ESCAPE from Alcatraz 2013

The ESCAPE from Alcatraz is one of my favorite courses to race. It is very challenging from beginning to end and San Francisco is so beautiful that it really is incredible to race there. I think I also like this one so much because the chalenges are constantly changing; with hills and windy roads, an extra transition and awesome views, there is no monotony involved and that is the part of the sport I struggle with the most. When you are suffering alone with no one around and there is nothing but straight, empty road ahead of you that is very tough for me.

My pre-race routine went absolutely flawlessly and I jumped on an early bus and had a great chat about the experience of completing a full Ironman with my bench-mate. I got onto the ferry and found a warm spot to sit and rest and bumped into another guy that I had a good swim battle with at the Sentinel the year before last. We chatted about celebrity and ferry dust, chuckling about the fact that the guy who won the bronze medal in London was sitting right next to us.

When it came time to prep for the start we all got zipped up and out to the landing on the ferry landing to get a look at what we were in for. There was a strong chilly breeze and the chop on the bay looked menacing. We had been told that the water was 50-51 degrees which is uncomfortable to say the least but spirits were high. I caught up with Lauren Brandon who I have raced with several times, she had crashed the day before and had some road rash on her cheek, what a badass! I also got to meet Sara Groff who is one of the best triathletes in the world and was fourth at the London Olympics! I was a little starstruck but I think I played it pretty cool...I hope :) We all shimmied up to the ledge and tried to keep the shivers at bay while we waited for the horn.

SF Chronicle

The Hornblower sounded and we all made a rush for it...I jumped a little to the side to avoid landing on John Dahlz, whom I inadvertently gave a little push to at the sound of the horn, and when I hit the water it was like having a bunch of tiny needles stabbed into my face, hands, and feet. I began swimming frantically just flailing my arms and kicking as hard as I could just to keep my body from going into shock. I got sight of the lead boat and took aim at that. The chop was as bad as I expected and quite often I would turn to breath and suck in the whitewash of a wave or go to pull and nothing would be there at all. I kept sight of the lead boat for about half of the swim and then had a good sight on the Palace of Fine Arts so my course was set. I really should wear a watch for one of these swims though and get an honest look at my swim path because when I am swimming it always feels like I am zig-zagging all over the place. By the time I was three quarters of the way through I had swallowed a lot of water and I barfed a couple of times which actually felt kind of good because it warmed my neck up.

I got in near the tip of the beach which is good and popped up feeling surprisingly steady and clearheaded. I got up into the first transition and got my wetsuit off quickly putting on shoes for the run back to T1. My hands were not as cold as I had thought they would be so the shoes went on fairly smoothly. I turned and took off feeling very quick and not heavy like I usually do which was exciting as I have been working on running well after the swim. Through T1 quickly I was out on my bike and headed out to the bridge.

I took the first mile a little easier than in past years because I had always felt too worked on the first hill and I wanted to build into my pace. I felt good on the bike and the winds were cold and steady but not too strong. I worked a steady tempo on the climbs and tried not to use he breaks too much on the descents. Once I got out into Golden Gate Park I finally caught sight of the lead women who are an insanely talented bunch. Sara McLarty and Sarah Groff had been flying, what badasses! I continued to push a steady, controlled pace back to the highway and up the hill to Battery Park where several guys, who I was glad to find out later were relay team members, passed me up. After the decent I kept a controled spin back to transition and got my mind ready to run hard.

David Condon

In T2 my hands were a little cold so getting my running shoes on was a bit of a struggle. I grabbed my gear and headed out for the run feeling springy. I had to feather my speed a little again, as with the bike, to make sure I didn't slam myself into the ceiling to quickly as I have done in the past. And settled into what felt like a good pace. There was a head wind for the first flat section and when Henry Hagenbuch came by me I jumped in behind him and felt like I was coasting! I followed him to the base of the steps and got a good two step shuffle going. One guy passed us on the way up and when the hill crested and the speed picked up I retook a lead on Henry. I let my legs loosen up on the descent and tried to use as much gravity as possible on the way down to Baker Beach which hurts my toes but feels awesome because you are going so fast. I hit the beach and was headed out to the turn around on the soft sand, there were a couple of guys running on the hard pack down by the water that passed me at this point but the course is marked to run in the soft stuff and I would rather have an honest result than anything else so I did not.

Ken Rakestraw
After the turn around and hard pack run it came to the Sand Ladder which absolutely crushed me last year so I decided to take two steps at a time and stride them to make sure I didn't pop myself. The Sand Ladder is hard one way or another, like the swim you just get through it and accept that you are going to suffer. The good part is that once it is over regular running feels pretty easy so I was ably to whip the pace back up and I felt good through the bluffs, though one or two guys passed me there as well. The steps back down to The Presidio are always tricky, especially with a lot of people coming up the other way who are all hanging their heads, so you just try and keep your feet on the ground and pick your way down safely. Once I hit the flat section that is the last two miles I got that feeling like someone had poured concrete into the bottom of my lungs my hear was exhausted so the last few miles were not great. I had a better run time than the previous year and that was really good for me! Jesse Thomas absolutely slew the run course and if you want to see some impressive statistics check out his run data, what a badass!

With about two miles to go I passed a guy going the other way who only had one arm and I thought to myself 'There is no way I could have finished the swim with only one arm.' It was incredibly humbling and the strength that I see in many people at events like this is one of my favorite parts of participating in triathlon. 

It was so awesome to catch up with my teammates after the race and see how well they all did as I do not get to spend time with them often enough. I saw many friends there and my family came as well so it was an awesome day and to to be able to spend it in a place as beautiful and amazing as San Francisco is the reason why this is one of my absolute favorite events. I had brunch with my parents at an incredible little restaurant in the Marina District called Baker Street Bistro. Probably one of my favorite things to do is sit outside and sip coffee with good company, and when you can enjoy perfectly prepared tomato/basil soup, florentine benedict and croque-madame life couldn't be better.

No comments:

Post a Comment