Race Report – Swim with centurions – Alcatraz Crossing – Sep 30, 2017

Its been great season to start racing a little bit. Registered for the Alcatraz crossing with my favorite group (Water World Swim). Love the energy and vibe – Makes the crossing painless.

The crossing was un-eventful. I am always fascinated to see the course correction you have to make and really keep faith that you will end up at the target.

Swim with centurions is a special event that celebrates people who have done this crossing 100 times and more – I got a chance to meet at least couple of them. What makes it even more special is that there a number of people who are doing it for the first time.

Reflections – Escape from Alcatraz

While generally I would write a race report for an event like this. This particular crossing and course gave me so much insights about life that I have decided to share them.

To give everybody the context; Escape from Alcatraz is a very classic race that is also a unique triathlon. A number of people like myself also do the Alcatraz crossing which involves swimming from the island to either Angel Island or Acquatic Park. I ended up doing the crossing more than 4 times last year (twice in each direction) and also did the course once.

Here is what I learned:

  • Nothing is truly impossible – I decided to cross Alcatraz few years ago while showing my mother the view from the shore. She thought that I was joking. She would be rational to say that – I was barely a swimmer. Having little experience in the pool – and generally not comfortable in the water. Ocean swimming would have been far fetched. Why bother?
  • Your enablers and partners are as important as your effort – while I could take credit for all the effort my self; it would have been just impossible to have done it without having great partners and supporters. My first supporter would be my wife. She would let me drive long distance to downtown (could be 2 hour drive each way taking precious weekend time) to the freezing waters of Acquatic Park. Secondly; I found a great group of swimmers at world swim Alcatraz. They swim every Thursday and Sunday; and Coach Pedro makes this difficult swim look like a walk in the park. I don’t think that I would have known what to do without them – it really helped me focus on the core task at hand. While I would have still probably done the crossings without them. It could have easily taken me couple more years.
  • No step is small as long as you are moving forward – you have heard this saying before. I truly say that come to life for me. From my first 5k to the 1000 yards in the pool to my first ironman race. None of these steps were viable when I first started. However, race by race – mile by mile – I did march forward. There were a lot of moments of struggle in the middle but it was important to put that in perspective and keep moving forward.
  • Self awareness is key – there are so many people along the way that decide to live in a parallel universe creating their own sense of reality and success without realizing what is happening to them. The best example in this race for me to watch some swimmers trying to cross the ocean at the very end. They are not necessarily going anywhere since they are not crossing the tide at the right angle. The irony is that they don’t know this. They put their effort and keep working hard. They would run out of energy quickly and would eventually be picked up by a boat. It is critical as you March towards your eventual goal to know where you are going and if you are making progress towards SUCCESS!

Hope that you will put this crossing and course on your bucket list 🙂

Race Report – Ocean Shores Ironman – 70.3 Distance

Objective

With the first triathlon season; I progressed from running a sprint to two olympics and then this 70.3 distance race. I wanted to finish and finish strong so I can also gauage my fitness for longer distance events.

Getting there

Getting to Ocean Shores was tricky from Seattle; For some reason there was a lot of traffic on the way which made a 2.5 hour drive into a 4.2 hour drive. We wanted to arrive early on Friday but did not get there untill late night. We got Shilo Inn as our hotel with a ocean front room. Pretty nice room overall. Few hours of sleep and next morning was up there.

Venue

Too much wind; It was mostly westerly wind which made for an interesting venue. In retrospect; I would prefered lighter lower profile rims. The temperature was around mid 60’s. However, the water felt much warmer then that.

Pre-Race

Got there a little late; hurried up to the transition area and was setting up things untill the last minute untill the director called for the final meeting.

Swim

Swim was pretty reasonable for me; I managed to drop my time quite a bit. For most people I would still be considered slow finishing around 44 minutes for the 1.2 mile. However, I did 52 minutes for a 1600 yard swim before in the first olympic so it is quite a bit of improvement for me. I felt comfortable and my goggles did not fogg up (Essentially, I did not use any drops; I just warmed up in my goggles and then took them out and left couple drops of water in them – This worked)

– I do need to improve my bilateral breathing and balance. I could tell that I was going towards right most of the time (I normally breath to the right).

