Sunday, June 22, 2014

June update (part 1 of 2) Escape from Alcatraz

The past couple weeks have been full of moving apartments, training, racing and as usual eating copious amounts of hummus.

Escape from Alcatraz

June 1st I was lucky enough to be one of 2000+ people to race possibly the coolest triathlon out there.  Escape from Alcatraz, what an awesome race!  

Before the race:
Around 15 Team Every Man Jack members were racing Alcatraz. I was finally able to meet most of them the day before while waiting in an hour-long line to pick up packets.  All the guys were super cool and offered great tips for the race.

There were some pretty big triathlon namesat the race including Mirinda Carfrae and Andy Potts.  I tried not to look too much like a deer in headlights when I saw them.  Side note: during an easy run two days before, I ran behind Rinny for about 15 min - as expected, incredible jealous.  I also went to Trader Joe's several times for food - dried mango is where it's at!

Race Day
Swim: - Boat leaves pier @6:30 AM
- Pros jump @ 7:30 AM
- Team EMJ leads Age Group charge @ 7:30 AM + 3 seconds

The swim is maybe the most epic part of the race.  All the athletes cram themselves onto the ferry which then heads out to Alcatraz.  After circling Alcatraz, we jump off the boat and head for shore.  Tension was high on the boat with a lot of first timers anticipating the cold water shock.

Everyone off the boat in 6-7 minutes

During the swim, I took a couple people's pre-race advise and paused a second to check out the view of the Golden Gate Bridge through the fog.  After the first 20-30 seconds, you're more or less on your own and sighting based on a predetermined game plan.  I was slightly worried about the currents but everything seemed to work out. Once you hit the beach, the crowds line the run up to transition.

Heading out onto the bike course
The bike course is also epic.  The 18 miles fly by because of the course's variability.  There are a fair amount of technical sections with turns and some short, steep hills.  I opted to ride my road bike because I'm used to climbing on it.  I only felt at a disadvantage on a couple of the straightaways and just tried to make myself as small as possible on these sections.

Golden Gate Bridge in background

My favorite run course yet.  After a flat section right out of transition with hard-packed rock, the run course heads to the hills.  We ran under the Golden Gate Bridge on some stairs, trails and road.  I started out the run with several EMJ guys around me.

Happy heading out to the run
Once we got to the steps/hills/trails, I started moving up and catching people.  By far the highlight of my run was after catching up to EMJ teammate Matt Organista.  We ran a good portion of the race together, making up significant time on some of the pros and leading the EMJ-dominated amateur charge.

While out riding the course the day before the race, I peeked at the "sand ladder".
An empty "sand ladder"

A big smile came across my face when I saw that thing and I looked forward to it the entire run.  People say to no matter what walk the sand ladder...I just remember stumbling the first few steps then keeping a steady rhythm.
Still running uphill after the "sand ladder"
The remainder of the run heads back to the trails and stairs, finishing on the flat section.

Heading in to the finish
The last section of the run was lined with people, a lot yelling at me to catch some one up ahead.  I kept pushing to the end and was able to finish 1st amateur, 5th overall.  The top 4 amateurs were all EMJ and the team took multiple podium spots!

Finish area with Matt

This race was a very good result for me - the course suits my style well.  Big thanks to my mom for traveling with me and feeding me...thanks to the EMJ guys for giving me the opportunity to race.  If at all possible, I would love to return to this race again.  Everyone who thinks that Escape From Alcatraz might one day be cool to race, you must do it!

After the race:
I stayed in the bay area to train for a couple days.  My body was pretty beat but I knew the training would help for the next race.  The riding in California was different from anything I'd done before.

Awesome, windy roads
 Training highlights:
- Swimming outside
- Riding Page Mill Road (twisty road through forest)
- Swimming/running with the Purplepatch crew and meeting Meredith Kessler
- Riding in Marin County and doing a sweet climb out of Stinson Beach

Big thanks to Nick Handel for letting me crash at his place for a few days and to the other EMJ guys who showed me around San Francisco.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this June update which will recap Boulder 70.3

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