Posted by: forgingahead | June 7, 2011

Escape from Alcatraz Race Report

It was amazing.

After dire predictions of huge storms threatening to cancel the swim we awoke to this beautiful morning…

This may be the calmest I’ve ever seen San Francisco Bay. Certainly the calmest swim conditions, in my somewhat limited experience.

I got to do the race with Charisa Wernick who is not only a pro who placed 6th in this crazy fast race but a super nice person who made my first Alcatraz experience wonderfully smooth.

We boarded this boat:

And I sat next to this guy – Andy Potts. Now 6 time winner of the race. My plan? Follow him. Right. That would require swimming really really fast. Which I’m closer to doing than ever with my awesome Zoot Prophet wetsuit! Here he is exiting the water and on the run.

Thanks to all my prep work with the awesome coaching team of Water World Swim I made the crossing in record time (for me). And I enjoyed the swim! Felt 100% comfortable the whole time and hit the beach right on target.

See the zig-zag pattern of the swimmers? That’s one seriously strong current right before we reached shore. For a few minutes there at the end I felt like I was never going to break through that bad boy.

After stripping off the wetsuit I finally located my transition bag with shoes for the half mile run to my bike. Then I saw Bert and smiled for the first time! He tracked me the whole race which took a long time – 4.5 hours – and took his usual fabulous photos.

From there I hit the bike course. Hilly as predicted. Fun too. Pretty much went exactly as my trial ride the weekend before though the legs were definitely more tired. My friend Feyna and her son Freddie were out at Sea Cliff to say hi as I cruised by which was a nice pick-me-up.

The run was hard but then I knew it would be. Not enough training. Thank goodness I’d done the course the weekend before with Harriet so I didn’t get discouraged. That’s me in the green top. I found a couple guys who had my stride 🙂

A bit further along I hit the Sports Basement aid station staffed by my awesome friend Clair. She had the biggest grin on her face which just made my day. Clair’s mom died suddenly a few weeks ago so a big hug was in order. Thanks for being you Clair!

I just had to show you what real running looks like. My running is downright poky compared to Charisa’s blistering pace:

The run is tough but that’s what makes it fun. Running along the cliffs with sweeping ocean views. Running through a forest trail. Running up and down World War II bunkers. Running on the beach – deep sand on the way out and packed sand on the way back. Running up a sand ladder.

And then the end was in sight. Coming down the chute I had very little left in the tank but the cheering crowds made me smile…

An overwhelming sense of euphoria as I crossed the finish line.

I do these things for the bling. Well, not really but they are nice to have. And in my delerium of crossing the finish line I realized I didn’t have a medal around my neck.

So I went back to ask. They ran out. Promised to mail me one.

Charisa, being the coolest person ever, gave me hers. That’s a true friend.



  1. Gotta love hometown races because of the all the friends that come out and support. Sorry I couldn’t stay long, I was starving and had to get food and squeeze in a 6000 yard swim, weights, and yoga. Enjoy the post race bliss!

  2. You are awesome! and yes you deserved that medal!

  3. Awesome job! I keep glancing at my bling (i.e. the medal) from my last half (3/27) & desperately miss my running…
    (took a couple of mos off for poor battered flat feet recovery)
    Looking forward to some new horsie posts now 😉

  4. You looked awesome out there. I’m so happy your race went so well. And thanks for the hug. It was much needed.

  5. YEA!! Congrats on a great race! You practiced that swim and got your focus for it and did a great job! Way to go!!

  6. […] Read her entire race report on her blog! […]

  7. Love that big smile in one of the photos. And love that the experience seemed to be “enjoyable” for the most part, especially the swim that you worried about. I think that Charisa lives in near me since so many of my track club friends know her. Glad you found so much to be happy about on this one.

  8. Nice job! It was a hard day out there, way to go. Super cool Charisa gave you her medal — don’t worry, I didn’t get one either 😉

  9. Wow! What an amazing event! Way to go!

  10. You just make me smile from ear to ear…Charisa is cool but so are YOU! Steven told me they were camping out at your house, did you have fun? I told him I was jealous and want to meet you! Maybe in July for the half marathon!
    Great job on the tri!

  11. Yeah – awesome job! It was so fun to be there for your first Alcatraz race!! 🙂

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