General Discussion Race Reports! » Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon Rss Feed  
Moderators: k9car363, alicefoeller Reply

Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon - TriathlonOther

View Member's Race Log View other race reports
San Francisco, California
United States
70F / 21C
Total Time = 3h 03m 12s
Overall Rank = 416/1714
Age Group = 30-34
Age Group Rank = 63/186
Pre-race routine:

Woke up about 3:15AM, took in about 300 cal (2 Hammer Bars) and drank 1/2 bottle of HEED (100 cal), took a hot shower, grabbed gear and met race buddy Peter at the hotel elevator at 4AM to make our way to Marina Green to set-up our transition. My race almost ended right here when Pete and I realized that in order to get out of the parking garage, which was blocked by a hinging-gate (like a railroad crossing), we would have to follow a car while on our bikes. Well, the gate went up for the car and we tailed it - however, that gate came down FAST and almost took my head off! Pete squirted through and I had to duck and the thing almost drug me off my bike snagging my backpack with all my gear. Luckily, we both made it through. Whew, first crisis averted. I hoped that this wasn't foreshadowing how the race would go. Made it to transition where we set up our bikes. It didn't take too long, as we had already given them our T1-a bag (for coming out of the water). Hopped on a bus for Pier 3 at about 5:15. Got to the pier, changed into suit (kept it pulled down to waist), grabbed neoprene cap, race cap, goggles, a bottle of water, threw all other stuff in another bag provided by the race (which we could pick up later), and boarded the Belle! Now we just had to wait on this thing for about another 1.5 hrs. Luckily, we were on early and grabbed some wall seats (everybody had to sit on the floor though). Peed before I got on the boat and another time while on the boat (lines got crazy long at the end). However, I probably should have gone for the 3rd time - as I was a little uncomfortable before the start - the nervous energy on that boat was nuts! Obviously, a guy in front of me during the national anthem felt the same - as I looked down and could see a puddle forming by his leg while he pissed himself.
Event warmup:

4AM ride through the streets of San Fran - pretty surreal at that time of day. I'm guessing about 1-2 miles down to transition from where our hotel was. Not a true warm-up but the closest that we would get that morning.
  • 43m 46s
  • 2640 yards
  • 01m 40s / 100 yards

Upon the boat -horn sounded, and the pros took off. Everyone else watched and started pressing toward the front of the boat. There were basically 2 exits and then 3 jump points while on the deck. I think I cleared the boat within about 3 minutes after the horn (supposedly they cleared all 2,000 athletes in about 6 minutes!). It felt like a scene out of a war movie. No time to panic - you better jump! Thought I was holding my goggles on, but honestly I hardly knew what I was doing at that point. I tried to scissor kick when I went into the water to keep myself up -but the drop was a little bigger than it seemed (maybe 8 feet). My goggles immediately filled up with water, and I had to clear them. Hardly had time to think about how frickin' cold the water was (however, my practice swim at Aquatic Park 2 days prior had allowed me to know what to expect). I was not prepared for the congestion early on in the swim. I figured I would have to avoid jumping on top of someone, but I thought that after that the current and spacious bay would separate everyone out quickly. I was wrong, and I found myself fighting for position for what felt like at least 200m (probably was more like 100m). Did get a chance to flip on my back and take in Alcatraz though (who gets to do this?!!!). My goal was to keep about 2/3 on my right and 1/3 on my left, as I am an average swimmer at best (in the water, this was hard to ascertain - just had to make sure I had people on both sides). My goal in sighting was to go Fontana Towers - 3 Piers of Ft. Mason - Gold dome of Palace of Fine Arts - Red Yacht Club - finish on the high-side of the beach. We were told that the currents that day would be fairly strong (approximately 5mph). Now I am an inexperienced ocean swimmer, but I wasn't feeling that 5mph at all during the first half of the swim. I felt like we were all over-estimating the currents, so I started to take a more aggressive line about 5-10 minutes in. I stopped sighting on the towers, because I felt like I was not being pulled by the current too hard. I started sighting on the 3 piers for what seemed like another 5-10 minutes, and then I realized that I still didn't feel like I was being pulled - so I switched to the tall radio tower just to the right. This ended up being a good call, and I sighted off this for probably the next 5-10 minutes. At one point, I didn't really see anyone around me at all. I got slightly nervous but trusted my race plan, especially since I didn't see any support vessels around (which were obviously on the fringes guiding those who had gone astray). Finally, I started sighting off the dome which brought me into the final 1/2 mile. Still didn't feel a huge pull from the current but I figured it was doing something. Then, about 500 yards out - I felt it big time! By then, I was sighting off the yacht club and could see shore. It seemed so close, but I could tell I had some work left. I began to get nervous thinking that I might miss my exit because the shore current felt extremely strong, so I began to put the hammer down. I hit the high side of the beach as planned and really executed a pretty good swim all things considered. I heard from my buddy Peter later that a bunch of them had gotten swept past the exit and had to walk the rocks back to the swim exit. Easy to see how this could happen, given the unassuming current during the middle of the swim and stronger shore current. There is truly no great way to plan for this, as I'm sure it could change year to year. Helps to be lucky sometimes I guess. I was hoping to swim under 40 minutes based on past race reports, but seeing as the current wasn't as strong overall this year - I was extremely happy with my time.
What would you do differently?:

