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2010-01-09 1:29 PM

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Lehigh Valley
Subject: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread

Was surprised to be picked, I do not usually get picked for fun things.

Paid the fee by Jan.8, booked hotel, found super cheap round trip flights from ABE, and also got in-laws to agree to watch kids.

Only thing left is to reserve a bike, no way I am paying to ship.

 Started training again for all three events, will get more serious in March. Currently swimming 2 miles, two times a week. Running 3 times a week, twice inside as speed work on treadmill and sundays for a long run outside, this week 10 miler. Bike is on a trainer 2 times a week and a stationary bike once a week. Trying to build  better run base, during my first HIM last year I was finished on run. 

 I hope to meet some fellow participants.

Best of training. 



Edited by zukker 2010-01-09 1:30 PM


2010-01-10 7:09 PM
in reply to: #2604955

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Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread
I signed up for the lottery on a whim... was surprised to get drawn. Now, here I am all registered and already letting the swim get to my head. I am a lifelong in-lander and have some reservations about OWS in the bay. Super excited though!
2010-01-11 3:00 PM
in reply to: #2606502

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Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread
I hear you on the swim.  I was elated to get picked in the lottery, before letting the reality of the race sink in.  It will no doubt be an exciting challenge.  I live in the upper midwest so there's no shot of getting in any key OWS before this year's early race date.  For sure, a mind over matter game. 
2010-01-11 7:53 PM
in reply to: #2604955

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San Rafael, CA
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread
This will be my first "Escape" although I live in the Bay Area. My husband did this race the last 2 years so it is my turn this year. I have swam in the bay, but not a crossing from Alcatraz. The water temp can be a shocker. I would definitely reccomend getting in the Bay the day before the race. You can swim at Aquatic Park and there are bouy markers. I believe from one end to the other and back is 600M, so a nice easy swim to get accustomed to the water temp. Good luck all. I am excited, but have a lot of training to get done between now and then!
2010-01-12 12:01 PM
in reply to: #2604955

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2010-01-12 4:40 PM
in reply to: #2608733

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Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread
Thanks for the race feedback.  Do you currently follow a training plan on BT?  I'm going with an RPE based Olympic plan since I'm not big on wearing a heart rate monitor. 


2010-01-14 2:00 PM
in reply to: #2610384

Member
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San Francisco
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread
I did the race last year and will be doing it again this year. I never swim in open water except for race days, so it was a bit different with my end of the pool to turn at, but that was fine, it was a great view but a long way, you just have to keep going, head down and keep going.

The first 10-15 mins are the worst then it's time to get into your groove and swim. It was fun to arrive at the beach and hear all the people cheering, then as you find your shoes and get out of the wetsuit before running to your bike.

It was crowded as i road the bike out of transition along Chrissy Field, if your slow stay to one side, let us pass ( you can catch us later). The first part of the bike is flat then you go into the hills, they are short do don't worry. Then you head over the crest and down hill, take it easy at first then you get a long smooth flat where you should be able to push it to 30-35mph before going up hill again to the golf course. Then a short downhill before turning to go up towards the ocean. Watch the steep decent, it's really steep, but short.

In to the park, and the surface is bad, not great for high speed but keep pushing you are over half way. Then return to where you came from, push it along Chrissy Field and in to transition.

Head out on the run and take it easy for the first 1/2 mile, relax into it and then add speed. Controlled up the stairs then watch the head through the tunnel. Up the steep bit to the main trail. Then it's single track around before getting onto a wider trail, your at the Aid station before you know it and now it's onto the road and down, then on the dirt road to the beach, turn left along the beach and run close to the water. At the turn around try to run as many will walk, a great place to catch up a few places. Now back along the sand past where you entered and the sand ladder awaits.

No rush up here, even the pros walk it. At the top you now need to get those legs going again it's time to head home. Pump them and push, 3 miles or so and it's all done. Push all the way. Raise you hands and finish strong.

