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Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon - TriathlonOther

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San Francisco, California
United States
65F / 18C
Total Time = 2h 40m 13s
Overall Rank = 178/1524
Age Group = 25-29
Age Group Rank = 25/114
Pre-race routine:

I got into town on Thursday. Friday I assembled my bike and went for a test ride to make sure that everything was shifting okay and the brakes worked. I was very relieved when everything worked great.

Saturday was packet pick-up, athlete meeting, and race expo. After that I drove the bike course to get a feel for the hills. For some reason they never seem as bad in the car. After that I debated hopping in the water at Aquatic Park since I hadn't been in a wetsuit or open water yet this year, but in the end laziness won out. I figured I'd be fine.

Race morning started early, a quarter till 3 to be exact. I was staying down in Mountain View with my sister so a little drive was in order. I made it to transition early and set up shop. I always forget that wet grass + open-toed sandals + chilly morning = cold toes. Luckily the ferry was warm enough to erase the chill.

The ride out to Alcatraz was fun. There was definitely a little energy in the air. I talked to few other other excited triathletes, hydrated and drank, watched Andy Potts step over me at one point. About a half hour before the swim start I realized I needed to go the bathroom and about 2 seconds I realized the line was more than a half hour long. Great I needed a way to warm up my wetsuit once I got in the water.
Event warmup:

Did some arm circles in a lame attempt at warming up. I'm in a crowded boat with 1600 people. Not much I can do here.
  • 30m 56s
  • 2640 yards
  • 01m 10s / 100 yards

Alright, the infamous alcatraz swim. As soon as the horn sounded people were jumping off the boat. I made it to the edge within thirty seconds, made sure the guy ahead of me was out of the way, and then took the plunge.

Son of a bee-sting, that's cold! Started stroking like mad to get out of the way and then settled into a nice rhythm. The nice thing about the current was that people spread out fairly quickly so I wasn't getting pounded like normal. Within a few minutes I didn't even notice the cold. Glad I opted for the 2 swim caps, because the squid lid was unecessary.

The swim was quite uneventful. Sighting went well: towers, ft. mason, and finally the dome near the end. Waves weren't a real issue. I just did a little more of an exaggerated roll when breathing on my right so the mouthfuls of saltwater were few and far between. Between the salt water, the wetsuit, and the strong current the swim felt pretty effortless. Before long I was stumbling out of the water just left of the swim exit as planned. Success! The easiest part of my day was done!
What would you do differently?:

Swim a little harder maybe, I dunno. I was 5 minutes faster than I had estimated. I will savor those 1:10s since it will never happen again :)
Transition 1
  • 06m 51s

Transition was interesting. There were some steps up that I took a little wobbly after the swim. I saw my sister and her family in the crowd so I gave them a quick wave and fumbled in to T(0.5) were I lost the wetsuit and slapped on some running shoes.

I passed a lot of people running that half mile to T1. Lost the running shoes, donned the bike shoes and helmet and took off. I was glad to have a rack position near the bike exit. I hate running with my bike.
What would you do differently?:

Just hustle more. I had to remember how get wetsuit off. Seriously, it shouldn't be that hard.
  • 59m 47s
  • 18 miles
  • 18.07 mile/hr

Oh boy, the bike. This was the leg that I was the most worried about. I didn't exactly get a lot of hill training in in Iowa and the hills I did train on paled in comparison to the hills on this course. That, and after much debate I decided to leave my bike set up with a compact crank and an 11-23. I figured my legs were in for a trashing.

The first mile or two was pretty flat so I cranked, passed a lot of people, and took in some nutrition. Soon enough I hit that first mile of climbing and wondered to myself just how the heck I was going to survive the entire 18 miles. I didn't run out of gears but I was huffing and puffing something fierce by the top.

And then the descent. Holy crap! It was steep and curving and I had a mini freakout. Started riding the brakes a little until my back tire started sliding a little bit. Great, now I need a new pair of bike shorts! I got things settled down after that, but let me tell you I was not comfortable descending at all. If there weren't turns at the bottom of the hills or the road wasn't curving I was okay. That and all the guys I was passing on the uphills were flying past me on the way down. Crazy bastards!

And that's the way the bike leg went for me. Passing on the flats and uphills and then being retaken on the downhills. A few of the hills stretched the limits of my gearing and several times I was mashing that last gear pretty good, especially on the awful climb up Clement St. As I told a fellow rider on that climb, they don't make hills like that in Iowa.

I was more than glad when I finally made it back to mason drive. Spun the legs pretty good there to loosen up for the run and then took things on in.
What would you do differently?:

Train some hills. Learn how to descend better than a 5 year old girl.
Transition 2
  • 01m 23s

Perfect flying dismount and I was in and out of T2 darn quickly.
What would you do differently?:

  • 1h 01m 19s
  • 8 miles
  • 07m 40s  min/mile

Time to run! Amazingly my legs felt pretty good starting off and I settled into a pretty good clip. I got to see my support crew right away and the helped lift the spirits. My brother-in-law came and jogged alongside me for a bit and asked how I was doing. At that point, great!

