Athlete Lab Pride

Breaking news story – of one Ian Nissen (an Aussie Athlete Lab Singapore member) who recently completed the very special, very iconic ‘Escape From Alcatraz’ Triathlon in San Francisco, USA.


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Athlete Lab: Could you describe how your training and preparation (physically, mentally and equipment-wise) leading up to “Escape from Alcatraz” went?

Ian Nissen: In the lead up to this I had been carrying a running injury, plantar fasciitis, so I wasn’t sure if I would finish walking or running. Given I couldn’t run I increased the bike sessions. The bike has a number of short but quite steep sections so I was glad of the hill sessions at Athlete Lab in the lead up.
Mentally I was ready. I just set a new high FTP prior to leaving Singapore so was feeling confident on the bike and my swim was coming together. Given basically no running for the last five months I was just planning on starting the run slow and then see how my foot held up.
Equipment wise i had a good wetsuit for the swim, as the water can be around 12 degrees, but thankfully this year it was up around 15 degrees. I went with my normal road bike rather than the TT bike given the terrain. As well as the hills the road surface isn’t great so the road bike was definitely the right choice.

AL: How was the energy and atmosphere amongst the participants, race staff, and spectators during race weekend?

IN: The race briefing was true American style and very infectious. The event went off like clockwork and the briefing videos gave you everything you needed to know for race day. I met a lot of other competitors from all over the world and a lot from California. They were all very friendly and welcoming. The spectators got right into it and were there to cheer everyone up the toughest sections, like the infamous Sand Ladder.
My thanks goes out to all the fantastic volunteers who did an amazing job and really made such a great upbeat atmosphere.

AL: What were the most enjoyable or rewarding parts of the event? Either overall or you could describe the highlight of each stage you did.

The best part was definitely the run as you come back towards the Golden Gate Bridge as the panorama opens up and makes you realise why this is such an iconic event.
Mentally for me it was great to get to the top of the Sand Ladder after not having run for so long and knew it was mostly downhill or flat from there.
I was happy with my bike. This had always been my weak leg but this time it was my most competitive.

AL: Which parts of the event did you find the most challenging for yourself physically and/or mentally?

IN: I really stuffed up my swim so that was disappointing. The advice they keep drumming into you is to swim directly towards shore as the current takes you downstream towards the finish line. I might have taken this too literally but basically I ended up swimming out of the current and then hunted up the shoreline as others stayed further out and got the benefit of the current for longer.
The run is tough with all the hills and the infamous Sand Ladder. Would definitely advise doing a lot of hill running in preparation. I certainly think it’s one of those races where local knowledge counts for a lot, guess I will just have to do it again and see.
All in all it is a fantastic race and I highly recommend it for anyone that wants something different from your regular flat course race in a great city with plenty of site seeing to be done around there and great food and wine (after the race of course).
Thank you to Athlete Lab for all the bike and swim training in the lead up. I’m looking forward to adding some running training to that too before the next race.

Well done to Ian! If you’re inspired by him and many of our other members, we’ll be happy to help you get primed and prepared for your next triathlon!