Week 12 - Swim Alcatraz!

The rock on Twitpic

The 1.5ish mile swim from Alcatraz this Saturday was amazing, a culmination of a year of training and learning to swim. I didn't plan on doing it this year, I didn't think I was capable... but a fellow swimmer said let's do it and I said alright (gasp!). That's what happens when you start hanging out with swimmers! Alcatraz is standard fare for every triathlete out here, but for us first-timers it's something special!

Alcatraz Crossing

After Coach Pedro gave us some last minute tips, we jumped off the boat. The sunrise as seen from floating in the bay is unbelievable. I learned alot about navigation. The current was a mellow ebb, but even with calm conditions things can get critical. The fog started rolling in soon after we jumped off the "Dauntless", which could have made sighting to shore really tricky. In just few minutes I couldn't even see Alcatraz. I think that's why I swam faster. Thankfully we had 3 pilots helping us across the 58 degree water, which seems comfortable to me now. The sun was glinting off objects onshore which also helped. I started sighting on the SS Jeremiah O'Brien, then shifted to the masts of the Balclutha as I got closer. As I approached the opening to Aquatic Park I thought I was all set to land at the opening. I was veering slightly left to the entrance (water moving to the right). I put my head underwater to take a few more strokes. Next time I sighted I was a few yards past the opening near the wedding cake and had to swim against the current to get back. Doh! For a couple minutes I felt that dreadful feeling of not going anywhere on a water treadmill, then realized I would have to swim faster or change my angle. One of those two things worked and I managed to get to calmer water at the opening. Now I know for future reference when navigating to overcompensate just to be safe, because it's much easier to ride the current then to swim against it. Also, try not to stop here at all - all the work of getting to the right place will be lost. Next time I will sight more at this point to make sure I'm in the right place. I didn't panic too much because The Dauntless was nearby with 3 pilots that can reposition you if needed. Those kayaks are pretty fast! I had a plan B, C & D. Plan B was to land at the wave organ, plan C land at Chrissy Field, and plan D the water will change direction eventually LOL!

An hour goes by fast in the water - it is very eventful. I'm very proud of myself but also proud of my friend Irene who also completed the swim. This was all her idea. We are the 'slow' swimmers in our group and we are so happy we did it. Everything else seems easier now.

Click here to see photos from a previous excursion to give you a taste of what it's like. (I'm not in these)

Now I know why the run comes after the bike in Triathlon.

After the swim, I attempted to warm up in a cafe with a mocha and pumpkin scone before running. I thawed out a little, but realized the run would warm me up faster. I tried to run a 10k at race pace (Nike Human Race) and it didn't happen. It took me 4 miles just to warm up, and by the last 2 miles I could see that I wasn't going to catch up to my last year PR. I could have rested and done a warmup run first. BUT...I was only off 5 minutes and running at 70% MHR, so imagine what 90% looks like? Note to self not to have a rich mocha and pumpkin scone right before running. I was pretty wiped out after all that.

There were a gazillion events going on at the Marina. I saw Rick and met Jo Lynn at the SF One Day Ultra. I stopped by their aid station where they were volunteering. Jo Lynn is the friendliest person you'll ever meet and so is Rick - he's a super endurance volunteer. Last week he volunteered at Nike Women's Marathon, and this week he was stationed at the SF One Day all day until midnight?! Wow.

Only 12 more days 'til the marathon. Passed the 2,000 mile mark on my running log this weekend!

EVENT: Lake Merritt 5K Walk/Run Fundraiser for Adriana Nov. 14th


I'm just sayin...

I was just checking out Running Down's marathon elevation profiles and thought I'd do one for my last (Nike Women's) and next(Stinson Beach) marathon and um...


Week 11 - Back on Track at the last minute

Checking in with the training plan...

I love graphs! This data from Voomaxer occurs after the metric century training, and shows my tri sprint training and marathon training. As you can see, I do the bare minimum as far as mileage goes. I just barely crossed 40 miles running last week, highest in a while (ever?) I was starting to go down before getting into my peak phase (green line), which should be NOW so I had to put a stop to that and ran twice this weekend. I was always afraid of working out hard on Saturday because I wanted to have energy for my morning swim on Sunday, but it turned out alright this weekend, even though I did hills the day before the long run. It was slightly uncomfortable but manageable. I was going to concentrate on just running long on trails and terrain similar to my race, but am mixing in going long for time on easier terrain as well to practice keeping the heart rate up for 3+ hours. Here are some notes. I use this blog as a personal reference so feel free to click away. I learned alot this week, and since these next few weeks before the event at week 14 are critical, I'm trying pay attention. Click on items in "my distance" to the right to check out details.

