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Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon - Triathlon


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San Francisco, California
United States
IMG
65F / 18C
Overcast
Total Time = 2h 55m 31s
Overall Rank = 328/1585
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 48/235
Pre-race routine:

Stayed with a friend that lived down in Redwood City, about a 30 minute drive from transition. Woke up around 4am, left shortly after 4:30am, was dropped off around 5 where I found a huuuuuuge line of people waiting to get into transition. Settled in for a slow stroll and a long wait and inched my way up until they could finally check my race number and wristband to let me in. I had scoped out transition the day before, so I knew exactly where to find my spot, and I had almost gotten to my rack when I remembered that I forgot to pump my tires and I had walked right past all of the pumps at the entrance to transition, hehe. So, back up to the front I go, get the tires inflated by a very kind helper, and then I'm on my way (finally) to set up my transition area.

The guy in the spot next to me clearly had more money than experience as he had a VERY nice race bike, but had no clue, apparently, which side of his bike to set up on or what the proper way of racking was. No sweat to me, though, I just set up my meager about of things in front of my down wheel and then realized that I only had about 20 minutes to catch the last shuttle.... but Mother Nature was calling, so I gambled and jumped in line for the FOUR port-a-potties that were in the transition area. It was close, but I made it through the line and jumped the fence around transition to get outside and into line to wait for the shuttle. Any thoughts of running too far behind evaporated when I saw Rinny walk by and get in line several spots back of me... they aren't leaving without HER, so I'm all set!

In short order, the shuttle arrived, we boarded, then we were summarily herded down to the Hornblower and next thing I knew, I was aboard the boat and up on the second deck. It was around this time that I realized that I completely forgot to have anything other than a water bottle of Gatorade for breakfast.
Event warmup:

With a little fanfare, the boat was underway and we were making way to Alcatraz! Mostly, this was a very boring wait of trying to kill time while not over heating. I had my wetsuit on up to my waist, and kept it that way until we were about 10 minutes from starting. One last bathroom break and then I suited up. I wore a silicone cap under the latex race cap... that was more than enough to keep me warm enough. I put my goggles over the silicone and under the latex. I had a second pair of goggles around my neck and tucked into the neck of the wetsuit as a "just in case" (I anticipated a LOT more contact, for some reason). With about 5 minutes to go, I scored half a banana from someone that felt they had had enough to eat, so at least I got a few extra calories in.
Swim
  • 38m 54s
  • 2640 yards
  • 01m 28s / 100 yards
Comments:

Once we filed down onto the first deck, it was simply a matter of working our way up to one of the jump points - and then walking over the timing mat and jumping in!

I paused before the mat just long enough to give myself one last check, then I hit Start on the watch and walked over the mat to the edge of the boat and waited the few seconds it took for a clear spot to open below me, and then I went. I roughly kept one hand over my goggles and face and put one arm to the side and scissored the legs to limit my drop into the water and then I got planed out into a swim as quick as I could and worked to clear the vessel.

The water was COLD, but not horribly so. I kept my effort easy for about the first 30-40 seconds, and by then my breathing and the cold effect evened out and then I settled into a very solid swim. Those first few hundred meters, the chop and waves weren't too bad at all.... but, then we got out into the middle of the current and the wind started whipping those waves right into our faces. I tried to breathe to my left, but I was having an awkward time of it with the body roll and the angle of the waves, so I decided to just stick with breathing to the right and tried to time my breathing with the waves. I got a few big mouthfuls of water, but while uncomfortable, it was manageable.

Sighting moved fairly quickly from one landmark to the next, especially once sighting moved onto the dome. Sighting was hindered about halfway through by the goggles fogging however. Like a fool, I stopped to rinse them to clear the fog, but for some reason I didn't want to take the extra 3 seconds to spit in them to ensure that they wouldn't re-fog... and they did. The second half of the swim, I found myself trying to look around the fogged areas to see where I was going, and in the chop, that wasn't terribly efficient, so I ended up pausing a few times to re-orient myself, and one of those times I took a few extra seconds to just sit there and spin around and take in the sights and the moment - I was swimming from freaking Alcatraz! I glanced back at the prison, then spun to my left to take in the Golden Gate bridge, then left again to get a morning view of the city. And then I was on my way again.