The first two miles were uneventful. Saw Hunter Kemperer en route to a sub-2 hr victory a little after the first mile. Man, those pros are fast! Shortly after mile two the ascent started on a narrow dirt trail. The pros and other FOPers were screaming by as I wound up the hill. I thought that was pretty cool.

A little later I was surprised by stairs. Who put these here, and why wasn't I informed of them? Grudgingly, I burned up them and continued on my way. Soon enough I was winding down to Baker's beach where we got to enjoy a mile of beach running. Running on sand with the waves crashing in and the Golden Gate Bridge in the background was pretty cool. Challenging and tiring, but still pretty cool.

After the turn around was the dreaded sand ladder and it was every bit as awful as described. I plodded up the steps with a liberal used of guard wire to pull myself self up. The quads were absolutely screaming by the time I made it to the top of 400 steps. And as if things weren't bad enough, the next half mile was still uphill. Eventually I got the legs turning over but the sand ladder had decimated me.

Luckily the last couple miles were pretty flat. I did some quick math and figured I needed to run a couple of sub-7s to come in under 2:40. I tried my best during that final stretch, but I was pretty beat up by that point. There were good crowds along that stretch and that helped carry me home. Soon enough I was running down the chute toward the finish line. I made quick detour to high five my support crew along the way and crossed the finish line, thoroughly spent.
What would you do differently?:

Train some hills and some stairs. Then train more hills and stairs.
Post race
Warm down:

Lots of walking and a big ole plate of post race food

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I was not prepared for this type of course, but I knew that going in. I was extremely pleased with the result though.

I would love to come back here in few years, properly trained and see what I can do to this course.

Event comments:

They put on a top notch race for the 30th anniversary. The course was totally unique and absolutely beautiful. It was an experience that I will cherish for a long time. I am proud to say that I escaped the Rock!

Profile Album

Last updated: 2009-12-18 12:00 AM
00:30:56 | 2640 yards | 01m 10s / 100yards
Age Group: 33/114
Overall: 426/1524
Performance: Good
Suit: QR ultrafull
Course: From Alcatraz to marina beach
Start type: Dive Plus: Shot
Water temp: 55F / 13C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting:
Waves: Average Navigation: Good
Time: 06:51
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Below average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
00:59:47 | 18 miles | 18.07 mile/hr
Age Group: 29/114
Overall: 286/1524
Performance: Below average
Wind: Little
Course: Hills, hills, and more hills
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Below average Cornering: Below average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:23
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
01:01:19 | 08 miles | 07m 40s  min/mile
Age Group: 28/114
Overall: 198/1524
Performance: Average
Course: Flat, then lotsa climbing. Beach run, then sand ladder, then more climbing, then downhill to the finish!
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Too hard
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2010-05-05 9:36 PM

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Ames, IA
Subject: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

2010-05-06 6:54 AM
in reply to: #2840230

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Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
Great race, looks like that off season swim work really paid off, I know the feeling on the bike but mine is the opposite everyone passes me going uphill and then I pass on downhillSmile
2010-05-06 7:04 AM
in reply to: #2840230

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Somewhere I can be nekidd
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
Nice job Neal!

You are a ROCKSTAR!!!
2010-05-06 7:08 AM
in reply to: #2840230

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.
2010-05-06 7:30 AM
in reply to: #2840230

West Allis, WI
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
Nice job Neal!!!!!
2010-05-06 8:34 AM
in reply to: #2840230

Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
Sounds like a brutal course, but sounds like you handled it well.  I'm impressed.  Way to go!

2010-05-06 8:41 AM
in reply to: #2840230

South Suburb of Chicago, IL
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
Nice work!!! Sounds like a course you need to experience at least once for a race!
2010-05-06 9:43 AM
in reply to: #2840230

washington state
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
Great race, Neal.  Great report, too!  You came thru with flyin' colors!!
2010-05-06 10:37 AM
in reply to: #2840230

Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
Awesome race Neal!  I too take the downhills like a 5 year old girl.  Just multiply that by 10 though. 
And for an Iowa boy training on flats, you did awesome with those hills.
2010-05-06 12:31 PM
in reply to: #2840230

Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
Great race, Neal!  Good job handling all those hills!
2010-05-06 12:59 PM
in reply to: #2840230

Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
aaaaa!!! I love it!! Awesome job Neal!

2010-05-06 7:02 PM
in reply to: #2840230

West Chester, Ohio
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
Awesome!!  Tough course and you handled it well!
2010-05-06 9:08 PM
in reply to: #2840230

Liverpool, New York
Gold member
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
Son of a Bee Sting!

what an awesome race!  WTG Neal

2010-05-06 11:05 PM
in reply to: #2840230

San Mateo, CA
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
Nice job!

2010-05-07 9:42 AM
in reply to: #2842849

Quebec, Canada
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
Good job Neal! 

Nothing like jumping in 55 degree water  
2010-05-07 9:56 AM
in reply to: #2840230

Fresno, CA
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
Congratulations on a great race Neal!  You did very well--even if you thought you weren't 'well' trained for this event.

2010-05-07 11:29 AM
in reply to: #2840230


Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
Nice race, and great report!  Way to go!
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