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Accenture Escape from Alcatraz - TriathlonOther

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San Francisco, California
United States
Total Time = 4h 01m 57s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group = Female 55-59
Age Group Rank = 0/
Event warmup:

I'm not sure I can adequately express the Escape From Alcatraz experience. I'm still in awe that I had the opportunity to be part of something so phenomenal.

The alarm went off at 3:30 AM. Kelly and I had packed everything we needed the night before so all we had to do was eat breakfast and head out the door. We set up transition in the dark. We put the shoes we would need to run from the beach to transition in a bag marked with our race number. Volunteers collected these and had them waiting for us at the swim exit. We had a second bag, marked the same, with everything we would need for the swim. We carried this with us as we loaded onto the chartered tour buses and were transported to the dock. Here we got body marked and waited to head out to Alcatraz.

At exactly 7:15 AM, nearly 2000 athletes boarded the San Francisco Belle, whooping for joy when the boat left the pier. Wall-to-wall wetsuits. We were anxious, excited, and nervous. We could see the San Francisco skyline as we made our way to the island. We approached Alcatraz and circled the island to get the boat in position. Kelly and I were sitting with Andria (a BT peep from Atlanta) and Janna (I think from Florida) on the voyage. Janna would burst into tears one moment and then go into a fit of laughter the next. She just couldn't believe she was really going to jump off the boat. I shared those same feelings.

There was prayer, then there was the Star Spangled Banner, and then the first horn blew and the pros were in the water. At 8:02 the second horn blew and we crowded through the doors and onto the deck. Kelly and I gave each other a hug and a quick smile and without any time for second thoughts, we jumped too.
  • 54m 43s
  • 2469 meters
  • 02m 13s / 100 meters

The water temp was 56 degrees. Cold but tolerable with a wetsuit and neoprene cap. I was a bit conservative to start because I was worried about my calf muscles cramping up like they did at the training clinic. The massage must have worked because I didn't have any problems. I felt strong through the whole swim. We hit some high swells after we got away from the boat but they were manageable. I settled into a steady pace and made my way across the Bay. I stopped about halfway across and turned back to look at Alcatraz. Wow!

You can't swim a straight line to the swim exit because of tides so you have to compensate by navigating slightly east (to the left). We had been given specific landmarks to follow. First sight off Fontana Towers over Aquatic Park. Then head toward the Fort Mason buildings. When you can see the dome of the Palace of Fine Arts, head straight toward it. Easy enough. Except I'm near sighted and I don't have prescription goggles so it was hard to sight off something I couldn't see. I decided to just follow the crowd and ended up overshooting the swim exit (me and about 50 others). This throws you into a current that's like a hamster on a treadmill going nowhere when you try to turn to shore. Ugh. I know this added a good 10 minutes to my swim time.

I finally made it to the water's edge and just as I was standing up I got hit by a strong tide which completely knocked me off my feet and pulled me back into the water. One more time, a few strokes, stand up, and another wave slaps me in the back and knocks me down. Begging the ocean to spit me out once and for all, I dug my hands into the ebbing sand and crawled out of the water. I had to back track to the real swim exit so I could cross the timing mat and climb up the slippery moss covered steps. Big smile. I survived the swim.
Transition 1
  • 12m 22s

This event had an abundance of happy, helpful volunteers and they were waiting to lead me to my bag which contained my transition shoes. I think I set the record for taking the longest to wiggle out of a wetsuit. The last 10 minutes of the swim had beat me up and my limbs were jello. Finally, I got it off, put my shoes on, and ran the 1/2 mile to the real transition area. I sat down, put my bike cleats on, helmet, sunglasses (finally I can see) and then grabbed a towel and tried to blow all the sand and salt water out of my nose. Grabbed my bike and took off. This was a bit long but I didn't really care because all I could think of was how good it felt to be done with the swim.
  • 1h 22m 38s
  • 18 miles
  • 13.07 mile/hr

I've been training on hills and I really don't mind them so this was fun in it's own grueling way. What made it difficult were the sharp turns at the top and bottom of each hill. The first climb starts at 1.5 miles. At mile 4.5 you hit a downhill (easily 35 without pedaling) but have to be ready to brake quickly because there's a 90 degree turn right at the bottom.

The steepest hill was at mile 12 on Seal Rock. I was told it's a 20% grade. It's immediately after two 90 degree turns and there's no way to build up any speed to help pull you up. I knew it was coming so I got in my granny ring. I hate admitting I had to use that but after all, I am a Grandma. Unfortunately, this wasn't even enough to get me up. I couldn't stop and unclip because it was too steep. I knew I was going down and my mind was going a mile a minute trying to figure out what to do. I spotted a large shrub just ahead on the right curb so I stood and pushed as hard as I could for two more pedal strokes until I was even with the bush and then as gently as I could, I just layed myself over into the lush green. My feet did a little dance but I came out no worse for the wear. I walked the rest of the way up the hill. There's a method to this madness because the few people who passed me had trashed their legs by the time they got to the top and I passed them on the way down.

