Training to Swim Alcatraz

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There is a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that says you should do one thing every day that scares you.  Well, I don’t subscribe to the thought that we need to do something that scares usevery day – but once in a while, it’s a good thing.  It is good to be nudged out of our comfort zone from time to time.  Well, today I most definitely took a jump out of my comfort zone and signed up to swim the Alcatraz Invitational.  This is a 1.25 mile swim (or thereabouts depending on how straight you can swim) from a boat entrance near Alcatraz Island to San Francisco.  The water is dark, the water is cold, and yes, sharks do live in the San Francisco Bay.

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This idea goes back to that crazy list I made when I was young.  I used to want to swim the English Channel.  When I was in fourth grade and on the swim team I had dreams of being the youngest swimmer to cross the channel.  Somehow that never happened – I don’t think my parents thought it was a good idea :)Well, for years I have had the idea of swimming Alcatraz bouncing around in my head.  I have friends that have accomplished this feat, and I have always thought I would love to do it.  So here I go…

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My last long swim was last summer.  I really enjoy swimming open water.  It is completely different than swimming in a pool, and it takes a little bit to get used to.  However, in late summer I was injured and have not done much physical activity until recently. All autumn my hip/leg/lower back had been hurting.  I had MRIs and a CAT ccan, but they never really determined what was wrong – lots of possibilities, but nothing definitive.  Then about three weeks back I realized that after walking the dogs the pain was not returning as usual.  I was able to take the dogs on longer and longer walks and the pain was not returning as intensely as it had been in the past few months. With less pain happening, I decided it was time to swim again.  Two weeks in the pool, and I did not have any increased pain.  Then I spent four full days of skiing last week  – and barely any hip pain.  It seems that whatever was injured is well on its way to being healed.  I might not be able to complete any triathlons this summer – we will have to wait and see.  Right now my hip is not ready to resume running, but it is getting better. In the meantime, I plan on swimming.I have not designed my training schedule yet.  As soon as I develop one, I will share it here. The swim is not until September 14, 2014, so I have plenty of time to train.  I plan getting up to San Francisco to swim in Aquatic Park.  They have Sunday morning swims that swimmers can participate in.  The challenge for me will be getting used to the cold and dealing with the currents.  Actually if I really think about it, every part of this swim will be a challenge! Thinking about this swim scares me; it actually affects my breathing when I really think about what it will be like that morning jumping off the boat into the San Francisco Bay. So my plan for now is to not think too much about the event and just train.  My training plan for this month is to just get back in the pool three times a week running through some drills and to work on my bilateral breathing (breathing on both sides). I did get in a swim today – 2000 yards.  It feels great to be active again!

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