Weekly goal: Acclimate to cold water for Alcatraz & prepare for Stinson Beach Marathon.

Tues: Easy run

Wed: Ran a few hills and 1 minute windy time trial @6:51. (This is the end of my 800s speedwork for now, I got up to 7x, now in maintenance phase - next weekend fast 10k!)

Thursday: Swam with another GGTC member for part of a lap. Swim was not as cold as last weekend. The water temperature was the same, but the air was warm and balmy, which made a big difference on how long I can stay in:

LAST WEEKEND (Oct. 10-11)
air / water
51 / 57.7 °F
could stay in 30 minutes until numbing

air / water
65 / 57.7 °F
could stay in 1.5 hrs until numbing

The water was posted as biohazard because of storm runoff but the readings posted on sfwater seemed normal. Didn't encounter any problems. Note the high E.coli reading on 8.26.09 occurred about a week after that mysterious smell that wafted around SF! There is much tidal action here though so things get flushed out on a regular basis. I have been swimming here every week with no problems.

It was just starting to flood so it was easy to drift on the other side of the buoy line. I work on sighting and trying to swim in a straight line. I noticed if my stroke rate is slow, I drift off course more. I never get water or congestion in my nose when I swim in the ocean, only when I do flip-turns in the pool. The pool workouts are helpful for feeling the water and improving technique. With just a swimsuit you can feel where the sweet and drag spots are and you don't have the saltwater helping you stay afloat. Would like to try without a swimsuit next spring.

Friday: Felt sluggish. Extra rest day and guilt trip!

Saturday: More swimming and 8 mi hill repeats. My knees will hate me tomorrow but oh well.

Sunday Swim:
wind/gust 9.9 /18 mph
temp air/water: 58.1 /57.9 °F
Good *open water* learning experiences today (btw it's swimming in a cove!) practice swimming with currents and chop, navigation, sighting, and positive mental attitude - practice not to panic and just keep swimming. Adrenaline keeps you warm LOL!

Sunday Long Run: New thing I just discovered!
I can eat solid food while running. I was so hungry and needed a little extra incentive to do Great Highway to Sloat and back so I made a plan to grab a plain sesame bagel at Java Beach at mile 14. I munched on that thing for 2 miles and no problems. By the end of the 22mi run I felt like I had lots of energy! Beautiful Sunset!

What happened to the cycling? :-p Transportation.

My Alcatraz swim is next Saturday and so is the Nike+ Human Race. I wonder where people here will be running it. Last time I did it was great because it was a car-free day at the Embarcadero, I did it early and had the whole road to myself practically.


Climate Change - Local Transit

Even though I bike to work, I spent several hours yesterday stuck in traffic on a bus yesterday because an accident on the Bay Bridge blocked off all but one then 2 lanes of the freeway. Thousands of people (not that many carpooling) were trickling at a snail's pace to reach their destination, idling their engines, sending smog into the air. There is no way for me to bike all the way to work because there is no bike lane on this bridge. I couldn't help but think that a wide bike and pedestrian lane would have provided access for emergency crews and tow trucks to deal more swiftly with such situations instead of blocking off most of the traffic lanes. The accident was caused because of truck speeding into the new "S" curve on the entrance to the bridge, everyone thought it would slow down traffic but instead it only causes accidents. A couple of signs and maybe some enforcement of speed limits would have helped. When traffic is shared with bicycles people pay more attention and slow down. Those are the benefits of road diets - safer roads. We need to rethink how we view transportation and provide options for people who really want to ride a bicycle to work and work on long term solutions to easing the congestion. MORE BIKE LANES, More ferries and buses that run on biodiesel, more trains, more than 1 CalTrans shuttle for bicycles... and NO BART BLACKOUT FOR BICYCLES.

