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Accenture Escape from Alcatraz - TriathlonOther


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San Francisco, California
United States
Tri California
Overcast
Total Time = 3h 03m 50s
Overall Rank = 739/1545
Age Group = 41-45
Age Group Rank = 126/239
Pre-race routine:

Up at 4, packed, and walked the mile to the transition area. Streets were dark and quiet except for the zooms of the passing bikes.

A predawn fog blanketed the bay. Looking towards Alcatraz, I saw the lighthouse beam circle through it as if it were a movie's opening scene. Very cool.

Racked my bike and got on the bus to the ferry. I sat down next to a woman who had done this race in the past, and I learned that she was the oldest woman registered for the event. Great tips -- roads are rough, ease up on speed going into bends as they generally are followed by inclines, and watch out for poison ivy during the run.

After being body marked, I met the youngest male racer (12) and his father, who were doing the race together. The boy wasn't as impressed with what he was about to do as I was. And his goal time was quick. I made a mental note to look up his time later to see if I got whipped by a 12-year old on the swim. And actually, I didn't have to see the official results to know that yes, in fact, I had been whipped thoroughly. How do I know this? Because I caught up to him on mile 2 of the bike portion.

Getting onto the boat, we were divided into over 40 -- upstairs -- and younger -- downstairs. The upstairs room resembled a giant geriatric slumber party. Hundreds of racers just sprawled about with the smell of neoprene and Ben-Gay in the air. Some talking, some laughing, some laying with eyes closed, no doubt visualizing their race.

I was visualizing that porta-john on the dock I'd passed, and wished I'd taken time to stop.
Event warmup:

Putting on my wetsuit is always a mix of stretching and strength work. Thankfully, there are always helpful strangers willing to zip me up.
Swim
  • 34m 30s
  • 2700 yards
  • 01m 17s / 100 yards
Comments:

Great swim. The day before, I'd gone into the water and was shocked at how cold it was, and how the water just stung my face and feet. However, on race day, a quick jump off the boat and I started to swim.

Let me add some comments about the jump. You're literally in a line walking to the edge of the ferry, where race officials are yelling, "Go, go, go" to the swimmers. You get there, inhale, and off you go, holding your goggles as you hit the water.

So there I am walking the plank, and the guy next to me has zipped up his wetsuit and is complaining that he's not getting a true reading on his heart rate monitor. He's angry and swearing and is raising all of our heart rates.

"Why the monitor?," I ask.

"So I can monitor my effort and exertion."

"But this is a race," I say. "Weren't you planning on exerting yourself?"

"Well, so I can gauge my performance during the race to see if I'm really exerting myself or if I just feel like I am exerting myself."

Pretending I understood his thinking, I responded, "Ah. Good luck on that then." He said something to me just before I jumped, but with my neoprene squid lid and yellow Alcatraz swim cap on, I had not a clue as to what it was. Hmmm.

(I wonder what he recalls from the race. Seeing the Pacific Ocean? The Golden Gate Bridge? The incredible city views? Or that little window on his watch with the beating heart?)

Now when you jump off the side of a pool, you hit the bottom and push up to the surface. Obviously, there is no bottom to the bay (at least, thankfully, I didn't sink that far!), so it's an odd feeling as you hit the water and just sink and sink and sink before your buoyancy catches you and pops you up to the surface. Under the water, three thoughts filled my head: (1) the water wasn't as cold as yesterday; (2) the water had a brown misty glow to it; and (3) I better pop up and swim hard and fast away from this ferry for 15 yards or so before someone jumps on top of me.

The water was so murky I couldn't see my hand when my arm was fully extended, which also meant I couldn't see the sea lions that I knew were among us. Didn't taste bad, not too bracky. Oh, and for what it's worth, sharks are attracted to the color yellow, but the sharks in this area are bottom dwellers. Did that make me feel better? Nope.

Got hit by a wave and took a mouthfull of water. As I coughed, I stopped for a moment and looked around. Ferry boat off to my left with the Bay Bridge behind it, Golden Gate Bride to my right, the city in front of me, Alcatraz behind me. The sun streaming onto Sausalito across the bay. Definitely a great sight.

I loved this part of the course. I'd like to do it again. And in fact, now that I've done a true OWS, I'm hoping to find others here on the east coast.

What would you do differently?:

Nothing.
Transition 1
  • 10m 49s
Comments:

I packed my T1 bag with clothes, hat and socks because I was worried I'd be so cold after the swim that I'd have trouble getting started on the bike. There are many tales of swimmers who have no feeling in their feet until 1/2 way into the bike, and with the difficulty of this course, I wanted to be in good form.

I peeled off my suit and pulled on my bike clothes and a hat at the bag pick-up. For me, it was a good choice, as I felt great when I got to my bike. Also, there wouldn't have been much room to change there anyway. Pulled on the bike shoes, swallowed a gel, and I was off.
What would you do differently?:

As always, be quicker. But this time is deceiving -- at this race, the T1 includes a 3/4 mile run to your bike.
Bike
  • 1h 06m 9s
  • 18 miles
  • 16.33 mile/hr
Comments:

I don't know streets, or areas, or locations, but let me say this -- difficult course because of the hills and tight turns. The handling aspect was much harder than the work needed to power up the inclines. At various times, I hit speeds of more than 30 mph.

I love downhills, but because I knew there would be a sharp left or right at the bottom, I rode my brake a lot. On the return, the police had us stop so the ambulance could peel a rider off the street and take him away. Seriously.

Many rough patches, which were marked, but without much notice. Seeing the orange around a pothole as you're practically on top of it provided some drama.

I was surprised by the road conditions. I had expected all smooth asphalt.

However, the views were lovely. And the fans were great.

