Friday, June 29, 2018

Escape From Alcatraz Race Report! YES do it

Yes, I'm quoting baseball coach Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) from "A League of Their Own," who famously said,

"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it." Feeling like you've done something few would try gives you an enormous sense of accomplishment.

Prison ID #826 (me) - Successfully Escaped Alcatraz Tri. Some people say I should be locked up and through away the key.

To me this was a bucket list race for those who know me I have spent 5 or so years trying to get into this race and while sitting in an apartment back in Busso with Pam, Fikriye and Sam last (2017) December I got an email saying that my Ballot slot had been accepted. Escape from Alcatraz is an icon event in the USA like Noosa is to us in Australia.

I arrived the Tuesday before the race spent some 17 hours travelling from Melbourne to San Francisco via LA. The trick is to get over the Jet Lag as quickly as possible. As I arrived late Afternoon, I did a quick walk around the area, found the local Supermarket purchased some food and 
Walgreens and I got a prepaid Sim Card. Early night as the following day was the tour of Alcatraz Island and in the afternoon tour around the town.

About to Board the Long Haul Flight

Alcatraz aka The Rock

Welcome Sign

The San Francisco Belle

On the Wednesday I made my way down to the pickup point for the tour. Before we boarded the boat the drive took us for coffee along the piers. This was the first time I laid eyes on the San Francisco Belle the boat that would take us out for the swim. After getting off the bus I made my way to take a photo of the Belle before getting back on for the Tour of the Island. The tour of the Island is interesting there are two types of tours one with the guide and the other is talking audio tour spoken by the Guards and Inmates of the day. Also gave me a first view of the swim back to the main land. The wind and swell was up and I thought this would be a challenge. As it got closer to the race day the winds dropped away but picked up in the afternoon.

 The following day, Thursday I did my first run of the area. I ran from the Hotel to transition and took a few photos and run back. That afternoon I did some more exploring of San Francisco. Friday morning was bike pickup day I choose to hire a bike instead of taking mine over. Pickup being at 11am I made my way up to Dolphin Swim Club area, where lots of other Triathletes where and we will where getting into the water. I bumped into a guy from Colorado and he said, it's that time, time to get in. Once I got the wetsuit on, thermal cap, swim cap and goggles and in I went. The water was warmer than I thought it was going to be. Later on I found it was 15.5c as compared to the last swim in Melbourne which was 12.3c. I put in 1km swim felt great. Later that morning I picked up and bike went back to the hotel change into Cycling kit and headed out. I road down to the Golden Gate, over the Bridge and back again. The bike was no high end, but would do the job.

Swim area

Rental Bike and my ride over the Golden Gate

View of the Golden Gate Bridge

Saturday morning I did another short run before heading down to transition for kit pickup and goodies pickup. They also did one of 2 race briefings which I attended. They have 6 steps. 1. Confirm your USAT Insurance, 2. Pickup for your Race Packet, 3. Timing Chip, 4. Event Bag and Athlete T-Shirt, 5. Body Marking (i.e. Race Numbers) and 6. Goodie bag which we choose after pay our race entry fees.

Race Pack

Find you name 

List of all Athlete's Racing 

My Rack Postion

Finish Line

Race Briefing 

After complete this I walked back to the Hotel, got all my gear ready, early dinner and early night.

Sunday Race morning. I set no less than 3 alarms, no way I was going to miss the bus. I left the hotel at 4:30 for the 10 or so min ride to transition. Found my rack place set my bike and all my gear. On my way out of Transition I asked a Escape from Alcatraz Event person about where to drop my bag.
Turns out that you are allowed to leave bags in Transition. Very different in Australia. After placing my bag back into Transition I headed out to the buses for the ride down to Pier 3. The bus arrived and we got off and lined up to get onto the Belle. My age group was on the 2nd level around 5:30am  they allowed us to get on the boat. I found a pole to sit down and prop myself up and wait for boat to push off. Lots of nervous talk and energy in the room. As the Capitan came over the PA and announce that they were casting off and setting sail. The cheers from the Athletes said it all, this was happening. We sailed out found our place the American National Anthem was sung and the pros went off, about 1 minute later the ships bell sounded time to empty the boat 2500 Athletes made their way through one of 3 doors over the timing line, 3 or 4 steps and then a jump of faith. I personally did the Australia thing, a bomb into the water. When I came up for air I did a quick check goggles still on I was about 2ish meters away from the boat I started swimming towards shore, I aimed for the Dome at the Palace of Fine Arts. About 500m in I stop rolled over looked up at all the athletes swimming and the Belle in the background, San Francisco in front of me took it all in rolled over and started swimming again.