I bike to work because I love it, it's great exercise, cost-effective, and way better than sitting in a traffic jam. Using 2,000 LBS and tons of CO2 emissions to haul 130 lbs only 15 miles or less doesn't make sense to me. Especially with all the information we are now seeing about what is happening to our climate & air quality as a result of burning fossil fuels. If there is any remote chance that I can contribute to a solution, then why not try it?


Week 10 - Whatever!

Okay - sometimes life shows up and you gotta deal. Recession = less work = less pay = downsizing. I spent the week moving and organizing, so only did 2 runs this week. It is a little nerve-wrecking for me to stray from my training regime, but it turned out to be manageable. I can't even remember the first run - it was all a blur. I think I switched into dissociative mode then just turned into a packing robot. Feeling very grateful for a helpful huzby (that word has his seal of approval), friends(that I never see) and online support. What else, my mtn bike klunker is at the shop :-( good to know that my folding bike can do "some" hills. Today I ran 21 miles on mixed terrain which was a relief. I think I am going to alternate the few weeks left with 20 milers and whatever I can do on the very hilly trails. I'm just winging it.

I'm loving swimming at Aquatic Park. Pairing up with other swimmers is the ticket. The temperature is dropping though, and even a few degrees makes a difference. After 30 minutes my hands and feet are starting to get numb and I feel a pinch in my right shoulder. I tried balling each hand into a fist as I turn for air to see if that brings some circulation. Maybe. I'm not as concerned about the feet as I am with my hands, because I could not cup them after a certain point. I didn't really think about it but for the crossing I would like to be able to stay in the water for at least an hour. It sucks because my mind says, yay this is fun, let's do another lap, but then the popsicle fingers. It's like Cinderella's stagecoach that turns into a pumpkin. I will work on acclimatizing myself. Look at all these swimmers without wetsuits!

There were so many running, swimming and tri events this past few weeks, I can't keep up, so: good job everyone!

No pictures this time, but imagine a fleet of Pelicans flying quietly in a perfect V formation over the cliffs.


Week 9 - Running by feeling


bike 25.2 total miles (+btw 50mi)
swim 2.88 total miles
run 32.45 total miles (82% - 88% MHR)

This week I am getting used to running for time, intensity and feeling instead of mileage. It's interesting. According to a regular marathon (+tri) training plan I should be in the 40+ miles per week range by now but my upcoming events are on hilly trails. It's a little tricky to predict running times on those, but I can expect anywhere from 10 - 14mph pace.

I was checking out my LSD run in comparison to last week's and was able to go a little farther in less time, but that's also because the trail was a little less arduous! I'm doing the long run after swimming and biking also, so I am already a little 'warmed up'. I wanted to say tired, but once I get out to to Marin Headlands and see nature's bounty, I forget about that. The mind is a funny thing - at first, running up that long 1.5 mi climb up miwok trail seemed a chore, but after I did my loop (miwok, old springs, marincello bobcat) I did the miwok hill again and it seemed easier. I wanted to do Alta and Rodeo valley trail but it was easy to miss the trail marker. hmm.

I didn't get up into the 90% range on my speedwork this week because the location was crowded with the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass traffic. When people are drunk and they see you running fast it is a comedic moment for some reason. I tried to run in the street with the cyclists but now that it's getting dark earlier need more lights. The 1/2 watt black diamond LED headlamp wasn't bright enough so I upgraded to the 1 watt.

Swimming is getting easier for me now that I have put the time in to work on all the little pieces of the stroke and improve my weak spots. It's a never-ending process. Balance is a little tricky sometimes I turn over too far. More sidekick drills. Endurance and speed here I come. I just got the book "Swimming Even Faster" by Maglischo. It's a big heavy textbook, though. Reminds me of school days.

This is what the training plan looks like:
mon: rest
tue: easy run - 45min - 1 hr
wed: hill repeats - 1.5 - 2hrs
thurs: swim - 40min - 1hr
fri: speed intervals: 1 - 1.5hrs
sat: easy day, swim or bike - 1 - 2 hrs
sun: BRICK swim, bike, run! - 6 hrs

bike to work - 50mi (4 - 5 hrs) per wk is so routine I hardly consider it a part of the plan

The sunset was so beautiful that I wasn't really annoyed that my right shifter died on my bike after this picture was taken. Time to give the klunker some TLC.

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