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.
Entries Tagged as 'Tri-California Ambassadors'
By: Brenda Hammans
By: Abra Cranford
When I lace up my Airmax’s, puffs of dust rise into the sunshine. I
double knot them and take off running. I run to the Edgewood Park
trailhead from my house and start up the mountain. A guy passes me while
heading up the trail when I’m pulled over to adjust my ponytail. Not to
be discouraged, I chase him up the hill for a while. I catch him at the
halfway-up point where he is catching his breath. I feel very pleased
with myself as I run past him and continue up toward the summit…that is
until I see him bypassing the switchbacks I’m on and launching himself
straight up the spine of the hill. I make a mental note to try that
sometime. On my way down, I see a high school (or college? They all look
so young to me now) track team take off down a different trail. I know
I’m in the right place to train for a race.
To train for Alcatraz, I decided to focus on cross training and running. There are just not enough hours in the day for me to swim, bike, run plus, cross train. For me, the run portion is the most difficult part of a tri since my legs feel like bricks and I’m tired, so very, very tired. If I can just get those running legs up to par, maybe the last few miles will come a little easier? (Please?) The funny thing is, I’ve been running at Edgewood Park for 2 years now, and I’ve only just recently been able to continuously run the grueling 2 miles of uphill. For this I thank my cross training. Thank you cross-training!!
For the last few weeks my schedule has gone something like this:
Monday: Run or if I raced Sunday, rest. Or maybe still run. Depends on how hard the race was. I should not have admitted that.
Tuesday: Sculpt class. I think I should explain this class. It sounds like a lot of ladies with 1lb weights and yoga mats but be warned, there has been more than one occasion I’ve been close to tears in this class, but I was sweating so hard, no one would have noticed anyway.
Wednesday: TRX Boot Camp. Excellent interval training. It’s a strength set followed by cardio, strength, cardio, strength, cardio. You get the picture.
Friday: Swim then run.
Saturday: Long bike ride (or rest if I have a race)
Sunday: Rest or Race Day
So you can see my swimming/biking is a little lax these days while I
dedicate two days to strength training. I do bike an easy 10 miles to
work sometimes so my legs don’t forget how to ride but thanks to my
cross training, my legs are the strongest they’ve ever been and my
arms/shoulders are not too shabby either. Let’s hope they get me through
the bay, over those hills and up that sand ladder (eek)!
I always used to think it was stupid to skip a run in favor of squats, lunges and push ups. If I wanted to be better at running, the only way to get there is to run more, right? Wrong. Turns out my running strength (and biking too) has drastically improved, even though I only run a couple days a week. Being able to charge up a mountain that I used to have to power hike is proof enough for me!
When I signed up for the Alcatraz triathlon, I knew it was going to require me to be stronger, mentally and physically, than any other race to date. Race Day is approaching fast and if I’m not prepared, it will be my own darn fault. So I lace up my Airmax’s in a puff of dust and take off.
By: Kelvin Brillante
Receiving a finisher medal after a long race is probably one of the greatest feelings of accomplishments a person can feel. Personally, I feel like I have accomplished a lot. By receiving that finisher medal shows that I have done it; I have survived the swim, bike, run. Every time I receive that finisher medal, I feel like that I have proved to myself that all of my hard, dedicated training has paid off. Receiving the finisher medal is the easy part, however the process to earn that medal is not easy at all.
As I wait nervously in the water, waiting for the gun signal for the athletes to start, I get my mind set for a long race ahead of me. Swim, bike, run; sounds easy to get through right? Wrong. There are many obstacles that occur during the race. First off, the swim portion. Some things that may need to be accomplished during the swim portion are: Finding space betwwen other swimmers, sighting a landmark, and maybe adjust to the water current. I always find it nerve wrecking to be swimming near other swimmers because I always end up getting hit or I hit someone else. So I use those nerves to pull away from the big pack of swimmers and find my own space where I am not so close to other swimmers, but still have some swimmers in my site.
After the swim portion there is the next process of running and unzipping your wetsuit at the same time—setting yourself up for the bike portion of the race. This may be a little difficult because, if you’re like me, I feel like I have no balance once I get out of the water. When I head to my transition area I sit on the ground to put on my cycling shoes, because if I stand trying to put on my cycling shoes, I will fall to the side (I found that out the hard way). Once on the bike, many athletes forget to hydrate, which is very important because your body needs replenishment from the long swim you just did. Some things that need to be done during the bike portion are: Breath, hydrate, and keep relaxed shoulders (some riders don’t notice that they are tensing their shoulders while riding).
Once the bike portion is completed, the athlete needs to quickly transition into their gear. During the run portion, the athlete needs to do the same things as on the bike portion: Breath, hydrate, and relax the arms while running. Finally, while finishing up the race and you spot that finish line, always finish strong because you have your finisher medal waiting for you at the end.