Before long, the crowds of people at the swim exit were visible and I just pointed myself at them and started swimming harder. The last 100 meters was tough as the water got significantly colder, and my angle to the beach made it so that I was kinda swimming against the current a bit.
What would you do differently?:

Spend more time working on breathing to the left, actually spit in my goggles, take a slightly better line (aim just a hair further left for a bit longer).
Transition 1
  • 07m 20s
Comments:

Swim caps and goggles came off pretty easily. Had the wetsuit off my torso and down to my waist by the time I left the sand and hit the parking lot. Found my Swim Exit bag fairly quickly and did a quick two-step stomp to get my feet out of the suit, but I had to help one leg as the heel got stuck. Slipped on the run shoes that were in the Exit bag and then stuffed my wetsuit back in and set off for a brisk run. It was a looooong run to T1 from swim exit - about 1/2 mile. I moved quickly and passed quite a few people, but I didn't set any land speed records.

Ran in and got to my bike, and then I inexplicably dawdled a bit, swigging a little water, rinsing my feet a little, etc... then I suddenly rememebered what I was there for and snapped out of it, put my helmet on grabbed the bike and started to run out. Trotted at a fair pace, kept going until I was well past the mount line to ensure I was clear of others and would have room, and then jumped onto the bike. The shoes came loose a little quickly and got caught up on the ground a little, but I recovered quickly and fairly smoothly and got my feet in and was off.
What would you do differently?:

Maybe run faster, maybe move quicker with the wetsuit, maybe skip the water and wasting of time at the bike rack?
Bike
  • 1h 05m 38s
  • 18 miles
  • 16.46 mile/hr
Comments:

Clearly, this is my weakest sport.
Left transition and figured I'd get my HR up and then settle into a nice cruise before the first hill at Mile 2. That idea got scrapped by the realization that my HR monitor wasn't working, so I just rode by RPE. For the hills, my coach and I talked about them and we decided I wouldn't spend much time above my 10 min power of 270w, so I tried to hold to that as much as possible, but it became clear very early that this wasn't going to be enough... even in Uber-Granny Gear, I was occasionally pushing over 300w (3s avg) on some of the hills, so I just figured I'd roll with it as best I could and let it be what it was going to be.

This was my first race, and my first outdoor ride, on my road bike. This DEFINITELY impacted me as I tended to be overly cautious and conservative with the downhills. Several times, I found myself being tentative at the start of a descent and then getting stuck behind a slower cyclist while traffic zipped by close on the left in a steady stream that I couldn't get into. By the time I could get clear, the hill was mostly gone and I couldn't take advantage of it. I can't really fathom how much time this might have cost me, but I'm sure it isn't entirely insignificant. Lesson learned.

I had been dreading these hills for months. In the end, with a few exceptions, they weren't all that bad. That said, there was one spot where I was in 34x28, out of the saddle pumping like a mad man, and I felt I was leaning so far over the bars that they were at my waist... and I was maintaining perhaps all of maybe 7mph. The very last downhill was about the only one that I was really able to ride hard, then it was just two or so miles of flat land back to transition and it was time for a morning jog through the park! I forgot to pull my feet out of the shoes on the approach, so I just unclipped and ran in the shoes. This, no doubt, slowed my T2 a bit, but not terribly so.
What would you do differently?:

Ride more aggressively, attack every downhill and not allow myself to get boxed out.
Transition 2
  • 02m 1s
Comments:

Moved through this pretty well. My rack was toward the back of transition, away from Bike In, so I had a longer run with the bike shoes on, but it didn't hurt me too badly. Bike shoes came off quickly and run shoes slipped on without a problem. Dropped the helmet, grabbed my gel flask, and I was off to the races.
What would you do differently?:

Remember to take my feet out of the shoes as I approach T2.
Run
  • 1h 01m 37s
  • 8 miles
  • 07m 42s  min/mile
Comments:

Immediately, this just felt GOOD.
The HR strap still wasn't working, so on the way out of transition I fiddled with it a bit and finally got it reporting believable numbers. I quickly settled into a pace that put me in the middle of Zn2, which had me at about 7:45/mi. The first (and last) two miles were flat, so I figured I'd settle in on the first two, and try to hammer it on the last two, and the in-between was going to be a matter of managing whatever the hills were going to throw at me.

