Entries Tagged as 'Alcatraz'

Tip's from the Pro's for ALCATRAZ!

Alcatraz , Professional Triathlete's , Training Tips No Comments »

If you're not feeling 100% confident about racing at this weekend San Francisco Triathlon at Alcatraz, listen to these pointers from the Elite's!



 "Remove sunglasses through the tunnel on the run and always be aware of downhill traffic on the run. Runners coming back down the switchbacks into Marina Green will be tired but carrying speed, the last combination you want to play chicken with. Stay to the right and avoid cutting in on the corners." - Dan McIntosh






- "The bike course is on the technical side, so if you can make it out to pre-ride one or two times before race day it'd be well worth the effort."- Courtenay Brown
 - "I get cold easily, so last year in anticipation of a chilly   swim I took a dose of First Endurance PreRace in the hour before the start so that my metabolism would be going pretty strongly. I didn't have problems with the cold water so I'll be doing that again this year!" - Courtenay Brown





- "Hold on to your goggle and spread eagle when you jump - you want to stay at the top of the water!" - Kelly Dunleavy
- "Use the flat sections on the bike and run to drink and eat; remember, there aren't many flat sections." - Kelly Dunleavy
- "Do NOT go crazy trying to get up the sand ladder as fast as possible. There is a reason most of the pros walk." - Kelly Dunleavy




- "The San Francisco Triathlon at Alcatraz offers such a unique experience that it really cannot be compared to your standard international distance triathlon - the cold water and nervous energy on the boat, the hills, and sand ladder, and the satisfaction of completing the challenge. Plus I love San Francisco and the opportunities to explore the city. If you are a first timer, the best advice I can give you is just to stay relaxed and take the day as it comes! Listen to the swim briefing and get an understanding of the currents and best way to sight to shore and KNOW that it is going to be cold! Make sure your bike gears and brakes are all working well for the challenges of the hills and breaking the course up into smaller sections in your mind can help you focus better at the tast at hand. The run, while challenging, is one of the most scenic in the world - take the time to enjoy the view and know that everyone hurts on the san ladder. And most importantly remember to have fun out there." - Pip Taylor

- "My first tip for the San Francisco Triathlon from Alcatraz would be: make sure you are prepared for all kinds of weather. I pack everything from sunscreen to gloves, a rain jacket and over-bike shoe booties. San Francisco is notorious for its "wintery" summers. After living there for 3 years, I know that all too well. My second tip is to use the last flat section of the bike (along Mason Street) to get down a gel. I like to use a 2nd Surge Accel Gel because it has extra caffine. This not only perk me up after an early start to the day, but it gives me the energy to hit the flat section of the Presidio with a little extra speed to drop my competition. Once I hit the downhill to Bakers Beach, I down another gel. Its always good to have extra energy before the beach and the climb up the sand ladder!" - Leanda Cave

From New York, to Chicago, to ALCATRAZ!

Alcatraz , Athlete Stories No Comments »
By: Jocelyn Grier

It may have been a moment of mental lapse that compelled me to sign up for the SF tri at Alcatraz. ;o)

I have been to SF a couple of times over the past 10 years and fell in love with the area.  When I was on the web earlier this year looking for a challenging and interesting tri, I came across SF tri at Alcatraz.  I thought what a perfect match…one of my favorite cities coupled with one of my newest passions. I caught the tri fever two years ago after competing in my first tri in NYC. I was lucky enough to race alongside Natalie Morales and Hoda Kobe from the Today show in 9/09, compete in the world’s largest triathlon in Chicago 8/10, and finish my second NYC Tri this past weekend.

I can honestly say that swimming from Alcatraz has not been a lifelong goal for me…in fact as I type this email my stomach is doing flip-flops just thinking about it.  I was lucky enough to meet a couple of people this past weekend, (during the NYC tri), who have competed in past tri-California organized races that involve swimming in the bay.  They assured me it is not as bad as I think it will be, and they helped to put some of my fears to rest, (although I am still worried about the water temperature).


I think the experience is going to be awesome, and in spite of the paragraph above, I am so looking forward to competing on the 21st.  My family will be traveling with me and will be cheering me on as I race.  We plan to enjoy the city and surrounding areas the week following the tri.  I am looking forward to my second visit to Alcatraz and riding safely on the ferry, (all the way there and all the way back).

I May be “Certifiably Crazy”, but I love What I Do!