Try to find a better line early and avoid the congestion. Get into a groove sooner. Sighting really couldn't have gone much better though.
Transition 1
  • 08m 3s

T1 was basically 2 parts: T1-a involved running up the beach to an area which had our numbered bags in order by number (I actually found mine right away). This bag had a pair of shoes to run to the actual T1 where our bikes were (about 1/2 mile away), a small towel, a bottle of water, and 3 endurolytes. I opted to run with my wetsuit down to my waist, so I could warm up a little more. Plus, I didn't want to waste time folding up my suit and getting it back into the bag (any items left outside the bag are typically never to be found again). My feet were numb from the swim through about the first 1/4 mile, but the weather was so mild that day - I warmed up fairly quick.
What would you do differently?:

Not much. I had a pretty fast transition compared to a lot of people in my age group. I don't think I would go without shoes - a little too much on the feet for that 1/2 mile. Next time, I might mark up my race bag with some colorful tape. I saw some people doing this, and it looked like a great idea. I actually got lucky and went right to my bag, but I saw some people searching all over frantically.
  • 1h 02m 29s
  • 18 miles
  • 17.28 mile/hr

First 2 miles and last 2 miles are where you can cruise on the flats. Used this time going out to get some nutrition down. I basically had 2 bottles of HEED over the course of the ride with an endurolytes Fizz in the 2nd bottle. I wasn't sure what to expect with this course, since I didn't have a chance to ride it prior to the race. Judging by elevation charts and previous race reports there were going to be about 3 brutal (category 5) hills. There were. I didn't notice the challenge in going up them as much as the technical challenge in descending. I was scared out of my mind because nothing was straight on. It was all curving and pinpoint turns at the bottom. I freaked out a little bit on one - partly because the turn at the bottom came up on me so fast. After that, I started riding the brakes pretty hard. I didn't see any accidents but after talking to some people after the race, they said that there were at least 3 and one involving an ambulance - yikes! I could see how this might happen though if you were not familiar and cautious. I didn't get too aggressive again until Golden Gate Park around mile 7-8. The park was closed and had great roads to really put the hammer down. I pushed a little more here and took some more nutrition. This was an out and back course so whatever fast descent we had coming out, we had to climb going back - again, killer. Turning onto Clement St. was particularly memorable. After climbing about 3-4% grade for about 1/2 mile, you think it's over and then take a hard right and an even worse climb is awaiting you for another 1/2 mile. Everyone around me just groaned as we saw what was ahead. I almost ran out of gears on this course! But, again, about what I had expected. I had hoped to average close to 18mph but I was below that at 17.3mph. If I had know the course better, I might have made up some of this on the descent - instead of riding the brakes like a 5 year-old girl.
What would you do differently?:

Build cornering skills on fast descent (30+mph). Become more familiar with course. I think my overall strategy for when to take in nutrion and when to push worked well though.
Transition 2
  • 01m 59s

