I met Donna Hesbrook-Edwards through the Gold Post Box Challenge as her daughter, Gracie, also visited all 111 boxes.  Donna is very motivated at fundraising and decided to organise a virtual 5K over July-August 2016. A virtual event means you complete the distance/challenge at a location (and in this case date/time) that suits you and provided evidence of the event.  You still pay a nominal entry fee . Donna tagged me in the initial post on Facebook.  I said I felt a 5k run didn't seem a challenge for me.  A few weeks later Donna updated the challenge when she formally launched it and made it a 5k challenge either running, cycling or swimming.  My response?  "Now a 5k swim would be a challenge".  I need to think about these things before saying them! - I had committed myself to swim 5,000 metres - 3.1 miles or 200 lengths of a 25metre pool!  For someone who'd never swam more than a mile (and only done that once 5 years earlier) I hadn't thought about the consequences of my reply!

I mentioned the challenge to my friend, Olly (see Olly's return for his back ground story).  Olly exercises 6 days a week for several hours and is a decent swimmer.  He has seen my swimming at its worst in 2011 so knew this was a challenge for me. But Olly had never swam that far either and said he'd like to join me.  We agreed we'd do the swim in a pool rather than open water (made measuring it a lot easier) and I procured access to the Total Fitness pool in Willerby, on the west of Kingston upon Hull.  They kindly allowed us complimentary access and a lane to ourselves. We set the date - Wednesday 13 July (a random day I agree but our calendars didn't give much scope!) and I cajoled two friends, Katy and Pam, into coming along to count laps, take pictures and help keep us motivated.  
Fairy Bricks Virtual 5K - The 5k Swim


Lucas (above) and Olly (below) captured mid swim - notice Olly’s more efficient style!!

We entered the pool just after 11:15am.  The furthest I'd swam by this stage in a single go was 2,500metres - half the target distance.  Olly had reached 4,000 metres, so we were both going to be doing a good deal more.  Within 4 lengths Olly had lapped me - quickly demonstrating the difference in our swimming abilities. After the first 500 metres (20 lengths) Katy pointed out I needed to be drinking regularly - not something I'm used to doing when swimming. (And not because I think I swallow plenty of pool water!)  This then became the approach for the rest of the swim - 20 lengths and grab a drink. Katy got a few pictures and Pam waved fingers at me every 10 lengths to confirm how far I'd done.  Thankfully neither of them dozed of lap counting!

I passed the first kilometre in around 33 minutes - a time I was very happy with as I was well ahead of target.  I reached the half way point nearing the 1hr 30 minute mark - still just within target.  As I swam down the end of the 100th length, Olly reached the poolside and stopped for a drink stop and brief seat on the pool edge.  Olly was doing this every 40 lengths (1km).  Olly had just reached 4km as I reached 2.5!  He was 60 lengths ahead of me.  However, the timing was a great coincidence as we had both reached the same distance as we'd ever swam before in a single go.  I took a two minute breather - a chance to give my nose a rest from the pinch of my goggles too!

Lucas & Olly pre event and in the pool ready to start the challenge

Back into the water and as I approached 3,075 metres I knew Olly was in his final lap as he motored down the other side of the lane with some vigour to conclude his 5km in just under 2 hours - 77 lengths ahead of me!  I briefly bobbed up to shake his hand and congratulate him before plodding on.  My time had slowed but not hugely at this point.  Olly was quickly get video evidence of me as he seemed to recover with ease.  

I reached 150 lengths - 3/4 of the way- and at that point hit the wall!  Not literally (well yes, literally as I hit the wall every 25 metres) but metaphorically in the sense of suddenly felt drained.  I had had a few moments of cramp before this - one of which had caused me to stop mid length - but now I just struggled to muster the effort for each length.  This was exasperated by my goggles becoming increasingly more uncomfortable on my nose, despite some adjustments. I got through to the 4km mark for my drink stop.  40 lengths left. I felt for the girls watching and counting - I had slowed massively and their bums were getting ever number.  Olly was enjoying time in the plunge pool, ice pool and Jacuzzi in between checking on my progress!

Above - Lucas ending another length in the later stages

Right- Pam and Katy recording lengths and getting pictures

Below- Olly having just completed his 5k

The final 40 lengths I felt the urge to sleep and to just allow myself to drift up and down the pool I was that exhausted.  I found myself stopping every few lengths to fiddle with my goggles to try and make them more comfortable and was grateful for Pam's words of encouragement at the final 20 length drink stop. At length 192 I reached 3 miles - I had swam further than you do in an ironman and I was still not quite done!  In the final two lengths I pushed to make more effort to finally reach the end of the 200th length and the 5km mark,  3 hours 23 minutes since I started!

Huge thanks to Olly was swimming with me - it helped relieve the tediousness and gave me company, and to Pam and Katy for their counting and poolside support - was a massive help, especially as I did lose count a few times.  Thanks also to Total Fitness for hosting us.

Two days later Olly, Pam and I were assisting with a running club event and the Virtual 5k event medals and Lego bricks had arrived in the post in the interim.  We took the opportunity to enable Pam to present us with our medals and Lego bricks - recognition for our swimming efforts, thanks to Donna for forwarding them.

Above - Lucas & Olly post the 5k

Left - Lucas having just climbed out the pool and at the finish

Below - Pam, Lucas, Olly & Katy still smiling after a lengthy time at the pool!

Pam with Lucas and Olly after awarding their finisher medals

Lucas & Olly at a rest point before they commence new uncharted waters (in terms of distance)

Above - Pam pep talks Lucas with 500metres to go

Left - Lucas in his final length