Alcatraz , Training Tips , Tri-California Ambassadors No Comments »

By: Brenda Hammans

This will be my fourth time swimming Alcatraz, and I’m afraid my friends really think I’m crazy.  “Certifiably crazy”, is how I’ve been described.  But once you do it, and do it again, you find yourself wanting to do it again, but better, and faster.  This year, my goal is to do just that….the swim is tough.  It’s cold! The last couple of times it’s been choppy.  But I continually want to improve my swim time.  So, my advice to “newbies” is to make sure they spend plenty of time in cold water (I sat in a bathtub of ice water for weeks before the race….it helps you acclimate), and to put earplugs in BOTH ears!

Sounds crazy, I know, but I have heard of several people who experience vertigo from the chill of the water.  If you put earplugs in, the water can’t get to your inner ear, and the vertigo will be avoided.  Make sure your goggles are underneath your Triathlon cap (hopefully, you also have an insulated cap under that).  Hold your goggles to your face to prevent them from coming off from the jump.  Never dive.  Jump off the boat scissor-style, and then swim like *#$*&#&$ once you hit that water!!

Honestly, although the bike is amazingly beautiful, and the run is challenging and memorable, it’s the swim that brings me back.  To say I swam Alcatraz is a real eye-opening, conversation stopper!  People are amazed and frankly, so am I especially when I watch those dreaded You-Tube videos.  Just swim like you always swim, and remember to site to be sure you don’t get too far off course.  And, more important than anything, enjoy the ride!  Take the time to flip over on your back to enjoy the view around you, and really absorb what it is you’re doing at that moment!  Priceless!

In every race, I take mental pictures of what I see throughout any of the 3 disciplines, since carrying a camera isn’t much of an option.  But there are scenes I will never forget in San Francisco.   The Golden Gate Bridge on every breath to the right in the swim, the beautiful homes, the terrain, and the shore on the bike, and Baker Beach, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate bridge, and everything in-between on the run.

You see, if I can do it, anyone can do it.  I only learned to swim 2 ½ years ago.  Well…you put me in a pool and I’d be fine floating around, but I had never taken swimming lessons when I was a child, and certainly never knew how to swim with goggles, a cap, and all that other nonsense like ear plugs!  I had to learn how to swim freestyle (elbow up!), how to breathe correctly, etc.  It seemed so much harder than I thought it would, and as I was going through it, I would tell friends that I now know why we teach children to swim at a young age.  At the time, I was 44, and I felt like I was twisting and turning things that hadn’t twisted or turned in years!

Here’s how it started…When I moved to Michigan a little over 4 years ago, I knew no one.  One morning at the gym where I work out, a group was talking about doing a relay in a local duathlon.  They asked if I’d like to do the bike portion of the race, but I told them I couldn’t because I didn’t have a bike.  WELL!  One girl in the class spoke up, and offered her bike to me, if I would do it.  I couldn’t refuse.

Problem is….they never did the relay….they all signed up individually, so I did, as well.  I did 3-4 duathlons and realized I really didn’t like to run twice…but I couldn’t swim. That was in November.  So, in the cold December winter, I took swimming lessons every Friday night (sounds exciting, eh?!).  I did that for 3 months, until I joined the local Y to practice my swimming there.  I spent most of my time in what I like to call the “tadpole lane”, huffing and puffing after 25 yards.  I never thought it would get any easier, but eventually it did.  There was a group of “sharks”, as I liked to call them, in lanes 4 & 5.  They all swam very fast, and it just seemed like there were arms and water flying all over when they were there.  One day the “sharks” asked if I wanted to join them, and I did.

Today, they are my swim friends, and we swim together 2-3 times per week, or as often as my triathlon coach’s schedule allows.

I love doing triathlons out of state.  I’ve done only 2 in the state of Michigan, and all others out of state.  Last year, I completed 7 triathlons, all Olympic and half ironman distances.  This year, I will complete 8 triathlons, including my first full Ironman in Panama City, Florida on November 5th.

So, traveling to triathlons is how I vacation.   I love to find races in neat cities, like San Francisco, go a few days early, experience the people and the place, do the race, and then fly home.  It’s become a real hobby (although an expensive one!)

But mostly, I love going out into the city, starting to walk, and doing whatever I want to along the way.  To go to a new city, and have no plans is actually very relaxing to me.  My work schedule is very demanding in terms of time and travel.  It keeps me on the road quite a bit, so the challenge is to get in my necessary workouts on the road.  That means joining gyms across the country to have access to pools and treadmills for those cold winter mornings!  How do I do it? I have no idea…just do it, and everything should fall into place.  Weekends, unfortunately, are taken up mostly in training, and then recovering.  It doesn’t lend much to a social life, but I do enjoy what I do.

