Friday, January 4, 2013

The Siberian Chainsaw Massacre-

"Precious Few are Born with It, Even Fewer Know What to do With It. "

Really- a weekend away glamour!!
Waking at 6.30 am to once again head to the Ice was hilarious. It was such a deja vu, towels and swim togs hanging off the curtain rails.. shower in the evening optional and most funny was that neither of us had actually packed a hairbrush.
The pick up was 7.45am downstairs. Not a cup of tea in 3 days, the stress was mounting, add that to the fact that milk was a rarity in Siberia the challenges of the day were great!

As we traveled to the other hotel for some breakfast, we packed into the back of the car with Henri, Anne Marie in the middle and I in the back. squashed with the biggest of jackets on it felt like we were on a school tour, bags on our knees. Toomas in the front, in a car driving at 60 kph on icy roads that would have closed down Ireland. The air was hard this morning, the inhalations of -30 deg was the strangest and as the sun struggled to show it's face at 8.30am was unbelievable. It was going to be a tough day.

Stoke the burner... 10am!-darkness..
Once at the lake, the team started to organise the fires to heat the sauna, shovels appeared and the ice was taken from the lake..
 The ice was too solid to be broken with pipes and hammer as they did nothing. Padraig grabbed the shovel, displaying skills that any council worker would be proud of.
The sound shook the air, it was a chainsaw revving up, sluggish and slow, stumbling like ourselves then as in a huge cough that cleared the pipes, that sound growling-can't beat it. It sliced his way through the block. Anne Marie got splayed as Ice hit everything in it's path. Men gathered to stack slabs of ice to create a new wall.
Wandering about with the camera, a lot of thoughts were shared. Many questioning themselves.  I rambled over to the porta loos. Well now that was an expedition in itself-only the brave survive the porta loos.  Two faces, bleery eyes,  Ryan and Kieron-large grins.
May have been the porta loo or the thought of the 1km at 0.Deg
Kieron as proud as a two yr old after having his first potty success, wished me luck. I pulled the first door, ooogggg, the second was no better. Laughter filled the air as I struggled to accept the beauty of the male body-damn them for the ability to pee standing up.
How dark is this 10am?

It was difficult to guage the position and the approach to going to the toilet. My only words-I am wearing white tracksuit bottoms.. aaaggggghhhh-onwards.. One hand on the ceiling for balance, sticking to the ice like superglue-
My suspicions are firm. The boys rocked my box, balance an issue.. Though they protested.. A deep inhalation, a few rants and I was out. The boys were twisted with laughter outside the door..  no more liquid intake for me..
We discussed the thoughts for the day. There was honest and understandable concerns for the swim. I was adamant about taking on the 1,000m. I had visualised the distance, I counted the turns and knew when I could opt out. Why would I want to Opt Out?? The turns would be my enemy, I have not swam in a pool in a few years and the difference in OW and pools is the approach, the giving over of trust and the mind.
I could come out at 150m, 300m, 500m and 800m or stay for the 1,000m. It was a great system, yet I didn't  like that option, I am used to reeling in a house on the hill in open water and each time you touch a wall your mind has a choice, I respond better to commitment.
Internally I was happy to push mainly in the company I was in, there were enough experience staring at me to know that if I had a problem then they would have me out. My main fear was that Anne Marie would be ahead of me and I would not be there for her or her me.
 If you are going to go somewhere new the trust that you can look up and draw from the company you are in then that is all you can hope for. 
I couldn't be at a better ball game. Both Kieran and Ryan along with Ram had muscle memory of this distance in low temperatures, though not at 0.5 deg they had a pain memory that I did not have.
My heart.... 4 ECG in 3 days..
My own experiences are different, pain has little place in my life and I hold no fear of it, it is physical and momentary but what I lacked today was the place to go in my mind to match this experience. When I'm in my space, I'm in a place-today I didn't have a place. I felt new to this, my chat with Ryan played with me, I needed to think about a few things.

I had to get clearance to swim first. Back at the club house the queues were building for the medical check. The cold was surreal as we stood in a tent waiting, though my boots were good, I should have had 2 pairs of socks. There was one heater. Holding my coffee it didn't dawn on me, the effects on my BP check. Doh..
Blood pressure was 170/100-that was incredibly high from yesterdays 120/80. HR was 120.
The overall anxiety of the day, the tiredness, the lack of proper food and water all contributors BUT either way I was not getting any medical clearance to swim.. I was not alone-the queue for the call back was growing.
Shutting down for a moment-bringing BP down.. ish.. 
"Go off and get some calm and come back."

Where to go, I wandered over to the club house and the swim were starting, about 20 minutes later we decided to queue again.My feet were now very cold and as we stood both Anne Marie discussed the thoughts of doing the kilometer.
I wanted to get my feet off the ice and then I felt some cold in my lower back.. The hostility was rising. The words came out of my mouth..

"This time tomorrow we will be in Moscow en route home- I need to be 150% when I turn the key in my door from the airport."

There were still 6 people ahead of us in the queue, few were huddled by the heater, Jackie was just called to the pool, she was in. Anne Marie and I both stood with our feel tilted inward trying to get the soles of my feet off the ground. The barriers were mounting.My emotions were all over the place. I really wanted to swim 1,000m but it didn't matter. I was concerned about the recovery, not the body temps but beyond.I felt a little out of my depth with these air temps. Who is going to be there ? Can we be there for Padraig? Anne Marie had made her decision but still I battled myself-I hated that I was fighting.
Decisions being made...
I thought about tomorrow and the day after, and the day after. The fight was not about the swim, the fight was not about the pain or the challenge, I can go through a brick wall. The battle was about the cost of the swim. I was totally unsure about the cost...
Anne Marie got clearance, Padraig and Noel ran with her and I knew where she was going, distance wise.. I walked out of the Ambo, content with my HR and BP, in the hour it had dropped to 140/90 which meant that it was anxiety etc... Irina ran with me to get changed, Anne Marie was in and out.. and it was my turn.
The air was cold but taking off my clothes meant very little... Noel and Padraig were there despite Padraig having his swim. Mariia and Cristian, stood in support and many faces.. I knew what I was going to do.. I knew I'd be disappointed but at the end of the day you do need the freedom to succeed.. Today I was not free.. there were barriers and I had managed to find them and build them high.. The head is the biggest obstacle and today it won-For the right reasons... I knew that Ram, Ryan and Kieron would go to the 1,000m, they had places to go within from their personal achievements.I knew that Henri was going to 1,6km such an amazing athlete. Padraig was making his decisions, Jackie was concrete in her, Cristian was as cool as the ice I was in.. The pain was nothing, instant and constant, but not connected to my decision. My decision was based on how I could feel in 3 days or in 13 days. I wouldn't have a day off in 3 weeks. Overruling my head was not going to happen today.. Happy was all I was destined to be.. Today I was going to stay in the happy place and be proud of everyone for what they would achieve.
As the water consumed me, the numbness took hold I had a wry smile, a sense of childish giggling as if I knew something those watching me did not...

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