Bad week + bad back = bad mood.
That summed me up this morning. As Davo drove us down the coast to Stanwell Park, I carried the tension of my dark mood in my lower back.
Fortunately, it was your typical perfect Sydney day (sob all you poor sods who live in farwaway lands afflicted by foul weather) so when we arrived my spirits lifted somewhat, though my back still killed me.
But to the swim.
The Stanwell Park Ocean Challenge starts at Coalcliff beach and runs a fairly straight course 2.3 km north to finish at Stanwell Beach at Stanwell Park, a pretty oceanside 'village' tucked into the southern edge of the Royal National Park.
As usual, Davo and I arrived nice and early. This gave me time to part with $40 (late entry fee) and for us to catch the first bus to Coalcliff.
The town gets its name from its coal cliffs! Doh! Apparently, the Illawarra Coke Company has had a site here for over 97 years. You can't see it from the beach.
The exciting part of the event for me was that we were going to swim past the cliffs, which look stunning in photos.
The swim started on time at 10am, though there was a bit of confusion as the surfwatch plane was meant to fly over before the starter horn went off. Minor glitch.
The horn blew out of 'honk' by the time the 40+ group surged into a very swimmable surf.
I enjoyed the swim, despite my back. My goggles filled and fogged, I stopped and looked around and still continued to swim wide of the buoys. I am seriously over myself. I'm sure I added another kilometre onto the distance today because I always head out to sea and away from the peloton. Someone help me!
Highlights - as I turned my head to the left, every so often I glimpsed the cliffs rising from the water like the walls of an ancient fortress. The water was gorgeous, and sometimes I could see all the way to the ocean floor.
Lowlights - I got tired (same old story), followed in the person who swam too wide of the final buoy (same old story) and my time sucked (you know how the story goes).
But that's OK (it's not really, but I am writing this season off just because...).
I think Davo did an excellent time, though he couldn't find his result on the board.
The ocean swimming season is slowly drifting to a close, but there's still more to come. Stay tuned to this blog.
PS Back still bad but mood slightly better.