3am is really early. I didn't get much sleep the night before b/c I was nervous and that made Annabelle toss and turn. Finally at 1am my mom got up and watched cartoons with Annie while I slept. My parents van was loaded and we headed out at about 3:50. It took right about an hour to get to the parking lot that I had scoped out. We got a primo parking spot close to the race course and a short bike ride to transition. I loaded up and headed out. Racking my bike and setting up my stuff took about 10 minutes and at 5:10 I was ready to go. There are actually two transitions in this race. There is a .75 mile run when you get out of the water, so they let you put a bag at the swim exit that has a spare pair of shoes in it. BUT, if you take off your wetsuit after you swim and put it in the bag, then you don't have to run with it. I thought that was a great perk because I hate running in my wetsuit. Here is the big transition on race morning.
The bus ride over to the ferry building was pretty cool. We drove through the streets of San Francisco before anyone wad woken up. Once at the ferry dock I had about an hour and a half to chill before we loaded up. I went to the bathroom several times and texted Troy with some pictures of the view and the ferry. When it was time to load I suited up in my wetsuit and dropped my clothing bag in the truck. I was hanging out with Steve and Andrea and when we boarded the ferry they showed me the best place to sit so that you were first off the ferry. I am so glad they did this. I think it really helped me have a good swim. We chatted and got excited as the ferry took off from the pier. 2000 wetsuit clad triathletes on the ferry, nervous energy abounds. But the mood was actually a festive energy. You didn't see a lot of serious faces like usual, it was mostly smiles and excitement. A bit giddy I would say. My dad took this picture of the ferry loaded up with all of us. He is standing at the swim exit.
At 8am on the dot a horn sounded and the pro field leapt off the side of the ferry. I didn't really see much of it, but right afterwards the race people started yelling at us "Get off the boat". Suddenly the entire crowd behind me started pushing and triathletes went spilling out of the boat and off the edge. It was so crowded that I had no chance to even contemplate jumping. I held my nose, covered my goggles with my hand and stepped off the edge, trying to aim for a spot that didn't already have a body in it. It worked! I didn't hit any one and I managed not to get jumped on myself. I popped up, saw the LARGE radio tower that I was supposed to keep between "1 o'clock and 2 o'clock" for sighting and took off. Several times in the first 5 minutes I encountered some body contact, but it was nothing like Austin, and before I knew it, everyone seemed to have found some space. I kept my tower at 1 o'clock and "Just kept swimming", oddly the 56 degree water was no problemo. About 4-5 times during the swim I popped up and took a view of my surroundings. The view was AWESOME! I didn't seem to have any swimmers around me. I was in no mans land. But, when I looked left there were lots of swimmers that direction and the same was true when I looked right. So I figured I was swimming right down the middle of where I needed to be. I put my head down and kept swimming. It was crazy how I kept swimming straight and keeping the tower at 1 o'clock, but the current took me down the bay, right where I needed to be. As I got close to the swim exit I could see all the people and could see the beach I needed to hit. I headed inward for it and washed up on shore right in the middle of the beach. I say "washed up" because as I hit the shore I stood up and a huge wave attacked me. I did several summersaults in the wave and sort of "washed up" on shore. I stood up and was facing the ocean, so I turned around, kinda embarrassed as there were 3000 spectators there and ran into transition. This is what swim exit looked like. Cool huh?
I found my bag straight off, and stripped my wetsuit, shoved it in the bag with my goggles and three caps (yes, I wore three...I thought my head was going to pop off, but I was warm). Transitions are funny. If there is someone next to you that arrives at the same time, then there is always this feeling to race them. I had a lady, most likely in my age group right next to me and both of us were racing to get our suits in the bag, and shoes on. I had crocs, she had running shoes. I won that race. I was off and running in no time in my squeeky crocs. Squeek, squeek, squeek, all the way to transition. It was great when I got to the second transition that I didn't have to take my wetsuit off. I de-croc-ed, put my helmet on, grabbed my bike and ran off.
When I got on the bike my legs HURT. I woke up that morning with sore quads and wondered what was up. Well, that first hill on the bike felt like I had already completed a triathlon, the quads were screaming. But for some reason, maybe because the views were amazing, or I was in SAN FRANCISCO, I didn't sweat it. I just thought "Ohh, they will warm up, give them time". And you know, they did. The bike hurt pretty bad. I rode hard and the quads were taking their sweet time warming up, but I just rode hard anyways. The entire course felt like one big hill. There were lots of downhills, but you go so fast that it felt like you would climb for 5 minutes, then descend for 30 seconds. So it felt like you spent most the race climbing. I got passed by a few girls, but always found a way to pass them back. I think the quad issue was a blessing because it prevented me from going out too hard. But by the end of the course I felt great and was able to pass lots of people when they were dying from going too hard in the beginning.
