Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Alcatraz trip and race report

I'll put all of the trip and race info in one post, so you can skim through what you don't want to read if you're only interested in trip pictures or race info. You can also skip all of my babble and go right to the photo album, including one video taken during the swim. Yes, I took a camera into the water with me:

PHOTO ALBUM, 200 pictures and 1 video clip

Had a 10:00 am flight, so got to say goodbye to the family (except Ellie, she was still sleeping). The boys were excited that I wore my new Aquaman t-shirt (as was the Southwest pilot). Southwest temporarily lost my bag. The person at the counter seemed to feel I was a burden on her, even though THEY lost MY bag. I asked a reasonable question, "where is my bag?", figuring she'd say it ended up in Anchorage or something like that, but she said she simply didn't know. Further inquiry by me revealed that Southwest has NO SCANNING system on their bags. As a result, all she knew was that my bag wasn't in the Oakland terminal. All they could do was see if it turned up that night, somewhere, and then send it to Oakland. She called me 15 min later saying she had it, and I went back to get it. They insisted that it was on the carousel, which is odd since when I left there were no bags on the carousel and it was stopped. More likely that some baggage handler didn't put it on, then found it and threw it on. My uncle picked had me up at the airport, and then drove me back to get the bag, then drove me to the hotel. All of that chaos prevented us from having lunch since he had to go to work, but we had a nice chat in the car. View of the Bay Bridge from the car:
Some other Friday sightseeing:
A stormtrooper walking down the Wharf. This is not me ... really.
Saturday "Training" Ride, i.e. slow paced ride of 1 loop of the bike. My first of 3 near "incidents" on the trip occurred on the ride. We were coming down the path when some guy decides to cross the path without looking about 5 feet in front of my when I am going maybe (thank goodness, a slow) 14-15 mph. I am able to clear my tire past his leg with a little turn but then our torsos crashed into each other about as hard as I've ever hit anything. It 100% stopped my forward momentum (yes, it was THAT solid of a hit) and I am then falling over and at about a 45 degree angle to the ground, still clipped in, when some guy walking in the oncoming lane CAUGHT me (and my bike) with a bear hug around my torso. In true California-eze, he said in an unexcited manner, "dude, you alright?" I told him I was, thanked him, and we all parted. I never clipped out of my pedals. Weird. Picture from our ride:
The crew Saturday night at the Mona Lisa:
Sunday - Race Day:
The race is actually a QUADrathlon of sorts, with a 1.5m swim, followed by a 2.5m run, a 13m bike and a 6.2m run. Here is everyone setting up at the swim-to-run1 transition area in the bleachers of the Aquatic Park. Pretty nice setup, just pick a spot, any spot, and drop your gear. This was the site of my second near -incident. Carolyn wanders up to me and says "you goin' bareback, no wetsuit?" and then I realize I didn't have my wetsuit. Where the hell was it? I knew I brought it, or did I? Looked by our stuff, didn't see it. Our hotel was 200 yds away, so I jogged back, even though I KNEW I brought it (or did I?), bc I didn't want to miss the race and then find it on my bed. It wasn't there, but it seems I left it by Annette's transition area. Still today, I have no recollection of this. The rule, as always, is that I am a dipshit. For further proof ask my mother about stories of sending me into the pantry for a can of beans and then me coming back with peas 15 seconds later.
The swim:
Triathletes boarding one of the 2 boats that will take us to the island
boat #1 departing, loaded with neoprene wetsuits
On the boat, ready to go. Around this time, the issue of "how the hell am I going to carry the camera?" came up. The camera comes with a rubber strap that I was initially going to wrap around my neck and let it dangle behind me on my upper back as I swam, then would whip it around for a shot. That kinda concerned the rest of my team (strangulation was a discussed possibility), so I un-did the wetsuit and wrapped it around my upper arm at the armpit, put my arm back in the sleeve and zipped up, with the camera hanging out of the neck and dangling at my upper chest just under the opening. the rubber strap had some flex in it, so to take a picture I just pulled it up a little further to in front of my mouth/nose or so, and took most of the pix without looking at the viewfinder, using the Force, perhaps I was graced by the passing stormtrooper the day before (see pix). It worked very well, except for the half-dozen times the camera bashed me in the nose.

