I can’t sleep. It’s half past 1 in the morning and I’m wide awake. Wide. Awake.
Even though my ‘big race’ is less than a week away it’s nothing to do with that. In true Ella style I’m already thinking about my next race. It’s not booked yet, but I know what I want to do. Unfortunately though, it involves a few things I’m not very good at. Cycling, swimming and well, running.
So with that in mind I’ve been trying to increase my non-ability at these things. Trying to turn it into more of a ‘ah well, she’ll get to the finish line, eventually’.
An opportunity to get back open water swimming came up so I donned my rather unused wet suit and trundled down after work on a Friday.
And let me tell you, getting that thing on, after a year of non use isn’t easy!
After a lot of wriggling and jiggling and many, many, many jumps up/down -stretching-left-right-And-over I made my way to the loch (swearing to my self that I will get back to my yoga again). I climbed in rather gingerly and got myself used to the cold before setting off in possibly the worst example of breaststroke ever to be seen. Thank goodness no one from work was there.
I honestly think that one day I will be told that I only passed my swim teacher course because they needed to tick the OAP box on the equality form.
But let’s get back to the loch.
In all fairness it went not too bad for the first time in a year. I eventually managed to get my face in the water for short bursts and although it may have sounded like it, I didn’t die. I did develop a strange kind of ‘hum’ to myself which must have sounded utterly crazy but it calmed me down.
In the end I managed 4 laps which was about 750 metres. Mostly breaststroke, some weird singing/humming to myself, occasional dip of the face in to the water. I left happy I had done it. But also adamant I would need a new wet suit. The tightness on my chest was too much and I struggled to lift my arms high enough to get a decent stroke.
The next day I had no long run to do. With Race To The King in 1 week I wasn’t about to head out for 15 miles. Wanting to build on what I felt had been a good first session we headed out to a different Loch. Joe had swam there many times and I had been a few so I had no worries about it.
Walking down to the edge Joe spotted some fishing rods so told me we would swim straight out so as to avoid them. No problem. It was cold but I felt ok and my wet suit felt slightly less constrictive. I started with breaststroke so I could work up to properly swimming. It was too cold for Joe though and he just wasn’t in the mood so I suggested he head back to the car and warm up whilst I finished off. I was a little surprised when he agreed to this but put it down to him really not wanting to be there and maybe even possibly believing I could actually do this.
I set off back in the same loop we had done. I even put my face in the water. It was very murky so I closed my eyes when I put my face in and opened them again when I breathed. I went a little further out than we had swam but I was ok.
Then I saw a white thing.
Did I? Did I see something? Maybe it was just my hand, I wasn’t wearing gloves.
I swam a little more.
That was definitely a white thing but blink and you miss it.
I tell myself it was my hand again. But. I know my hand is at the end of my arm. My left arm is out stretched. My right arm is by my side. I saw the white thing, in front of me, to the right. My hand that is in front of me, is way over there. On the left.
The panic starts.
What the f@ck, what the f@ck, holy hell.
(I’m actually beginning to panic again just remembering it now).
I swiftly do a 180 and head back. Face is not in the water. I see it again.
Oh my god what if it IS a hand?!?!? It’s not MINE!! Who’s is it???? Oh my god dead bodies, dead bodies, DEAD BODIES!! What if it’s a zombified dead body?? What if I see an actual face, stare at me as it floats past under the water?!?
If I go into full blown panic attack right now then I’m going to be one of those dead bodies. I’m going to fill up with water, my body will be all blue and swollen and disgusting and squishy and oh my god I’m going to throw up.
I have to stop to wretch a couple of times.
Joes on the shore wrapped in his huge blanket – not paying attention to my life and death situation. He’s on his phone. He’s on his bloody phone. What’s he going to do? Film me dying???
Oh man could you imagine if I honestly have to be rescued from this loch? ‘Swim teacher rescued from loch after having a meltdown’. Loads of people swim here all the time, how am I the only one to come across something in here?
I make it back and stumble up to the edge. I decide against telling Joe about the white hand situation. He’s still on his bloody phone anyway. I look at my watch. I’m 100yards away from 1000.
Yup. I head back in. Reasoning it’s only 50 out and back and if I don’t go back in now I won’t have the guts to return another day. Although I’m not overly sure I even want to.
So I head safely past the fishing rods and about turn and come back again. Nope, I don’t like this. But. Job done.
Once I’m home and have had time to calm down I consider asking others if they have ever seen anything in the Loch. I can’t possibly be the only person, surely. I know for a fact it wasn’t my own hand I saw. I was just telling myself that so I didn’t drown. What the hell was it?
The light bulb eventually goes off in my head. It’s about 10pm now, a good solid 8hours later.
I had to swim past fishing rods at the edge. What do you tend to get near fishing rods?
I did not know there were fish in that loch! Had I known that, I’m not sure I would have swam myself. No one has ever mentioned fish in there.
So today I’m telling this story at work to someone I know has swam in the loch before. She immediately says there’s fish in there and she pretty much swims with her eyes closed because of the pikes.
I google images of pikes, not sure if it was this.
Pikes are huge!!!!! Holy mother of god!!! They are f@cking huge!! And they have teeth!!! What kind of a fish has teeth??? Is this a dinosaur fish???!! Are they in Jurassic f@cking park??? Those things EAT PEOPLE!! Like actually eat people!
I genuinely have a nervous breakdown and spend a solid 10 minutes in the bathroom breathing into a paper bag.
I’m not getting in that loch again. F@ck. That.
So. I’m no doctor. Or sleep specialist. But my guess is that I can’t sleep tonight, because I can’t breathe properly because I’m reliving the white hand/giant teeth gnarling monster scenario in my head over and over.
Absolutely not. I’m sticking to running.