The third transition of the day was simple as pie, and went flawlessly. I decided to wear socks under my racing flats at the advise of one of the pros. I'm so glad I did. They took just a few seconds to put on, but waking up this morning without tender feet is a blessing! I took off running pretty conservatively. A girl came by me rather quickly and I didn't go with her. I needed a little more time to get ahold of myself. In Crissy Field I ran by my mom and Annie and my mom said that my swim time was 35 minutes. I got such a boost of energy! I was ecstatic! I was actually looking forward to the hills and the technical portions of the race. We hit the first set of stairs and dad was there cheering away.
I just stayed VERY consistent up them. Some people passed me running up them 2 at a time, and some people acted frustrated that I was going so consistent (read: slow). I just thought "well, they should have swam and biked faster". Funny thing is I caught every one of them. After the stairs is a lot of twisty turny single track. The pros were coming back by me and it was so uplifting! At the top of the technical section I had reeled in another lady in my age group along with the lady that passed me in the first mile. Boy did that feel good, but the lady in my age group decided to give me a fight. She stuck to me when I tried to pass her. We ran hard up and over the hump of the hill and I was thankful for the competition. She elbowed me and said sorry and I got a little adrenaline kick, especially since she was one of those swimsuit clad, name on the butt kind of girls. We headed into a technical downhill down towards baker beach. It was a twisty wide trail and I hauled tail and cut every tangent I could. I just let it loose, remembering my old Cross Country days and put a significant gap on the ladies I had passed. We then hit the sandy beach portion. I just cruised along here, staying consistent, hunting for hard pack sand. Sometimes I found it, sometimes I didn't. I hit the turn around and headed for the sand steps. Now these were just fun. Again, I took it slow. I walked up them with a good bounce in my step and didn't try to over think anything. I kept thinking about how little I had left of the course and to make it the best I could.
Once at the top, there is about three miles of downhill and you are home. I just turned it on. I flew, and tried to pass as many people as I could. I just let it all out and enjoyed every second of it. I flew down the steps two at a time. Once in Crissy Field I knew I was getting close so I just tried to turn it up another knotch. One spectator that I ran by was pointing to Alcatraz and saying "Look, you just swam from there". I got this huge smile on my face and he started going crazy for me. I was a bit overwhelmed by everything at that point. To look across the bay and see where I had swam while I was running my toosh off was pretty amazing. When you are having a good race the feelings rushing through you are surreal and every thought is sweeter and more meaningful. Two years ago the though of swimming from Alcatraz would have scared the dickens out of me. I have never felt that I was a strong swimmer, but all that is changing. ANYONE who swims from Alcatraz is not a weak swimmer.
Running the guts out of myself down Crissy Field, looking at Alcatraz.
Coming around the final bend into the finish I thought about all the people who were thinking of me. I thought about the Alcatraz party that was going on in Golden, Colorado. I thought about my grandparents, and about everyone who had called or texted well wishes. I ran down the final stretch with a huge smile on my face and I made a little T with my hands for Troy and then a little heart with my hands, and then I blew tons of kisses to all of you who cheer for me and support me. They were watching the finish camera at the party in Colorado and they all saw my kisses. I'm so glad!
This morning, my sore muscles and I have been sitting around in post race bliss. I really want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. Many of you have helped me directly make it to this race. It wasn't easy to get here, but it was meant to be. Steve and Andrea especially. Andrea told me about the Charity slot, and Steve trained my body for a successful race. My mom and dad were immensely supportive. They sponsored our plane tickets to get here and watched Annie for the ump-teen hours it took to preview the course, pick up race packets, and race. I highly recommend their home for "Willis Training Camp". The food is excellent! All my friends and family rooting for me yesterday, thank you, your "rooting" worked, and I felt all the vibes. Lastly, a huge thanks to Feedback Food Redistribution, a very worthy charity.
RESULTS are here. Total Time: 2:43:29 Swim: 35:16 T1: 6:04 Bike: 1:00:24 (17.88mph) T2: 1:25 Run: 1:00:19 (7:32 pace) Place in Female 25-29 age group: 4th!!!