Overcoming Adversity - Alcatraz Race Report - with Coach Tori

We can never control the elements on race day - all we can do is control our attitude towards how we deal with what comes our way. Check out coach Tori's race report from Alcatraz - she had a very challenging weekend leading up to the race  and then the swim portion of this iconic race which is known for the swim was cancelled- but as per her usual badass self - she persevered and made the most out of a challenging situation. 

Recently I traveled to San Francisco for my first bucket list triathlon - Escape From Alcatraz. Prior to this trip I wavered back and forth if I really wanted to go since there was a lot I wanted to accomplish this season. After a lot of emails with my coach and discussions with my husband, he encouraged me to do this race. After all the arrangements were made I was set to go. 

I believe that as human beings we like to have everything go according to our plans. As a triathlete, we know we have to be able to adapt to our situation and have backup plans. This trip was all about becoming adaptable to the situation and continue to move forward. 

The days leading up to my departure were uneventful and went according to plan. The day my flight was leaving I arrived in plenty of time. I checked my bag, my husband left, and then went through security. Due to dietary restrictions, I travel with a lot of my own food for snacks, the day before meal, race and post race fuel. Since I had my Gatorade, recovery powder, and protein with me in ziplock bags I knew the possibility of getting pulled to check my bag. 

TSA decided to check both bags. My backpack had my food which contained apples, bread, pretzels, and some protein bars. The agent asked if she could take out the items to check. I replied of course since I had nothing to hide. I wondered if anyone actually said no. She took all the items out and did a swab test and it came back fine. She asked if I would pack my bag while she slowly went to get my other bag. My small suitcase had all my powder and after she scanned though and did another swab test I was ready to head for my gate. This took over 30 minutes, but I still had time to make my flight. 

My flight was planned to leave at 9:15 and the airplane was at the gate. At 9:00 we were informed that they had to clean the plane and there was a slight delay. No problem I had a 90 minute layover in Las Vegas. About 45 minutes later he said he had no update. This happened a few more times and then the plane was fixed and we were ready to leave. This was about 11:30 and I wouldn't make my connecting flight so I went to the counter and made sure they had a seat for me when I arrived. The attendant changed my flight to fly direct to SF but this flight wasn't scheduled to leave until 1:15. More waiting. 

I was in Terminal 2 which has a smaller amount of choices for food. And due to my food choices I had a few snacks from my bag. Ready to board and an announcement that this flight is delayed. I was not happy and ready to just go home as I thought this was a sign not to go. At 2:30 we boarded and I was finally off to my destination. 

After arriving, I went to get my rental car which was off site. This place had specific hours of operation and they don't open until after my return flight was leaving. I went back to the airport and used a different rental agency that is 24 hours. Another bump in the road. 

I get to the parking garage and get out. Yeah there is a small Whole Foods grocery store right there. Things are looking good. I go through my emails and the place I'm staying doesn't have an address. I finally get to the flat and can't get the lock to work. After a 20 minute wait I'm able to get in my room at 8:30 (10:30 CST). I'm tired, hungry, and crabby. 

It was a long day of travel, but I had made it. 

I wake up and head to the race sight so I don't have problems on Saturday. I can't find the place and after 5 hours walking around I return back to the flat. I did some sightseeing so it wasn't all for nothing. I text my husband and tell him that I'm ready to come home. I was ready to book a flight home. However, I was raised that once you commit to something then finish it no matter the obstacles. After some encouragement from my husband I make a new plan. I will meditate and at 4:00 I will leave to find the swim group for our practice swim. I don't think that I was over the frustration from Thursday. 

I leave at 4:00 and head toward the swim meetup area. I drive around and see the race sight. This is a relief. I park at the lot and walk to transition and take some pictures. Walk back to my car and I don't see any other people that look like they are swimming. I send an email and phone to ask if I'm at the right spot. I drive for a little bit then back to my original spot and see my peeps. 

Saturday I arrived at the race sight to get in an easy run. This run was part of the course and I finally found TBT. Things are getting better I just needed to decompress more than I thought.  Athlete briefing done, bike check in done and I'm headed out to drive the course. Traffic was horrible and it's difficult to change lanes. I ended up going the wrong way and had no idea where I was. Trying to drive and figure out directions alone wasn't working. I just went back to the flat. I had ridden the bike course in the computer trainer at Power Up Cycling so I was aware of the hills. Just not the roads and turns. 

Race day is finally here!  Since my car was in a parking garage I had to use uber for the first time (yes on race day). I didn't realize that there is a confirm button that needs to be clicked on. I waited for 30 minutes and the car arrived. I share a car and the 2 people in the back seat who smell of alcohol. Not something I enjoyed before my race. I arrive to the race with plenty of time, a little stressed but my heart rate was still low. 

I head to the bus and get on the ferry. I meditate again and I think I took a little nap. At 6:26, four minutes before departure, the race director announced that there was a small aircraft carrier warning and the swim was cancelled. We would do a TT bike start and then run. I immediately started thinking about nutrition until the bike started and the bike and run. Many people were very upset with this decision. Alcatraz is about the swim, and many athletes reacted in a negative and vocal way.  All the negative talk around me was hard to deal with. So when people started being negative I would bring up something positive about the change. I hoped that this would help them and we could get past this. Boarded the bus and back to transition.  And time to prepare for the instruction to race. 

The TT bike start went smooth considering it was planned at the last minute. I started about halfway and was able to see the first few male pros come in off the bike. It was very windy and chilly for the start. The bike and run went well and I was able to cross the finish line with a smile. 

This was not how I ever imagined my race weekend to go. The only thing I had control over was how I reacted to each event. This allowed me to still have a memorable race experience and learn and grow from the adversity.