Monday, March 4, 2013

Escape from Alcatraz Race Report

It's a toss up as to whether my favorite race is Alcatraz or Wildflower. Both are amazing, tough races that I highly recommend.

Photo: SF Gate
I am the smiley one in this photo talking to some pro guy about how awesome diving off the boat is. He told me he used all his Marriot points to get to this race. I told him it would be well worth it. I have no idea who he was, but I hope he is glad he used up all his points.

Photo: SF Gate
I have raced Alctraz four times and yesterday the swim was by far the most choppy. The water was 51°F, but I was quite toasty and warm in my Zoot Prophet wetsuit. The large wind swell did not suit my strengths (well, let's be honest - short of a pure glassy or downstream swim, there really are not many that do...)

I managed to survive what felt like 34 minutes in a washing machine and was excited to reach my bike rack to discover there was more than one female pro bike left. I left T1 in 12th.

Photo: Freeplay Magazine
I spent the next 55 minutes climbing, descending and chasing on my Slice. The course has a bit of everything: sharp corners, steep hills, ocean, crazy awesome views, and maybe two minutes of flat. Everything else is made to test your lungs, legs and heart. I managed to pass a few girls during the ride, coming off the bike in 10th.

Photo: Kiet
The Alcatraz run has deep sand, a tunnel, stairs, a sand-ladder and single-track. It is painful, but I think I smile the entire 8 miles. I love everything about this course. It is hard. But it is never boring. And it is breathtakingly beautiful.

Photo: Michael Hutto
I was told I was the first person who had actually smiled on the sand ladder all day. I'm not sure I was smiling as much as laughing a bit at the craziness that is this course.

Photo: Kiet
This is hands down my favorite photo of the day. If you can't read all the signs enlarge the pic so you can see them. They rock.

Photo: Kiet
At this point I'm still chasing girls in front of me that I'm not sure I can even reach. But top 5 is calling, so I am chasing.

1/4 mile from the finish a spectator said "You've got a girl coming up on you FAST, you need to RUN!"

Photo: Chip Lyles
I am used to running girls down, but not often being chased - especially not in the finish chute. Two years ago I was chasing 5th place down the chute and came up short by 5 seconds

There's nothing like sprinting all out after 53 minutes of hard running, determined not to fall back in the standings. I made it - by only ten seconds - as Ironman Wisconsin champ Elizabeth Lyles chased.

Photo: Andres Douzoglou
I finished 6th. It was a great day to kick off the 2013 triathlon season in San Francisco with my friends. There are still some days I can't believe I occasionally get paid to race a sport I love. 

THANK YOU:
Zoot - Great shoes, wetsuit, kit, transition bag, etc. Most of all awesome people in the Tribe.
SKLZ - More soon about this new sponsor...really great things to come.
Microscope World - A great "other job."
Cannondale - My Slice is so very nice, as are my SuperSix and SuperX!
Profile Design - Fast wheels, hydration and aero bars.
Extreme Endurance - No leg burning up the stair ladder = success!
Powerbar - Fuel that keeps me going strong.
Bont - Comfortable, stiff shoes that I love.
Rudy Project - Helmet & sunglasses that look great and do their job.
QM - Warming embrocation for cold races = brilliant.
Sable Water Optics - I can see when I swim. Yay!
Kiet - Super sherpa, photographer, friend extraordinaire.

7 comments:

Amy and Jesse said...

Nice work moving up all day, and on being the only one smiling on the sand ladder! I've heard of Alcatraz but was not familiar with the course...it looks like a good one!

ONEHOURIRONMAN said...

Great job
My favorite too, but I did it 3 times in early 90s when you just signed up. Heck, I did it on 3 different courses (swim same obviously) and crossed the GG one year (the last time because 2 pros went across wrong side and then recognized their error and then proceeded to pick up their bikes and run across both lanes of traffic). The last year was the first year of sand ladder... I wasn't smiling.
Hey, good job on the slap down on Lyles. Did you say " hey, that's for Wisconsin?"

Beth said...

Awesome race Charisa! I would love to do this race some day although that swim scares me!

Snakebite said...

Way to go!

"Call me!" (those signs were great!)

JC said...

Awesome job out there! That race is CRAZY! Have you seen the large water creatures?
AMZING job - I love your fight to finish attitude. You truly are an amazing athlete and person. What an inspiration!

Kiet said...

The first pic I took of you, your shadow looks like a gnome, right on!

Jennifer Ward Barber said...

Good work Charisa!