Sunday, June 3, 2007


I had two races on my schedule this week: the Capital of Texas Triathlon on Monday and the Accenture Escape from Alcatraz today.  Unfortunately Cap Tex got rained out but I did get to race today.

Alcatraz is an incredible race and I highly recommend that you try to race there at some point.  The 1.5-mile swim is epic, starting from a ferry that parks next to the island.  The foghorn sounds and the pro field jumps off the boat together... then the age-groupers get herded through the chutes in what must be quite a flurry of nervous energy and excitement.  The long swim (yay!) takes you to the St Francis Yacht Club, a short jog from the transition area in Marina Green.  You get about a four-minute run to wram up before the bike.  Did I mention that the water is usually about 55 degrees?  The 18-mile bike leg is quite hilly, taking you past the Golden Gate Bridge, an art museum where The Thinker resides, the Cliff House restaurant and Golden Gate Park.  The 8-mile run is epic with multiple stairways (including the infamous Sand Ladder) and more than a mile of running on the beach.

Coming in, the field looked a little weaker than last year but there were a few strong last-second entries including Bevan Docherty and Greg Bennett.  I hoped to have a strong swim and run and to exorcise my cycling demons from Wildflower.  Top Ten and a cash prize would take a remarkable race on my part, but the crowd from 10th to 25th looked like the kinds of guys that I should be trying to race these days.

My swim was pretty strong.  It was very rough at times, but eventually I found myself in a swim group that was making reasonable headway.  I coulda gone a little faster on my own, but it was great to not have to sight.  I worked my way up to the desirable second row of the group and saw that I was swimming next to Linda Gallo.  (At least I hoped it was Linda Gallo - a total badass swimmer - and not a slower lady.)  I was a little worried about our line as we continued to head towards the "gold dome" even 90% of the way in, but we were right on target to exit at the Yacht Club.  As we exited, I saw that my swimmate was indeed Linda.  She was 3rd or 4th out of the water at IM Kona last year so that has to be a good swim for me, right?

T1 was a little rough for me.  I had a hard time finding the shoes that I'd left for the short run.  Learning: next time yell your number right away.  Once I did so, the spectators were very helpful.  My right quad cramped up a little as I took my wetsuit off - uh oh...  but I got my shoes on and took off, passing the guys who'd passed me when I couldn't find my stuff.

The bike started a bit rough for me, too.  The cramping continued and I couldn't get my shoes on until about a mile in.  i tried earlierbut my hammy seized up.  Urgh...  then I heard/felt some brake rubbing so I opened up my brakes a few we hit the first climb, I'd been passed by 3-4 guys but I was rolling along without brake-rub and without cramping.  I kept Starykowicz in my sites as we went up the first hill but couldn't seem to pass anyone.  On the first descent two more guys went by.  C'mon - keep it close!  On the longer climb up to the art museum I passed one or two guys but in retrospect I wish I woulda caught two more.  Those two got gapped on the following descent and we lost "psychological contact" with the big group.  Oh well.  I continued to be a bit conservative on the descents but hit the flats and hills hard.  Golden Gate Park's rough surface didn't trouble me but I missed one of the turns in the park and gave up some time...  even worse, I gave up position on Haven Barnes and another rider... grrr...  I had worked a lot to pass Haven the first time and wasn't able to get him again.  Too bad - he didn't seem to be on his "A" game on the bike today so I thought I shoulda taken him.  One more guy passed me on the descent near Robin Williams's house and I headed into T2 with some work to do.

T2 was uneventful.  I grabbed a gel to eat on the run... I took the time to put socks on per my pre-race plan.  I figured I wanted to really light up the run course and I didn't want to have sand-chafing issues on the beach... a few seconds here can sometimes save a minute or more later.  I saw three groups of three guys each starting their run as I neared T2.  Those were the guys who I'd like to consider my "peer group" - or at least the next group ahead of me that I'm striving to compete with - Jon Salerno, Jeff Piland (quitting the day job helped a bit, eh?), Andrew Starykowicz, Branden Rakita, Barrett Brandon... that's most of 'em.

The start of the run wasn't what I'd hoped for, either.  My stomach was a little sloshy and Haven was not the kind of guy I wanted to be chasing.  He's a strong runner and I couldn't close the gap.  Remarkably, I didn't catch *anybody* the entire run... and nobody caught me.  Barrett was hurting a bit at the turnaround and I thoguht I'd pick him up on the way back but he started feeling a bit better and picked it up.  Scott Young wasn't too far behind me at the turnaround and I thought we might end up battling it out a bit too... as it was, I never got within 30 seconds of the guys ahead and Scott didn't get close enough to challenge.  I got within sight of at least 3 guys in the last mile but they were too far up.  I thought that I was capable of running faster but the body just didn't have it today.  Mostly the stomach, although those hills took their toll on me today.  The sand ladder was tougher than last year, too - a good number of the logs were totally exposed above the sand, leaving us with some difficult footing.  It really was a "ladder" of exposed round logs in a few strretches.

Overall... I don't know my final placing yet but I expect it was in the mid-20s.  I thought my swim was very nice and my bike & run were good but not great.  A much better race for me than Wildflower... but I need to figure out some gastro & cramping issues... and gain some mental toughness on the bike...  definitely the kind of race that motivates me to get out there and train hard - I'm within striking distance of lots of guys right now.

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