Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Escape from Alcatraz
June 5, 2011

Hello, San Franciscooooooooo

1.5 Mi SWIM --- 18 Mi BIKE --- 8 Mi RUN

This destination triathlon vacation began on June 2nd when my parents and I headed up to San Francisco on that Thursday afternoon. We got there pretty late that night. I had planned on doing a quick 30 min jog on the hotel treadmill when we arrived, but much to my dismay the ‘fitness center’ was closed due to some renovations they were doing. So alas, I could only do trigger point before hitting the sack.

The next day was a walking tour of Fisherman’s Wharf with the parents. We walked ALL over the place! From Pier 39 area all the way to the swim exit location past the transition area. Looking back, I probably shouldn’t have walked for like 5 hours straight, but everything was just so fascinating and I just had to see it all! When we finally got back, we got some food at Boudin’s sourdough place and I had a delicious bowl of clam chowdah and half a turkey avocado sandwich. Picture this place like Panera, just more authentic and revolving around delicious sourdough in everything they make. Yum. Food coma and early bed time.

Saturday, finally! We slept in and went down to breakfast as late as possible. The race expo didn’t open up til 11am, so we took our time getting there in the car. Because this was the day that was predicted to have 90% rain all day, I wore my secondary pair of running shoes because I knew the expo area would be muddy and gross… and that it was. Luckily it wasn’t raining while we were there, but everything was soggy. We got our numbers and swag and listened in on the noon athlete meeting. After that, we made our way back to the car just as a light rain started to come down again. Chillaxing was in order back at the hotel where I updated some old blogs that needed to go up online. Dad picked out the dinner location at CafĂ© Pescatore. We got in our carbs before the big race! I got the Fusilli Mediterranean, Dad got the Verdi Pizza, and Mom got the Dungeness Crab filled Ravioli. Hooray carbs! It was funny at the restaurant and walking around after dinner because there were so many people with the red Escape wristbands denoting their racing status. It started us commenting on how great it is that triathlons like this bring in so much revenue to the local town with all the hotels and food expenses. Early bed after some quick triggerpoint one more time!

Alarm set for 3:50am. Rough.
We rolled out of bed at the ass-crack of dawn, threw on our pre-packed backpacks, and rode our way to the transition area. Mom followed shortly after to get a parking spot and a viewing spot on the beach for the swim exit. After setting up our stuff, Dad and I boarded a party bus and we were transported to Pier 3 all the way down by the Bay Bridge. We got off the bus around 5:15am and realized we weren’t shipping off on the boat til about 7am. Too early! Tip for next time around, sleep in some more.
After utilizing one of the many port-o-potties they had set up by the boat, Dad and I filled our plastic bag with stuff to transport back to the transition area and we boarded the San Francisco Belle! Unfortunately that meant we had to split up because the 39 and under folks were on the main level while the older folks were up one more level above. I gave Dad a quick hug and we went our separate ways to sit on the floor for over an hour and stare at other random triathletes.

I shared a nice little moment with one guy who asked me to quickly videotape him because he wanted to record a little message for his wife. He just said hello, made some comments about the boat and how cold it was, and that he loved her of course. It was very cute. We talked for a little bit, but he was really the only guy I shared words with. The rest of the time consisted of people-watching and anxiously waiting around for the boat to get into position!
When we finally came right up to Alcatraz, everyone started standing up and zipping up their wetsuits. Almost instantly you could feel this energy throughout the people just start to buzz. Everyone was so anxious and I slowly made my way to one of the exit doors. Another brush with fame…. Andy Potts quietly squeezed past me and said excuse me as he tried to move up to the front door to line up with other pros. I smiled hugely and watched him walk up towards the front, knowing full well he was about to dominate this race and I was there to witness it. What a feeling. I yelled, “Go Andy!” as all the pros lined up on the boat outside. The countdown began and my heart rate did the usual jump up about 15 beats when they said there was a minute left to go.
The pros dove in and instantly there was a rush of people pushing towards the door. Mob mentality set in, and all I wanted to do was get in the water and after those fast swimmers as fast as I could. I hardly even had time to think about jumping off the boat… I just did leaped and hoped for the best!

