Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Joe Howell, Bringin It!

Originally sent 6-14-09

Following the lead of a couple of weeks ago from fellow Chicken Rancher Rookie and tri-geek Lee Carter, thought I would give my first (and perhaps last) race report. Proud to announce that I was the top SB finisher and #1 Chicken Ranch finisher at Escape from Alcatraz this morning in San Francisco. (OK, so I was one of only two SB guys who did the race this year, and I was the solo Rancher, but that is not the point is it?) One cool feature of the race is that you are racing “with” (you are on the same course, at the same time…..) with 5-10 of the top male and female triathletes in the world…..

I have done Escape from Alcatraz 7 or 8 times- different each time, in large part because the ocean and currents are wildly different each year. You get on a boat with about 2000 folks from all over the US (and world), the boat goes around Alcatraz a couple of times for effect, then you jump out- all 2000 racers probably exit within 10 minutes-bodies everywhere. At the pre-race meeting on Saturday, the swimming experts (two guys who have each done the Alcatraz to SF swim 500 times-no wetsuit!) give you suggestions on where to “aim” for the 1.5 mile swim in the Bay. This year, there suggestion would be as follows in Santa Barbara--imagine going straight out 1.5 miles from the Yacht Club, , then “aiming” at Stearns Wharf in order to end up at East Beach- that is what the current does to you. The swim leg was “slow” this year as very rough water and slower than average current.

When you get out of the water (assuming you don’t cramp up and fall down like several), you next run ½ mile to the bike transition and then do a very cool 18 mile bike course-real technical, lots of climbs and gnarly descents- had my best bike time in a while and was top 2 or 3 in my age group.

The 8 mile run is mostly off road, with lots of stairs, a low tunnel and single track climbs, then you run on soft sand out/back and up the famous “sand ladder” (which is railroad ties covered in sand, straight up a bluff).

I was 7th in my age group (30 signed up, looks like 24 finished), which I was happy with considering the big timers in my age group who came in from Colorado, Texas, etc. Fortunately, my numerous sessions of swimming “secret training” at the Tennis Club with B-Rad Jellison served me well. (Talk to him about his unique swim training techniques; the man is brilliant.)

OK, that’s it. Talk to me about signing up for the lottery for next year’s race.

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