There is a big tick next to Challenge 2 on my list of activities I’m doing over the next year! I just got back from my first open water-related race, the Henley mile swim. The wonderful team at Simply Swim gifted* me handy training kit and items to use on the day, including my entry into the Henley mile swim itself. I hadn’t done a mile open water swim in a year, and with my lack of training in the run-up, you can imagine how nervous I was on the day!
A quick recap for those of you who have just stumbled upon my blog. This is part of my 12 in 12 Challenge journey to raise awareness to my epilepsy, partial seizures. I’ve already done my first and written my blog here, and this was the 2nd one on the list. As my journey goes on, the races get more challenging. Hopefully, I can help bring more awareness for those who have no idea about this type of invisible disability.
We’d been at a wedding the night before and travelled down to Henley the following day. It had been quite a rush when we left Loughborough as not only did I need to be wedding ready, I also had to make sure I had all the right kit with me! And yes, I actually forgot my wetsuit so we had to turn around and get it. Not the best start!
The Henley Mile Swim
When we got there we parked up and headed to the main event registration. The Henley Festival had been on so the entire town was buzzing with people everywhere, it certainly helped the weather was on our side too. I was in the final wave of the mile swim at 2.30pm, so when we arrived there were a number of people in the water and many waiting to get straight into the Thames. Luckily I bumped into Charlie from The Runner Beans before the swim. She was in the same wave as I so thank goodness I had a friendly face to join me at the start. A big thank you to Charlie for these wonderful photos of me on my swim!
Race starting time
My wetsuit zipped up, my swim hat on, Goggles on and earplugs in, I was ready to go. I got off the pontoon and started swimming to the start. There was a mixture of red swim caps and gold ones, the red ones were for swimmers in the 2.30pm wave, and those with the gold swim caps had been swimming each mile wave. The countdown commenced and soon everyone was off. The best thing for me about this particular race was that you were swimming open water in a straight line. I often find I can lose my bearings with open water swimming, go off in the wrong direction if I misplace myself in my swim routine and forget to sight regularly. Luckily this didn’t happen as I was only heading in one direction, and there weren’t laps either – result! I hate laps!
The swim itself
I tend to find even with running or cycling, the first 5-10 minutes are a mental battle, I curse myself for doing it and continually query whether I can actually reach the finish line. Daft – I know. But I know once I get past that initial hiccup I’m in a zone, especially with swimming, the rhythm of front crawl takes over and I can keep going. I managed 37 minutes to complete the 1-mile swim, which gave me a PB from last years mile. I couldn’t believe it!
After the swim the next few hours mainly featured me saying, oh my goodness I just did that swim and I can’t believe I got a PB! I wrapped myself up in the Dry Robe (from my Simply Swim kit), and whilst feeling toasty and in my happiness bubble post-race, we explored the expo and treated myself to ice cream. There were other food and drink stalls, but the main area other than around the water was the expo full of brands and exhibitors.
Henley Mile Swim Expo
This was a marquee full of exciting well-known and new brands showcasing their products, including an endless pool where you could go and try out swimming and having it videoed. A fantastic option on improving your swim stroke and general swimming posture – had we not have been so busy I would have loved to do this. So plenty of discounted brands all in the expo! I was a very lucky wife because when I’d got out the water Nick has purchased me an event t-shirt and a Poolmate watch from the expo.
Gifts from Simply Swim
Big thanks to Simply Swim for all their help in the run-up to my race with their handy kit. I was gifted the following
Dry robe – A great option post-swim as all that body heat you lose you can gain it right back afterward by snuggling right back up in a Dry Robe! These are also pretty handy for getting changed under.
Goggles – always have some kind of issue with my goggle steaming up, but these new ones were fantastic and didn’t steam up during training or the race
Tow Float – You can’t take these on the race but I really enjoyed training with one. If you’re doing a long-distance swim I just like that you can rest whilst you build up your stamina with endurance swimming.
Swim cap – A bright swim cao, not just because you need a swim cap, but the fact mine was bright pink so I couldn’t lose it! I was given a swim cap for the race, however, this was a must for training.
The race was fantastic and the beautiful surroundings of Henley made for the perfect day out. I’d highly recommend the race because you can really have fun exploring the expo or going for a walk around the town itself. We had a trip down memory lane for Nick as this was where he did his Iron Distance triathlon, Challenge Henley, so we both had a great time walking about the area. Can’t wait to enter and race again next year, maybe even get another PB!
Watch my race here….