SF Tri at Alcatraz: A Race Report

I would like to make a statement for the public record: if the three or whatever age group girls who beat me took their elite licenses, which I know they’ve all qualified for multiple times, it would have been a deeper and more interesting women’s pro field. Just for the record.

SF Tri at Alcatraz is a totally, completely, not at all the same race as Escape from Alcatraz back in June. Except that they’re basically more or less the same course with a few changes. Oh, and this one was less crowded, I’m pretty sure cheaper, and they had waffles and Ghiradelli was a sponsor — so, why it didn’t sell out is beyond me.

The race started with us diving off the boat after the longest hesitation ever. (Uh, did that loud cannon mean go? Why are they yelling go? No one else is going, should I go? Etc.) And it became clear pretty quickly that the swim was going to be rough.

I swam ok and with the other girls for a little bit. Then I got water instead of air a few too many times in a row and smacked in the face with some waves and the girls were gone. It was pretty choppy, so once someone was gone there was no seeing them. In fact, there was no real seeing anything. Instead of having the current with us like you usually do on this swim, we had no current or were actually fighting the current at some points. And then the wind moving against that on the surface was creating a lot of waves.

For some people, I think, it was just a hard, slow swim — probably those that have more experience, technique and, I dunno, substance, or that don’t know any better. But, for some of us, it was like 47 minutes of getting punched in the face. I was getting tossed around, swallowing water, going nowhere, and really thought I was just never going to make to shore. There was a boat to the right of me with a light flashing (I guess because it was so shitty out they wanted to make sure you could see it) and more or less the only thing that stopped me from waving the boat down was that I didn’t want to be the only pro that got pulled from the swim.

For reference, I swam 13 minutes faster last year and 18 minutes faster back in June.

And the people I expected to come out of the water with all finished 2-3 minutes ahead of me. So, I spent the rest of the race figuring I’d never catch back up.

I had, supposedly, the fastest T1 (go me!) but that seems sort of unlikely. The results also say I had the slowest T2 — but I’m pretty sure I was sort of dazed and slow at both, so.

Then, I got on my bike and just stayed 2-3 minutes behind the girls I expected to come out of the water with. I wasn’t biking awful, but I wasn’t biking great either. I averaged the exact same wattage for this race that I did for Steelhead last week, where the bike was almost twice as long, so oops. I was very up and down, which means mostly down. I just don’t know my Olympic distance pace anymore — I kept slipping back into Half pace. I made it almost out of Golden Gate Park before Courtenay caught me, which was farther than I think I made it last year – improvement or something!

I really thought I was biking alright and just couldn’t make up the deficit from the swim, but the results suggest I was actually biking pretty meh. Good thing I didn’t know that.

Because, somehow, I managed to stay sort of positive — like not really positive, but positive for me. I started running still completely convinced I was just never going to make up the deficit from the swim, but I was running faster and faster. I just wanted to actually fight for it, I wanted not to look stupid, I dunno. I just didn’t think about it and then I realized I was gaining on a bunch of girls ahead of me. I passed a girl and realized I was actually in the money! Usually, at this race, I just want to shoot myself on the long uphill up to the bridge and I slow down and I get passed and whatever, but I passed this girl and another age group girl at the top of that hill and I just kept thinking ‘make it stick,’ so instead of collapsing into a crying ball I pushed it so hard up the rest of the hill and caught a few more age group girls.

Then, I ran scared. Pushed it the whole way, convinced I could hear someone coming up behind me.

So, it wasn’t my best race ever (my best race ever hasn’t been in a few years), but it was a pretty big improvement internally. For how shit the race started and how bad it got at some points, I didn’t just give up and mentally walk it in. And, I finally ran fast at a race. AND, sure I was still close to the last, but my splits (you know, minus the swim) were almost in the mix. So, I felt like things are starting to come together.

And, I love TriCal. I used to think they were “the man” when I was at Cal and we did random collegiate races put on in pools. But, now I realize WTC is “The Man” and TriCal is awesome. They put on good races, they take care of the athletes. No 16-year-old Asian high school kid made me a waffle at Steelhead — I’m just saying. And this is never a problem.

6 thoughts on “SF Tri at Alcatraz: A Race Report

  1. Nice job, Kelly! Congrats on finishing strong and positive, esp given how shitty the swim sounded. Ugh. We should ride bikes sometime.

  2. Ugh – I really want to do an Alcatraz race but that swim just scares me!!!! You are a brave woman! 🙂 Waffles and chocolate might definitely sway me though… Congrats on your race!

  3. A random non-racing biker crossed Marina Blvd in front of me as I totally hurtled towards T2. I glanced at the kiddo course marshal volunteers… both were sitting on the curb, typing on their phones.

    I love the race though. It’s got personality times ten. Oh good job. And you forgot to tell the world my inspirational words.

    1. Yeah, some guy on a Blazin’ Saddles almost took out a cyclist right in front of me. And apparently a cop on a motorcycle almost ran someone over on the run path. Oh, teenage volunteer course marshals.

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