triathlon and family can mix

Posts tagged “escape from alcatraz

Cold Water, Hills, and Stairs

It is Sunday morning. It is 0300. What am I doing up? Right, in a couple of hours I am going to voluntarily jump off a boat and swim across the San Francisco Bay.



I arrived in transition at about 0415 and it was pretty empty. I was lucky enough to be close to the bike in/out and close to the overhead lights so I could kinda see what I was doing. I felt for the guys at the back with nothing but their iPhone lights for company.

I got on the boat around 0500, opting to not leave it to chance as the boat would leave with or without you at 0630 (they actually left on guy on the dock). I chatted with some fellow racers, grabbed a 15 minute nap, and readied for the start.

The swim start can only be described one way; organized chaos. The gates open, and the swimmer start firing off the boat. 1900 swimmers in 6 minutes. Organized chaos.

Some dude hit me as I was coming to the surface, but it must have been his hand or arm as it didn’t hurt much. I swam towards the left for the first bit to get a feel for the current. I wasn’t as bad as anticipated, so I adjusted my aim to the right heading for the beach. Came out of the water in a perfect position.

The mini run to transition is kinda funny; some opt for shoes and some go barefoot. I was in the latter group. The pavement didn’t suck, I run midfoot anyways, but he tall grass in transition didn’t feel good on the top of the toes as my feet came forward.

The first 2 miles of the bike are flat, and that is it. I am glad that I hammered a lot of hills and intervals throughout the winter and spring sessions as I was one of the stronger climbers around me. It was either up or down, some hills steeper than others, and with a couple of hairpin turns at the bottom of the descents, all my momentum was gone for the next climb.

The view on the bike is exceptional. To a flat lander like myself, being able to ride through The Presidio, Lands End, and Golden Gate Park is not only one of the highlights from the race, but my triathlon career.

Coming home there was a rough patch on Lincoln Hwy and some dude was on the pavement. I didn’t see the crash but it didn’t look good. Felt bad for him a little, but we were warned about taking chances on the downhills.

Just like the bike, the first 2 miles of the run is flat, but that is pretty much it apart from a stretch on beach, but that doesn’t count. Everyone always talks about the sand ladder; a steep stair case that takes you up off of Baker Beach. Yeah, well no one mentions that first stair case. I wasn’t prepared for that one.

The run was good, although my stomach by this point was turning bad; remnants of a stomach flu I picked up the week earlier. I pushed as hard as I could despite the stomach and crossed the finish line strong.

Swim – 2400m – 36:34 – 167/1586
Bike – 29km – 1:00:29 – 279/1586
Sand Ladder – 3:52 – 1035/1586
Run – 12.8km – 1:06:19 – 520/1586

Total – 2:52:13 – 276/1586

A volunteer put my finisher medal around my neck, and at that point I noticed that what I thought was a little irritation from my wetsuit was worse than I thought. Man, it hurt for days.


So the race was a crap load of fun. I was able to swim from Alcatraz, something not many people have the opportunity to do, and I raced to the best of my ability. Sure I could have been a little faster if my stomach wasn’t so messed up, hammered on the bike a little more, or put more time into stairs here in Calgary.

But who cares.

I had a great time, enjoyed myself, and raced in the second coolest town I have ever been to. Sorry San Fran, nothing will beat Calgary in my eyes.


All Zeros, and I Aient Talking About Shoes



Swim – 0:00:00 – 0m
Bike – 0:00:00 – 0km
Run – 0:00:00 – 0km

Total – 0:00:00 – 0km

I know post race weeks are supposed to be about ‘active recovery’ but hagin’ in San Francisco with my family after the race was just to awesome to break up with a run.

That’s right, I swam across the San Francisco bay and lived to tell about it.

Actually, it wasn’t all that difficult. As much as the cold water temperature, potential wildlife, and strong currents are hyped up, it was an enjoyable swim. I even took the chance to turn on my back and take 30 seconds to admire the situation I was in.