This bike course is beautiful. It's challenging for sure. It's a kick and I loved it. Volunteers and police officers were at every turn. Aid stations every 2-3 miles along the route. I took in Gatorade and Clif Shot Bloks.
Transition 2
  • 02m 44s

Nothing exciting about this transition. I moved a little faster than the first one. Once again, tried to blow the remaining sand and salt water out of my nose.
  • 1h 29m 20s
  • 8 miles
  • 11m 10s  min/mile

The first mile of the run is on a flat groomed trail, going into Crissy Field to Fort Point. Then up a set of wooden stairs and through a tunnel where we had to duck our heads or get a goose egg. Up a steep concrete slope and then onto a narrow trail to Baker Beach. This was my first time running in sand and I just had to laugh at how awkward it was. I hit wet areas where the tide had come in and this felt like quick sand. After the turn around we headed back where we encountered the dreaded Sand Ladder. I walked this and even though it was tiring, it was so much fun. I mean really, how many runs have sand steps. We also hit some terrain that was like mushy landscaping bark. I don't think there was anything left out of this run. Sand, bark, concrete, steps, pavement, crude trail, groomed trail, it was all there. Running under the Golden Gate Bridge was totally awesome. The run course held the same beauty as the bike and offered spectacular views of the bay and bridge.

The longer I ran the stronger I felt. The closer I got to the finish line the more excited I was. I took in two gels, some Clif Shot Bloks, and lots of water from the aid stations.

The T2 and Run results are not posted for several participants. I'm not sure why but I'll add them when I get the information.
Post race
Event comments:

This event is too big for words. There were several times on the course when I slipped into sightseeing mode and had to remind myself I was racing. I came in BOP but I'm thrilled knowing that I swam the same waves as Andy Potts and climbed the same hills as Leanda Cave. We shared a shuttle to the airport with Craig Alexander, the 3rd place pro, and I can't help but smile when I think that I crossed the same finish line as he did. It may have taken me twice as long but I swam, biked, and ran the very same miles as the pros.

The icing on the cake for the whole event was getting to share it with my daughter. Kelly calmed my fears, cheered me on, and totally kicked butt on race day. Jim is so proud of both of us and is still busting his buttons when he talks about our accomplishment. You just can't ask for more than that.

Last updated: 2007-12-19 12:00 AM
00:54:43 | 2469 meters | 02m 13s / 100meters
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 56F / 13C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 12:22
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
01:22:38 | 18 miles | 13.07 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 02:44
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
01:29:20 | 08 miles | 11m 10s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]

2008-06-09 9:53 PM

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, North Carolina
Subject: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz

2008-06-10 7:53 AM
in reply to: #1455946

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Alpharetta, GA
Subject: RE: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz
Amazing race and great report - you did so great!

You are defintiely the coolest mom - my mom would never do anything like this. I am glad your calves didn't cause you any problems on race day.

It was great to meet you!

2008-06-10 8:54 AM
in reply to: #1455946

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Farmington, MI
Subject: RE: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz

". I knew it was coming so I got in my granny ring. I hate admitting I had to use that but after all, I am a Grandma."

Yeah and one of the coolest grandmas I've ever heard of!! (I can't say THE coolest or MY grandma would kick my butt!)  CONGRATULATIONS, what an accomplishment.  Great report on your fantastic adventure.  I don't think I'm going to let my mom read your report until AFTER our first sprint tri this summer though.  


2008-06-10 10:14 AM
in reply to: #1455946

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Westchester, IL
Subject: RE: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz
Sounds exciting, the swim sounds scary. Good Job, Congrats
2008-06-10 12:13 PM
in reply to: #1455946

User image

Subject: RE: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz
Congrats on your race, and being able to do it with your daughter.... awesome!
2008-06-10 12:36 PM
in reply to: #1455946

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.

2008-06-10 12:49 PM
in reply to: #1455946

Subject: RE: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz
That sounds like the best tri of all time!  Good for you
2008-06-10 1:05 PM
in reply to: #1455946

New user

Subject: RE: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz
Wow ~ Becky, you are awesome!! I am so impressed with what you have done!
Thanks so much for sharing this most inspiring posting with us!
Hugs to both you and your daughter, Kelly!
You Rock...
God Bless
2008-06-10 1:12 PM
in reply to: #1455946

New user

Subject: RE: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz
Thanks for sharing your wonderful pictures too!
Stay in touch ~ we love to see and hear about your adventures!
I will share them with the GNO Ladies ~ You are our Star!
Talk with you later.

2008-06-10 6:50 PM
in reply to: #1455946

Wellington, North Island
Subject: RE: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz
You were awesome out there Mom! Great job.
2008-06-10 7:06 PM
in reply to: #1455946

San Francisco
Subject: RE: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz
Great job out there on a very challenging course.  Very cool you were able to race with your daughter.  I enjoyed the race report.  Thanks for sharing!

2008-06-10 11:14 PM
in reply to: #1455946

Subject: RE: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz

Great race Becky and fantastic race report.

Awesome job and so special to share this with your daughter..another memory of cool mother-daughter things you guys have done starting with your first 5K not that long ago.

I must admit hearing about this race doesn't make me want to enter the lottery...seems way to hard.  Coolest Grandma..yah you!

I love your strategy for the hard hill of falling into the bush. 

2008-06-12 2:40 PM
in reply to: #1455946

Subject: RE: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz

Congratulations on a great race. Sounds like you and your daughter had a wonderful time.  Those hills were tough. I won't be a grandpa for another 5 or 10 years, but I used my granny gear too

BTW,  I always say that all those fast people don't get to enjoy the scenery nearly as much as us BOPer's.

2008-06-13 12:34 AM
in reply to: #1455946

Lake Oswego, OR
Subject: RE: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz
Great job hanging in there on the swim and I loved your description of the electricity in the air on the boat. Nothing wrong with using a Granny gear. I saw a lot of people, including me that used one as well.
2008-06-13 8:24 AM
in reply to: #1455946

Littleton, CO
Subject: RE: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz

What an inspiring race report!  You did amazing and I love your attitude!  I also wear glasses and find it comical when trying to sight in the water. I usually end up following the crowd too!

I think you're awesome! 

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