Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Team Crazy Beast Escapes from Alcatraz

May 18, 2013.  The day my friends jumped off a boat into the San Francisco Bay.  Why you ask?  Because they are the two most important parts of Team Crazy Beast!  Jyl has been wanting to do this swim as long as I've known her.  And Graham?  He may have only wanted to take advantage of an opportunity to push at least one of us off a boat ;)  

Graham has already written and posted his recap on his blog.  Go visit!  Graham always has something crazy goin' on! 

Jyl has been awesome enough to write a recap for seriouslyhope.  Take it away, Jyl!

I decided about 2 years ago that I wanted to do the Escape from Alcatraz Swim. I was riding the ferry boat over to the famous prison when the guide mentioned the opportunity "normal" people have to attempt the swim that is infamous and done by two prisoners who were never found... did they make it??
I should say that San Fran is my favorite city, besides Boston, in the world. I love visiting there, and Alcatraz is always somewhere I visit. I love the history and it has beautiful views!

Sure...they're smiling now...
Whenever the seed was planted in my head, I began to research the swim. Frankly I was petrified. Cold Cold water (50's), strong ocean current, jumping off a ferry boat, about 1000 other swimmers, and oh Yeah, Sharks!

The only reason to do this was a bucket list item. I would do it once and get a vacation out of it!
I began my quest to conquer my open, dark water fear the year prior,-actually the day after my birthday, May 19. I jumped in Lake Norman and did my first lake swim.
Exactly a year later I was escaping from Alcatraz.
In-between there was the Boston Harbor race I did as a preview. (The same Sports Group organized the Boston swim and Alcatraz)
So when 2013's date was posted, I realized I had to do it. It was May 19. It was my birthday weekend... Wetsuit bought, race registered and then the fear set in!

Somehow in the midst of all the anxiety of the last year, I convinced training buddy Graham, to join in this adventure... I mean he's training for an IRONMAN, and he looked at this as a training swim, and mainly a reason to shove me off a ferry boat! (Which in the end, he didn't have to do! I jumped on my own free will)

"But Graham, what if they run out of the watermelon
beer before I make it out of the Bay?"
Everyone would has talked to me in the last 6 months knows how scared and nervous I was for this swim. I couldn't find a single positive thing to say about it... (Secretly, there was a little "I’m tough, big guys won't do this... Professional Athletes won’t do this in my brain, but not much!)

After spending 3 days in California with me pre race- my mom had heard enough about my fear of floating to Oakland, or getting swallowed by a sea lion...

"I won't let the sea lions eat you..."
I could go on about the morning of the race, the prep, the boat ride, the swim itself, but mainly let me tell you, if you think you want to do this, you can. (Seriously the morning went by very quickly! So did the swim!)

Swimming has always been my strong suit, I’m not Ryan Lochte, but I can swim. I knew I could do the distance. I wasn't afraid of the sharks... I was afraid of all the things you can't train for... waves, current, cold water.

We encountered all that. But with the awesome help of the TON of volunteers in kayaks, boats, etc, they got Team Crazy Beast to the finish. Having someone to make sure I didn't drift away in that current was much needed. (Thanks Graham! A good friend and a future Ironman!)
Also, my parents would were the awesome support crew! (Dad then treated us to the best brunch ever at the Mark Hopkins hotel!)

I know when I researched this race; I read EVERY blog someone wrote. Everyone finished the race. I finished! You can!
90% of the struggle to get to the finish line was mental 10% was the current in the bay... Seriously, practice sighting... Wear a full sleeve wetsuit, and enjoy the view. It's amazing. I look at all the pictures of Alcatraz and San Fran now, and think man I was in that water... How many people can say they did that???

And Myth busted! Those two prisoners never made it to the shore... If they did, man they deserve Freedom! It was the hardest thing I ever did... Tougher then Tough mudder, a marathon, climbing 51 floor of the Duke Tower...
So bucket list item checked.. Later that week I did jump back in Lake Norman for a nice 1 mile swim in 70 degree water..,. Man that felt amazing! So I didn’t quit swimming, which I thought I might do!

On to the next thing... I don't have the next thing in my brain, but I'm sure it will come soon!

Cheers to you, my friends!
Cheers to YOU!

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