Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Escape from Alcatraz

I did Escape from Alcatraz this weekend. Once I finally made it to the west coast. The weekend began with what was supposed to be a 7:30pm flight to Atlanta followed by a transcontinental flight to San Francisco. I fell asleep as the plane pulled out onto the tarmac and woke up 1.5 hours later in the same place. At 9:00pm we were supposed to be taxiing into our gate in Atlanta, but instead we were pulling back into the gate in Durham. Argh! Thank god for friendly, good-spirited people who were also on my flight. It was 11:00pm before we finally re-boarded the plane and departed from Durham, arriving in Atlanta 5 minutes after my flight to San Francisco closed. Two hours later I found myself sharing a room with 2 other girls who had also missed their flights (a chaplain from UNC and another girl about my age). We each pretty much paid $26 for a shower and for a bed to take a nap. Four hours of sleep and a shower and I was as good as new. At least for an hour or two.

I got into San Francisco at 11:00am PT the day before the race. I suppose I didn't even have time to get anxious about the race since I'd been so preoccupied prior to the race. It felt good to finally meet up with the other Team A Step Ahead athletes (Sandy, Amy, Jean, Marcos, Dave, Tommy, Jack, and Jeff) and support crew (Erik, Phil, and Balsley). Finally, all I had to do was focus on the race.

The race started off with everyone boarding a casino boat about an 1.5 hours before the race started. The physically challenged (PC) athletes and elites were ushered to the front of the boat where we hung out until the race start. We got to jump over the railing into the water to start the 1.5 miles swim through choppy, cold water back to shore. I knew beforehand that the sighting was going to be difficult. But didn't understand just how difficult until I was in the water looking for the landmark I was told to sight. And couldn't find it. So I picked another landmark and proceeded to overshoot the beach and had to fight the current back upstream until I found the shore. With numb hands and blue lips, I hopped out of the water, put on my leg and ran the 1 mile to the transition zone. By then I had some feeling back in my foot and I hit the hills hard. Long, fairly steep hills that just went on and on. Thank goodness for the compact crank on my new bike. I definitely went conservative on the bike because I didn't know what to expect and I think I could've gone faster looking back. That at least meant that I had legs for the run though. The run was more like an Exterra run, with lots of stairs, narrow single-file trails, a low tunnel, and a mile out and back on the beach. Running on the beach was pretty much agony, but at least that took us to the half way point and once I got up the 400 sand stairs (one of the things Escape from Alcatraz is famous for), it really was all downhill. I must've past 20 people during the last 3 miles, which pumped me up and kept me running faster and faster. So I finished 27th of 40 in my AG and 1st in my physically challenged category.

If you ever have the chance to do it, go for it. Escape from Alcatraz is a blast!

1 comment:

Fin said...

Wow! An superb blog entry! After I got over the sheer dread of your delay, what an amazing 24 hours you had! You had me clinging to the edge of my keyboard throughout my reading of it.

You really are focus and endurance personified, an incredible (super) Human Being. Well done on the excellent result, and great, great writing.