Escape from Alcatraz – 06-08-08

Escape from Alcatraz

Short: Good day, beat time goal, hard race.

Long 48degrees to start, end around 58. Water temp 56 I think..

Breakfast was ½ a COLD bagel (no toaster) and peanut butter and a cappuccino and 2 bannanas. Powerbar while sitting on the boat. I got a nice 5-6hours solid sleep, slept like a baby!!

Up at 2:50am, ate, then rode my bike to transition around 4:30. There were lots of people out and about trying to get taxi’s (slackers!). I instead had 50lbs of CRAP on my back. All my normal gear PLUS dry gear for the boat and (4) pair of shoes for this event! (boat, swim to T1, bike, and run) Get setup, meet “Matt” a cop from Milwaukee. His FIRST tri(!) done the distance, never together. We finish up setup, drop off our T0 bag (for after swim but before bike) and prepare the “Dry” bag and hit the bus. And who do we see, Hobey! She sits right in front of us. We get to the pier and hang out FOREVER (ok, probably seemed long because poor Matt was starting to get nervous) and finally get on the boat. Which meant we now go to sit around for another hour! I tried to take a nap, but between getting walked on (there was NO extra room) and Matt increasingly getting freaked out (driving Hobey nuts!! LOL) no nap. Anyway, we got lined up and ready to go. Matt is really freaking now. His big concern was to make sure nobody jumped on his head. The last swim someone did and he didn’t like it at all, imagine that! So I said I’d go after him and I would not jump on his head. No biggy, it’s chip timed.

The Pros are OFF! So we cattle call to the exits, and it’s bam-bam-bam literally 1-2-3-go-1-2-3-go-1-2-3-go no pauses. Matt is up and 1-2-3-PAUSE. So I helped him out. 1-2-3-Push (one hand, not hard!). Once his head was up, Boom I was off ! I hope now he wasn’t mad but it just seemed like a good idea at the time.

And then begins the hardest tri swim I’ve EVER done. By far. Within 2 minutes I had no less than a dozen full body contacts. Thrashing, punching, people trying to swim over me (that’s not tolerated, they ended up getting knocked off me… size counts for that), and so on. Wow. I sucked at least 2 mouthfuls of water too YUK!!!! Oh BTW it was cold. But I was so ready for the cold, it simply became irrelevant. The thrash-fest helped take my mind off it. When I settled into a rhythm, it would always get interrupted. SO Many people not sighting well and more than a few ran INTO me sideways. 2 guys dropped ONTO me by the sometimes significant waves coming from the right (which is weird, it was FLAT when we started) and so on. I was dead on with my sighting. I loved the fact I did not need to breath bi-laterally. I was able to stick to left breathing, which is natural for me. And I just hauled ass. Plain and simple. The current was strong and it did a lot of the work. The tour leader said we’d probably cover 2.2miles for the 1.5mile “point to point”. I did that in 32min. Which means sub 10 min miles? Yeah… I can barely RUN that fast. I was dead on with my sighting the whole time, Radio Tower at 10degrees. That’s it. Landed center of the beach.

Ripped off my goggles and started walking – DUMB – cap flipped off. They are very no-littering around here, like Nazi-no-littering, so I went back and got it. Arg. Lost some time. 32min to the beach. I hauled up the beach and hit the mat at 34. Nice. Hoping to beat 40. Got to my T0 bag, got socks and shoes on, all my crap off and into the bag, gum in mouth (salt water ICK!!!!!!) and swish out mouth as I ran with water.

Hauled the ½ mile? 2/3? Whatever distance to T1. Do I need to mention I was passed at this point by an 11yr old girl? Let’s not. Once in T1 sock change again, switched my orthotics to my running shoes (since HR was too high), etc and off I went.

Lots of traffic. Took a while to get mounted and then I was off. I threw it into a medium gear and worked my cadence up to something respectable. Started passing people like crazy. Nice. Had a mile or two of that before the first mountain (I mean hill). I’m not going to be able to do my mile by mile recap I usually like to do, because it was such a hard bike for me that my memory is fried. There are 7 hills basically and every one of them is longer and steeper than anything like I have in the Chicagoland area. CoachCarole was not kidding when she said the “longest hill at Madison is a nice warmup for Alcatraz”. She was not kidding, not remotely. It reminds me I’m a total flatlander. So some highlights

1. San Fran roads, as a general rule, suck badly. They are patches on top of patches.

2. I spent most of the hills in 27 but worked on keeping cadence up around 50-60

3. The hill at mile 12 is the pure definition of evil. It’s another long hard hill, longer than ALL the others, but with 3 major sections and the last section is the steepest. It’s the kind of steep you’re afraid to drive your car down.. except we’re going up (yeah we went down too on way out) and we had ZERO momentum going into it. Sharp right, straight up. I forgot my repelling gear but I got up it, although this one I stood on. I didn’t stand any other hills, I wanted to save my legs. One girl I passed on that hill was {barely} holding back tears. I kid you not. IT was that bad.

4. I was passed by the Computrainer video cycle (mile 12 hill) so my back will be on the video I bet!! WOOT! The last 2 miles were mostly flat. I just threw it in the big boy gear and hauled arse. I averaged 23.5 for that stretched and passed well over 100 people. That brought a smile to my face!

T2 was pretty normal.

Run was flat for the first 1.5miles or so and I felt strong. I kept a nice solid 11ish pace. I DID have shin cramping. It made me realize with the format of this race I got ZERO warm-ups. I didn’t stretch either. WTF? AM I NEW? But I just kept running and working on “leaning right” however the urgent need to PEE was building. Around mile 2 there was a bathroom so me and another clydes who had been running together stopped. I stretched while waiting. It helped. Then the hills. Like the bike, I can’t remember the specifics because it was simply the most brutal run I’ve ever done.

A huge part was on trails, and uneven ones at that. I’m not used to that. Some rough sketches of what went down

1. The trails were all fairly small, uneven, and had obstacles. So always looking down

2. Most of the first 4 miles was uphill. Most of the final 4 was downhill. Not much flats.

3. Lots of steps.

4. 1milesish on the sand. SAND SUCKS, it sucks so bad. I was digging 3in CRATERS in it and it took TONS of energy. I was annoyed (kidding) by this little 18 year old girl took off her shoes and started running… she didn’t even leave footprints!!! NOT FAIR!

5. The sand ladder wasn’t that bad. I walked it in 5min. There was a decent section which had no steps, just sand on an incline.

6. There were many more stairs.

7. There was a tunnel which we had to duck or get knocked out. How weird is that!

8. The crowd support was amazing.

9. The view was just breath taking. I’m not a stop and smell the roses kind of guy, but I could not help but be absolutely awestruck. I got passed by a CAF Marine and his buddies at the end. I talked to them for a while. Very nice guys. They pulled away so I was able to go through the Ironman style chute by myself basically. I didn’t hydrate as much as I needed to (even with the cool weather) and was really dragging ass at this point so I decided to work the crowd instead (the Tri Cal guys said that was how to get on the video footage!) so I got the whole crowd going WOOT-WOOT-WOOT-WOOT it was great.

Crossed the finish strong and under my goal time.

This is not a race for the meek or under-prepared. But for those of you who have a chance to do it or like a challenge it is BIG TIME recommended. Definitely an destination race Met up again with Hobey and mmoonptdeux and said our goodbyes. It was great seeing Joe and Hobey DW rooting me on coming out of T1. Always fun when people who KNOW you are there! I have to tell you the crowd support is bar none. The locals were SO into it.

What a great race… I’ll be back.

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