Monday 9 August 2010

Fiji Swims 18km race preparation (back to Beachcomber...)

So it's three days until the Fiji Swims 18km solo challenge. Having participated last year in a team (“The BondiFit Kamikaze Death Squad” no less) I decided to step it up and head back to do it solo.

This means a couple of things different to last year:
1. No drinking on the plane at 8am on the way to Fiji
2. No drinking in the bar until 10pm the night before the race
3. No drinking the morning of the race

It also means I don’t get to chill out on the boat, eat jellies, cheer on the other swimmers, dive in for 10 minutes every 30 mins or so, work on my tan etc. In fact I foresee I’ll have an extremely nice X on my back having swum for 6 hours or so with my head face down in the water.

Preparation has gone well considering I only decided to do this race 5 weeks ago. After knocking off the 14km training swim in England (@14.6 degrees temp), I figured I could push myself a little further to 18km in the bath like temperatures of Fiji. I joined fellow Fiji racer Louise Stevenson in the pool and started focussing on long distance training. Consequently I have been smashing myself in the pool for the last 4 weeks – 2 hours daily averaging 6-7kms with some mammoth sets like a 12km session a few weeks ago with Lou and Ryan Huckle. It was very entertaining watching them thrash it out over 10kms in a pool – and I am sure the real race will be just as exciting between them!

Physically, I am ready. Training has gone well, I have stocked up on energy drink, gels, jellies, antihistamines, panadol, goggles, caps, Vaseline and hopefully my Fijian support paddler and boat driver will manage to keep me on course to the island.

Mentally, the real challenge now begins – 6 hours to kill whilst I think about everything and anything that pops into my head. I am hoping I don’t get some extremely annoying song stuck in there! Tips received which will definitely be put to use are: make lists - of my top 10 movies, top 10 songs, top 10 things that make me happy, everything that I can think of that is pink etc... That will probably keep me occupied for the first hour... only 5 more to go!

The course is pretty much swim off the beach at Port Denarau and head straight to Beachcomber Island. Arrive on island to Fijian welcome 18 kilometres and somewhere in the vicinity of 6 hours later. Drink cocktails. Drink more cocktails and then celebrate with a few more cocktails. Lie on a beach for a day, then get up and swim another race (only 2.7km this time!), then swim another race (500m) which is fittingly called the “Beach – Boat- Bar” race, and finishes, not surprisingly, in a bar. 12 more hours lying on sand, a few more cocktails, and then fly home ready for work on Monday.

So far, eight solo swimmers have registered (largest solo field ever) with a heap more duo and teams also, so it looks like it will be good fun. And I must admit, I am excited – not only will I not be following a black line for 6 hours, but this will be my longest swim yet!

Bula Bula!