The currents are strong like you feel if your swimming Portsea or Sorrento. The swim is a 1.5 mile or 2.4KM. Once you get out of the water there is a half mile run (800m) To Transition 1 same as we see at St Kilda. I found my row by the house and Nations flags got my wetsuit, etc. off, Helmet on, grab your Bike and head out. Racing in Australia you need to keep in mind you ride on the wrong side of the road. I kept Right unless passing, the roads are bad, lots and lots of potholes. The Course is hilly, not really a TT bike more suited to Roadies, with that said lots of people  did use TT's. The course heads out under the Golden Gate down towards Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park. The back towards the Marine Park for the Run.

The Run is 8 Miles or 12.3km's of mix of Trail, Concrete, Sand. The Sand Steps is 400 uneven steps in sand. it just after the half way mark.

Once you get past this it's more or less a downhill run towards the finish line.

Waiting to Board the Belle

2nd Level of Athletes waiting to jump

Swim Exit

Riding one of many hills

Running along the beach before the Sand Steps

Sand Steps

Done and Dusted

 Thanks to Elicia for keeping my body moving, Luke for the training sets, Ollie for the Logo for the Custom Trisuit I had make for the race and the programs, the Greg, Ashley, Mario and the Long course crew thanks. Thanks to Peter for the those cold open water swims at Half Moon well worth it.

Thanks to the TA Crew and Friends who sent me messages of support special thanks goes to Fikriye and Pam for long hilly crazy rides we did.

Time                      3:51:28

Swim                        36:28
T1 (inc Run)               7:56
Bike                       1:20:58
T2                               2:19
Run                       1:43:49

Couple of Videos so you can see what the race was like

Friday, June 1, 2018

Challenge Melbourne 2018 Race Report

140 days since I last raced. After Busso I took some time off. My body was done; 3 Half Ironmans, Half Marathon’s, bunch of fun runs and all the training to complete 2017 Race Goals.  I did some open water swims and I left my wetsuit and home. I enjoyed riding my new Roadie, I slept in, I smelt the roses as they say.

In February Fat December and January was over time to get serious for Alcatraz. Brick Sessions where back I started to run again. I always had in the back of my mind to do another Tri before the Summer Race Session was over. Challenge Sprint was in my thoughts but I wanted to wait to see what the weather would be like. 3 weeks out was not looking good, 2 weeks better but still not great. 10 days out perfect, 7 days out a cracker. So I registered, this was going to be interesting. The day before the race I did little training session, road to Mordy and quick run off the bike. I jumped into the Bay at Half Moon and swam out to the yellow pole and back.  I charged the bike, and started finding all the Tri gear. It all got washed and put away. Race Belts, caps, Trisuit, etc.

Race morning I showed up and went to rack my bike and I had forgotten to put my wrist ID on which I fixed quickly. Rookie mistake but I hadn’t raced in a while. It was cool but no wind; those of us racing the sprint went down and watched the Half guys come out of the swim before we headed back change and got ourselves ready.

We went down to the swim started did a warm up and lined up. The Horn went off and way we went. I felt good and strong as I came out of the water I was right next to Michelle my EX. I said hello and got where the F did you come from (apparently 2 mins behind according to the wave start)

I ran into T1 got the wetsuit off, Helmet on grabbed the bike and run out of T1. After mounting my bike it was time to ride. The bike course was crazy, lots of drafting and very very fast. I came back to T2 felt good, now the run. The run while ok was not great. Reviewing the data was very happy with the bike my fastest average ever. For the record my next best was Busso.  

Happy to do a race, happy to complete it as a warm up.

Setup Ready Roll

TA Crew ready to race

Looking the goods

Almost home

Done, glad to race again

Supporting with the crew

Time    1:58:39

Swim     0:12:28
T1           0:02:40
Bike       0:55:17
T2           0:03:08
Run        1:58:39

Monday, May 28, 2018

What a year! – 3 Half Ironman’s, AWA Bronze Member and a heap of other stuff too in 12 months

The story starts in December 2016 with a good friend Pam. We made a commitment to each other to build to her first Ironman. During the year each of us had our own goals and races that we aimed for but the road lead to Busso (Busselton)

Pam and I at Busso 2017

As a warmup to my next Half Ironman, I completed the Great Vic Swim Series and  Great Australia Day Swim at Brighton. All events where 2.5km or longer. At the Great Australia Day Swim Pam, Fik and I did both the 2.5KM and then backed it up with the 1.4KM.