I was especially impressed with the guy who actually peed while riding. I was coming up on the left to pass, and don't ask me why I noticed, but I saw that he wasn't pedaling, his left foot was high, he was slightly off his seat, and there was this fluid coming off his bike. Then the light in my curious head went off -- ugh, gross, intrigued, impressed -- and I dropped back until he finished up. Compared to being spit on during races by riders who forgot they weren't alone on the course, this could have been a true "yuck" moment in my racing career.
What would you do differently?:

Ride harder out and back. I consciously tried to conserve energy because I didn't know the course, and I'd heard horror stories about the inclines. Maybe riding in southwest PA is a good thing, because I didn't encounter any hills steeper or longer than I have found here at home.

If I could do this ride again, I think I'd shave 3 minutes off my time.
Transition 2
  • 02m 54s
Comments:

Okay, I tried to call my wife. Yep, I was that guy. I wanted to give her a heads up that I'd be finishing sooner than expected. So yes, I was indeed that prick that everyone hates.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing.
Run
  • 1h 09m 28s
  • 8 miles
  • 08m 41s  min/mile
Comments:

This was a great course. Very narrow, and at many times, single file, with some great hills and scenery. I really liked this run and wish I could do it again.

Once I started on the trails, I was subject to the pace of the guy in front of me. Most runners were kind enough to move to the side as best they could -- remember, very narrow course, with 2 opposing lines of runners -- but some were so tired that I don't think they even heard me come up behind them. Not that the run was my best event, it wasn't. It was just a long morning, and I think some participants went out on the bike too hard and were just hobbling along on the run focusing only on getting to the finish line.

I realized how steep the inclines were on the way back, when I had to catch myself a few times or I would have tumbled down the hills taking out a few runners with me. The sand ladder was a challenge, but with me being in the middle of the pack, it was so congested that there was no way I could huff it up faster if I'd tried. It was actually a welcome break, as I had to go slow, and it gave me a few minutes to look around at the scenery.

It was a nice run.


What would you do differently?:

Take a second and put my hand in the Pacific Ocean. I thought about it, but never did, and really don't know why. It's not like I was going to place in my age group, and I did travel 3,000 miles to get there.
Post race
Warm down:

Packed up, looked for my wife, and walked back to the hotel.

And then spent a gloriously sunny day (the first of the weekend) walking throughout the city: saw the Seven Ladies, the Union Street Fair, Pacific Heights, Lombard Street, Ghirardelli Square (home of the world famous hot fudge sundae)...just a great afternoon.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

My concern of the unknown on the bike, and the tight path on the run.

Event comments:

A once-in-a-lifetime race. Definitely worthwhile.




Last updated: 2007-05-29 12:00 AM
Swimming
00:34:30 | 2700 yards | 01m 17s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/239
Overall: 402/1545
Performance: Good
Suit: Full
Course: Swim across the bay to a point just west of the St. Francis Yacht Club. Kayakers and boats filled the bay, and if you took a moment to sight, you could see the chute they wanted you to swim down.
Start type: Dive Plus: Waves
Water temp: 54F / 12C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Good Navigation: Good
Rounding:
T1
Time: 10:49
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
No
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
Biking
01:06:09 | 18 miles | 16.33 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/239
Overall: 756/1545
Performance: Average
Wind: Some with gusts
Course: Out and back, with some steep hills and difficult handling issues.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
T2
Time: 02:54
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
Running
01:09:28 | 08 miles | 08m 41s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/239
Overall: 701/1545
Performance: Good
Course: Out and back, along the Bay, up to the Golden Gate Bridge, down to the ocean, up the sand ladder, and back.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
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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2007-06-09 4:08 AM

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Subject: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz


2007-06-09 9:51 AM
in reply to: #837018

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Subject: RE: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz

What a cool experience! Thanks for your descriptive RR.  It sounds like you thoroughly enjoyed yourself.

My sister and I want to do this together someday. (we both have to win the lottery at the same time)

2007-06-09 10:54 AM
in reply to: #837018

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Subject: RE: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz
Nice job out there. I was similarly relieved not to have any wildlife encounters while making my crossing. Sounds like you made the most of a fantastic course.

I don't think you're a for making a phone call on the course...unless you used one of those little bluetooth earpieces.

Great RR. Sounds like yinz had a rul good time n'at.

Edited by Xan 2007-06-09 10:55 AM
2007-06-10 6:38 PM
in reply to: #837115

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Subject: RE: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz
Xan - 2007-06-09 11:54 AM

Great RR. Sounds like yinz had a rul good time n'at.



Hmm, add a "go Stillers" and I'd think you're a native.
2007-06-11 3:50 AM
in reply to: #837018

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Hong Kong
Subject: RE: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz
Great RR prof. It sounds nice enough for me to come over next year to do it myself!
2007-06-11 12:09 PM
in reply to: #837018

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Subject: RE: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz
Some years it's warm and others are cold. You just hit a cold one. You were prepared for it by swimming the day before. I will do the same for my tri at the end of June, thank you for that advice. Sounds like an awesome race. Glad to hear you enjoyed the scenery too.
Maybee next time you will see a sea lion.

Just think by touching the sand you touched the Pacific Ocean!!!!!!!!


2007-06-21 1:29 PM
in reply to: #837018

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Podunk County, MN
Subject: RE: Accenture Escape from Alcatraz
Great race report - I love your attitude about the race. Enjoy it, because you're not vying for an AG win!

At my half-mary last weekend, I leapt through one of the sprinklers that people had set up. It gave the crowd a laugh... and it reminded me to have fun with this, because who knows when you'll get a chance to do it again.

I hope you get a chance to do this race again; I can tell how much you loved the experience.
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