Swim= 27:57 – 87th person out of the water! 14th female!
Swim HR Avg = 171

I was very surprised with that time. Most mile and a half swims should take much longer than that. But I guess there was a really strong current because that was a speedy time!
100% certain that is me jumping off the boat in the blue cap : )
I counted it up and I had the 14th fastest swim split out of all the women there including the female pros! If I don’t count the pros, then I had the 5th fastest female age group swim split. Woohoo! Some old women beat me, but they probably got in the water ahead of me off the boat somehow (at least that’s what I’ll tell myself).
During all the info sessions and stuff they tell you to swim in an ‘L’ shape towards the shore then parallel the shore to the beach. All of that went out the door as soon as I hit the water and I just headed straight to the Dome as fast as I could. At one point I ended up with no one to follow because I moved so far up and was scared I was going the wrong way. Eventually some guy in a red cap passed me and I just drafted and followed him the whole way to shore (he had probably been doing the same behind me til he decided to move forward).
I did take a few touristy breaks at the beginning of the swim, pausing to glance back at the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz, the view of Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Golden Gate Bridge from the water. I’ll never forget that. It was insane; I had a huge goofy grin while swimming that whole time because I couldn’t believe how awesome this swim was.

T1= 7:22
This seven and a half minutes included the .5 mile run back to transition… that sucked.
I was so dizzy coming out of the water I almost puked. I actually hit some guy on accident and almost knocked him over because I couldn’t walk straight. Sorry, guy. I also couldn’t feel my feet for that half mile to transition, so I just sucked it up and tried to get to my bike without puking.

Bike=1:05:35 – 744th overall split
Average power = NA
Average speed = 16.5 mph
Bike HR Avg = 173

This course contained the most horrible set of hills in 18 miles ever conceived. I have nothing more really to say about the bike course. Yeah, I guess it was kind of scenic, but I was so frustrated because of all those hills that I was just trying to finish it and not enjoy it.
Golden Gate!

Don't let that grin deceive you..
T2= 2:10

Run = 1:14.27 – 919th overall split
Run pace = 9:18 min/mile
Run HR Avg = 175


This was absolutely horrific and utterly painful.. more so than the bike. I cursed myself for signing up for the race and told myself I’d never do it again. Gosh, it sucked. There’s not much more I can say than that… it just really sucked. I had been training really hard for this race, doing a lot of track practices and working on my speed. All of that was for nothing. I should have just done hill repeats for hours. And I should’ve run in the sand, because that was a surprise. Eff that ¾ of a mile or so that was in pure soft sand. So not cool.

Looking at the sand split and seeing that it only lasted 3 and a half minutes in real life is a little hilarious because it seems like it lasted an eternity while it happened in real time. Surprisingly I was in the top half of the race finishers with that sand split and I’m very satisfied with that given that I walked the brutal first part of it. In the pictures of me coming up the stairs, my head is down and you can’t see my face. Good thing, because I was pretty frustrated.

After making it through the deathly up and down undulations of pain around the Golden Gate Bridge, I came upon the 6 mile marker and grabbed a cup of water. I then glanced down at my lovely watch and it read 1:01:34. WTF. I was over a ten-minute mile pace and it was the most pissed I’ve ever been in a race. All that training to be over ten-minute pace?! No. I wasn’t going to let it happen. I had 2 miles left to go and I was dogging it to the finish. I put my head down, pushed my hips forward, and picked up the cadence. I crossed the finish and looked down to see that I had finished those two miles in roughly 14 minutes!!
All the anger went out the door, I was thoroughly satisfied with those two miles haha.
Yippeeee!! It's finally flat!!!!!
I want to quickly comment on my HR averages for this race. In Alabama, my HR averages were 188, 177, and 181 respectively. Those are higher compared to the HR averages for this race. I’m usually able to keep a higher heart rate than I did for this race.. but I guess was just really frustrated and my stomach problems held me back a little bit. I know I can push myself harder!

Overall time = 2:57:29

That put me at the 61st Female to finish the race.. and out of the 323 Women who finished, that’s in the top 20%. It doesn’t seem like much, but given that it was a pretty elitist race in terms of its insane reputation and the fact that a lot of people qualified to get there, I was pretty happy with that.

BIG HUGE shout-out to my dad who finished 52nd out of the 56 men in his age group! He did the swim really well in 47 minutes, pulled out a solid 1:24 bike split on those tough hills, and came home with a run time right around an hour and a half with me sprinting home besides him for the last half mile! So very proud of him, and I’m extremely happy that he was able to do the race with me.
At the finish!


... After!