Ironman Geelong 70.3

The week leading into Geelong was warm, however race delivered it all, Wind, Rain, Sun, more rain, hail, Wind more rain wind and wind. Did I say it was Windy?  This race had it all, it started back Mid 2016 when my Ex and I said we said we would both race this together. Sadly the relationship didn’t work out and we split up.  I spent many days and nights dealing with these Daemons, I confined my thoughts with Pam and she kept me honest to the point we spoke at least once or two a week away from training.  The build was with a good crew, I felt ready until the two weeks before the race my calf become tight after 2km of running.  Eliica why is myo did her magic and I was careful but not  over doing and make sure I stretched a lot. On the Friday before race day I packed up the car and drove down to Geelong town. As my Hotel room was not ready I drove the course both the bike and run. After checking in I went across the road to rego bumped into Carly (another Club Team Mate) once we completed the Rego bit we headed into Expo for that shopping experience. That night I heading out for a Pizza then an early night, the following morning James (Another Team Mate) and I rode about 20km of the bike course before heading back to the Hotel dropping the bike off then heading down for a swim and quick run. I spent the Saturday stretching and preparing the bike before the Saturday afternoon dropped off. Saturday the weather changed from a warm 25c to cold 18c.  I dropped my bike off caught up with Pam for a Coffee during a rain storm. That night the team went out for dinner then an early night. I did really sleep well but I got up around 4am got ready. Just as I was about to leave to Transition the fire alarm for the building sounded. Most of the building was full of Triathletes we all just headed off to transition. Here I am hoping I had a place to stay that night as 4 Fire Trucks showed up.  I hung out in the team tent then got myself ready to race. I did my warm up swam saw my good friend Pam as I lined up for the swim. The horn sounded and off we went. The Break water protected us from the wind, once passed the water become rocky and wanted to push me off course. I aimed for the turning buoy and swim towards it, then we all got the push down the next turning buoy. We had to head back into the waves and final turning buoy then into the beach and transition. I grabbed my Helmet got the wetsuit off and headed out. I had a nice tail wind out towards Point Henry then out on the Point Henry road I got blasted with the wind and salt from the salt farms. On the road out to the Port Arlington I got feel the rain and hail on the helmet and my back you could hear and feel the stones. At the turn around was time to head back into the town into the wind. I felt strong I felt good. As I came to the turnaround I took it easy as the roads  where wet and I suspected slippery  so I took it easy and headed out again for another lap. More wind, bit of sun more rain and hail. I dropped the bike off and headed out for the run. Felt ok until I got to the hilly bits the calf started acting up. My lower back also felt tight. Most likely from head winds on the bike. My run end up being a walk run walk run job. Got the over the line.

At the Swim start ready to do this

Coming out of the swim feeling good

Heading out on the 2nd lap in the wet

Get pic of the rain 

Getting more wet on the run

Home and glad to get this one done

Time    6:31:01

Swim     0:36:54

T1           0:03:43

Bike       3:11:06

T2           0:04:14

Run        2:35:03

St Kilda Mile Swim

With Pam doing her first Ironman we; Fik, Pam and I thought it would be a great idea to sign up to 3.8KM Mile Swim.  Conditions where perfect flat, the idea was to complete the distance a big training day not a race.

Fik now working for MI6

Almost go time

People you meet at these events 

Time 1:01:53

Whittlesea challenge

110KM Ride on the bike through country Victoria, big day out with Pam and Fik (again) riding our roadies, I got a flat as we headed up the biggest climb. It was not safe to change the flat so I ended up walk about 300m to safe place to change the tyre. Was something different and good day out.

Pre Event

First Hill Climb

Mothers Day classic

As part of my build to Cairns I signed up for some race craft 8km around Tan followed by another 8kms of postrace fun / build.

