Escape from Alcatraz Tri Relay (Epic RV Road Trip Day 15)

As was bound to happen, I caught the bug that was going around the RV, and as my luck goes it happened just as we got in to San Francisco. Friday night as Kishore, Pooja, and I went to visit my old manager Rachna my throat started to feel a bit scratchy. As soon as we got back I loaded up on vitamin c and drank several glasses of orange juice hoping that I wasn’t getting sick.

Saturday morning came and there was no doubt that I had caught the bug. My head felt like gnomes were running around inside it pounding away with hammers, and it suddenly was a million pounds. Breathing deeply was impossible without having a coughing fit, and I had Kleenex as my constant companion. I texted my teammates to let them know that he situation and see if they knew anyone who might want to do the swim. Bill reached out to a buddy, but didn’t get a response so I told them I would meet them at check in. I must have looked how I felt because Kishore volunteered to drive me into the city. Bill still hadn’t heard from his buddy when we all met up so I went ahead and checked in with them. Just being out in the fresh air and being around the race atmosphere had me feeling a little better, but still had me wary. After discussing it with them I said that I would do the swim if I felt up to it, or would hop in and then after a short swim take a kayak in. None of us were in this to win it just for the fun and accomplishment so the delay the kayak ride in would take was fine. Kishore and I headed back to his house after that and I napped a bit in the afternoon and went to bed early after a light dinner.

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Tracy woke up with me in the morning and her, 2.0, and I headed into the city around 4am. After finding a parking space I dropped my bag in transition and hopped in line for the shuttle to the ferry. Just before getting on I kissed Tracy good bye, she wished me luck, and I promised her I would play it safe. Once I got on the ferry I couldn’t tell if my stomach uneasiness was due to the cold or my normal pre-race jitters. I found a spot to sit down and worked on my mental prep for the swim should I end up doing it. I had done the swim the year before so knew what to do as far as sighting and the swim exit. I had experienced the mass exit of the ferry, and the strong current. All that was left for me was to calm my nerves and get ready the make the jump.

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The announcement that the pros were far enough away that amateurs could start was made and the mass exodus began. I hung towards the back since I was still unsure of myself and didn’t want to get in the way of the serious competitors. As I hit the water I felt everything compress at the chill of the water and struggled to take a breath as I reached the surface and took a few strokes to clear the jump area. I still was unsure if I could take deep breaths so I started breathing every other stroke instead of every third or fifth which is my normal. The announcer on the boat had mentioned the strong winds coming in and had suggested if possible to breath from the left. He wasn’t kidding there were very heavy swells coming in against the current and an improperly timed right side breath gave you a mouth full of bay water. My breathing started to come more easily so I mentally rejected the option of the kayak, and focused on the swim to shore.

The swells coming in were so high it made sighting so challenging for me that I had to stop several times to see where I was going. The trajectory seemed like it was a little off to me based on my elapsed time, but I chalked that up to a tired sick body and pushed on making what I thought were proper corrections based on the previous years conditions. I kept seeing a lot of other swimmers around me for the majority of the swim, but as I got closer to shore I saw less swim caps and started worrying I was way off course. As I got close to shore I realized my mistake, the swells coming against the current had somewhat offset their pull and I landed much further up shore from the swim exit. Hundreds of others had done the same because I saw a lot of confused faces as we turned and swam along the shoreline to the swim exit. I even saw several racers hop up onto shore and run along the ground before re-entering just before the swim exit beach.

I had decided not to put a “run” bag in for the half mile run from the swim exit to transition and just did it barefoot and in my wetsuit. After a short distance my breathing became labored and I slowed my pace though. I reached the relay corral, gave my timing chip to Bill and then collapsed on the ground. After catching my breath I gave Paul a hug, and saw Tracy and 2.0 on the other side of the railing. Just seeing them had me back at 100%ish. After that it was just waiting around for Bill to finish the bike, and then waiting at the finish to cheer Paul on as he got all the glory for our relay team.

So glad that I went through with it, and we even pulled out 10th place in our division of 18 teams.

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