TriCalifornia's Escape from Alcatraz
June 10th, 2001 $185
1.5m(?)swim, .5m run, 18m bike, 8m run

51m swim - should always know the finish point. Bad navigation/planning
1:20 bike - disaster could have been race ending
1:06 run - kicked ass here - 3 people passed me, I passed 100?
3:28:20 - initial target was 3:30, then got cocky and hoped for 3:15.

This is probably not a good first tri, but what the hell, that's how the schedule worked out. It also guaranteed that I would do enough swimming, though apparently at the cost of biking. I came in rather unprepared on the cycling side.

Registration was the day before. I met up with Cory, heard parts of the pre race meeting (nothing useful was said, I thought), and then motorcycled the bike course. I should have also looked more closely at the run course - it was much hillier than I expected.

Prep - don't sleep great, but get there ok. It is FREEZING. I decide I should put my bike jersey in the end of swim bag along with my running shoes. A few people do that stretch barefoot and in wetsuit, but I don't think I can do it. Feet aren't tough enough. The boat ride out is entertaining. Very warm from all the body heat. Noisy from talking. The smell of Pam is everywhere (ick). I was wise to get a spot for my butt on the side of the boat, but perhaps should have been closer to the bow door rather than the aft one.

Start - 1 min after the pros run off, we go. We're about 150 yards off the SF side of the island, I think. Looking at the topo maps, this makes more like 1.8 miles straight line. The notion of entry waves is BS - everyone heads out post haste. No timing chips here - just one minute subtracted from the time at the end. Conditions are fun - 2-3 foot swells means sometimes your arm strokes air, other times never makes it out of the water. I feel fast initially, but then find myself in cross course with too many people heading for shore. Where is the finish point? I get along the wall too soon - touch down on the sand. Probably less current there. Lots of traffic in close. It may have been better idea to stick to right and take straighter course. Will need to examine those current maps. At what point is it legal to stand up and run? I definitely was losing speed by the end. Next year, do 2m training loops in prep. Transition - very clumsy getting on socks, off wetsuit. Didn't need the jersey, though I don't think it interfered any. Spent time idle gettinug the bike going - no real need, just sort of dazed. A bit numb? 50:46 (833rd 20:58/km), 8:08 T1 (medium swim time = 41:49, about what my times were in calm training grounds of Aquatic Park)

Bike - shit. First hill felt like a doozy (6 more to go!), but in general I'm climbing ok. Slower on downs, but in general the bike is great. Start noticing looseness in grip shift by the 3rd hill. Climb in GGP is longer than I expect, but still easy. Shifting fails on Cliffhouse Climb, now stuck in low gear. Not too worried - course is nonstop up and coast. The descent at Land's End is fast and furious - I'm starting to let it fly, and then the shifter knob bounces out of its mount and dangles next to the front wheel. "hmmm - why does that look dangerous?" Then is goes in - could easily have locked the front wheel and thrown me for a long loss - instead it gets chewed up and left on the ground. Later I find one spoke broke off in the melee. Zip ties would have prevented all of this! I run back and retrieve the part, and continue. Now I'm stuck in top gear with half a descent, and one major long climb. I have to walk the upper half of it. Then it's an easy cruise to the end. Definitely lost a bit of time - at least 10 minutes to the mess. 1:19:58 (904th! 13.5mph) 3:37 T2 (medium bike = 1:06:14)

Run - T2 goes quickly - charging out passing people right away. Clock reads 2:24 though - how can I make my goal? (The winner Macca finished 24 minutes ago) No problems with the legs, but a terrible side cramp. It keeps me from really going, perhaps a good thing in the long run. Around mile 2 I hit the first staircase. Everyone around walks everything hill like. Many more hills than I expected. Singletrack is hard to pass people - too much oncoming. I pass some of them on the right, get shouted at by the volunteers. Then we hit the severe drop to the beach - my ankles are hurting. Knees are great. About a mile of running on the beach, mostly on the hardpack except when a wave rolls in. The soft sand is hard to deal with. Still passing people, only 1 has passed me so far. Hit the sand ladder, meet Cory. No choice but to walk this - my quads nearly sieze up. I have to use my hands to support these muscles. Thankfully it holds fine after the end of the rise. Only a short climb left and I feel great. Now it's just enduring to the finish line. Longest run I've done since high school and I nearly average 8 minutes, even with walking. 1:05:47 (424th, 8:13/mi) (m=107:42)

3:28:16 - good for 781st out of 1003. 121st of 142 in 25-29 division. 609 of 732 men. 501st was 3:08:36. Next year will shoot for sub 3 to 3:10. 3:05 gets me 455th place, 376th for men, 77th for 25-29, 121st of 241 for 30-34. This is a very competitive field.

More Pictures: Race pictures by Brightroom - very good prints.
My buddy, Cory - My ocean exit - The race start - Swimming for shore - Running1 - Running2 - Running3 - Finishing