Wow, enough about the race. That is what race reports are for.

Speaking of holding on, I reckon I owe you all a couple of overdue posts including Airdrie Sprint Race Report and Drivers v Cyclists. Can’t wait? Neither can I.

So after a full week off, I am ready to get back at it. My performance in Alcatraz gave me the confidence that the CTS Half Ironman plan will get me where I want to go come July 27 at Ironman 70.3 Calgary.

Top Posts
Ironman Tattoo
Swim Etiquette
Recap – Week 50

It is no secret that I dig New Balance shoes, specifically the Minimus Road Zero; they feel like little rocket ships on my feet. After 1490km I have literally run the soles off leaving me with nothing but a search for a new pair.

New Balance changed the design, naming it the Road 10V2. I tired them on and wasn’t overly impressed, though they didn’t have the width I was looking for.

That’s right ladies, big feet…….

I felt I couldn’t cheat on the model that has taken me so far over just shy of 1500km, so I ordered the V2. I just got my first run in this morning, but I will hold on to judgment until I have some more significant km’s under them.

Oh, another post to add to the list.

Question: Do you take full week (or days) off after a race?

Racing Instead of Training

12 days and counting.


Swim – 2:30:00 (p) – 2:10:00 (a) – 5950m
Bike – 5:45:00 (p) – 4:24:23 (a) – 120.08km
Run – 3:00:00 (p) – 2:45:01 (a) – 33.11km
Race – 1:10:00 (p) – 1:13:34 (a) – 25.75km

Total – 11:15 (p) – 10:32:58 (a)

This week was my highest training volume, probably not the best week to schedule a sprint distance triathlon, but hey, who doesn’t like to race?

I really suck at changing my training schedule to fit in a unscheduled event. I get stuck on “things have to go where they have to go” so this week threw a wrench into my plans. No worries though, I was able to get in the bulk of my training sessions, the prescribed intervals, and still have a great race.

Again, don’t fret, the race report is on the way.

Taking down a 1:15 Negative Split and both 1:20 and 1:30 with Fartlek Intervals (5x3min) after my Friday morning swims has given me a lot of confidence. This is one place in my training that I lack, confidence on the run. Am I ready for a Ironman 70.3? Sure. Am I ready to push hard at an Ironman 70.3? Not even close.

I can hang with the power bikers; you know the guys, all quads and calves. Put my next to a runner and I don’t stand a chance. Well I think some of that is changing as I came away with the second fastest run on the day yesterday.

Ah progress.

Top Posts
Wind, Flats, and Hills
Ironman Tattoo
Finally, the Weekend is Upon Us

With less than 2 weeks now until Escape From Alcatraz, my first race is under my belt, I am feeling pretty relaxed.

The only concern I have is water temperature. I like to get in the water, warm up (literally and figuratively), the get prepared to do battle. In Alcatraz, no such thing as a warm up. It is just off the boat and swim like you stole something.

So this week I am going to grab my wetsuit, head down to the river, and go for a swim. The water temperature may be colder than the bay but I reckon it can’t hurt.

Think of it as a swimming treadmill.

Question: Have you tried swimming in a river? Any thoughts.

Weaselhead Hill, Trends, and Hippos

Back at it, in more ways than one.


Swim – 3:00:00 – 9100m
Bike – 2:02:51 – 61.0km
Run – 2:25:25 – 26.48km

I said in my last post “Wow, Wednesday already. I wish every week would go this fast.” Yeah, well it is now almost 2 weeks since then. Jeez time flies.

This was my last week of semi structure in my training. I always have a plan, but for the next 8 weeks I am going to live and die by my training schedule. There is something comforting about having a plan written and all you have to do is hammer it.

Easy enough right?

