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Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon - TriathlonOther

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San Francisco, California
United States
50F / 10C
Total Time = 2h 59m 9s
Overall Rank = 247/2000
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 32/271
Pre-race routine:

Woke up at 3:45 AM and ate a bagel, banana and an Odwalla green machine drink. Packed up and headed out on the bike to transition (about a mile away)
Event warmup:

No warmup. Should have brought some bands to warm up with.
  • 36m 19s
  • 2414 meters
  • 01m 30s / 100 meters

I'm a decent swimmer. Last year I usually went top 10 or better in my age group. This year I spent even more time improving my swim fitness. I really thought I could swim it in 30 minutes or less. I completely underestimated the cold and chop.
The chop:
I was mentally ready to swim at my threshold. I've done numerous threshold sets with 5 seconds or less recovery. However, those sets were performed in a pool where I could easily breathe every stroke or even every other stroke. What I didn't account for was having to hold my breathe longer, or coming up for air only to get a mouth full of sea water and having to wait a couple more strokes before being able to breathe. The chop was random and relentless, there was no pattern to it that I could time my breathes on. The wind seemed to be blowing in from the west which made breathing on the right side very difficult.

The cold:
I couldn't feel my hands let alone my arms. My feet and face were numb too. This made it difficult to swim at an all out effort. I felt uncoordinated, almost like I haven't been in the water in a long while.

The chop made it very difficult to site. I was alone most of the swim. I saw some swimmers way to the right of me which made me think I was swimming too far left. However, when I look at my garmin route, it seems I swam the most direct route I could have in those conditions. I was completely surprised to see the beach in front of me. I thought I was way off course.
What would you do differently?:

Not swallow so much sea water.
Warm up prior to the swim. I should have brought some bands with me.

Transition 1
  • 07m 26s

Got out of the water and motored up to T0.5
Stripped my wetsuit put my shoes on and headed for T1.
What would you do differently?:

Not put on socks for the bike. I didn't need them. I also didn't need to put on my bike shirt. I really never was cold on the bike.
  • 1h 03m 10s
  • 18 miles
  • 17.10 mile/hr

Had some major GI distress from swallowing too much salt water. I didn't want to eat or drink and I finally forced myself to eat a GU at mile 10 and 14. I also tried to drink some water but just couldn't.
What would you do differently?:

I chose to race with my road bike. I read several reports of crowding on this course and thought it might be a better option for handling. Even though I thought my swim was subpar, it still put me out in front on the bike with very little crowds. I really could have used the TT bike with the nasty headwind coming out of the west. The climbs were steep but not very long. I think a TT bike would have been fine and might have shaved off some time.
Transition 2
  • 01m 44s

I forgot my bib and had to turn around to get it. Lost about 20-30 seconds
What would you do differently?:

Not forget my bib
  • 1h 10m 31s
  • 8 miles
  • 08m 49s  min/mile

This is where the wheels fell off. I had some major stomach cramps going on. Not your ordinary side stitch. These were major to the point where I couldn't run without bending over in pain. I knew I was going to have to run the first two miles at 7:00 - 7:30 pace and the best I could do was an 8:30 pace. It was like I had a speed governor built in. anytime I tried to push it, my stomach would prevent me from doing so. My legs felt great though. I also had too pee really bad. I kept looking for a place to go but there was none. I finally stopped by the side of the trail. It felt like an eternity. Probably lost around 60 seconds here.

I didn't start to feel better until I hit the sand ladder (2:55). By this time my avg pace for the course was a whopping 9:50 min/mile. I knew I had a lot work to do. My stomach started to feel a little better and I could push it a little more.
What would you do differently?:

Pee in the wetsuit. I had to go when I was on the boat but somehow forgot when I hit the water.
Post race
What limited your ability to perform faster:

Stomach issues

After a week of trying to figure out my stomach issues I think I've figured it out. I think it might have been due to all the sighting I had to do due to the choppy water. This put a lot of stress on my core. I noticed this after a hard swim I did a week later. I tried to simulate the Alcatraz swim by holding my breath a bit and sighting a lot, I got out of the pool and my stomach just hurt. So a combination of not exhaling (causing me to swallow air) and frequent sighting.

Last updated: 2012-10-10 12:00 AM
00:36:19 | 2414 meters | 01m 30s / 100meters
Age Group: 19/271
Overall: 166/2000
Performance: Average
Suit: full
Course: point to point
Start type: Dive Plus:
Water temp: 49F / 9C Current: High
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Below average
Waves: Average Navigation: Average
Time: 07:26
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
01:03:10 | 18 miles | 17.10 mile/hr
Age Group: 41/271
Overall: 300/2000
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: The course was technical with steep climbs and lots of turns. Very challenging yet FUN!
Road: Rough Dry Cadence: 76
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Not enough
Time: 01:44
Overall: Below average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Good
01:10:31 | 08 miles | 08m 49s  min/mile
Age Group: 89/271
Overall: 590/2000
Performance: Bad
Course: A run with an obstacle course thrown in.
Keeping cool Drinking Not enough
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]

2013-03-05 11:43 AM

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Parker, CO
Subject: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

2013-03-05 11:53 AM
in reply to: #4647235

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Parker, CO
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

Here's the link to the Garmin swim.


Press the play button, it definitely looks like I got caught in a few eddies.

2013-03-05 7:11 PM
in reply to: #4647235

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Alpharetta, GA
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

Great job.  Swimming in the bay in chop is a $itch.  Period!  The run is tough... peeps who haven't done it don't realize that to run a decent time you gotta redline the 1st 2 and last 2 miles cause the middle miles are so slow!

I have a medical deferral to 2014.  Glad I'm racing in June instead of March.

Nice result!


2013-03-05 11:36 PM
in reply to: #4647253

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Evergreen, Colorado
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
3sportthing - 2013-03-05 11:53 AM

Here's the link to the Garmin swim.


Press the play button, it definitely looks like I got caught in a few eddies.

Super cool! :D  I wanted to wear my Garmin in my cap but I was really scared I would lose it in the bay!  Was your Garmin on  your wrist?  I find that you get a MUCH more reliable/smooth track if you wear it in your cap.  The dot tends to jump around on the wrist but if worn in the cap the line is nice and true...just like you are actually swimming!

I think I took about the same line as you did!  I was alone much of the swim as well.  And I nearly overshot the beach because of the stupid boat buoy.  That was infinitely better than 2009 when I hit the opposite shore pretty much at Fort Mason!

2013-03-06 12:38 PM
in reply to: #4647235

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Menomonee Falls, WI
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
Thanks for sharing the garmin swim & great job out there in that mess of a swim!
2013-03-07 9:44 AM
in reply to: #4647235

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Parker, CO
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

Damn nice swim Joe!  Sorry about the GI issues...that happens and sucks when it happens on race day.  Way to hang in there though.  Still really solid race!

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