Monday, June 16, 2008

Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon 2008

I am recruiting Bill to help me write his race report since he doesn't write them anymore and this race is too cool not to document, so here goes our dueling RR.

Mt. Shasta from I-5

Erika: Just as predicted, Bill was not ready for the 9 hour drive from Corvallis, OR to San Fransisco, CA. When I got home from work early on Friday, his triathlon gear was spread from the entryway of the house into the living room, his suitcase was empty, and he was looking for a gigantic safety pin to fix his wetsuit. (Bill: Because I don't remember this precisely, I can't argue this except for I do know that the suitcase wasn't empty. I had thrown a few items in it.) I think we got out of the house within an hour which was a small miracle.

Bill looking forward to the finisher's chute on Sunday

Erika: We drove 4 hours to Yreka and stayed in a not too tragic motel for the night. (Bill: Not too tragic, the hotel was just fine. I did it Erika's way once driving thru Nevada and we stayed at a pricier hotel. Only, it wasn't that nice; especially when you are paying $30-$40 more and all you are doing is watching a little tv and going to sleep.) We were slightly delayed getting out of the room the next day because the movie "Clueless" was on TV and I love that dang movie. I drove most of the remaining 5 hours to San Francisco so Bill could do some work on his laptop. I called my friend Cathy who lives in SF as we got near and she gave us parking instructions for getting to the race site so Bill could pick up his packet and go to the pre-race talk.

We kind of crashed a wedding to get a photo of this fancy place.

After the pre-race talk we drove the bike course and the 9 hours we had already spent in the car together caught up with us. Bill didn't listen when I said to turn right and he ended up on the on ramp to the Golden Gate bridge. He started yelling that I needed to speak up, that was about the end of my patience with the situation, but somehow we ended up having a good time driving the course. (Bill: The problem with our relationship is that I know everything, and Erika is never wrong. It all worked out in the end, which it always does.) We stopped for some great photos along the bike course and I left my heart in San Francisco. What a beautiful and amazing place (on a sunny day). Loved it!

Super cool glass sculpture

Erika: We met up with some women from my annual triathlon camp and some slowtwitchers for dinner at Mona Lisa's and had the best dang Italian food I've had in years. I spent most of the dinner lamenting the poor dining options we have in Corvallis and marveling at city life. (Bill: This is where I must note the inconsistencies in my wife's comments. I'm pretty sure my wife has blogged about how downtown Corvallis has really improved in terms of variety of restaurants. She has also told me how she is not a huge fan of 'the city life'. You can't have it both ways babe.) Afterwards we went back to Cathy's place, she lives in one of those adorable narrow San Francisco style places you see in photos. That night we grabbed some ice cream at historic "Swenson's Ice Cream" shop and then Bill packed his bags for the race the next day.

Future escapees!

Erika: I slept in until 6:30 am, Bill's early wake up didn't affect me at all! (Bill: That's for sure, it never does because she can sleep thru just about anything, including cat's meowing and causing trouble. As for pre-race, this part was really cool in that I was able to bike from Cathy's place downhill for 2 miles to the transition area. It was dark outside, I saw several other racers biking to the transition area, and there were literally no cars on the roads. I know it was 5:15am, but it was still strange to see zero cars in such a major city.) It was a beautiful, sunny morning, so Cathy and I went to eat bagels at an outdoor cafe before heading down to the race site. There were a million and one people there but we were able to line up, front row, outside of T1 and I was able to snap some decent photos.
Lovely San Francisco

Bill seemed to come out of the water in a decent time, he was way ahead of the large crowds and he had a really competitive look on his face as he ran out to get get his bike. (Bill: The swim was the main reason I wanted to compete in this triathlon. One of my favorite movies is 'Escape from Alcatraz with Clint Eastwood (1979?) so I have always wanted to see Alcatraz Island up close. Getting back to the race itself, all 1800 racers were loaded on a large boat like cattle. This was fine because I found a spot that gave me a little extra space to stretch and relax. All was going well, until 5 minutes before we were supposed to jump into the 56 degree water, the zipper on my wetsuit broke apart. I had to quickly take my wetsuit off, repair the zipper, and get it back on in less than 2 minutes. For those of you that have put a wetsuit on before can appreciate how hard this is. Needless to say, this increased my stress level quite a bit as the thought of swimming across the Bay without a wetsuit was not terribly appealing. The swim itself had great views of Alcatraz Island and I even paused a few minutes into the swim to look back at the Island and imagine that I was prisoner escaping from the prison. The water itself was cold but tolerable and a little choppy at times, but overall it was very enjoyable. Navigating was relatively easy, but knowing when to get close to shore was a little tricky due to strong currents. I slightly overshot the swim exit and had to back track a bit, but all in all I was happy with my swim.) Cathy and I waited for Katy to finish (she swam without a wetsuit).

Bill taking his wetsuit off

Erika: Cathy and I found a hot corner where we could watch bikers coming in and runners going out so we planted there until I saw Bill go by on the run. He smiled nicely at me and passed a dude with a strong pace going so it looked like he was having a great day. (Bill: I won't go into as much detail as I did the swim, but I'll just say that the bike is very hilly/technical, it has great views (Golden Gate Bridge, City of San Francisco, etc.), and has really rough surfaces in certain spots. As for the race, I tried to pace myself on the bike and not go too hard. I wanted to leave something for the run and the infamous 'sand steps/ladder'. I did okay given my fitness level and lack of consistent training. As for the run, I felt good for most of the run and didn't get tired until the last few miles. Again, the run has great views and runs directly under the Golden Gate Bridge. All in all, the race is well organized, has great volunteers, and is highly enjoyable and I plan on competing in this race again sometime in the future.)

It's a race!

Erika: The only bathrooms were back in the transition area so we had to sneak into the Sports Basement (so awesome--I wanted to shop!) to use their facilities and before we knew it I had to head back to the finish line to cheer for Bill. I got these photos of him coming in, I think he lost his competitive fire by then (Bill: her comments would be correct, but my goal was to enjoy this race and not get sick so I could finish in 58th or 59th place, as opposed to 60th place) as you can see from this progression of photos...

Click to zoom in on the competition

And he's done!

Erika: I was amazed at how competitive Bill finished given that he (still) isn't training that much. (Bill: Yeah, that's right!) He didn't train all week leading into the race (except our Friday swim meet) and this course looked so brutally hard (dude I'm not joking--don't do this race if you aren't ready for hills, hills, hills, and more hills). So I'm proud of him for being so freakishly tough. I corralled Bill back into the car as quickly as possible after the race and we were on the road again by noon to head back all nine hours to Corvallis. We got along fine the whole way home which I think is a product of survival or the race took the fight out of Bill. Sweet! (Bill: Although I was tired from the race, if I wanted to argue/fight with my wife I still could have. However, another option is that we just got along and had fun on the way home. Sweetie, this is possible you know.)

Can you escape from Alcatraz?

Erika: My overall impression is that this race is AWESOME, a MUST-DO, and worth the trip for sure. I would like to race it someday, but I will be prepared to get my butt kicked and for a very tough day. Loved San Francisco and had an excellent time. Thanks to our lovely friend Cathy for putting us up and putting up with us. Cheers! More photos in my smugmug gallery.

Cathy and Erika at the finish


Tasha the Triathlon Goddess said...

What a fun report to read - and it sounds like you both had a great time. Thanks for sharing!

NoPoGirl said...

Hi Tribabe-

I met you at Blue Lake. I was the one who told you about the maternity Speedo-style suit. Here's the url: Though, I didn't need a maternity suit until about 6 1/2 months, so use is limited.

Good luck with everything!