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


Jo Lynn said...

I looked at the pictures. Everyone looks the same in the swim caps, huh? LOL

Thanks for the link to the ride. I'm not very good at reading those things though. I think I'd like to try it. When?

René said...

Maybe we can try 3 bears in December or January after the hectocity has died down. Also, if we start around the Orinda Bart it will cut back the mileage. The loop is basically L on San Pablo Dam Road, R on Castro Ranch Road, R on Alhambra Valley Road, R on Bear Creek Road.

PunkRockRunner said...

Having just completed my very first Alcatraz swim last month I know just how amazing the experience can be. Congratulations on a fine swim on an amazing morning.

All the best,


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