Inspired by the 1979 Clint Eastwood movie "Escape from Alcatraz", the event is open to competitors who have qualified in designated events or won lottery entry with a personal race resume. So competition is on the pointy end of the age group spectrum.
Strong westerly currents and 55 degree water temperatures kept tensions high on the one hour boat ride to the swim drop point at Alcatraz Island.
Competitors shared few words en route while the enthusiastic race announcers praised glorious weather and perfect race conditions via loudspeaker, complete with the individual introduction of pros and U.S. national anthem. Pumping iPod tunes prior to the drop, Riderturbo was psyched and feeling confident from recent training with Alcatraz swim master Gary Emich -- and fresh off the Navy SuperSeal III tri earlier in the month.
Greased with body glide, wetsuits, neoprene swim booties with some wearing squid lids and three swim caps thick to preserve warmth, all 1800 competitors crossed the timing mats and took the 5 foot plunge from the boat in the 10 minutes following the 8am start horn.
With 50 safety kayaks and jet skis lining the group up and down current, the swimmers fanned out 1/2 mile wide in open water mayhem. Riderturbo jumped in smooth, navigated spot-on, and knocked off the 1.5 mile swim in 32:13, a personal best and well under the target time of 40 minutes. PLEASURE.
After a minor mishap of lost wetsuit bag in the swim exit mini-transition, Riderturbo ran the 1/2 mile T1 to transition area and mounted the specially prepped RiderCrespo-cloned Red Cervelo Soloist Carbon for the hilly, technical bike course. Running road geometry with forward-flip seat post, lightweight Reynolds DV stratus deep dish wheels, tubulars at 170 psi, drop handle and clip on aerobars, plus the infamous FSA SLK Light 175 Triple crank (yes...TRIPLE) with a 13/29 cassette, the white-lightning skinned Rider turbo held 80 rpm cadence climbs and 40mph descents while pedal-mashers winced on the steep San Francisco hills.
Ticking off the 18 miles in 59:36, Turbo beat the one hour bike split target time ranking 11th out of 79 competitors men's age 40. PLEASURE
A speedy T2 with a kiss on-the-fly to sideline cheering Ridermama and Riderzoe...and then....WHACK, SLAP, TAKE THAT! Riderturbo was blindsided by the bad and the ugly on the run. Stairs, trails, tunnels, 350 feet of vertical ascent in the first three miles of the run. Up, down, left, right. Helicopters overhead and motorcycle chase crews filming the lead racers passing opposite direction. A quick check of the Polar revealed 9 min/mile pace at the 3 mile aid station versus the target 7.5 min/mile pace....and still 5 miles left to run. Was this a triathlon or an XTerra?
JUST F**KIN GIVER, EH...the astute athletic psychology of our world-champion sporting Canadian brethren came to mind...repeated over and over. Down again, round again, across sandy Baker Beach and back for 1 mile, up 400 steps of the Equinox sand ladder, Riderturbo continued the 170 beat-per-minute heart rate death march down the home stretch.
The most brutal, side-stitch cramping and GU-puking experience of RiderTurbo's running career had him drag it through the picturesque 8 mile run in 1 hour and 10 minutes, including off-trail bush potty break, averaging 8min 53 sec/mile, PAIN.
Then near the finish, trying to hold it together, redemption earned: a smiling Ridermama cheering, hand-off and carrying RiderZoe the last two hundred yards through the finish line chute (see top photo) to the adulation of thousands of cheering fans, international flags, colorful pagentry and snapping camera shutters...culminating in the celebratory finisher's medal being placed around RiderZoe's neck. PURE PLEASURE.
Overall, Riderturbo beat the three-hour target time clocking 2:51:57 and placing 18 out of 79 men's age group 40, earning the Ranch a little respect and possibly even a fleeting moment of brand-exposure on network television.
The Ranch asks, Alcatraz gives, PLEASURE AND PAIN, but not necessarily in that order.