Challenge Completed

Last night I’d pretty much lost count after my fourth celebratory “well-earned” drink (cheers guys!) and was surprised to wake up hangover-free this morning; I believe it was the midnight snack of Nutella on toast that saved me. Today has been one of those glorious lazy days where it’s perfectly acceptable to be in your pyjamas until midday and have biscuits with every single cup of tea, just because it’s Sunday. Even more acceptable when you have achy shoulders but a shiny medal to show for it.

Those of you who know me well will know that I get nervous about pretty much anything (new job, a presentation, sometimes even before nights out in a weird kind of nervous-excited way) and so I was pacing up and down my hallway yesterday morning, moving from room to room in the house trying to figure out what I could be doing to whittle away the couple of hours I had before I had to hit the pool. In true OCD style, I decided that doing the housework while listening to Kisstory was about the only thing that was going to calm my nerves in a strange, therapeutic way. As annoying as it is though, nerves give me the adrenaline rush I need in order for me to concentrate on doing something, some would call it unnecessary pressure but I know I care about something if I worry slightly over it. A slight admission there into one of my little habits.

Habit number two- when I’m nervous, I become even more clumsy than usual. In the changing room, I was all fingers and thumbs as I attempted to put my hat and goggles on:

Drop the talcum powder.

Drop the hat.

Goggles…goggles? Where the hell are my goggles?!

One bite of a Nutrigrain bar.

Drop my water bottle on my foot. 

Have a fight with the changing room door and my sports bag.

Hit my arm on the locker door as it closes.

And then almost slip over on the wet tiles as I make my way to my lane with Eye of the Tiger playing in the background gently mocking me. 

During the ten minutes of our warm-up, all I kept thinking about was whether I’d flake out during my 5K and left gasping like a goldfish on the poolside. However, like my own advice that I dish out in pretty much every single one of my blog posts, I decided to take a dose of my own medicine and  as cheesy as it may sound, basically told myself that You. Can. Do. This.

I always wanted to complete the 5K within 2 hours and although I told myself, that I wouldn’t be disappointed if I didn’t manage to do it within that time because of course completing the challenge in itself was an accomplishment, I was absolutely determined to do so.

And so, I completed my 5K Swimathon Challenge in 01:53:02!

Mid-Swimathon...

Mid-Swimathon…

Massive thank you to all of you who wished me luck yesterday, who’ve sponsored and supported me during my training and of course, to all of my friends and family who came out last night to celebrate with me. Thank you especially to my parents who came to spur me on and my brother who was my designated ‘spotter’ and kept me going when I began to feel tired.

At one point, I could feel my hands just smacking the top of the water as it became an effort to put one arm over the other, I could feel my pulse in my head, my throat felt raw through my breathing and one misjudged tumble-turn had resulted in a rope burn from the lane dividers. Hearing my bro shout at me “10 more lengths!” was my last bit of encouragement for me to sprint to the end. Even though my legs felt like jelly, my goggles had left a comedic imprint on my silly, grinning face and MGMT “Kids,” was playing as I finished, it felt awesome to have accomplished my challenge within the time that I’d aimed for while raising money for a worthy cause.

If you fancy getting involved next year whether you want to do the 1.5K, 2.5K or 5K as an individual or in a team, you can register your interest for the 2014 Swimathon on their website. Whether you want to challenge yourself or use it as an incentive for fitness regime, it’s all worth it to raise money for such an amazing charity.

Its already made me think of other challenges that I can take on and although I wouldn’t be able to do anything like the London Marathon within the near foreseeable future, something like that is definitely on my bucket-list but y’know, one step at a time!

Sunday night fear is starting to creep in but it’s been another brilliant weekend and no matter what life throws at you, it’s these brilliant weekends that make the best memories.

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Get your Game Face on

Happy Friday at last and Happy Payday weekend for most of you, whether you’re out tonight or saving yourself for tomorrow, have a good one! I’m having a quiet one this evening in preparation for the Swimathon tomorrow so MasterChef is probably about as exciting as it gets and I even declined a chocolate eclair at work today *sob*! Don’t worry, I’ll be making up for it at my local tomorrow night, I’m sure.

After what seemed a never-ending week and my last two practise swims, I’m strangely starting to feel a little bit nervous- the butterflies-in-your-stomach kind of nervous. I started my training for the Swimathon back in September and I’m aiming to complete the 200 lengths within 2 hours but obviously it’s not a race and at the end of the day, completing the challenge itself is an achievement.