The Half Ironman plan from “The Time Crunched Triathlete” will be my main stay for the next 8 weeks, peaking for Escape From Alcatraz June 1. I then have a couple of weeks to recover before cycling through the plan again for Ironman 70.3 Calgary.

I am tired and hungry just thinking about it.

Saturday afternoon was perfect for a rip on my bike; the earliest I have been able to get on the road and it was awesome. It was so great to have the fresh air, wind, and dust in my face rather than the stale air of my 70’s inspired basement. You read right, even dust is better than the trainer.

Sunday afternoon I took my brother to run part of the Calgary Police Half Marathon course as he has never run the race before. No one should ever run the Weaselhead hill for the first time at 14k into a half marathon; that is just cruel. It was a great run with great company. I don’t usually get the opportunity to chat much while training, so it was a welcome change.

Top Posts
Ironman Tattoo
Recap – Week 50
Whole 30 – Day 26

Some really odd trends in my top posts. I wonder what it is about Recap – Week 50 that has people interested. I can see Ironman Tattoo, that is a good post…..

Friday afternoon we made an impromptu trip to the zoo here in Calgary. Not sure if you knew, but the zoo was almost washed away by the floods last year and this was our first time there since.

What a blast. I forgot how much fun it can be to just let the afternoon run by without much of a plan. Fortunately for us we received an invite for supper around 1730, so no need to rush home and utter our favorite phrase, “what should we make for supper?”.

Question: Now spring is here, has your training ramped up for race season?

Fartleks and Coffee, What?

I think it is about time for a rest week.


Swim – 2:00:00 – 4550m
Bike – 2:15:48 – 75.3km
Run – 1:46:22 – 20.0km
Strength – 1:30:00

Total – 7:32:10

I have been going pretty steady since the new year with only a couple of missed workouts here and there. I have been seeing some positive gains on both the swim and bike, and being able complete 3 runs last week without cringing; chalk that up as a win.

With 14 weeks until my first big race of the year, Escape from Alcatraz, I have some time before I need to ramp up my training. I am going with the tried and tested ‘Time Crunched Triathlete’ Half Ironman program from Chris Carmichael; my second time through the plan. This time hopefully I won’t crash, break my collar bone, and be able to complete it from start to finish…..

So what do I do? Do I stick with the plan right now, slug it out until the first part of April and get on with it? Or do I switch it up now and have a little fun before the ‘real’ training kicks in?

Oh the questions.

I am enjoying my Friday speed sessions with my new found running buddy, even if he is totally faster than me. I was able to beat him in a sprint over the Peace Bridge a week ago, but it took everything I had. I recently referred to it a ‘Fartlek Friday’ and it got me thinking about the name, ‘Fartlek’. I know that it is Swedish for speed play, but it just sounds weird. Say it three times fast. Go ahead.

Weird right? I wonder if it started as a joke, “hey Sven, I bet you can’t get people to use fart repeatedly in a sentence.”

Tops Posts
Funks and Missing Coaches
Ironman Tattoo
Recap – Week 50

So me and my crazy challenges have started anew. This time it is a familiar challenge; ditch the java for 30 days.

Every time I have a cup of coffee with a friend or at home on the weekend, I don’t feel very good. I thought it may be the amount as with my profession, I tend to meet a lot over a coffee, so I switched to decaf for a while. Didn’t help. So as of Thursday I am coffee free for at least 30 days. I have done it before so I am confident it will be successful this time ’round.

As a addition, I am going to count the days that I go not only coffee free, but caffeine free. Even though tea has much less than coffee, caffeine effects the adrenal system. If I am already using it heavily during exercise, and if you swim with us heavily is the right term, why put more strain on it than necessary.


Question: How do you switch up your training plan?

Escape from Alcatraz

I would rather win this lottery than the other kind.


This race is on my bucket list. The chance to swim across ‘the Bay’ had me hooked from the first time I stumbled over an advertisement in Triathlete magazine. Long story short, I am in.

June 1, 2014 here I come.