Time 47:43


2nd Half Ironman in 6 Months – OMG – what have I signed up for ? After Geelong I thought it would be a good idea to get some warm weather in June before the Cold Winter of Melbourne. The Crew existed of 5 doing the Full IM and 2 (including me) doing the Half IM. Cairns is an interesting race it’s has two transitions areas one in Palm Cove and another in Cairns. I Fly into Cairns on the Thursday did the hole rego and expo bit and kept to myself as I was not in the main area of Cairns. I rode part of the bike course and run part of the run course. Saturday Morning I walked down to T2 and dropped off my runners then headed back to the Hotel room to grab my bike and ride up to Palm Cove. I took another pair of shoes to change into once dropping the bike off. During the ride up there where lots of people also riding up. I came across another competitor having issues on his bike. So stopped and helped him sort out his gears. We  rode up together. When we got to transition I stopped and changed out of bike shoes into runners and walked my bike in. After racking my bike I noticed that the rear tyre had got flat, not much you can do except change it. Better to do it now that tomorrow morning. After catching up with a few friends I found my way to the bus and trip back to Cairns. Another early night and very early morning. I had a good 15min walk to the bus which left Cairns to Palm Cove from 4am. I got up at 3:30am got ready and started my walk to the bus. We got on the buses and headed up the road for 25min trip. Most people wanted to try and get a little sleep except for the 2 first timers in front of me who wanted chat all the way up. Once we got off the buses we all headed into Transition. Good news my tyres where ok no more flats, but I did pack and extra 2 tubes just in case. After getting everything ready I dropped my gear bag off then headed towards the bathroom. A trick I learnt from another team mate duck into one of the hotels and use their bathroom as the queues for the public/portables would be long. I changed into my wetsuit and started the 2km walk down the beach to swim start. I got in and did a bit of a warm up and over heard some locals say how cold the water was. 20cish compared to Melbourne’s 15c. Warm to me. We wind was blowing up the bay perfect for us. This race was a rolling start we lined up and off we went. I could feel the push of the waves up to the turning buoy and into the beach. A very long run to my bike, I had a wonderful lady help me get my wetsuit off and she packed into the bag ready for the truck trip back to cairns. I grabbed my bike and ran for what felt like forever to the mount line and on the bike. We headed up towards Port Douglas. The bike course is magic and fast at the turn we head back towards Palm cove and then onto Cairns. As we came close to Cairns you duck in and around the Airport and down along the run course. Little scary as there are cars (stopped/moving) while you’re flying by. Certainly didn’t feel happy being in aero, so much I got up out of Aero. I came into T2 dropped on the bike off, unwrapped my T2 Bag got my socks and shoes on and headed out for run. Was feeling too great had some tummy craps. I kept on going hoping things would settle down. They didn’t. At the 10km Aid Station they Cramp Ease, it was like gasoline and need a couple of waters to get rid of the taste. Clearly I had the wrong mix on the bike which caused these issues. My plan had to change slower pace, but at the next turn point I felt a change, I felt less heavy and cramp had gone. The 2nd half of my run was way better than the first. I crossed the line to complete Ironman Half #5 and 2nd  for the year. I grabbed my gear and headed back to the hotel for quick shower and change of clothes before heading back out to the crew doing the following. Great to see the club get 3 Kona places in this race.

The welcome at Cairns Airport on arrival

Bike Ready to Roll
With the crew out riding

Find you name on the wall

Getting all the gear ready for T1 and T2

T2 Bag Drop

T1 Bike and Bag Drop

Happy with the Swim

Enjoying the views on the ride

Back into Cairns and heading for T2

Out on the run

Two half's done and dusted in 6 Months

Beer time and Support Duties

Time    6:26:55

Swim     0:34:57

T1           0:07:03

Bike       3:06:43

T2           0:04:10

Run        2:33:59

Post Cairns race we had a team meeting, the Busso crew all started working on me to race Busso. While I was going there to support Pammy I had no plans to do a 3rd Half in a year.  Lots of talk that I need to race Busso, I turned to the Head Coach Ollie and said well? I got the approval to race, but only a Half not the full. Later that night I signed up for half #6 and 3rd for the year

Sandy Point Half

10KM, big year so far but far from being over. Sandy Point again was just another training day as we build towards Busso. It was cold, wet, crappy day. I felt good 5km out, 5km back. Fairly straight forward, but was a case of keep warm, race and get warm again.

Time 57:50

Mornington Running Festival

Another 10km event, again the weather was crap, rain, wind, etc. I had rode the day before to trash the legs. My plan was to use another build race and get the race craft right.

Time 1:01:32

New Bike

Giant Released the new range of 2018 Bikes. They a deal in September for the new arrange, time to race the old TCR roadie with a new one. Disc Brakes, DI2, all the good bits.

Melbourne Marathon Half

Long run with 21,0000 mates, yet another build race. This was all about race craft and just a long run. I felt great on this run magic moment running in and around the MCG.

Time 2:11:33


Well 3 Half IM’s in one year! OMG what the hell have I done! After getting the talked into during a team meeting by Ash, Julies and Pam with the sign off of the Head Coach I signed up for Number 3. My commitment to Pam was to help her through her training for the full Ironman turned into my own training block. Every Friday Pam and I would chat about our plans for Saturday and Sunday.  Build weeks we would head down past Mornington, Rosebud, Sorrento, Portsea/Point Nepean. Recovery weeks – loops of Mordy to Frankston on the flats. Our Biggest day 193KM. Runs off the bike just great team work.  We had some 18 racing at Busso, 5 in the half and rest in the full.

