Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Escape From Alcatraz Race Report

Just back from an amazing weekend in San Francisco with my brother and his wife. The weather was spectacular with no fog and warm temperatures.

My brother and I competed in the Escape From Alcatraz race on Sunday. It was a perfect day and again, this is a must do race for any triathlete: great course, well run and in a cool city.

Since I had done this race for the first time last year and this was my brother's first go at the event we stuck to the schedule and things that had worked so well for me last year. We boarded the ferry and sat near the exit doors to take in the sunrise and great view of the city and Alcatraz island as we headed out to the swim start.

The pro field went off and then the stampede of cattle out the doors...it is really an amazing rush doing the shuffle and then leap...

I jumped off and went hard right away to clear the boat, about a minute in I turned over on my back and looked back at the island, the boat and all the people jumping off. I sighted right at the radio tower thinking I was taking an aggressive sight line for the current and what had been told to us the day before. This is one swim where there is no getting into a rhythm or feeling smooth through the water with all the surf and wind...I took in my fair share of salt water and felt like the swim would never end. I kept getting closer to shore but not to the beach on shore where I wanted to end up, I was too far up current so about 200yds from shore I swam parallel to shore to the finishing beach. The waves were picking people up and planting them on the sand. I caught one in and got deposited right on a rock, my big toe on my right foot took the brunt of the blow. I ran up the beach and up the stairs where I had a little vertigo and had a tough time balancing while putting my shoes on. Finally, with the shoes on, wetsuit stripped to the waist and swim cap, goggles and neoprene cap still on, I ran to T!

T1 was a bit tough with cold hands trying to get the wetsuit the rest of the way off and bike shoes on, but I managed...although not as quickly as I had hoped.
I set out on the bike with the hammer down. My plan was to just go for it on the bike and see if I could survive through the run. Having the road bike made a huge difference on the climbs and descents as it was easier to handle and allowed me to take a few more chances. I was struggling a little to get to my upper limit until I hit Presidio Park. In the park, I found that next gear and put the hammer down all the was back to transition. T2 was better, a little difficulty with the socks, but I knew with the dirt and sand on this course they would come in handy.
I set out on the run and felt like crap! The first mile I felt like I needed to puke and that I was going to have to stop and walk. I held it together and got into a comfortable pace to the first set of stairs. Right before the base of the stairs I finally started to feel better and made a big effort to get to the top and to Baker Beach. I hit the beach and made the turn around and coming the other way was my brother, he was hot on my heals. I did my best to push my pace and not kill myself up the sand ladder...that thing is a killer...and hammered back down for the final 2 flat miles to the finish. My legs were feeling a little heavy but I kept a good pace and treated it like a training interval.I came through the finish chute and notice that I was going to break 2:30...I was really fired up as last year I barely broke 2:40.

My brother came in a minute behind me...he has a much better run than me and he uncorked a good one to try and reel me in, but today, I got to the line first.
We savored the joy of finishing and headed back tot he hotel for a shower and then to the Buena Vista for "Irish Coffee" and a huge brunch.
I made it back to NYC last night and whoa is it hot here! I didn't get much time to rest and recover from this race as my coach had me out on the bike and a good run this morning. The legs liked the bike and felt like tree trunks on the run...
It was a great trip, I just wish my wife could have come along, but we are trying to save vacation days for when the baby comes...maybe a family trip next year.
Next up is A LOT of training! A couple of really tough weeks before the IMLP taper. This weekend, we are headed out to Long Island to spend Father's Day with Jen's family and I get to do the L/Gold Coast Sprint Triathlon Sunday. Then in a few weeks I head to Portland, OR for work and run a half marathon on Saturday and ride 100 miles in the Livestrong Challenge the next day...load it up!

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