My rack was close to the front which helped. However, my landmarks weren't great to remember my rack. There were a whole bunch of international flags, the only problem was that some of them repeated. Anyway, I missed my rack by one and then quickly found it (may have cost me 5 sec). I did put on socks for this run (since I knew there would be sand). Glad I did, because I think it would have killed to get sand in the shoes on this course. Even with socks, I got horrible blood blisters under a couple toenails from all the cutting/obstacle course type running. I didn't notice it though until after the race. I grabbed a Hammer gel for the run and set off.
What would you do differently?:

Pinpoint a better landmark to find rack. Avoid getting out of shoes so early coming back into transition.
  • 1h 06m 57s
  • 8 miles
  • 08m 22s  min/mile

I got a tip that seemed to help me on this run course. Run the first 2miles and the last 2 miles like a 5K, save your energy and "enjoy" the obstacle/off-road course in the middle 4 miles. So, I pushed the first 2 miles right around 7:00 pace as planned (cramped a little in my R quad but the gel seemed to help). Then all of a sudden everything bottlenecks and you are climbing stairs and trails (hard to pass here as pros are sailing back down brushing shoulders with you - literally). It seemed to do this on/off for a while - then all of a sudden we were descending - and then running on the beach. This was harder than expected, because the sand was really not as packed as I thought it might be (it just sucked your energy out of every impact). Tried to stay toward the waters-edge going back out where it was a little more firm. Then, the ladder. Actually, this was not as bad as I had anticipated. Most everyone walks it. I found that pushing off my thighs with my arms helped. Heart-rate soared, but it was over before I knew it. I think my splits at this stage were around 10-11 min/mile pace. Now you can see why my goal pace of around 8:30 was not really as slow as it seemed. Didn't have as much to push coming back in on the flat as I thought I would (not quite the same pace I had going out), but I did average a better pace than I had planned for at 8:23.
What would you do differently?:

Train a little more volume for this run course. Only had a couple 8+ mile runs prior to this event. I was definitely feeling it at the end. No real way to train for this course, aside from running on your local sand volleyball court, finding a stair master to pound out 5 hard minutes and then running some more crazy trails.
Post race
Warm down:

Surreal feelings of pride that I had just ESCAPED and exhaustion. By this time, it was very warm. I grabbed a water, chocolate milk, banana, and found Jodi. I had to sit down for awhile just to recover. My shorts were crusted with saltwater and sweat - nice ornate salt-ring patterns. Bounced back pretty quickly but did not have an appetite for the hot food they had available. Looked like a decent spread, but hot food on a hot day was the last thing I was in the mood for. Andy Potts was very gracious talking to age-groupers and signing autographs after the race, though he finished a full hour before I did!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Lack of knowledge of the course, especially on the bike. First race that took 3+ hours, so my lack of endurance probably showed toward the end. Was hoping to break 3 hours but was really pleased with 3:03 and a top half age group finish, all things considered.

Event comments:

A bucket list race for sure! I had a lot of expectations going into this race, and I left having almost all of them met. No other race like this in the world which is obviously why so many come from overseas. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Last updated: 2012-06-26 12:00 AM
00:43:46 | 2640 yards | 01m 40s / 100yards
Age Group: 77/186
Overall: 701/1714
Performance: Good
Suit: Orca Full Suit
Course: "Swim across the river" - Bay swim which had to be approached by playing the current (more of a big arc - depending on how aggressive your sight lines were)
Start type: Dive Plus: Shot
Water temp: 55F / 13C Current: Low
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Average Drafting: Average
Waves: Average Navigation: Good
Time: 08:03
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
01:02:29 | 18 miles | 17.28 mile/hr
Age Group: 72/186
Overall: 488/1714
Performance: Average
Wind: Little
Course: Hills. What do you expect from San Fran?
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 85
Turns: Average Cornering: Below average
Gear changes: Average Hills: Average
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:59
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Good
01:06:57 | 08 miles | 08m 22s  min/mile
Age Group: 61/186
Overall: 434/1714
Performance: Average
Course: Hard to describe. Asphalt, stairs, narrow trails, climbs/descents, tunnel where it ends about 4 feet tall (not great when you're 6'4"), sand running, infamous 400 step sand ladder. Even after running a race on this run course, it is all hard to comprehend and remember all the little nuances.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2012-06-26 8:50 PM


Subject: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
General Discussion-> Race Reports!
General Discussion Race Reports! » Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon Rss Feed