It had been 10 years since I had raced Escape from a Alcatraz. I had very few memories from racing there so I treated like a new race venue. It’s very hard to recon this race course. We drove the bike course, and spent a lot of time using google street view and watching videos of people riding the course.
The race started at 7:30am but we woke up at 4am since we needed to be on a shuttle to the ferry by 6am. We biked down to transition, set up our gear and placed a pair of shoes at swim exit since the run to transition was quite long. We boarded a shuttle to the ferry, got on the ferry and then it was a 45min ferry ride out to Alcatraz to start the race.
Jumping off the boat is the most nerve wracking part of starting the race. The water is churning, the dive is high, the water is cold, and you’re not warmed up. The men and women started together and it seemed like we all swam in different directions. I probably should have started closer to the men because Sarah Haskins ended up swimming with a group of men while Lauren, Paula and myself lost 90 seconds to her. I decided to put shoes on for the long run to transition, it cost me some time but I didn’t want to risk injury with Challenge Roth on the horizon.
I started the bike in 4th place, 90 seconds down to Haskins and just 10 seconds behind Paula and Lauren. As we approached the first long climb on the course I had just bridged the gap to Lauren and Paula. They were jockeying a lot for position on the climb and it resulted in Lauren receiving a penalty. I passed Paula on a downhill and didn’t see her again. About 30min into the bike Haskins was suddenly right in front of me having just revived a penalty. I think she was as stunned as I was and told me she received a mounting penalty for not having the entirety of her bike across the mount line. I couldn’t say much back because we were in the middle of a tough hill! We finished off the bike together. I bobbled my running shoe in T2 and lost a little time to Sarah.
I ran out of T2 and over the course of the next 1.5 miles I was able to reel Sarah back in. We went up the first set of stairs and she got about a 5 second gap on me. It stayed that way until we descended down to the beach where Sarah was unsure about what direction to go. So we were back together again, then she ran faster than me down the hill and the gap opened up again. Then I closed it just before the sand ladder. Then she killed me on the sand ladder and got quite a gap that went out to 30 second by the time we hit mile 6. I decided to give it everything I had, the crowd was amazing but I didn’t quite get close enough. With about 800m to go Sarah looked back and could see I wasn’t far behind, it seemed about 10 seconds at the time. I could see her dig a little deeper and I did too. I kept telling myself, anything can happen, do not stop fighting! The finish chute is grass, I could feel my legs giving out on the uneven terrain, I could see Sarah’s legs doing the same; we had both dug so deep. I crossed the finish line 15 seconds after Sarah and I was completely spent but elated at the same time. I always want to win, but I gave it everything I had. I really was not expecting to be able to perform like that in the middle of my preparation for Roth. Sarah and I bring the best out in each other, we are great competitors and friends and I always look forward to racing her because I know it’ll be an exciting battle.
Now it’s time for one more mini block of training before Escape Series Philly and then Challenge Roth! The next month is going to be crazy and probably a little stressful too, but I’m performing well and it makes all the hard work worth it! Thanks for reading.