Saturday, June 27, 2009
Alcatraz & San Jose Pro Challenge
The Escape from Alcatraz, held June 14 started with a very choppy ocean swim. After jumping off the boat, I was unable to stay with the pack and within a few minutes I found myself bobbing through the swim alone. I drank mouth full after mouth full of nasty ocean water as I couldn't get into a rhythm in the swim. I must have swam futher than I would have liked to, but was glad when I reached the shore. I started the 800 meter or so run from the swim exit to T1. Sharp shooting pains in my lower abdomen restricted how fast I could run; I was just hoping that they would disappear once I was on the bike...and they did. I wasn't sure where I was in comparison to the other women, but knew that I would catch a few; at least I was hoping to!
My Felt DA TT bike fits me perfectly and is one of the best bikes I've ever owned. I feel extremely comfortable on it and was able to pass a few women. The technical and hilly course suits me. I have yet to get on a consistent training program, but thought that I could somehow ride a faster time than last year; however, that was not this case this day. I came into T2 in 7th place and headed out onto the run.
The sharp pains once again presented themselves and all I could do was to keep relaxed as best as possible and keep running. The wind had picked up slightly, but wasn't enough to pose any sort of problem. I wasn't sure who was in front of me or how far ahead they were. This run course, with it's turns, up hills and down hills, doesn't lend itself to seeing vary far ahead. I finally made it down to Baker Beach where I coud count some of the girls. I saw Jasmine O. in front of me, but I think she was just enough ahead that unless the run was longer I wasn't going to catch her.
I held on for 7th place, however my time this year was approximately 14 minutes slower than last year...partly due to the swim currents this year and also not being consistent in training and speed work.
There's always something to take home, learning wise, after a race!!
The day before alcatraz, I was reading my email and was happily surprised by an invitation to race the San Jose Pro Challenge a week after Alcatraz, June 21. I gladly accepted.
I drove up to SJ on saturday afternoon for our pro meeting. There were 7 women who would be competing. The format was what intrigued me. It started with a 40k bike TT at 7am. We started in a very small trailer, resembling the Tour de France start, except on a much smaller scale! Athletes were sent off 90 seconds apart. My goal was to catch the woman who started ahead of me. It was pretty chilly when we started, so I opted to wear my Sport Beans/NTTC cycling kit with arm warmers. The course was mostly flat with a head wind on the way out. After the turn around on Santa Teresa Blvd. the head wind turned into a really nice tail wind. There was one hill about half way through which was a welcomed change...I was able to get out of the saddle. I had no idea how fast the other women were going, I just rode as fast as I could. I never did catch the women in front of me; bummer.
After our TT we had around 4 hours to wait around. My friend and elite athlete, Kelly C. hoped on our trainers for a cool down. The amatuer athletes completed their olympic distance race prior to the elites getting ready for their second round of competition...an 800m lake swim, 2.5 mi run, 800m lake swim, 2.5 mi run. Yep, that's correct, one event right after the other!!
The elites opted to start the swim in wetsuits. The swim also began in time trial fashion with the person who had acheived the fastest bike split. Then in the order of fastest bike split to slowest, each of the male and female athletes were sent off to start their first swim. I started the swim in 5th place and was hoping to swim/run/swim/run my way into 3rd!! I felt good on the first swim. I took off my wetsuit and proceeded to quickly put my running shoes on and tuck my cap and goggles down the front of my suit! I would need these for my second swim.
The run course was 4 loops with a small gradual up hill then down the same hill, onto a bit of trail, through the finish line and around again. This multi-lapped course was nice as you could see who was in front and who was behind. After 3 laps, I was able to catch the 4th place girl. As I was completing my 4th loop, I grapped my cap from down the front of my suit and tried to run and put it on at the same time, a sight to be seen I'm sure!! As I ran into the transition area, I took off my shoes and put my goggles on and ran into the water to start my second swim, sans wetsuit. I had managed to create a 30-40 second gap between me and the 5th place girl.
However, once I hit the water and started to swim, my arms felt like bricks. I no longer had the bouancy of the wetsuit and worked hard to find my own flotation! I saw the 3rd place girl just ahead of me and I thought I was gaining on her at the first buoy. However, once I round the second buoy, she had made time on me. As I took a breath I looked back and was suprised to see someone gaining on me! With approximately 300m to go, she passed me and I was unable to hang with her! I exited the water, ran along the beach to transition and there was the girl, still getting her shoes on. I quickly put the running shoes on and threw down my cap and goggles and I and 4th place headed out for our final 2.5 mi run together. Within 6 steps I passed her and knew that she would not be able to hang.
Next goal: catch 3rd place!! Gina K. was running well and I was unable to catch her. I ended of 4th. This was such a fun format and I would love to do this again.
If you can access this album:
there are more photos here