|These looked new 8.1 miles ago...|
My shoes are ruined...there are 4 blood stains in my right shoe, 2 in my left...the neon yellow color is now brown---sand, mud. The blood is from the grains of sand that rubbed holes in my feet; probably from the "quick sand" on Baker Beach where they kept us away from the firm pack at the waters edge. In the 48 hours leading up to race day, we were wondering if they would even let us swim and/or bike---stormy weather forecasted through the weekend! We witnessed an older gentleman wipe out on his bike--suffering what had to be a broken hip, pretty serious road rash, and probably a mild concussion(broken helmet)...all while riding 3 miles an hour sliding out of control on an old railway in front of Aquatic Cove. As i write this, we are 2 hours into a 3 hour delay in SFO. with all of this, the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon is a "must do" for every triathlete, and the race is worth every bit of headache it may throw your way to get there and back!
So we rolled out from the Argonaut to transition at 5 am---transition was a grassy, muddy mess! This race is packed to capacity---more people than an Ironman, with an "every (wo)man for him/herself" mentality----everyone jumps off the boat into the bay near Alcataz inside of a 6 minute window in order to keep some sort structure to the chaos that this "starting line" presents. Transition was no exception. After correcting the issues around my spot, I was left with about a 1 foot by 2 foot transition spot---actually, I saw this as good. Running shoes, number belt, watch, one Gu for the run,bike shoes...that was it. Helmet on the bars, glasses in the helmet. I was 2 rows from the "bike out" so I went with the shoes off the pedals (worked perfect). I wasted time handing shoes off to the "swim out" truck (ran barefoot from the swim exit to transition instead as you'll read below...hurts, but not enough to waste 7+ seconds looking for that shoe bag). I jumped on a bus and was at the boat pier in no time sipping plain old water munching on anything I could find in my bag, which ended up being a Honey Stinger Waffle and half a Powerbar (read: random!). This was because...
Swim: 28:35 116th overall...pace: 1:05 per 100m!!!! (love that current!!)
|Can you say overshot??? Geeze that looks like Great White territory|
Bike: 54:39 66th Overall 19.8 mph
Escape From Alcatraz Bike (Garmin didn't turn off...crappy data file)
I left the bike shoes on the pedals, dismounted, unbuckled and removed my helmet on the way, glasses off, shoes on---oops! The insole in my shoe bunched up on my right shoe---foot out, reposition the sole, 2nd time was a charm. Grabbed my number belt, that Gu, and my Garmin...then got moving!
Run 52:23 34th Overall 6:33 pace
So if the bike is Mr's Toads Wild Ride, this run is it's twin evil brother---made even worse with a few curves thrown in by the course layout and the recent rains leaving the trails a muddy mess. I left transition fast---sub 6 fast. Hitting the trail that leads from the street to the path at the west end of the Marina Green, I was greeted by my own personal paparazzi! There my family was---all with cameras pointed at me----I wanted some high 5's! Sophia was looking right at me (she is usually off playing with something, so this was a treat! Everyone was there---sisters, parents, Jenny, Fia...this was just awesome to have them there! I don't think my feet hit the ground for that mile---I was on cloud nine! The feeling was short lived as I was approaching the stairs leading to the upper trail. It was nice to see all of the improvements they had made to this section. I last did this race in 1998, and now the trail leading up was well manicured versus the beat up dirt trail that used to be there when I lived in the Marina from 1995-1999. I have done this run 100's of times, and it was awesome to be back on my old training grounds (I took it for granted as this run is one of the most beautiful runs I have ever been on). Up to the bridge, under the bridge, then through the bunkers, life was good. I had passed maybe 10 people including 3 of the women pros. As I passed the 3rd woman heading through the bunkers, the trail got nasty...puddles, mud...but thankfully we were pretty much alone and had the trail to ourselves dodge the storm deposits. As I ended this section, Andy Potts comes flying through with a "locked up lead", then Docherty and Chrabot running together. This is the coolest thing about this sport---here I am a "hobbyist" on the same course as the pros---name another sport where this is the case!!!! As I hit the downhill to Baker Beach, I then see 2 time IM World Champion Craig Alexander and let out a big " GO CROWIE!" He was not in a happy place, but here I was again on the same course as one of my heroes. Ok, so back to the racing....I hit the beach, and here's the curve ball--they made us run in the deep sand!! We were slowed to a crawl it seemed like. I had been running with a guy from the top of the hill..we both let out a chuckle, and burrowed through the "stuff" to the turnaround at the end of Baker Beach. My shoes filled with sand almost immediately, and this lead to the "holes" in my feet---not just abrasions, holes! Socks would be a good option, but that may have taken me 7+ seconds to put on, so I skip those