You Escaped. Awesome.
2010-01-14 9:57 PM
in reply to: #2604955

Expert
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Lafayette, CA
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread
This is a great race.  It should be in everyone 'bucket list!' 

The swim is great fun. I was sighting very 3 strokes or so at the beginning.  Once I got my groove on all was great.   The secret is that this race is great from swim speed perspective.  The tides are favorable.  You'll have one of the fastest swims you'll ever have.  If you overshoot the swim exit hop out and run back to the swim finish. I watched one year and too many people  try to swim back--and they fight the current.  Don't be proud--start your transition!

Outside of Kona this race has a "way cool" factor second to none.  

On the training I did the BT intermediate program.  I added about 500 meters to the swim toward the end. 

Bike is hilly and pretty technical.  You'll see pot holes in Golden Gate park--so watch out.  A couple of down hills have turns at the bottom of them.  Watch the volunteers for directions. 

I would recommend reading everyone's filed race reports from previous years. You'll pick up tips from everyone elses experience.
2010-01-17 11:54 AM
in reply to: #2604955

Member
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Lehigh Valley
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread
Great to hear from everyone who is 'in' or raced it previously.I am excited about the entire race, swim and bike are my strengths. For the first time in my life I have continued to run during the months of Nov, Dec. Jan. - I am sure there will be some payoff for this.I never do any ow swims until my actual races, I have never had any problems, in the pool, I train at twice the distance( for a 1 mile swim I will train for an indoor 2 mile swim).For those of you traveling, are you shipping your bike or renting? I am renting and will be sending in my reservation this week. I will be using my own pedals.Thank you for the info on where to swim prior to race day - I plan on taking advantage of this.Astro - that was a great race review - thanks.Keep on training.

Edited by zukker 2010-01-17 11:55 AM
2010-01-17 1:15 PM
in reply to: #2618295

Veteran
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California
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread
As everyone else said, it's a great race and quite an experience.  A few more thoughts:

They will say the boat empties out in 6 minutes.  In reality, it's about 2.  After the pro's go it's just a cattle drive out the doors.  Don't worry about being in your age group or anything.  There is a timing mat at the exit.

Once you hit the exit of the boat - NO HESITATION.  As soon as you have a clear spot to jump in, go.

When you jump in, you will go under water.  I know this seems obvious, but it never dawned on me before I did Alcatraz the first time, and kind of surprised me.  You jump from about 6 feet up, so you go well under the surface.

As soon as you hit the water take at least 10 fast strokes.  It gets you away from the landing area, and takes your mind of the chill.

About half way thru the swim, stop, roll over, and look around.  Very few people ever get that view from water level.  Enjoy it.

There will be a pre-race meeting where they tell you how to sight off of a radio tower for the swim.  Follow their instructions and you'll be fine.  If you lose sight of the tower (fog, etc), or miss the meeting, then keep 1/3 of the swimmer to your left and 2/3 to your right and you'll be fine.  If you go to far right and miss the exit, then (as mentioned above), just go to the next beach and exit.  Don't fight the current.  Worst case scenario if you're too far off, a marshal on a kayak or jet ski will pick you up and put you in a better place.  There is no penalty if they do this.  There is a penalty if you don't do what they say.

The bike is technical.  Rough pavement, places of sand across the street, hills, and sharp turns.  Watch for the volunteers at corners and the bottom of hills.  If they say to slow down, then slow way down.  There's a good reason for it.  If at all possible, ride/drive the course beforehand so you can see the sharp corners.

The run is fun.  About a mile of flat, then you start into some stairs and trails.  Eventually you come out to a road, run down to the beach, some time on the sand, and then the sand stairs.  Most people (read "everyone") walk the stairs.  Don't kill yourself on the sand stairs.  Then back the same way you came.  A good portion of the run is single track trail, so there will be times when you go as fast as the person in front of you goes, and you be passing people going the other way.  Enjoy the run for what it is - a very unique challenge.  It's not the place to set a run PR.

Enjoy it.  It's a great race and experience.

