Escape from Alcatraz
1.5 mile swim/ 18 mile bike/ 8 mile run
San Francisco, CA
Coteau-du-Lac ITU Pan American Cup
1.5k swim/ 40k bike/ 10k run
Friday, June 12th, my mother and I headed to San Francisco, CA for the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon. The race was on Sunday the 14th. To my surprise, I had a cheering section for me a couple thousand miles away that included my mother, two aunts, an uncle, a cousin and a family friend. I can't tell you how awesome of an experience it was, and you all made the race weekend more special than you can imagine. Thank you.
So, our boat is anchored just off the coast of Alcatraz island, and the head ref instructs the pros to "step over the railing" and hang on. We oblige. We are standing on a hard rubber railing about two inches wide in hopes of gracefully diving into the 55 degree water as best we could. The gun sounds and we all dive into the frigid San Francisco Bay. It wasn't that bad. Due to the current, the 1.5 mile swim took even the best swimmers in the sport a little over thirty minutes to complete. As opposed to a linear path from point A to point B, our route looked more like a NASA launch path; using a planet's gravitational pull to slingshot a shuttle to it's destination. I was about two and a half minutes back when i exited, so I had some time to make up. I didn't accomplish this task.
After the swim, we had about a 3/4 mile run to T1, so I opted for some shoes so I didn't hack up my tootsies too bad. I was in for a surprise on the bike. It consisted of 18 miles of climbing and descending. We were either going up or down. Ouch. I learned a lot about myself on this bike ride, as my legs "wove a tapestry of obscenities" as their non-vocal muscles screamed in agony.
I hopped off the bike and began the run. Hardest run in triathlon, hands down. It is an 8 mile run with only about 1.5 miles of it on actual pavement. The remainder is on either trail or loose beach sand. This was actually a great run because it kept you visually stimulated the whole time. If you didn't pay attention, you ate it. After about 4.5 miles, you've made your way down to the beach from a steady descent from street level, which was on a dirt trail. After a short hard run on loose beach sand, you hit the infamous sand ladder, which is a set of 400 "stairs" taking you from beach level back to street level. These are not stairs. Imagine a long, steep, loose-sanded hill with short logs tethered together to form a ladder/stair system. It's tough to articulate with written words. It really is. I was able to keep a solid pace on the run, but again, nothing to write home about.
I finished in 23rd place, I think. The results look a bit weird and I can't figure them out.
(I didn't really have any Rice-A-Roni, but I did have official sourdough bread.)
Race report number two:
The Friday following Alcatraz, I flew up to Burlington, VT to rendezvous with another American triathlete, Eric Limkemann, so we could share a rental car on our way to compete at the Coteau-du-Lac ITU Pan American Cup, which was on Saturday afternoon. This was my first draft-legal race, and my first time representing the USA on a professional level. My former college teammate JP Richard and his wife allowed Eric and I to crash at their place just west of Montreal, which was an easy 30 minute drive to the race site. After the race, Val and JP made an amazing dinner for us and then gave us a tour of Montreal. Thanks guys, you really made our trip that much more awesome.
So the race: Two 750 meter swim loops, with a run up onto the starting pontoon in between loops. The first 750 meters was a shocker to me, as all these dudes are fast. On the second loop I was able to make up about 15 seconds and catch the second swim pack. This is the most intense swimming in a triathlon I have ever experienced...hands down. Onto the bike, there were initially five or so packs. I was in the third. After the first two laps of a six lap course, the second group had caught the lead group, which now put me in the second group. David Silver, another American, and I were doing the majority of the workload, as our group was poorly organized. David and I were not too thrilled about the non-sharing of the workload amongst the group, and we both verbalized our opinions to the others in the group. Whoops.
Onto the run, I was feeling good through the first two laps of a four lap run course. I faded a little on the third lap, but was able to rebound and run hard for the fourth. I started the run in roughly 25th position and was able to run my way to a 19th place finish.
I'm really pleased with my first ITU event, and please check out the International Triathlon Union for more information about what I am trying to do with my life. Thank you to everyone who made my journey to this point possible.
(I did have some Tim Horton's doughnuts and coffee.)
P.S. - I will post pictures as soon as I can.