2011 was my 5th time competing in this race. A bit of history on my experience in Escape from Alcatraz:
2006 was my first year. The current must have been strong against us that year because it was my slowest swim. 35 minutes. I biked 1:07 and ran 1:07. With transitions my total time was 2:59:47. Becky Lavelle won in 2006 at 2:21.
I think it is pretty awesome that I have the opportunity to line up and compete against Becky Lavelle and other amazing athletes now. I may not be up with the top women but I am getting closer. Becky beat me by less than 10 minutes this year. I stood on the awards stage with some amazing ladies. This keeps me working hard. I may never be a world champion or win a professional race but I am closing the gap. I have people right ahead of me and right behind me in races...this brings out the best in me. Thank you to my competitors---I would not be able to do this without you!
Awards 2011. I am second from the right.
The swim start.
I am the second from the right in the pink cap. I am the one with a knee length capri wetsuit because I cut too much off the bottom. Although, that mistakes it really easy to get off in transition. Standing on the side of the boat hanging on for dear life is quite an experience. The water feels cold even from 7 feet up. Another funny thing is that a majority of us pee in our wetsuits while we are standing there. Everyone has little drips around their feet and down the side of the boat. What a glamorous sport!
As I said in my last blog, I just wanted to soak up the experience and race hard. The only real goal was to make sure I stayed with a group in the swim so I did not over shoot the swim finish like I did last year. I had a great dive off the boat and stayed with a group. Instead of shying away from the contact I just hung in there and dealt. I got whacked in the head a couple times and hit some arms, etc. but it was not too bad. The one thing I forgot---how shockingly cold that water is! I must block it out after it is over each year, but oh my, it is so cold! Luckily, the current was fast and I hit land in just under 27 minutes. I opted to run to transition without stopping to put on shoes. I did this last year as well. I knew it is the painful way to go. However, it is faster for sure. When I did it last year I slowed down because my feet were burning so badly. Numb feet on rough concrete is a bad combination. This year, based on my experience last year, I knew that slowing down would not lessen the pain. I ran as hard as I could and just dealt. I am paying for it now. The bottom of my feet have been on fire since the race.
I was onto the bike quickly and had other racers in sight. Surprisingly, I did not feel as cold as usual on the first flat stretch of the course before the hills start. I went hard and waited for my legs to come around. I hit the first hill and just went for it even though my legs were not happy about it. I figured they would come around. I was racing with the other woman around me so that was fun. Up, down, left, right, back up---you get the picture. I made it back to transition with my best time on the course ever (57 minutes). Of course, given my type A personality I had hoped to be a bit faster but I'll take it. I screwed up in transition, losing about :20 because I went the long way around the bike rack even though we did not have too. Right after I did it I was like "f---!" I could have gone the shorter way. Oh well, lesson learned---if no one is there to direct you like they usually are go the short way!
I threw my shoes on and ran out of transition. I needed a mile or so to get into a good rhythm and knew that I had some woman close behind me. I hit the stairs and my legs were burning. Around mile 3 I was passed by one woman. I tried to stick with her but the legs were not having it at that point. We got down to the beach and this year they had us ran through a TON of deep sand. I felt drunk running on it. I was all over of the place and had no power to get any sort of rhythm. Grrrr...this was a bad time for me. Luckily, I had some women up ahead to keep my eyes on and this kept me going. I made it to the sand ladder and boy did it hurt this year. Each step is one step closer I thought. My HR was sky high and my breathing was heavy. I made it to the top only a few seconds slower than last year so that is fine---it definitely felt a lot harder this year. I don't know how it could---the sand ladder is never a walk in the park! Coming up the last hill I was looking forward to hitting the downhill and trying to run down the woman in front of me. I caught her around mile 5 and put in a surge to go past her quickly. After this I had to keep me head up and wits about me because age groupers were coming up the trail. I ran smack into one of them coming around a corner. Luckily I did not fall down but I know that Charisa ran into someone and fell. I came off the stairs and settled into the last 2 miles across Crissy field and down Marina Blvd. I was in the hurt box. My legs were screaming at me. I wanted to finish strong. I looked up ahead and saw a woman in the distance. I was going to catch her! I kept the pressure on and passed her around mile 7. 1 mile to go! I felt like I was only running with my arms because my legs would not go anymore. I ran down the finish chute very happy to finish in 8th place with a personal best time on the course (2:27). My run was about :10 faster than last year and it felt a whole lot worse than last year. Progress but I am not totally satisfied! Good motivation for the rest of the year.
Next up is a bit of a break (3-5 days) to allow my body to train and race well the remainder of the year. The last few years I have noticed that July and August are tough months for me physically so I want to allow for some good recovery so I have a little more "oomph."
I am going to do a short swim today to loosen up. I always feel like I have done a 1000 squats after the Alcatraz race. It is definitely a strength and power course. A different type of hurt.