– Need to get more open water practice. I generally have gotten few swims in water. I feel very comfortable now but it takes me a while to get into the rhythum.

– My wetsuit is too loose for me now. I might look into something which is a better fit.

Bike

Overall a strong bike; I managed to stay in Z2 for the most part. Wind was challenging at times (When the road was closer to the shore). I had a minor incident on the road which wasted some time.

– My lower back started hurting after 30 miles or so (on the aero position). So my fit was better but still not perfect. Not to improve my flexibility quite a bit as well.

Run

Run was the strongest part of the race. I finished my fastest half marathon in 1:26. I just turned off my watch and ran for it. I finished well below my target in 5:27.

Nutrition

Nutrition worked well for me. However, I need to understand hot weather nutrition and hydration better.

Lessons Learned

– Swim – Improve more speed; swim more balanced; bilateral breathing; Sight and Navigate better

– Bike – Improve Fit

– Run – You can run faster then you think.

Race Report – Bainbridge Island Half Marathon

Last week; I was thinking about doing a half marathon. I looked around a little bit and turns out there was one going on this weekend in Bainbridge Island. It suddenly caught my attention. The course was nice yet challenging with some elevation gain (Rolling hills and some steep climbs). I also wanted to go do it because I missed the bike ride there this year (Chilly Hilly).

Half Marathon – > 13.1 Miles. I have done over 14 miles few times now so I was not worried about the distance. However, I did not have a specific race plan for this day. My days are usually focused around endurance and not speed so I was not sure where to start and what to keep as a constant pace. A good experience overall; and I am glad I did with bunch of good friends and their support. Here are complete details.

Objective

Finish 13.1 miles in a real race. I know I can do the distance; I can actually do more. But gain a valuable race experience and discover the weaknesses that require work.

Getting There

What a beautiful day! It was lovely outside and I don’t think that I could have picked a better day for this 🙂 I got up around 6’ish and picked up 2 of my good friends who were doing the 5k distance. We get to the ferry terminal in Seattle downtown around 7.30 AM. No stress; no pressure – The ferry leaves at 7.55 (on time) and we are at the island around 8.25 after enjoying some of the nice views of Bainbridge Island.

Race

I left my forerunner at home and took the simple nike plus with me. I have really not worked out the pacing and heart rates yet. I stayed in the first line at the start line and started with the blast. First mile under 7 minutes. Not the smartest idea at all. I was running with the top 3 guys. Soon; people started passing me and I settled down somewhere in the middle. The course looks seemingly benign for the first 3 miles. I decided to cruise in a pace zone which did not feel 2 uncomfortable. I ended up staying in 8 minutes for next couple miles. And then the rolling hills started; I did not take that well and the pace dropped quite a bit.

The whole run felt normal and a reasonably good experience. For pacing; I was on a roller coaster going 1 mile 7; the next at 8 and then 10 and then back to 9’ish. This is something I will need to figure out more by testing and experimentation. Forerunner will probably be a good tool to help practice that.

The last two miles; I really pushed myself and crossed 3 people before the finish line. Mentally, I was thinking to break 2 hours and I did it just be tens of seconds (1:59). This was the best race ever since I also won the stay at a hotel at Bainbridge Island after the drawing at the end (for 2 nights):)

Good day -> Nice Race -> Satisfying results -> No some weaknesses around pacing and nutrition = Mission achieved for the day and the race…

Lessons Learned

* Learn Heart rate zones

* Use forerunner even for the race

* Nike+ is highly unreliable (Was generally off in distance by quite a bit actually)

* Learn to pace at a regular pace

*Master nutrition better (Always have 2 much to eat in these races)…

Until next team – > Enjoy your day and workout!!!