5 this time) and I worked a lot on my breathing, trying not to look up in breast stroke, and trying to breath with half of my head under water for Front Crawl.

They must have just chlorinated the pool because while I was practicing my breathing I must have inhaled half of it. It soon made me feel pretty sick and I gave up after 45 minutes or so. I then had a nice wallow in the play-pool. It’s quite nice just letting the water push you around for a while (they have currents, jacuzzi shelves and jacuzzi booths) and felt good on my legs, which I’ve been using a lot recently.

Managed not to leave anything at the pool this time. Afterwards we went to the local Carrefour supermarket to get passport-photos for my ski season-pass! Hurrah! Looking forward very much to skiing. However, the photograph was as usual AWFUL, and made me look like a butcher.

One thing I’ve never quite understood – why do photographers always make you turn to one side and then look at them? Bizarre.

Anyway, à bientôt!

pretty sunset when we got back

(can’t take photos while swimming sadly)

Day 18: EminanceGraisse: Biathlete

Sorry for the late update! Yesterday Bike Fairy disappeared off on her bike to travel over the col d’Echelle and then the col over at Mongenevré – a round trip of about 5 hours with some really steep climbs.

I had a lot of work to do so decided to stay at home and do it. The plan was to meet BF at the pool in Briançon around 5pm and go swimming while she had a soak in the fun pool.

By the time it got to 3.50pm though I had an itch to get out of the house, so I decided to cycle down to Briançon while Grumble Meister followed in the car with our swimming stuff and so that we had somewhere to lock the bikes when we got there.

I was running very late by the time I left (4.10pm) and GM was grumbling a bit about picking me up along the way if I was lagging behind, so I set off at a pace. The road is downhill all the way and I absolutely bombed it down, changing down into the middle gears only once to negotiate a roundabout in Briançon.

Despite it being mainly down hill it was still a bit of a workout, and I maintained pace whenever it dipped, pushing hard and getting out of breath. With every car I expected it to be GM about to pull me over.

Actually though, I got to the swimming pool a full ten minutes early and enjoyed perusing my ridiculous stats for the journey.

No pretty pictures for yesterday, I’m afraid – the couple I took were from the car park while I was waiting. On the way I stopped for no amount of beautiful scenery, although there was plenty.

We then went for about 45 minutes in the pool. It was very busy and I was actually pretty exhausted pretty quick. I don’t like lanes when there are a lot of people – it’s very easy to get competitive with the other swimmers. There were a lot of children around to. Never the less I did 30 or so lengths. At the deep end of the pool I’ve noticed quite a strong current caused by the number of people pushing the water about. I need to do some slow practice as well and work on my glide I think – with everyone splashing about it’s difficult to take it easy and take long slow pulls, which I should be doing.

Anyway, that’s my excuse. GM doesn’t like the water it seems and we head off home before I could properly get into it, but equally I was pretty tired by then.

Today I intend to head to Briançon and back – I have a secret mission.

I have also left my cycle shorts at the pool. Merde.

Day 5: Swimming!

Not unfortunately anywhere glamorous. Last night we had a really beautiful red sunset (see above – nom!) . As a result I think today it is fair bucketing it down outside.

Yeah way to rain on my parade The Process of Condensation and Precipitation.

Yuck. It’s very dramatic – we’ve had thunder and lightning and had to unplug the electronics. So today we packed our trunks and headed to the local swimming pool in Briançon with the requisite trumpety-trump (which I ascribe to last night’s bean soup).

The pool was quite nice – there was a four-lane 25m adult pool with a graded depth and starting blocks on the deep end. I’m more used to a uniform pool so was quite surprised to hit the bottom of the shallow end. There’s also a fun pool with a strong current course, a couple of fountains (one under, one over), a jacuzzi bench and little jacuzzi “booths” with bubbles shooting out around back height. There were also water slides, but I think I’m a bit too big at the moment to enjoy them.

So swimming is something I love doing, and am getting quite good at. I’ve been working on my technique for a while and am currently working on my front crawl roll and stroke, and trying to get my head down more while breathing. As I’ve said however, I am horribly unfit at the moment so I could only do two lengths at a time (my best so far is 6 – I used to do 5 sets of 6 front crawl as a workout and 30 odd more breast stroke). I’m a bit out of practice so my arms burned for the first few laps but got into a more easy pace after a while. There are some issues with my breast stroke that I need to work out too, specifically my head position and my flick. I used to be able to do breast stroke pretty constantly but that was before I learned some technique and now I need to improve a bit more to make it easier.

Usefully there were floats as well. The pool was pretty busy and stressful though. On my left was a lane of about 10 people all doing butterfly, a class I think. On my right were the slow-caoches practicing with floats as well as (oddly!) someone swimming with huge flippers and a snorkel. I couldn’t decide if he was practicing for an island trip, or practising the body shapes of the butterfly stroke. Others were practicing their kick with flippers as well.

I got 45 mins or so in before heading to the fun pool for a relax and then out. All in all about an hour and 10 mins.

As we were getting out of the pool I noticed a load of french wifeys hauling exercise bikes into the pool. This is something I have never seen! Whoever thought of exercising by cycling underwater, I want to shake their hand. They win my “lunatic of the week” prize…

On the way back the sun had come out and rain had stopped. While it had ben busy raining in Nevache, it appears that on top of the mountains it had been snowing, and we could see white peaks behind the wispy clouds.

I am totally looking forward to ski season!

I can see clearly now the ra- oh wait no I can’t.