TriCalifornia's Escape from Alcatraz
June 16th, 2002 $200
1.5m swim, .5m run, 18m bike, 8m run
Swim - felt easy this year, though nearly overshot landing.
Bike - no hill too shallow
Run - I'm done in. ALmost 11/mi.
I had high hopes for my second Escape. A better swim, a bike ride without mechanical failures and another good run and I had a shot at 3 hours. Unfortunately, not to be. The achilles problem continued and after aggravating it on the beach, I ran only twice in the 6 weeks before the race. Add 13lbs and limited training and not the right prep for this race. But since I paid my $200 7 months ago, I was going to make a tri at it anyhow.
The weather was nearly ideal this year. It was warm in the morning when I arrived to do setup. Clear skies, and the wind wasn't that bad. There did prove to be a bit of a headwind going west through Crissy Field, but not sometime that would make much of a difference.
Start - 2 mins after the pros is my wave. Of course, what really happens is that everyone of every wave makes a line for the exit. This year two boats are used, partly to up the racer count to 1400, but it also makes for fewer start waves and a bit more space. I think I was off in less than 2. This time I jumped off the foward starboard exit, hoping to avoid the crossfire from people like last year. It worked great. I rarely ran into anyone as I took a fairly straight course. Wave action was about as smooth as possible - only rarely did a swell of any size come along. No Lake Utah here. My plan was to ride the fast currents (low tide 2.7 hours after start) and not get stuck in the eddies near shore. I thought this was working well and I felt much better in the water, but it looks like I thought shore was closer than it was, or the currents picked up as I eventually was taking a heading of 95 degrees towards shore. Transition went pretty quickly and there were a lot more bikes still left in the racks when I took off.
Bike - after last year's shifter disasters, I figured it would be easy to improve upon 1:20. But the amount of dust on my road bike should have told me otherwise. I found I was ok on tbe flats, but this course doesn't have much of those, and I just couldn't climb, even in the lowest gear. I knew I was in trouble when I had to walk the last bit of the Land's End hill, and that's only climb 2 of 7. I did ok through the Golden Gate park turnaround but my speed was not great. Then came the big climb - I did the Cliffhouse section, but didn't even bother with the second piece on Clement. Walked up that short block, eating and drinking a little. I didn't lose much ground on those around me, and saved my back for a bit longer. I think I had to step down twice more on the final 2 climbs, then I cruise in to the T zone. 2:24, just like last year. Definitely disappointing, and worse, my back is really tight.
Run - I knew I wasn't going to make any great goals, and I didn't want to hurt myself trying anyhow. So it was only at mile 1 that I took my first walk break. Both the left knee and ankle are a bit ginger so I want the occasional break. Then come the hills and it's clear that my lower back is too round up to let me do much besides walk up them. I made bad video for the camera at the top of the Sand Ladder. The only really strong section of the run for me was on the beach. Even the end which is downhill or flat was rough - the last steps were killers.
Coming to the finish stretch seeing 3:51 on the clock was definitely a disappointment. This was my first really bad race. Had it been a flat course I might have been able to get away without much training, but Alcatraz is way too hilly to come in unprepared. But what can you do when you must commit at 12:05am, December 1? I definitely know that I can't open the season with this event anymore. I must schedule an olympic type event in May to make sure my training is on course. Last year the course scared me into prep, but I know now that it can be finished, albeit with some considerable pain.
Trical notes: G-Push was replaced by cytomax this year - the drink alternated between welcome taste and icky food punch taste. Ben and Jerry's ice cream was sadly replaced by Dreyer's fruit popsicles. Post race food was penne and sauce, not nearly as good as last year. (Or due to my timing, all that was left)