Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon



I came into possession of a fun little bracelet a few months ago that has all sorts of positive things written on it.  I never meant to wear or even keep it, but I put it on playing with the kids and I’ve just kept it that way.  As I sat with 2000 other competitors on the boat that was ferrying us out to Alcatraz for the race start, I was reading over the bracelet.  “Positive Purpose”.  “Spread good vibes”.  “Do what you like.  Like what you do.”  “Enjoy the ride”. “Glass half full”.  “Life is good”.  I was back at a triathlon for the first time in 3 years.  I missed this feeling.  I missed the energy.  The anticipation.  The fear of the unknown (we are jumping of a boat into really cold water!). The awaiting sense of accomplishment.  We were all cooped up in this boat together for an hour.  The collective energy was crammed together and amplified in a way you don’t experience in most races.  I have been in this pre-race moment probably a 100 times before, but it had been so long and this one was different, but here I was back at it.  I just spun my little bracelet around rereading the various phrases over and over again and thought “yes, life is good.”

And that’s it!  There’s no need here to go into reviewing in detail the nuance of missed handoffs at aid stations or how I felt at mile 4.768 of the run.  The finish time wasn’t even really the point of this race.  I just wanted to feel again what it was like to get back into the racing game and I accomplished that mission before the gun even went off.  I will, however, share in bullet form some random thoughts:

  • A real race highlight was spending the boat ride chatting up 2 fellow competitors Brian Cowie and Meyrick Jone.  Turns out Brian is blind and Meyrick is a below the knee amputee.  They are racing together, the amputee leading the blind.  They ride a tandem bike and swim connected by a rope. Try to feel sorry for yourself because your goggles fogged up or you got a blister after hearing that. #perspective
  • This race lives up the hype.  Incredible ever changing scenery. Jumping off a boat and swimming in cold water from Alcatraz. Climbing up onto bluffs that overlook waves crashing ashore below, running along marinas and beaches…..running ON beaches and up sand ladders.  Running on trails winding their way through costal foliage and bombing down steep hills as cyclist climb up it.  There’s the Golden Gate thingy you run under too.
  • The course is in fact hard and fairly technical.  Being familiar with the course helps a ton (unfortunately I wasn’t!).
  • San Francisco is foggy as hell!
  • Running a half mile to T1 without shoes is painful, but NOT painful enough to justify changing into shoes for the run.
  • But it does make your feet hurt the next day (ouch!!).
  • People that go absolute max effort up every climb and then soft pedal and pant trying to recover make me smile. #cute
  • If you find yourself doing the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon and you look up at some point during the swim and find yourself swimming TOWARDS Alcatraz, you are doing it wrong!  I had a few directional issues on the swim.
  • Other than having a horrible navigational swim, the swim was good.  I give myself 4 out 5 sourdoughs rolls for the effort.
  • This bike course is definitely not built for a guy like me (steep climbs with rutting curvy descents), but I was happy with my time and really thrilled with how I felt.    5 out of 5 sourdough rolls and an Anchor Steam chaser!
  • The run.  Oh the run.  I rarely have good things to say about my run, but I felt better as the run went on and finished stronger.  Given where I am at in my training progression and how long it’s been since I have run a race hard, I was ecstatic with how that went down.  And it was my most favorite triathlon run course ever!  I feel good about where my run is going!  I give it 5 out of 5 sourdough rolls and a full 6 pack of Anchor Steam…what the heck, throw in a few sea lions, a trolley car and a foggy day.