The amount of sponsors and support I’ve had has been absolutely amazing and I’m looking forward to spending time with friends and family tomorrow evening. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far (current donations amount to nearly £200 online and offline!) and I know I keep repeating myself (sorrysorrysorry!) but if you wish to sponsor me to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer UK, please click the link below:

http://my.artezglobal.com/personalPage.aspx?registrationID=411798&langPref=en-CA

The deadline for fundraising is the 30th June 2013 so there’s a plenty of time to get involved.

Donations are essential to allow the Marie Curie Nurses to continue the amazing support they provide

Donations are essential to allow the Marie Curie Nurses to continue the amazing support they provide

The work that the nurses do at Marie Curie Cancer Care UK is incredible and with our support, it will help them to provide free hands-on care and emotional support to those with terminal illnesses and their families in their own homes, right until the end.

In order for the service to remain free, donations to the charity are essential; £20 can cover one hour of nursing within a patient’s home while £3,000 covers the cost of Marie Curie’s nursing service nationally for one hour.

For more information about the work that the Marie Curie Nurses do and of course to see how your donations help to make a difference, please visit the website here.

I’m off to get a good night’s sleep, with a mental playlist in my head in readiness for tomorrow (I’m thinking a bit of Daft Punk with some Two Door Cinema Club and Rudimental, I’ll despair if I get Pitbull stuck in my head on a loop!) and I’ll keep you updated via Twitter. Follow me at @daniellestacey1 with the hashtags #swimathon #takeonachallenge and of course, my favourite #justkeepswimming.

Wish me luck!

Just Keep Swimming…

There’s nothing better than sitting down on the sofa at the end of a long day with a nice cup of tea and a biscuit…unless you’ve given up on sugar for Lent of course! I’m quite aware that I sound like a little old lady and I frequently find myself now falling asleep in front of the TV/reading a book/on my laptop at the ridiculous time of 9.30 in  the evening, before I am shook awake and manage to stumble up the stairs in a daze.

I relate to the phrase “Living for the Weekend,” more than ever now and count the days down to Friday in order to cram my weekend full of fun shenanigans before Sunday evening creeps in. Gone are the days of staying up until some unearthly hour frantically tapping away at my laptop on Facebook  trying to finish off an uni assignment or going out mid-week with the rest of the Nation’s students to take advantage of £2.50 Jager bombs. I mean, I’m not saying my social life has gone completely out of the window, I guess things just change.

One of the things that I’m grateful about with my 9-5 life, is the routine that I can plan around it. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m back swimming with the Masters squad and I’m currently on a training regime for my 5K (200 lengths) Challenge for the Swimathon in April. I’m averaging about 120/130 lengths in my sessions at the moment and don’t worry, I’m well aware that I constantly need to step it up a gear each time because for me, the 5K is definitely a challenge, despite having swum since I was a kid.

An indoor pool is always ideal

An indoor pool is always ideal

It’s like any physical challenge, whether you’re doing a Triathlon, the Marathon or the Tour de France, it can drain you mentally as well as physically. When I get in from work sometimes, I just want to put my feet up and pretty much doze for the evening, especially with the arctic weather we’re experiencing at the moment. However, I think a lot of the time, you have to psyche yourself up for these challenges and train yourself into thinking of only the positives e.g. “When I’m in the water, I don’t have to think about anything and I always feel awesome after a session,” rather than thinking “Oh god, I’ve still got another 50 lengths to go and I’m so tired and hungry.” It helps that swimming is second nature to me and it’s definitely my own of therapy that helps me through the week.

I mean of course any challenge that you do is hard, otherwise it wouldn’t be a challenge! You’ll always have good days and bad days with things but use the bad days as a catalyst to kick arse next time. At last night’s session, I planned on doing 120 lengths and I could have just got out of the pool and be done with it for the evening. However, I had ten minutes left and I was so in the zone when you’ve smashed past the mental barrier that can sometimes set you back, that I ended up doing 10 extra lengths on top of my 120. Sounds cheesy, but I felt so much adrenaline afterwards.