Edited by Jonas Grumby 2010-01-17 1:17 PM
2010-01-25 3:09 AM
in reply to: #2604955

Regular
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1002525
so cal, duarte 91010
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread
this race sounds amazing. this is already in my 2011 calendar. good luck to all!


2010-01-28 3:21 PM
in reply to: #2604955

Extreme Veteran
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Phoenix, AZ
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread

I just got the email, got in the second lottery! I've always wanted to this race, super excited!! It's also great because I've been very unmotivated to train lately, this will help!

2010-01-29 11:14 AM
in reply to: #2604955

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Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread
I want pictures from the middle of the swim. Trying to think of a way to swim with a waterproof disposable camera. Sounds kind of goofy, I know. They would be very unique pictures though.
2010-01-31 11:10 AM
in reply to: #2604955

Member
52
2525
Lehigh Valley
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread
I read in a prior years log that someone swam with a disposable camera and took tons of pics. from the swim. Sounds doable, as long as you decide that is what you want to do with the swim. I have to decide how I am going to approach the entire race, really attack it or just enjoy it all? Probably be in the middle-- attack parts and and enjoy some.
2010-02-01 2:11 AM
in reply to: #2604955

Member
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San Mateo, California
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread
About the bike.... I agree that it's not worth shipping the bike... There are many places to rent. ie there is Blazing Saddles in SF, that is popular for renting comfort bikes to tourist wanting to cross the golden gate on a bike, but you could rent from them a nice tri-bike for $88 (haven't done it my self):

http://www.blazingsaddles.com/store/product.aspx?catid=7&pid=29
2010-02-05 9:38 AM
in reply to: #2604955

New user
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Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread
A friend of mine sent me a link to a bunch of sand ladder pics:

 Happy viewing.

http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/575233104vnwrkv?start=0

 I recommend biketransport.com for sending the bike, cheaper and much easier than bike airline travel.



2010-02-06 8:39 PM
in reply to: #2656776

Member
52
2525
Lehigh Valley
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread
Wow, great link for the sand ladder, how will I train for that???especially in the snow we just received??

Tomorrow mornings SuperBowl 10k might help.

Thanks for the link.

About the bike, already reserved one at  blazingsaddles.
2010-02-15 1:39 PM
in reply to: #2604955

Member
52
2525
Lehigh Valley
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread
weather has been crappy, I have yet to get an outdoor ride in and my indoor trainer rides have been far and few between. Swimming has been great and I have continued with the run.

The SuperBowl 10K was good, considering the track had spots of ice, slush and snow on it. Finished in 47:50 - not bad, was hoping for 46 but didnt realize it was mostly uphill.

Hope everyone is having good training days...it will be here in no time.
2010-02-22 2:42 PM
in reply to: #2604955

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Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread

Anyone have input on race wheels for the Alcatraz course?  I know I'll have to put a new cassette on my bike since we don't have a lot of hills in Minnesota and I don't think my current set-up will get me up San Fran's steep hills.  Next thought is tires and wheels...

2010-02-23 5:09 PM
in reply to: #2686521

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Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread
Unless the bike course has changed or changes due to the road construction, there is really only one hill that I remember that might cause you to change your setup. It is a typical San Francisco hill like you see cars flying over on television. Having the ability to use a lighter gear would definitely behoove you here, but the hill isn't too terribly long. Other than that, any standard rings will get you around on the course. There are oither hills and the bike course is tough, but just keep in mind that it is still short. Only regret I have from the other time I did the race was that I was on a tri bike. As far as wheels, i don't remember any winds that would prevent you from a certain setup.

Hope that helps! Good luck!
2010-02-26 11:54 AM
in reply to: #2686521

Veteran
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California
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread

I have done the course with a disc and deep front, and with regular wheels.  Both times on a tri bike (I don't own a road bike).  As mentioned, there wasn't enough wind to be a concern with deep wheels.

I can think of at least two hills that will wake you up if you are a flatlander (like me).  About a mile in, the very first hill will raise your heartrate.  And on the way back, going past the sand ladder, is a granny gear climb.

