Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

Escape to Alcatraz Triathlon -June 3, 2018

This past Sunday, I Escaped for the third time in my career.  I was thrilled to come away with a win (my second win of my career here as I also won in 2014).  Of all the times I competed in San Fransisco, this was my favorite trip.  I believe that experience truly helps you on this iconic course and having raced on it a few times in the past really helped me on Sunday.

This was the first trip I have made this year without the kids.  I would have loved having my children with me, but decided it was best to keep the kids home with the grandparents.  I definitely missed them and I am really looking forward to seeing them when I get home!  Nate and I arrived into San Fransisco on the Friday prior to race day.  Travel went exceptionally smooth and when we arrived at the hotel, we loosened up at the hotel pool, had dinner and an early bedtime as we decided to stick with central time zone to make race morning feel not too early.

Saturday was a gorgeous day.  We were up early and biked down to swim exit.  I rode a bit of the bike course and then headed up to a park where locals and triathletes open water swim.  The water felt cold, but not too bad.  This race I was more prepared for cold water as I swam with my thermal BlueSeventy wetsuit (which I love for open water swims with temps under 60 degrees) and also decided to wear a scull cap.  After the swim warm up, it was back to the hotel for a brunch, a 20 min nap (that never usually happens) and then headed out for a shake out run near the pier.   Running around San Fransisco on a beautiful afternoon made for a mix of walking, running, and jogging kind of run with so many people around; however, I really wanted to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and the beautiful bay verses running on the hotel treadmill.  I figured at this point, all I needed to do was activate my body just a little and ran around two miles.  After the run, we biked back to the race site for the pre race interviews and the race meeting.  

Sunday morning, I woke up before my 4:15 alarm.  Sleep the night before a race is usually a bit restless for me as I have a bit of nerves and anticipation on my mind.  At 5:00AM, I biked down to race site before the sun was up.  The last shuttle was departing transition to the pier at 6:00AM, so it was important to get to transition to set up, place shoes out of swim exit and get on the shuttle in time.  I got on the shuttle around 5:50AM and arrived to Pier 3 at 6:10AM.  I wanted to do a short run just to get a little bit of a warm up in and also keep my core temp up before getting on the ferry.  I jogged about a mile and ended with some drills, activations and strides.  Once on the ferry, the race organizers let the pros up on the third floor up to the VIP area.  This was awesome because we had a bathroom and lots of room to stretch out.  This was the first time doing this race I could see the shore from Alcatraz island.  In the past when I have competed at this race it has been so foggy out, I could never see the shore!  

Five minutes before race start the men and women could find a spot on the other side of the boat railing.  I found on spot on the far left side, climbed over the rail and anticipated the two meter dive into the 55 degree water.  I chose to be on the outside this race, so that I could avoid much of the chaos at the start of the swim.  With the men and women starting together, It’s a lot of bodies going in the water at once.  I had a good dive (goggles stayed put!) and focused on staying on feet.  This swim requires a lot of focus every second because if you lose focus for a couple of strokes, you will be ten meters off course and off any feet you were trying to swim amongst.  During the swim, I couldn’t really tell who was around me, but I focused on trying to keep my arms moving through the waves and not suck in too much water while I was breathing.  The water was like a washing machine and the current was pretty strong, but it was a fast swim this year compared to years past!  I exited the swim with a group of men about 90 seconds in front of the second woman.  I made sure to put my shoes on before heading to the 3/4 mile run to transition.  I was so glad I wore the Blueseventy Reaction Thermal Wetsuit it has a special lining for extreme cold water. I also had the  Blueseventy Thremal Scull Cap with the Blueseventy Element Goggels. 

Once I got on the bike, I focused on riding strong and trying to be smooth on the descents.  I find that when I don’t have anyone in front of me, I struggle descending quickly on my own as I play it pretty safe.  About 11 miles into the bike, the officials came up to me motioning me to stand down.  I was in shock as I didn’t have anyone in front of me, so how could I possibly have a drafting penalty?  The officials told me it was a mount line infraction.  I was even more confused.  What????  The official mentioned that when I mounted my bike, my real wheel was not completely past mount the line (the point of contact of the wheel was, but the outer edge of the wheel was a couple of inches behind the line). To be honest, I didn’t even know this was the rule.  I learned back in the day during my ITU racing, to mount your bike when your feet cross the line, so I have always done that.  More often than not in past races,  I am sure my rear wheel was probably over the line anyway (since we are talking a matter of inches here), but I will ALWAYS be certain to run an extra few steps after I cross the mount line before I get on my bike from now on!!!  After my 1 minute stand down, I was back on my bike; however, I think I was in still in a bit of shock for the next few miles.  Alicia caught me shorty after the stand down and we rode the last five or so miles together.  I realized riding with her how slowly I was riding the downhills on the earlier part of the course as she was crushing me on those sections.  I knew I had to step up my game on those last few descents.  My gear for the cycling portion was:  Fuji Norcom Straight 1.1 out fitted with SRAM e-Tap wireless shifting, SRAM Red Dzero Quarq Powermeter, ISM PN 3.0 saddle, Zipp Vuka Aero bars, Zipp NSW Carbon Clincher 454’s  with Tangent Speed Tires’ , Sampson Stratics Carbon Ti Pedals, Rudy Project Wing57 in my favorite color!! Also a huge shout-out to Performance Bike Shops for getting my rig ready to race!! Here is my Quarq Power meter file presented by Training-Peaks

I exited the bike just before Alicia and started the run with around a ten second gap.  The first two miles of the course, we had a headwind, so I was running strong, but didn’t want to push too hard before the hill section of the course.  Alicia joined back up with me once we got to the first set of stairs and then I pulled back ahead on the uphill section.  About half way though the course, I was unsure where to turn and I waited until Alicia caught up with me and we both decided which way to go (fortunately it was the correct way).  We got down to the beach and the sand was killer.  The sand ladder was brutal, but it’s one of my favorite parts of the course.  This year I felt much more comfortable on my downhill trail running as I have been practicing this skill over the last couple of weeks.  When we got back on the flat gravel path, I had a 30 second lead over Alicia and with about a half mile to go, it was down to only 15 seconds, so I knew I had to kick it in high gear.  I kept my focus and determination to continue pressing through the grass finishing line shoot and was pumped to break the tape in first.  My run gear for the day  Altra Escalante-RacerMission HydroActice Multi-Cool,  Rudy Project Noyz in my Favorite color,  Triflare Custom Lace Sarah Haskins line, T1 Pro Race belt, Bluesevnety Visor,  and I was able to race in my Groove Life ring all day and not have to worry about my diamond wedding band.

I think the key factors for me during the race was to stay calm, no matter what obstacles I had to overcome.  In the swim, it was trying to keep my focus in the turbulent waters.  On the bike I had to keep a sharp focus throughout all the technical descents and not let my penalty take away my race focus.  On the run, I had to stay calm, even when I was not sure exactly where to go and push hard during certain sections of the course.  

I want to thank all the race organizers for doing such an amazing job putting on a fantastic race.  The course is one of the most beautiful in the history of our sport.  Congrats of Alicia Kaye for pushing me on the bike/run and to Lauren Goss for rounding out the podium in third.  Thank you to all my family, friends and sponsors.  Thanks Mom for watching my kiddos while I was gone and thank you to my husband for all you do day in and day out.

Lots and lots of thanks as I have so much to be thankful for.


The official website of Sarah Haskins. © 2013 Sarah Haskins, All Rights Reserved. Site by C5