Race Report: Alcatraz II

OK, I know this was like way back on Sunday and no one cares anymore, but I’ve been working 60 hours a week at least, and most of that work is writing things on my computer. Which means I don’t have a lot of time to write on my computer for fun.

The second Alcatraz went better than the first. So, there’s that. And I had a lot of fun — which is a first in a while.

But, it’s definitely one thing to know that your bike fitness sucks and another to actually experience it.

We dove off a boat early, early. Actually, I was going to jump, but someone convinced me to dive. Only, there we were standing on this like 6-inch ledge and then ohmygodfiveseconds and I was like ‘wait, am I diving? am I jumping? am I diving at the same time as everyone else or should I wait?’ So, in the video on TriCal’s website you can see someone sort of wait a second and then bellyflop/dive, then stop and empty their goggles of all the water that filled them. That person was me.

This is the only picture I made it into on Slowtwitch. I’m not sure if I was falling on Courtenay or hitting her with my wetsuit.

The thing that was amazing about the swim was that after I started swimming there were still pink caps around me! It was choppy. I couldn’t see anything, no idea what direction or landmarks or lead boat we were aiming at, then the age-group men started punching us just to add to a challenge. But, I’ll be damned if anyone was going to separate me from those other pink caps!

When the shit cleared, I was swimming with two other pink caps [actually I was swimming into them, then 10 feet to the right, then back into them] and I was pretty sure one of them was Charisa (who I’m 100% sure is faster than me) and I was feeling pretty good. But, after awhile it became clear all those age group swimmers were gone because they were way, way over to the right. And we had aimed straight and were nowhere near the line headed to the actual finish. I tried to head us that direction, but I kept running back into the other two. And, then, I made the conscious decision that I wasn’t going to worry about the age-groupers to my right (far to my right) or my time. Maybe it was stupid, but these two were my competitors. If I was with them, I was in the race. This was my race.

We finally hit the exit stairs and I’m a super fast getter-out-of-the-water — it’s really my best triathlon skill — and I got to my bike first. But, I don’t (know how to) do flying mounts and followed the other two out onto the bike.

The bike was good for about 20 minutes. Except for the part I almost ran into a curb because I was shaking water out of my ear.

This was right after that:

Then, right after that Charisa passed me. Then, she really, really dropped me on the downhill.

I knew that my bike fitness wasn’t good — I rode like 120 miles all of last month in no chunk longer than 25 miles — but I didn’t realize that my bike handling was also gone.

I braked on the gradual, sweeping descent. I practically came to a dead-stop in a wide open turn, freaking out all the people behind me. Partially, it’s because I haven’t been riding. Partially, it’s because the stupid carbon brakes I put on my bike turned out not to be carbon brakes really at all (which, obviously, is my fault and dumb). Partially, it’s because I got in my own head then and started freaking out.

Charisa dropped me. Lots of age group men passed me. This girl from Navy passed me. At the first turn-around, I saw another PacBikes girl ahead of me and could NOT figure out who it was or why they were ahead of me. Then, Courtenay passed me just after halfway. (And I didn’t realize she was only two minutes behind me after the swim, so I thought she’d made up like three or four minutes in just 12 miles.)

Then, I had a little pity party.

I braked some more at random points where no braking was needed. I whined in my head. I also forgot how to eat a gel while riding and just poured it all over my handlebars instead. I just wanted to get off my bike — a totally understandable sentiment after 4 or 5 hours but not so good after 1 hour. Then, with about a mile or two to go, Kristen passed me too.

I didn’t give up, though.

I knew my biking was going to suck. I didn’t know it was going to be the slowest of the pro field, but I probably should have known. So, I just put my head down and rode next to Kristen. [Evidently, with the pro drafting rules, we’re allowed to ride next to people as long as our drafting zones do not intersect?]

As I rode into the transition, I realized the PacBikes girl ahead of me was Erin and she had like two minutes on me. And I realized, Kristen and I were right next to each other. Which is like a personal nightmare of mine. I hate having people breathing down my neck.

I felt like crying getting off my bike. My legs felt trashed. In the first mile, I didn’t know how I was going to finish 7 miles.

But, I didn’t give up. (This is huge for me.) And I just started running to put as much space as possible between me and Kristen. And, then I just kept running, waiting for her to pass me. I figured it would be any second. Eventually, Erin came into view and I just focused on slowly catching her.

Then, I realized we were running downhill and I was loving running downhill and everyone I saw was cheering for me and I knew lots of people from PacBikes and GGTC and the people I teach swim clinics to and other racers. And, I realized I was having fun. Who knew.

So, I kept running strong and caught Erin, talked to her a little bit, caught this other girl, held off Kristen and finished by running as hard as I could. [Steve says it would be hilarious to show a video of me running ‘as hard as I can’ at the end of a triathlon. It’s be like 7:45 miles and me swearing I was sprinting.] And, sure, I did not have a fast pro run split. But, I don’t know how much I can worry about that. I ran my race and I stayed in it mentally and did what I needed to do.

And I ended up 9th. And I won my first paycheck. And that’s me on the stage:

It wasn’t an amazing race. It wasn’t even a great race. But, I actually raced and didn’t just participate. Which was a nice change. And I felt like the “fire,” so to speak, was coming back. And, considering how shit my biking was when usually it’s my best leg, it wasn’t a bad race to pull out of my ass. (Not really out of my ass, because I’ve been running A LOT.)

So, we’ll see how the rest of the season goes. Or if there is even a rest of the season. Making the judgement calls on a week by week basis.

5 thoughts on “Race Report: Alcatraz II

  1. Congrats on a paycheck and a well earned podium finish! It was fun watching all of you girls race, but I must admit I am itching to race and now I have to wait at least 5 more months 😉

  2. Congrats on a great race Kelly! I think any time you don’t give up, it’s a great effort – regardless of the outcome. And this time the outcome was good so you got the best of both worlds!! Enjoy spending that hard earned cash! 🙂

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