The bike course is not very long all things considered.  It is more technical (hills, curves, and crappy pavement), with just a few sections for laying down and cruising.  I really don't think deep wheels are much of an advantage here.  I would bring whatever wheels you are comfortable on, and whatever tires are your best for cornering and gripping.

Enjoy!



2010-03-12 12:55 AM
in reply to: #2608733

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Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread
Yeah, I agree, the water's a little on the cold side. I usually wear earplugs because some days, I feel I'm having a brain freeze after eating ice cream. I also wear a Barracuda thermal cap under my race cap. I've never done EFA (got in this year though!!) but I have done the crossing a few times in other races. It's really not that bad because a) you're wearing a wetsuit which is pretty buoyant and b) the water salinity keeps you floating pretty high as well. I've found that just finding your "groove" and cruising along at an easy rate until you hit sand is the best way to go. Don't rush it or you'll just blow up and be miserable on the bike portion (and then the run). Another gripe that I've always had is that I usually swallow a little bit of salt water which gives me stomach problems... Guess that it boils down to a problem with my stroke. I don't mind the crowded ferry ride because everyone's in the "same boat" as you and everyone sort of draws energy and encouragement from eachother. I'm mostly concerned about the bike / run segments. The hills are pretty gnarly so if anybody's reading this, make sure you get in some regular brick workouts which incorporate a hilly bike portion. I haven't tried the sand steps yet but I'm a little concerned. I'll probably just walk them if I have to.... Anyways, good luck everyone. I'll see you on the boat!
2010-03-15 8:40 AM
in reply to: #2604955

New user
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Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread
Thanks again for all the first hand feedback,  it's great to hear personal experiences with the course.  I just picked up the newest issue of Triathlete Mag yesterday and there's a little feature on the Alcatraz swim along with a checklist of whether or not you're ready to take on the swim...I failed to answer it adequately:, I hate cold water, not sure if I'll suffer from hypothermia, and I don't navigate that well in OWS.  However it's too late now, plane tickets, race fee, months of training, lodging, family & friends watching, it's all done.  Now I just need to find a Sports Psychologist to get me through the pending fear....
One more question on the bike downhills and my second major fear factor, any difficutly finding and mainting your line down the SF hills with so many bikers around you?  
2010-03-15 12:50 PM
in reply to: #2726403

Veteran
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California
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread
As for the bike downhills:  Nope, I haven't had problems.  The first mile ofthe bike is straight and flat, then comes a reasonably good uphill.  After this, the bikes are all spaced enough that it was never too crowded. 

If you can, drive or bike the course beforehand.  There are a few sharp corners.  One I can think of is on the way out, after you pass thru a golf course, there is a nice downhill with a sharp right to an uphill.  Kinda sucks scrubbing a lot of speed.  Basically, if you see a volunteer warning you about a corner, heed their advice.

As for the swim:  I think Triathlete made it sound worse than it is.  The water is cold.  You won't see any icebergs.  There will be a few knuckleheads doing it without a wetsuit, and they will live.  I have always done it with a full suit and had no problems at all.  

Know that when it is time to go, there is no time to think or hesitate, just jump and start swimming.  It is about 6 feet from the ferry deck to the water.  You will go under water when you land.  Then do at least 10 quick strokes to get away from the boat (landing zone).  After the 10, you can adjust goggles, get bearings, whatever, but by then you're already in it and going, so no reason to panic.

I'm not great at swimming in an straight line.  I sighted like every 5 strokes and had no problem whatsoever.  Go to a race meeting the day before where they tell you how to sight based on your swim spped, and do what they say (it will seem wrong, but the current will correct it).  Worst case, just keep 2/3 of the swimmers to your right and you'll be fine.

The Golden Gate Tri Club put together a great list of tips on their website.  Check them out.

Good luck, and enjoy it!
2010-03-15 2:47 PM
in reply to: #2604955

New user
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Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon : Official Thread
Thanks again, response was helpful.  You rock.  GGTC site is a great resource. 
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