Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Next Up: Alcatraz Swim

The Race Director (nicknamed a reassuring ‘Sharko’) of the Alcatraz Invitational Swim has sent detailed emails with lots of tips, suggesting first timers visualize jumping off the Blue & Gold Ferry at the Rock (Alcatraz) "…with you exiting the water and crossing the finish line." Yes, that's the plan.

Not worrying about sharks, curious sea lions, or playful dolphins (whose fins might suggest otherwise). Nor swimming in or out ‘on the flood’ (low tide change with mass of ocean water from under the Golden Gate rushing toward the east Bay), just get used to it.  Also be prepared for some ‘crabbing’ (swimming against a current) by adding speed as needed.

Though the swim is ~1.25 miles as the crow flies, the average distance (given currents, possibly choppy waters, and how-could-it-be poor navigation) will be ~1.5 miles. Thus we’ve been encouraged to train for 2 miles. Hey, that’s only 144 crossings of a 25-yard pool. Given the helpful motivation of fear, I have done so, several times. (Thank goodness for my watch that counts laps.)

Try out your wetsuit prior to race day also seems like a good idea. If it’s too tight, you can’t get a full breath, making it hard to breathe. Or if too big, water rushes in.

My Blue70 Reaction wetsuit arrived today, 10 days before. Plenty of time to try out, no? Tomorrow, I'll take the plunge into nearby Lake Anza, and maybe also an open water swim before the 'Rock' as well.

Blue70 is now my second sponsor (after Ice Chamber) in tandem with a sports magazine article in the works re my Comeback 65: Challenge for Good. Details to follow.

If nervous (who me?), Sharko suggests a breathing technique: "...alternate nose breathing (cover one nostril and breathe in through the other deliberately and excel through the mouth, do this say 8 times and then switch to the other nostril). This will relax you and saturate your muscles with O2…. walking to the boat as well as just before you jump." 

Sure, I’ll remember. Then post jumping, look around, take in the view – and no hyperventilating! Relax.

Navigation tip: Don’t follow the swimmer in front of you, as they might be heading the wrong way…. Just look at the landmarks and get some sighting practice ‘in choppy open water.’

But remember too, that fitness at all ages is a choice we can all make -- and then just do something.

Sharko does say that when we complete the swim, walking up the beach, remember that those cheering will be doing so for a ‘hell of a great accomplishment." May it so come to pass. 

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