1pm. Oh my god where is this finish line? I've been swimming for 3 hours. I should be done by now and I'm starting to really struggle.
The island I think is near the finish is not getting any closer. My shoulder is hurting and I'm getting very cold. I stop to ask the kayaker how far the finish is. He thinks another 1.5km or so (which is at least 25 mins of swimming now). And for the first time in my life I call it a day and ask for the boat back.
I see Chris at the finish and he's a bit shocked I'm in the boat. But not that shocked.
Rewind to, well, sometime this year. I've been having bouts of total exhaustion. "Well you're a mum now, Kate" I hear you say. But it's different. I've trained for Ironman distance races. I've had a baby that was awake between the hours of 1am and 5am every night. It's something more than that. And the past few weeks have been tough. I've been getting 9 hours sleep and trying to squeeze in a nap here and there, but still almost falling asleep at the wheel and losing my concentration easily.
As I wait for blood tests I considered pulling out of this event. It's not helped that I've replaced all my swim training with intensive physio on my pelvis for the past few weeks. Even the day before I was swithering. Chris was telling me to pull out, others telling me to give it a bash.
But I've done 10km before. Fuck, I've done 50km before. I've done a few 10kms in training this year and I've done 10kms well and I've done them badly. If there is one thing I know about myself it's that I can do anything I set my mind to. Swimming 10km, or the length of Loch Earn will be tough the way I'm feeling, but manageable surely? I'm Kate! I can do anything! My mum said so!
Things started to go wrong about 6km. I got really cold, after only a couple of open water swims this month and a steady drop in water temperature as autumn approaches. And then my rotator cuff, which gives me gyp occasionally started to hurt about 8km. But at least I only had 2km to go.
But it turns out the course is more like 10.4km (I'm still convinced it's more like 11km, as are others!) and by the time I got to 9km it was more like 10km I'd done. And I couldn't see the finish.
When the kayaker told me how far I had to go, I actually had less than 1km and not the 1500m+ he thought. But for the first time in my life I knew I couldn't physically manage any more. This was not a mental problem as so many of us endurance athletes face. I KNOW I can control my mind. But if there's one thing having osteitis pubis for 3 years has taught me it's that I can't alway control my body and today it just gave up. My body was freezing and mild hypothermia was creeping up on me (not really as bad as it sounds).
And for the first time in my life I thought I'd rather just sit down with a cup of coffee and a biscuit at the finish than try to battle my way to the finish line taking god-knows-how-long to get done. Everything hurt and I needed to make a decision before the cold started warping my decision-making skills.
And I don't regret it for a second! My friends were surprised, but some days just don't work the way you hope and I still managed to swim for 3 hours. I have that competitive type A personality that makes people think I'll be gutted, and yet I feel utterly confident and happy that I made the right choice for me. I had a lovely time swimming in an amazing location surrounded by incredibly inspiring men and women and I did my absolute best.
I'll get to the bottom of my physical health (I'm assuming it's just a vitamin deficiency or thyroid issue as is common with "women of my age") and I'll fix my osteitis pubis if it kills me. I'll still give 100% every time, and sometimes that 100% will be less than other times!
The lochs of Scotland will always be here, waiting to be swum.
Shout out to all my friends who swam today, especially David Barlow who is the King of Loch Earn! X