Alcatraz is 19 days away!

Posted by on April 13, 2010 in Training

I have to admit; I’m feeling way underprepared.  I mean, my bike is strong, my run is fairly strong, but the swim isn’t and the course difficult has me feeling a little concerned.

I haven’t written here as often as I would have liked or intended, and it’s particularly disconcerting to me given my previous posts about wanting to write more often, but I’ll try to make amends hereinafter.  Here’s a quick recap, then I’ll get back to my freak-out re Alcatraz.

I wrote previously about my crazy weekend with the Ski-Bike-Run Triathlon and NYC Half-Marathon within the same weekend.  I think that I wrote that I finished 6th but upon checking the official results, one of the finishers ahead of me was on a relay team and we never include them in the overall standings with individuals, therefore it was a 5th place finish!  Wow, that felt good, as did receipt of my certificate from the race organizer which I had framed like the other two from this event.  It’s such a small race with barely 70 people, so rest assured, I know that any perception of being a big fish is limited to the tiniest of ponds.

The next weekend, I raced in the March Madness Biathlon.  It’s a 2.2 mile run, a 12 mile bike, and another 2.2 mile run.  While I missed a personal record by a very small amount, it still was a great day.  I was so much faster on the 1st and 2nd runs than in many years before (it was my 8th time), and while the bike was good, I realize that I never really went all-out.  Had I done so, perhaps the 2nd run wouldn’t have been so good.  Who knows; the end result was that I felt great about my performance.

The following weekend, I ran a 10k race in Central Park.  While I missed a personal record again, this time by a mere 20 seconds, it was still a good experience in terms of the learning curve.  I made the classic mistake of going out way too hard to compensate for some crowding at the beginning, but with the end result of feeling fatigued and failing to sustain that initial intensity level.  The average pace for me was still 7:17, and given my experience, that’s significant.

For the last three weeks and change, my girlfriend has been traveling, so I’ve been able to establish a good training routine.  It includes a mini-brick on Tuesday nights, a longer one on Thursday early mornings, and various other components.  Now that she’s back, the trick will be to sustain it as best I can.  Alcatraz throws a small monkey wrench into the works though as I’m almost exclusively using my road bike for training, since I intend to use it on race day to befit the hilliness and technical aspects of the course.  And, with my intention to back off from doing hard workouts for the week preceding the race, it changes how I’ll be shaping my workout calendar.  Thereafter, I’ll have six weeks before the next event, the Eagleman Half-Ironman.  Those six weeks will be very good in terms of getting back to my workout schedule, and with the nice weather in that part of Spring, I know I won’t be able to wait to get outside as much as possible to train.

So, with Alcatraz ahead in of me in 19 days, I’m not really freaking-out, but I’m not feeling super confident either.  The swim will be tough.  I’ve been watching YouTube videos of folks jumping off the boat and swimming to shore, but none seem to show enough of the swim itself, instead focusing on the launch off the boat.  I wear a sleeveless wetsuit and most people wear a sleeved wetsuit, so I’m probably going to suffer quite a bit.  That sucks.  I didn’t see anyone wearing booties, so while I have been toying with the concept, I’m still on the fence.  I will have to train with the wetsuit on in the pool in the near future, but it won’t come close to what things will be like in SF bay in 19 days, e.g. temp, current, waves, other people, potential marine life, etc.

The decision to ride the road bike has been universally endorsed except for my friend Scott from Columbus.  He and I met during IM Brazil and his recommendation is that I go with the tri bike.  The course seems ridiculously hard, and with my road bike being super light (around 16 pounds) and east to use when ascending hills, using it seems like a no-brainer.  Scott did Alcatraz and that fact, combined with his overall triathlon strength, has me double-thinking my decision though.  Ugh.

There are so many great aspects about competing in this Alcatraz race.

  • It will mark my 150th overall endurance event.  And, it will by my 70th triathlon.  Big numbers in both categories.
  • Many members from my Terrier Tri team will be there competing as well.
  • My girlfriend will be joining me on the mini-vacation.  To know that I’ll have her there to root for and support me means the world to me.  It’ll also make it a lot more fun to celebrate afterwards.
  • My dear friend from college, Bonnie, and her husband will also help us celebrate since they live in the area.
  • I have a bet with my oldest friend, Jeff, about how I’ll do on the bike.  If I finish in the top 10%, I win something… but I can’t remember what it is.  If I don’t, I also don’t remember the payout.  I’m hoping it’s not like a bet I lost last year which resulted in me having to wear a Red Sox t-shirt in public (haven’t done it yet, but I know it’s in the works).  Dammit.

Anyway, with only 19 days till race day, there’s not a ton I can do to ramp things up.  I have this and next week as two full weeks to put in the hard work, e.g. long swims, cycling sessions on the hills, and load-heavy runs.  Hopefully, the final week of rest will finish off a training phase that allows me to not suffer too bad.  After having done the Ironman, no real race scares me that much in terms of my ability to complete it, but I want to do so with a respectable finish time.  The clock… I think that’s why a lot of us who are way deep into this hobby are so addicted.

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