Why am I doing the SF Tri at Alcatraz Race???

Alcatraz , Athlete Stories , Training Tips No Comments »

By: Yoko Kasai

I ask myself that all the time.  I was a dorky little kid.  Pretty un-athletic, chosen dead last for all sports teams in PE, failed my swim test when I was 10.  I got into riding my road bicycle, my Pepto pink Trek about 5 years ago when I met my husband. He said that if I didn't start riding, we wouldn't be spending much time together. I fell in love with both my bicycle and husband. However, when he asked me if I liked long and gradual or short and steep hills, I replied "I hate hills of all kinds."

Last year, I met some people who were tri-athletes. They said, "you should try the Vineman Showdown! It's in San Rafael and it's short.  You can do it!" And so I did. Then signed up for the Tiburon Triathlon, then ended the year with the Tri for Real in Pleasanton.  I was of the mindset that the sprint distances were hard enough and that I could never swim nor run any further than those. Meanwhile, my triathlon friends were signing up for Coeur d'Alene and 1/2 Ironmans. So I made a goal this year of signing up for an Olympic distance and then trying to run a 1/2 marathon. Therefore, I signed up for Alcatraz... after all if I am going to do 1 Olympic in my life, it may as well be an epic one.

Training is tough. I'm a wife, mom of a 9 year old, own a real estate company, and have a wicked streak of laziness. I'm completely undisciplined in every way and routine bores me so training is challenging. Besides, I'm still not comfortable in the water nor have I discovered a love for running.  In fact, running is painful; my feet are flat, my toenail always falls off, I have a weird 'kick' in my gait and blister the insides of both of my feet if I ran farther than 4 miles.  Those thoughts bring me back to the original question; "WHY?"  And why Alcatraz?  I'm scared of the Bay... it's cold, dark and there are sharks in there. Every time I drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and see the island, my heart starts to palpitate.

But, what I've realized through doing these sprint triathlons and training with my friends is that it's started this competitive streak in me. While I suffer through the race, I feel great afterwards and get a weird thrill at looking over times and identifying room for improvement. Last weekend I finished the 2011 Tiburon Tri and had a respectable Top 10 finish. My goal at Alcatraz is to finish without dying and I'll look forward to seeing how I do. I know that I have to step up my training plan.  I now officially have less than 20 days until the race.  eek.  Shoot, I should have gotten up this morning to go for a run or swim.  Instead, I had a bite of ice cream with my cup of tea.  I promise to be more focused starting now.

Why don’t you just jump off the boat?

Alcatraz , Featured Tri-Cal Employees , Training Tips , Video No Comments »

By: Betsy Davis

Women of Alcatraz [Watch]

Adapting to swimming, especially open water swimming can be a challenge. I swam a bit as a kid but nothing prepared me for the return to the pool as an adult, let alone my first open water swim experience. My first real ocean swim was in preparation for the Triathlon at Pacific Grove. I remember the fear involved in swimming in the ocean…the cold, the critters, the kelp. My preparation paid off and I participated in many triathlons, vowing I would never do Alcatraz.

But somehow, I found myself ready to face the Alcatraz challenge. Nothing prepared me for the absolute exhilaration and sense of accomplishment I felt in completing that first Alcatraz swim…..I couldn’t believe it…me a 40 something mother of three little kids! Doing that first Alcatraz swim made me dig very deep, and walk through some strong fears…the good thing is it caused me to really pray and seek God in a way I might not have otherwise. I was really worried about the jump from the boat, but I found that once I was in the water it was game time. No time to freak out, just time to “get her done”. Like childbirth, there’s no going back now!

At the first pre-race swim clinic I went to, the announcer exhorted us to stop mid-swim/mid-bay and take a look at where we were. I am so glad I took his advice…I stopped and looked at the approaching shoreline of the city and thanked God for the courage to step up and work through my fears. I am SO glad I did.

I really feel that open water swimming has made me a complete swimmer…not just one who circles the pool 3 days a week. As hard as it was adapting to the pool and then the open water my first year off swimming, I would not be the athlete I am, learned what I’ve learned, and be the well rounded athlete and person I am thanks to cross training—swimming in particular. Many people (especially runners) dread the idea of having to swim and will only do so if they have to because of injury. They are missing out on so much by not giving the pool, and the ocean a “Tri”.