Thursday morning before race day was the flight over to Perth. As we showed up to the airport we got told of flight delay and change of plane. Once we arrived at Perth I called Fik who had flown over with Tiger. I got my bags meet Fik, picked up the rental car and started the 3 hour trip South to Busso. Lots of laughs and stories. Fik and I where sharing a place with Pam, her hubby Sam. After we arrived and unpacked the car Fik, Pam and I went for a drive over the bike course mainly flat but technical. After that we headed out for Dinner with Sam and I called it quits and went to bed. The following morning the crew all meet at the pier for swim. A few of us did about 20km on the bike course. Later that day we all headed down for the Expo and Registration later that night the crew went out for dinner. Me I was sitting on some very big news, which I shared with Fik and Pam who screamed very, very loudly in my ears. At dinner I shared the news that I was off to race Escape from Alcatraz in San Francisco in June of 2018. Saturday morning Pam and I headed out for a little run nothing too big, then big prep of bikes, bags, etc. ready for check in. Being a hot day the thinking was to do the checking early and chill out for the rest of the day.  Race day, big day ahead.  We drove down parked and walked into transition. Prep’d everything and got out. I left my bag with Fik along with a Battery Bank and went to start my race.  This was a rolling start, I got some 350-400m into the swim when I noticed the chopper came in low and I started thinking they are filming us, then I heard the water safety people all blowing whistles and asking us all to move to the pier. There was a fish problem. 2.4M fish. I felt no concern for my safety at any time. Once I climbed up the ladder onto the pier I started running towards swim exit only to be told that race would be reset. All Athlete’s in the half regrouped new swim exit and full where asked to go to their bikes. They need to account for everyone. Emily another TA team mate and I talked and removed our wetsuits. We basically restarted run into T1 picked up our bikes and headed out. Em and I spent the day out on the bikes swapping places nice and fast. This stopped after another competitor was hit by a roo. Emily who is a medical professional stop gave assistance while I headed to the next aid station to report the accident then kept going. The temp started increasing, at the aid stations I made sure to grab water to pour over me to keep me cool. Once I got back into T2 racked my bike on with socks and shoes and headed out for a very hot run. On the way out I stopped for a pee in the port-a-lou and I thought to myself these will be rip a little later in the day Out on the course somebody had put a shark crossing and couple of people had a blowup pool shark called Bruce (from Finding Nemo). It was super hot, I searched for water and relief at every point. 

I finished the race and was helped by a volunteer through to recovery they wanted to make sure that we the athlete’s where ok. After leaving recovery I started looking for Fik and Sam. After getting my bag and Hotel key I grabbed my bike and headed back for shower. I then headed back for the next job of supporting. Time to get all our Ironman home. Fik, Em and I took position just near the pier with cowbells and Sun Smart Sun Hats and brought everyone home. During our supporting we noticed a fire north of us. We later heard that the bike course had a change due to the fire. Around 10pm all the our crew where home, Fik had a card to pick up Pam’s bike and gear which we did and headed back to the Hotel Sam waited for Pam and would meet us there. Fik and I had where hunger so we stopped at the only thing open Maccers. There we were at the Hotel drink beers and having Maccers. After Pam got back, she was stuff, blisters on her feet, sweaty and tied. We all chatted for a hours before we called it quits and retied. I gave Pam some of Compeed Blister pads.

Next morning we all went for a shortish walk and then headed down the roll down. Most of the day was chilling taking it easy and starting to clean and pack up. That night the 4 of us headed into Busso for dinner and race to remember

Bikes about to be loaded. Hoping mine is the one upside down

Busso Pier

TA Crew doing a practice swim

TA Crew doing a Transition walk through

Typical Triathlete Shared House - Bikes and Bags everywhere 

Ready to race

Swim under way until a Fish caused a problem

Time to get out of the water

Em, I and everyone waiting for the race to restart

Race back on off to T1
Heading out for fast 90km

Enjoying the ride

Heading back into town

I can almost see T2

Out on the Super hot run

Number 3 for year in the bag

That Great Sweet Red Carpet 


3 for the year in the bag

6 Half IM's Done
Beer time

Supporter Duties - What Happens in Busso stays in Busso! right?

Time    5:57:34

Swim     ------  - Fish Issue

T1           0:03:30

Bike       2:53:38

T2           0:04:14

Run        2:56:11

2017 might be over but here are some stats

407hours of training


25258m elevation

243 days of 365 training and racing.

Longest ride 193.2km

AWA Bronze Member


Off to Southern California for Escape from Alcatraz Tri a bucket list I have spent 6 years trying to gain a spot. After last year getting a spot and turning it down during to Cairns this year. I am a very lucky person to receive another bid offer and I have accepted and paid for.