The first two miles went by easily. I took Cytomax at every aid station for those first few miles. I also took my first shot from the gel flask in that first half mile, and washed it down with a water at the first aid station.

I knew to expect the stairs on the way out, but man, they were annoying, lol. They were narrow enough that when there was traffic returning, there wan't a lot of room to pass, so they became a little game of sit back and wait for the opportunity to pass, then gun it and get by until you got trapped again. Those stairs didn't take much out of me at all, and I hit the trails going up at the top ready to keep rolling. Next thing ya know, we're at the top of the climb and we're beginning our descent toward Baker Beach, and this is where I forced myself to open the stride and keep working to keep the HR in the middle of Zn2. Saw more than a couple of people pull up grabbing their hamstrings on that downhill. A little meandering and then we were out on the beach; I made a beeline to the wetter sand to get off the soft, loose stuff. I seriously couldn't believe how good I felt at this point. Here I was, just about at the half way point of the run at Alcatraz, and I still felt super strong! Made the turn-around and started running back down the beach; waves rolling in and crashing on our left, the Golden Gate bridge standing in the mist ahead... it was an absolutely incredible view. About a half mile later.... the Sand Ladder. I was ready for it, but I was also REALLY curious about it. At first, I moved somewhat briskly, but it wasn't long before there were just more people to move around than I wanted to have to push past, and I gave in and settled in behind them, walking up it. As quickly as I could at the top, I got going again, but I'm glad I didn't push it harder. At most, I think I might have picked up 20-30 seconds, but in the process I would have burned a LOT of matches and while I think I could have pushed most of this entire run a little harder, I don't think I had enough in me to have taken that ladder faster AND still finished well.
After the ladder, you're not done. We still had some more uphill to contend with (about another 100 ft of ascent in under .5 miles). I settled back into a sustainable pace, looking to keep HR in the right zone and then I just held it until we were at the top and beginning our descent for the last time. I tried to open it up more, but between the congestion and the steps, it was a little hard. A short time later, we were back on flat land and it was precisely at this moment that my HR monitor crapped out again. No matter, there was two miles to go and the plan was to hammer it. I opened the stride and picked it up to a pace that felt like I could just barely hold onto - and held on.
What would you do differently?:

Probably not too much... maybe rather than running to the middle of the HR zone, I might push it up to the top of that zone, or even the bottom of the zone above. I think I had a real shot of going sub-60 for this run, but I am REALLY happy this result.
Post race
Event comments:

In case there was ever any doubt - YES, this race lives up to the hype.
Wondering if you should have this one on your bucket list? Wonder no more... do this race. In fact, take it off your Bucket List. Pay attention to when the lottery opens and throw down the $25 to enter.... you never know, like me, you just might get picked the first time around!




Last updated: 2013-11-01 12:00 AM
Swimming
00:38:54 | 2640 yards | 01m 28s / 100yards
Age Group: 40/235
Overall: 369/1585
Performance: Good
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/514281285
Suit: Xterra Vector Pro full sleeve
Course: Ferry jump offshore, swim to shore
Start type: Dive Plus: Time Trial
Water temp: 57F / 14C Current: High
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Good Navigation: Good
Rounding:
T1
Time: 07:20
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
No
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Average
Biking
01:05:38 | 18 miles | 16.46 mile/hr
Age Group: 92/235
Overall: 608/1585
Performance: Average
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/514281288
Wind: Some
Course: Out and back lollipop
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 73
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
T2
Time: 02:01
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Bad
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
Running
01:01:37 | 08 miles | 07m 42s  min/mile
Age Group: 40/235
Overall: 305/1585
Performance: Good
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/514281293
Course: Out and back with a couple of hills
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Evaluation
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

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2014-06-05 5:14 PM

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Elite
5145
500010025
Cleveland
Subject: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon


2014-06-06 1:32 PM
in reply to: #5007848

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Champion
14571
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the alamo city, Texas
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

awesome report, sounds like an awesome race.  glad you enjoyed it!

2014-06-09 9:52 AM
in reply to: #5007848

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Member
51
2525
Dublin, OH
Subject: RE: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
Chris,

Great race report and great race. This looks like a fun event and definitely a bucket list type of race. You had a great run given the terrain.

You've inspired me to enter the lottery next year despite my fear of cold water.

See you in a few weeks at New Albany.

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