Rottnest training is in full swing, with the big day one month away. I’ve been through this training regime twice before so I spent the holidays preparing freezer meals and sorting out things around the house so I’d be ready for it all. But even the first couple of weeks back at training have managed to throw a few surprises my way…

The plan for this week was 4 x 6km in the pool + 12km in the ocean. I was really pleased with the swims for the first three days – I felt strong and fast – but then everything came crumbling down. I had my first pre-Channel meltdown on Wednesday. I could not stop crying. Loads of doubts: if I couldn’t make it through a 36km week how was I ever going to manage a 55km week? How was I going to manage my job if I couldn’t have a conversation without sobbing? I went home early. I took a nap. I ate something. And then everything was better. Back to 100%. Turns out I was just really tired and hungry. Tara told me later, “It’s very unusual for a person to go through Channel training and not have regular breakdowns. The only people who don’t either don’t work, or have a wife or mum looking after them at home”. I expect this will be the first meltdown of many. If you see me in a state of despair, please feed me. In the case of remoteness, posted cookies will be gladly accepted.

Energy levels were once again challenged yesterday. We went to Coogee for our 12km swim. The conditions were perfect – calm and sunny. Nic was conducting fluid testing for a few of us to figure out how much we sweat (and therefore how much we need to drink). As part of the testing we had to start the day on an empty stomach – no coffee, breakfast, drinks or gels before the swim. Then we had to swim for an hour, still with no food or drink. You can imagine how well this went for me… I got a cracking headache by 40 minutes, felt lousy and everything hurt far more than it usually would have. We were allowed to eat after we had finished the test – I had 9km to go, so returned to my 30 minute feeding schedule, but I just couldn’t come back. Every feed made my stomach turn, and the headache wouldn’t go away. I started to see flames on the water – an illusion caused by my orange tinted goggles that I don’t notice unless I’m really struggling. I pulled the pin at 10km rather than 12km and made a hasty retreat for home - I needed a dark room, lots of water and some solid food.

It’s striking how quickly my mood and mind change in response to food, and the couple of times that I’ve tried to carry on without my regular feeds have not ended well. So… lesson for the week: there will be more meltdowns, but if I eat and sleep, things will get better. And I have a really solid set of friends and a very understanding boss who say and do all the right things when I’m dissolving into a puddle of tears.