Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon

Escape From Alcatraz-2014

           This past weekend I competed in my first Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon. This is an iconic race in the Golden Gate Park area of San Francisco and has been going 34 years strong! This season, the race fit in well with my race schedule and I figured why not give it a go!


         I arrived into San Francisco on Friday evening and was surprised how chilly the air temperature felt walking around Pier 39. My family and I enjoyed an awesome dinner and I was well fueled after a huge plate of rice, beans and chicken tacos.

          The next morning, I biked a portion of the bike course and checked out the swim exit and the half mile run to transition. The bike course was hilly, technical and slightly bumpy in some areas, but I was excited to take on the challenge the next morning.


         Due to the time zone change, I woke up on my own at 4:00AM and didn’t feel too tired. It felt very nice starting a race at a descent time in the morning, verses getting up and feeling like it’s the middle of the night. I felt a little lost race morning in wondering how soon I should get to transition and what I needed to do for race warm-up. I figured I shouldn’t be in the transition area too long due to the cold. I rode the two miles down to the race course at 5:30AM intending to catch a 6:30 ferry. Once I got down to transition, I noticed I was nearly the last person there! I realized you have to catch a shuttle bus first before catching the ferry. Prior to race start, I did not do any type of warm-up (minus the “cold-up” ride to the race course). I intended to do my race activations on the ferry, but with my TYR wetsuit half on, I had no intention to take it off. I needed it for warmth. I figured that after swimming 1.5 miles in the 57 degree water was going to “cool” my muscles and deplete any type of prior warm-up. I figured I needed to just stay calm, try and keep my core temperature up, and do as much activation as possible, despite wearing the wetsuit and not having much room on the crowded boat. I ended up doing 40 jumping jacks before the swim, got my core up slightly and my heart pumping.


             It was a really cool experience to take a ferry with all the other athletes competing. You could feel so much energy in the air and I feel like this really gave you a sense of strength before plunging into the water. Speaking of diving into the water, I thought Sara McLarty was joking when she told me, “You climb over the ferry railing, stand on a couple of inches of deck floor and hold on.” Nope not joking at all. This was the most interesting position I have ever heard the National Anthem, holding onto the side of a ferry boat! Soon the gun went off, I dove off the boat and was surprised the water was not quite as cold as I was expecting. It was cold, but I could still feel my hands by the end of the swim. The beginning of the swim was a bit chaotic. The men and women started together and I got trampled a bit the first 100 meters. I ended up moving to the outside and working my way up the field. Fortunately, I did not worry about sighting on land and followed the fast pro men in front of me.


             Exiting the swim, I was shocked to be just 55 seconds behind Andy and on the heals of the first pack of pro men, along with Sara McLarty. I felt pretty good in the swim, minus taking in a few gulps of the Pacific Ocean. The toughest part was tying to sight and stay correctly on feet with the strong ocean current. I decided not to put shoes for the first transition, realizing with cold hands I may take too long to get my feet into my shoes. The transition run was a little painful on my cold feet, but managed to exit the bike first.

            Once on the bike course, I felt strong climbing the hills on my Fuji Norcom Straight and my wheel choice for the day was the Tubular Firecrest 404 front and rear. I ran my Zipp 23mm Tangente tubies at lower pressure than normal as the forecast was for the skies to open up with rain at any moment  . I also tracked my ride power data using the 2014 Quarq Elsa Power Meter. Here is my Quarq Power file brought to you by Training Peaks. I was a little hesitant on the descents, having never rode the course before and last weeks crash sitting in the back of my mind. I decided to be more on the cautious side verses taking risks. I lost some time to the riders around me on the descents (theme for this race!), but started the run with around a two minute lead over the second woman.


            I felt smooth and strong starting out on the run course. I did not go over the run course prior to the race, so this was all new territory for me. I had a group of guys I was running with during a majority of the run. About half way through the run, I had three minutes on Miranda. I hit the infamous sand ladder and was pleasantly surprised it was not as tough at I expected. It was hard, but after hearing all the horror stories, I was expecting worse! I realized early on that I was passing or running with the group of guys on the flats and the climbs, but on the descents I would loose some time. The first 5 miles of the run course was mostly uphill and flat, so I did not notice quite how much time I was loosing on any descent, but miles 5-7 were mostly downhill and I struggled getting my feet to descend quickly on the rocky trails and down the steps. I lost nearly 90 seconds on the steep 1.5 mile downhill section of the course around mile 5 to 6.5~! Yikes! When I hit the flat trail, Nate mentioned to me that Mirinda was close. This is where I feel the race began for me, although it was the last ten minutes of the 2:17 minute race! I charged hard and managed to break the tape! I couldn’t have been more happy to have my second win for the week and sixth for the season!


           This race was so unique and I had a blast. It was so awesome to see so many athletes enjoying the course and loving the multi-sport lifestyle. Next time I will have to practice running down steps more quickly! Thank you to my network team of support. Now back to a solid block of training before the next race.  Also be sure to check you local listing to catch the show on CBS Sports Network on Sunday, June 22



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