Here it is, that which this tumblr was created to count down to….my chance at redemption.
In 2010 I entered and finished the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon in a time of 3:50 and it was one of the greatest days of my life. After all, 230 pound wrestlers rarely attempt endurance races. Plus… I am a bit of a loser so to successfully finish something like that changed how I viewed myself, if even only for a short time.
And I decided right then and there that I would attempt the race again in 2011 in effort to improve my finishing time. Instead of improvement I failed to finish because after an awful swim and bike issues early in the race I gave up and suffered the second DNF of my life (the first was in 1996 at the Half Vineman race). And that haunted me. I hate giving up. So I had no choice but to return in 2012 to redeem myself (thus the title of this blog). To get that redemption I would need to not only finish I would need to finish in under 3:50. And this is the story of what happened…
Saturday June 9, 2012
I woke on my couch a couple of hours before the alarm was set to go off (I had finally figured out how to change the song that plays when the alarm goes off. It had been the Miz’s entrance theme, which I am tired of hearing. Now it is Johnny Cash’s “Ain’t No Grave”). Since I was up earlier then planned I was able to sit and watch the latest episode of “Young Justice” on the Cartoon Network while I drank lots and lots of water. That would be the last bit of relaxation I would have for the weekend. Once the show ended it was time to pack everything up.
Friday evening I had laid everything out, on my bed (might as well use it for something, right?) so all I had to do was shove it all into my backpack.
Evidently my parents and brother arrived to pick me up in their fancy, rented… uh… silver… uh…SUV thingy (I don’t really know cars. I know it had a DVD player in it, plus when it was in reverse a video appeared on the rear view mirror. My 94 Tercel certainly doesn’t have that). Due to the fact that it was an SUV and a rental I couldn’t attach my bike rack (haha, I said rack) to the back and thus had to remove the front tire and put the bike inside, with mom’s wheelchair and our bags). Once loaded up we hit the road.
Being that I had a major endurance event before me I had been sucking down water since the moment I woke and as we hit traffic just shy of the Bay Bridge I really started to regret it as I had to pee to an epic degree. By the halfway point of the bridge (A bridge I hate crossing ever since an earthquake caused part of it to collapse when I was a kid, something I saw live on television) the world was starting to have a yellow tinge to it.
Finally we found ourselves in the city and driving by the Chinatown Hilton, where we were staying… but since we still needed to park I asked my dad to stop for a second, I jumped out, and ran into the hotel before I could explode in a rain of urine. I went through the restaurant in the back of the first floor and found the restroom only to discover that you needed a hotel room key to get in. I then took the escalator to the second floor and found that those bathrooms had the same issue. So I had no choice but to get in line at the front desk and wait my turn, all while doing a peepee dance. When it was my turn at the desk I said “my dad is parking, we have a reservation, and I really have to use the restroom” there must have been something in my voice or the hint of yellow in my eyes because the man behind the desk acted as though I had a bomb and only he could disarm it. In other words, he immediately jumped to action, got me a key and pointed me towards the closest solution to my problem (not the potted plants in the lobby it turned out).
After cracking the urinal in half with the force of my fluid I met up with my folks and squeezed my bike, our bags, and my mom in her wheelchair into an elevator and headed to the tenth floor.
Once my mom and brother were settled (my brother works nights as a cab driver in Chico and had not slept in almost a day) dad and I headed to the Marina Green so I could sign in and attend the Athlete’s Meeting. Once we parked we went to the swim exit first (it always amazes me how far away Alcatraz looks from the exit. Seems impossible that a guy like me could possible cover that distance in under an hour (the official cut off time of the swim).
This race is a big deal so there is a variety of check ins I have to go through. First up I had to show a valid picture id and then was given my number (900). I then reported to the first table in the first tent, where I was given three different waivers I had to sign (I didn’t read any of them…so I may have very well sold my soul). Following that I went to tent number two, where I was given an envelop with my actual numbers (one for bike, one for helmet, one for run, two for gear bags), my wrist band (which allows me entry into the transition area) and the microchip I would wear strapped to my ankle. I was informed that they had run out of my color swim cap (foam green…I signed up 8 months ago….how did they not know they would need one for me?) and so I would be issued a cap in the morning. At tent number three I was given my race shirt and my goodie bag (an Escape From Alcatraz duffel bag filled with cool stuff). Then I had my body marked (race number on each hand, each arm, and my age on the back of my leg).
My dad and I roamed around the fitness expo, and he was recognized by not one, not two, but three very attractive women. Bastard. Turns out Sierra Nevada was the official beer of the Escape From Alcatraz tri and my dad is a big mucky muck there (which is why my bike says Sierra Nevada Brewery on it). The ladies working the Sierra booth all knew him.
In the official store for the race they had a butt load of merch including a pair of racing socks I wanted (didn’t have my size) and a cycling jersey I wanted (could not afford it).
For fun we sat in on the Pro meeting (and, by fun, I mean we had seen everything there was to see and needed to kill time until my meeting). Finally it was time for my meeting and it was very well attended. The meeting started off with the host (who also races each year) asking each of us to introduce ourselves to the people next to us. Being the most shy guy in the world (when not wrestling) I sat silently as my dad talked to the guy on the right of us. I did hear that the guy with the incredibly hot blonde on the left was from Sacramento, which I thought was cool, but I refrained from speaking out loud for the most part..From there the host reminded us that the Escape was a destination race. A bucket list race. It was meant to be enjoyed by all of us (which I thought was great because that is something I often forget to do, enjoy the moments).
A large part of the meeting was about the swim and about being disqualified. Basically in the swim we are told which building to aim for in the city so that we come out of the water in the proper place (the current can be a tricky bitch). As far as disqualifications go we are told we can get Dqed for littering (gel packets) or for being rude to volunteers. This made me wish I had a camera crew with me so that I could be Dqed during the race and then clothesline the ref that made the call.
Following the meeting we headed back to the hotel, but made a wrong turn (thanks to my brothers GPS) and ended up at a giant sporting goods store that is in the Precideo. We went in and Dad bought me a new pump for my bike (mine was not good enough he said) so that was a score on my part.
We had 7 o’clock reservations at the Stinking Rose, where we had dinner last year. We were able to walk from the hotel, well mom rolled. Dad pushed her there but declared I would have to get her back myself. He deemed that my brother was not up to being in charge of the wheelchair or mom. If you have never pushed a wheelchair through the streets of San Francisco I suggest you give it a try…it is a heck of a good workout and you will break a nice sweat.
Once dad and I were settled in our room (not sure why, but each year dad and I share one room and Will and mom share the other. Tradition?) and I got all my numbers and gear situated and repacked for the race I headed down to the lobby to look at the giant map of the city so I could make sure I would be able to find my way in the morning. Then I bought a bottle of water and just sat in the lobby and tried to focus, listening to Final Summation and Social Distortion on my ipod.
When I eventually returned to the room Dad left, looking for adventure I imagine. Or a break from me. Could go either way.
My alarm was set for 4 am and by 11 I was ready to sleep. And sleep I did…passing the heck out….
So ends part 1