In shorter terms, the process to receiving a finisher medal takes a few things: Planning, a set mind, courage, determination, technique and strength.
As you can see the process to receiving a finisher medal is not easy, but a lot of things aren't easy right? Even though it is a tough challenge and process, it is the most accomplishing feeling, I personally have ever had. Even though I have done some triathlons in the past, I always surprise myself when I finish, thinking " I can't believe I just did that" and at the end when I receive my finisher medal I feel like I have accomplished the impossible.
By: David Sinclair
The Triathlon season is full tilt now. Some of us have already completed some "A" races and there is still a load of top-notch races this summer. Tri-Cal still has the meat and potatoes of the race season coming up. If you haven't competed at one of the Alcatraz races, Pacific Grove or Tinley's there is still slots for these great races.
To prepare for these events Tri- Cal will be supporting a free training Clinic in Cayucos CA. on August 14th. This event will be the Inaugural Cayucos-Multisport Olympic Distance training Clinic. This Clinic will entail two swim loops around the Cayucos pier and a 26-mile out and back bike course to Cambria and a 10k run up Cayucos Canyon and finish at the Beach pier. For those training for a sprint distance you can cut the distances in half. There will be added challenges in the transitions and the course will be supported with all the great nutrition and hydration products that are on all the Tri-Cal race courses.
The swim support will be provided by local surf shop GOODCLEANFUNUSA.COM. Go to their web site for the up to date weather and surf reports. If your training for a longer distance, on Saturday the 13th, there will be an open, self-supported 80 mile bike ride up Highway 1 to Ragged Point—one of the most beautiful routes anywhere. Be sure to sign up early as these events will fill up quickly.
You can always count on the best produced and race proven events.
By: Abra Cranford
Hi, my name is Abra and I am a race junkie.
Since this spring, I’ve already participated in 9 events varying from Bay to Breakers (yes I run, obviously in costume) to Wildflower to the Tough Mudder. I have 6 more on the agenda as of today and that will probably increase as I hear about fun* (definition below) events. I can’t help it. I love race day.
This has not always been the case. I used to exercise as a way to stay in shape (read: not gain too much weight after working at my desk job all day) and have always enjoyed trail runs, alone with my ipod. I would categorize myself as a runner. I did my first triathlon last year mostly to prove to myself I could do one. It was terrifying and hard. I had never really planned on doing another. But then I did another. And then I was hooked.
When people ask why, my response is always “It’s FUN!” then I generally encounter a look that is a mix of disgust, skepticism with a touch of “you have mental problems”. As it turns out, fun to an athlete has a completely different meaning. It’s the thrill of asking my body to do something difficult and have it perform. It’s knowing my arms will pull me through the water, my legs will propel my bicycle and then leap off and carry me down the road. Ok, not always leap. Sometimes hobble. Ok, always hobble. It’s being surrounded by dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people that are all there doing something they love. It’s that feeling of accomplishment as I cross the finish line and realize I’ve done it and earned that delicious beer (if you don’t partake in the post race beer, I HIGHLY recommend it) and mid afternoon nap.
But I’m not just hooked on triathlons, I’m hooked on all kinds of races. Road races, trail runs, obstacle races. I started doing whatever I could get my hands on (and afford...some girls shop, I race). I don’t train in your typical way.
My training method is to continually sign up for events that I think are slightly out of my league. This way, I always have some terrifying event I’m training for in the near future. Not comfortable on my bike for long periods of time? That’s ok, I’ll sign up for a 120k bike ride over some mountains. Have to make sure I survive, right? Better start riding! (I survived but was definitely ready to be off my bicycle by the end) Want upper body strength? Sign up for a 10 mile obstacle race that requires me to haul my butt over walls & up half pipes. Better start with those push-ups!
Sometimes it works out for me. Sometimes it doesn’t. When it does, I now know the new limits of where I can push my body. And next time I can push it harder and farther. When it doesn’t work out, I learn what I need to work on. I would have never learned what I could convince my body to do if I didn’t try something that was over my head. I would still be running on my trail, humming to my ipod, not gearing up to swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco.
So here I am, over my head again. I’m a nervous wreck tiny bit nervous for what I’m going to learn from the Alcatraz triathlon but I’m excited to push myself to the limits.
I’ve learned that you don’t just train for races. Your races train you. Every single event I’ve participated in has taught me something new about myself. Mostly that I’m a little nuts but that’s ok, so is everyone racing with me. I’m not the fastest or the best but I’m there, I’m smiling, and you can bet I’ll finish. Eventually. And I’m never too tired to smile and fist pump at the finish line!