The worst thing you can do with anything is to give up completely. I’ve had times when I can hear my own pulse in my head, my breathing becomes erratic, my eyes are red-raw from the chlorine (even with goggles) and I feel like I can’t lift my arms over my head any further. Obviously never push yourself to the point of causing danger to your health and always stop doing anything that causes you pain e.g. muscle pain, cramps, nausea and dizziness etc. Always allow time to recharge your batteries after a session and re cooperate before getting back into the swing of anything too but once you’re back, live and kicking (excuse the pun) get back on track and give it your best shot. At the end of the day, if you try your best at anything in life, at least you know that you gave it your all.

Despite Olympic gold medalist Rebecca Adlington announcing her retirement from competitive swimming at the age of 23 last week, she said:

“If you really love something that never dies and it never goes away. And that’s what it’s like with swimming…I genuinely love the sport whether I’m competing or not. Whatever I’m doing I’ll still love the sport, it’s such a great thing to be part of.”

 

 

 

If you would like to sponsor me for my 5K challenge at the Swimathon, please see the link below. Thank you!

http://my.artezglobal.com/personalPage.aspx?registrationID=411798&langPref=en-CA

Cabin Fever and Wanderlust

First and foremost, I apologise for my lack of blogging posts since New Year’s day; a slight affliction of the January blues and getting back into the swing of things post-Christmas are mostly to blame. Nevertheless, I am now writing to you from the cosy pit that is my boudoir, having decided that hibernation from today is the way forward.

Don’t get me wrong, snow’s pretty and all that jazz but unless you’re at primary school age where snow days are inevitable because Dairy Crest can’t fulfil their delivery duties, it loses much of its elements of fun. As I’ve probably mentioned before, I hate being cold with a passion and would happily live in Sahara-like conditions all year round if I wasn’t confined to the British Isles. The winter months over here and our dismal summers constantly give me itchy feet and if I were offered a job in somewhere like Australia tomorrow, I’d be on that plane quicker than you can say “G’day mate!

Wanderlust...a very strong and impulsive desire to travel. Photo courtesy of enjoyeventscoblog.com

Wanderlust…a very strong and impulsive desire to travel. Photo courtesy of enjoyeventscoblog.com

As much as I find change to deal with at times, I do have this underlying craving for a change of scenery and working abroad has always been one of my major life goals. I guess it’s all about timing and money in this sense because with the uncertainty of the economy, people feel even more pressured to hold on to their current jobs for security purposes and of course, to travel and work abroad, money is another massive factor. If you’re slightly more carefree, perhaps you’ll chuck a few belongings into your polka-dotted handkerchief, get a one-way ticket to anywhere and promise to return when the economy has “sorted itself out.” A girl can dream right?

While I plot my imaginary escape to paradise in my head, in the meantime, I am living my last day and a half as a 22 year old…eeeek! Although I can’t imagine I’ll develop wrinkles overnight, it does take me one year closer to the big 3-0 and as they say, time flies by when you’re having fun. I do however look forward to a week’s worth of revelry with my friends and family, snow or no snow!

I am also still embarking on my fitness regime, which was temporarily thrown off course by illness, but I have now officially signed up for the Swimathon 2013, where I’ll be taking on the Ultimate 5K Challenge (that’s 200 lengths in layman’s terms!) in April. The Swimathon helps to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care, an amazing charity whose nurses help to provide home support for people with terminal illnesses and their relatives.

Since 2007, more than 100,000 swimmers have jumped in the water and raised vital funds, last year alone more than 26,000 swimmers raised a staggering £2.4 million.”

So if you would like to show your support and help me raise funds for a brilliant cause, you can sponsor me here and donate online at:

http://my.artezglobal.com/personalPage.aspx?registrationID=411798&langPref=en-CA 

Thank you so much for your sponsorship in advance and I will of course keep you up to date with my progress on here. I’ve so far been hitting the 100 lengths mark in my sessions so far and like with anything long distance, it’s all about building up your stamina. I’ve always wanted to get involved in the Swimathon, having swum competitively from my childhood to my teens and I wanted a goal to work towards so that I could get back into it and have the added bonus of keeping fit. It also ticks off at least three goals on 2013’s Bucket-list; keep fit, take on a challenge for charity and get back into swimming. Hoorah!

Working abroad is definitely on my general bucket-list and although, stranger things have happened, I think it’s always a little sensible to keep your goals slightly realistic. But of course, my inner carefree soul hopes that she’ll be writing to you from a beach this time next year.