The fatal flaw - every time I yanked the camera it stretched the elastic strap around the back of my arm. Think - thick rubber band around your wrist and the "ouch" that results on one side of the wrist when pulling the band as hard as you can in the other direction, then the "oh, that kinda pinches" that side when the band comes back. So that only happened around my lat and rear delt maybe 20x during the swim. Chafing is not a good word for it, "4-inch cut" is a better word, mixed with saltwater. no fun. my son finally saw it 4 days later and said "wow daddy, where'd you get that owie!!" The sport camera's next mission will be 26+ pictures over the Chicago Marathon course.

First swimmer in the water, jumping from the other boat
the first swimmers jumping off my boat
VIDEO !!! Kevin and Max jump in the Bay in front of me, and then I take the plunge ... in the GREEN water, then get a decent view of the island. Turn up the volume, I had no idea the camera took audio until I played it back on the computer.



Pictures from the water waiting for the horn:

and we're off ...
a look back at the island through the splashes ...
the Golden Gate ...
one of the 50 kayakers who set up a lane of sorts so that we could stay somewhat on course. Some people were still taken by the current and had to be fished out ...
getting close. The swim wasn't bad at all. It was an easier day out there as far as currents and swells than the last time I did it. the swells and current picked up near the end of the swim, see below ...
entering the Aquatic Park ...
finally, the swim exit ...
The 2.5m run to the bikes, nice view. I cruised pretty well on this run, nice quick pace ...
The bike:
The bike course was very hard, at least for me. 3 loops, so it was mentally draining as well. It was all up and down. After surviving the first lap, all you can do is think "I need to do that TWO MORE TIMES". Essentially, here's the course ...

- flat start, maybe a 1/4-1/2 mile
- climb
- climb
- climb
- downhill
- turn around
- climb
- steep climb
- downhill
- repeat 2x

On that bike course was near incident #3 right around a sharp downhill turn, which consisted of my rear tire skidding out about a foot on a tarry patch. All I could do is turn the handlebars the opposite way (driver's ed, don't fail me now!!) and also, since I was still clipped in, kinda bunnyhopped the bike and hoped I'd land vertical, which I did. All was well but, needless to say, I was ridiculously gun shy on the downhills the rest of the race, probably going 25 mph instead the 35 I did the day before. A view from the bike course, taken the day before on our ride ...
The 2nd run:
The run was tough, almost all offroad. After a nice flat mile or so (see 3 pictures below) ...

- tough stairs
- climbing switchbacks
- look DOWN to the Golden Gate towers (we were just at the base of it 10 min before!!)
- climb
- climb
- downhill to the beach
- soft, soft sand, really hard to run in, many people walking, including me for a stretch. Drastic difference in my running before and after the bike route
- sandladder. tough. lots of steps, then soft sand, heart exploding (not really, but tough)
- run through a 4-foot high tunnel hunched over like Quasimodo
- steeep downhills, wondering how many people faceplanted (I didn't)
- lots of downhill stairs
- back at sea level !! The volunteer says 1/2 mile to go. Can I kick at all? Yes, a little. I feel like I am sprinting, but it's no more than a jog.

views from the 2nd run route, taken the day before ...

we ran out to Ft. Point (the base of the Golden Gate) and then went offroad (sorry, no race day pictures) ...
We all finished in one piece, and then went on the Alcatraz evening tour. A few pix below, see the album above for all ...
A bird that chased the boat all the way to the island, Bay Bridge in the background

Pictures from the tour ...
Frank Morris' cell (Clint Eastwood's character from the movie) and the fake head in the bed