for every race except 70.3 and IM. At the turn, I took in my only liquid of the run--2 cups of Cytomax (I think). As I was running towards the Sand Ladder, I caught up to a good friend Rich Blanco, another AIMPer who just qualified for the second year in a row at IM St George. He is a stud, and after a tap on the butt and some brief words, we were climbing the sand ladder. I had more in the tank to pour out on this day, so I ended up leaving Rich on the ladder---I'm sure I was better trained for this race, otherwise Rich would kicked my butt! I had a "for pride" bet with John Dean on who would do the Sand Ladder faster, but I was feeling really good about the race, so I conserved a bit going up, finishing the sand ladder in 2:25, and taking down JD but 10 seconds ;-} (Can you say "hill repeats"???) With that effort, I was able to run the uphill to the crest, then the true "fun" began. I entered the bunker section, and it was a sea of athletes coming up the same trail I had covered maybe 15 minutes before---luckily I caught a guy just at the right time, and let him lead through the labyrinth that was the trail back to the Marina Green. "Left....LEFT...LEFT!!!" we yelled all the way through. I left him when we hit the final set of stairs back to the road and I was shocked at what I found next...2 guys tied together! One guy blind, the other a pro triathlete guiding him through the course---AMAZING! These guys were running like there was no handicap issue there...each of them amazing in what they were doing...the pro telling him how to take the steps, and the blind athlete following him without missing a beat...really, AMAZING! They swam tied together, they rode on a tandem, and now ran tied together---and they finished just over a minute behind me! Without the handicap, I ended up passing them through this technical section and was back on flat ground with the path down Crissy Field to go. At this point, I just drained the tank, careful not to push over the limit. Pace was sub 6, heart rate right at 160....I was at max speed, max heart rate, and holding on for dear life with the mindset that every second counts. There was no gap for me to really close as 2 guys were about 30 yards ahead and not giving up much, but I pushed anyways as the finish to this race is one of the best out there. I left it all out there, and by the time I hit the finish shoot, I was running on fumes. I heard my cheering section loud and clear as I made the turn onto the grass runway---you guys are awesome!! I actually almost caught one of the guys ahead, but needed another 1/4 mile to get him...with the way the timing is done, the funny thing was that I actually beat the guy in front of me by 7 seconds as he must have exited the boat before me out of the front exit----that 7 seconds is what gave me second in the 35-39ers...sooo close! This race chews you up and spits you out---I gave it everything I had and we thrilled with my result---absolutely nothing to complain about! I met another AIMPer and winner of my age group Ritch Viola (also going to Kona)and chatted with Rich Blanco even though I was probably mumbling in exhaustion---two GREAT guys I look forward to racing with in Kona.
With the race behind me, it was time to visit with my family---we had an afternoon BBQ at my brothers new house---soo good to catch up with everyone! But too short! Thank you all for your tremendous support over the years, on this day, and on the coming BIG day in Kona...you guys have put up with me all of these years and I hope my racing makes you proud ;-}
I never realized how much I took living in SF for granted, but after spending a weekend there with Jenny and Sophia and some of my ONE teammates, this race can only be trumped by IM racing--if you know of another race close to this, let me know (well, Wildflower is up there too---that's next on the reunion tour---Jenny?). Thanks for reading my diary, and I hope it convinces those of you thinking about doing this race that you need to buck up and enter next year! BTW, there are 3 different Escape from Alcatraz Triathlons---this is the BIG one put on by IMG...www.escapefromalcatraztriathlon.com
Overall Stats: 2:22:57
Age Group: 2nd out of 264
Overall: 15th Amateur, 44th Overall including Pros
One Happy Triathlete!
Below are various pics from the weekend...
|Rich Blanco and I Post Race|
|Fia and I on the Aquatic Park Pier---Coldie!|
|John and I on our EZ Friday Ride|
|Jory and I braving the Rain Saturday moring|
|John the Jokester on the Sand Ladder|
|One of the holes in my right foot from sand rubbing--Ouch!|
|The hole in my right little toe--Double Ouch!|
|A future runner---look at that form! No heel striking there!|
|Me and my amazing family|
|Approaching my paparazzi!|
|The One Legged Seagull|
|Fia and Jenny with Alcatraz in the Background|
|The clan on the Sand Ladder|
|View from Baker Beach at the base of the Sand Ladder|
|The swim exit at St Francis Yacht Club Hipstamatixed|
|View of the bridge from the Swim Exit|
|The boys at the Swim Exit|
|Fia and her cousin Christopher climbing away|
|High Fives for my Paparazzi|
|That's what the Sand Ladder looks like from the bottom..|
|The top of the Sand Ladder---EZ section!|
|Someone was not happy!|
|She's Happy now...|
|Nothing an iPad and headphones can't fix|
|On the podium with Ritch and Brett|