Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Rome Top...

I have no idea how long this list is going to be. But I ducked into a cafe because I just cannot imagine not documenting all of the amazing things I have seen today.

In no particular order...
  1. Palm Trees. In Rome! How come I have never before seen a Palm Tree next to the Colloseum?
  2. Really? I look Italiana? Sono spiacente, sono americana... (I am sorry, I am American!) Please do not talk to me so quickly!
  3. Really? I look that American? The other 51% of this country thinks I am Italian. Please, at least say, buona sera!Siesta. It is effing HOT here. And no one should have to be awake for this nastiness.
  4. Straight men toting Louis Vutton bags.
  5. Straight men toting Prada bags.
  6. Straight men... looking dubiously straight, more or less. They are so in style.
  7. Really? I look Italiana? Sono spiacente, sono americana... (I am sorry, I am American!) Please do not talk to me so quickly!
  8. Really? I look that American? The other 51% of this country thinks I am Italian. Please, at least say, buona sera!
  9. Gelato.
  10. Sweating. I normally HATE sweating. But here, you just sweat, sweat, sweat. Then refer to numero nove, above.
  11. Full women in tight, tight, tight, WHITE pants and shirts.
  12. Full women bringing ME size SMALL in all stores.
  13. Chianti.
  14. Shoes! Why they never took Carrie to Rome for Sex and the City is beyond me...
  15. Montepulciano.
  16. Colorful buildings with lots of windows and large shutters.
  17. Key cards for lights. Sure, it is a little odd, but it is good for the environment and I never lose my hotel key!
  18. Mozzarella. So fresh and so...
  19. Pizza. If it is this good here, I am afraid to go to Napoli!
  20. Wine. Have I mentioned that before? Because really, all the wine, even the white wine (Mom!) is all amazing. And, if drank correctly, it yields no hangover.

It is 8PM now, time for more wine and gelato. Really, I know it is actually time for dinner, but I could not wait any longer. I was starving an hour ago. Round 2 coming up. Ciao!

Friday, June 20, 2008

When in Rome...

I kind of fell in love with Mountain Man JCB on our first date. I know, I don't believe in Love at First Sight. But I do believe in Love at First Watching of Ace Ventura Pet Detective. When JCB and I said all the words to Ace Ventura Pet Detective, in unison, from start to finish of the entire movie, I knew this was it.

My feelings for the man were only reconfirmed when months later, after a long night of drinking, we woke up and watched Anchorman from start to finish. Again, JCB could not keep quiet and recited every single line of the entire movie. And much to my surprise, every single line of that movie - that movie I had only seen once prior to this viewing - was a line that JCB frequently used. A line that frequently brought me to hysterics, nonetheless. And I had no idea he was being entirely unoriginal all the while!

However, given my inclination to memorizing movies and dropping the lines whenever I can, this only made me love the guy even more.

I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly...

For just one night let’s not be Co-workers. Let's be Co-people...

Baxter, you know I don't speak Spanish...

I love lamp...

When in Rome...

So, now that I actually am, IN ROME, I am missing Mountain Man even more than ever. This city is pretty amazing, I have to say. And it would be a lot more fun to eat all this gelato and drink all this wine and do all this wandering around if I weren't all by myself.

But I am, IN ROME, and it is 9PM, so I better go get some gelato...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Romeward Bound

We are approaching that time, again. That time when I really, really, really have to do laundry. Because I really, really, really have to start packing.

But I'm not going to complain. Because I'm not going to Chicago!

Tomorrow morning at 9:01 AM (flight time confirmed by Mountain Man, so that I don't end up missing my flight!) I will depart for Rome, Italy. I'll be there for almost a week, attending a meeting for work (naturally). But I'll be able to take some time for myself to explore the city...

I will be spending my first three nights at the Rome Marriott Park Hotel outside of the city. Then, after the meeting, I'll head into the Hotel San Carlo, "located in one of Rome 's oldest and most exclusive areas just off the Piazza di Spagna."

I am very much looking forward to a week of gelato and red wine... Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Escape from Alcatraz - The Videos

I'm normally not someone who tends to spend the day on You Tube watching clips. However this triathlon has done strange, strange things to me.

I spent all day Thursday before the race watching this clip...

And I spent time (more than I care to admit!) since the race watching this clip...

Perhaps it is because I cannot wait to get into the water again...

Time to find another race!

Escape from Alcatraz - The Details

I barely even heard the alarm, as I was up and out of bed within a mere second of it alarming. It was 4:30 AM, and I was ready. Oh, was I ever so ready.

By 4:45 AM, I was on my bike and riding to the Marina Green. In pitch darkness. Throughout the entire ride, all I could really remember was AER's retelling of her Escape last year, and how amazing the entire day was. I cannot remember ever wanting to race so badly - 10K, Marathon, Relay, or Triathlon. At barely 5:00 AM, I couldn't wait to get in the water!

I set up my transition in about three minutes, wondering the entire time, why the hell this step used to take me so long. I was on the bus by 5:15 AM and headed to Pier 3, where I would wait for a couple of hours before getting on the San Francisco Belle to head to Alcatraz. For the next hour and a half, I had no nerves - I made friends and chatted, sipped coffee and stretched, peed, peed, and peed.

By 7:00 AM, nearly two hours after arriving on the scene of The Escape, we FINALLY felt like we were going somewhere. We boarded the the San Francisco Belle and set out for Alcatraz. I peed six more times. Talk about excitement! We did a loop around the island, and I had a perfect window seat to take it all in.

Finally, after what felt like days, and I'm pretty sure one more trip to the bathroom to pee, the Pros made their way onto the dock. We sang the Star Spangled Banner, and all of a sudden, we were counting backwards from ten. The Pros were climbing over the deck to dive into the water, the rest of us, still inside the boat, were SCREAMING. Excitement!!!


But the horn sounded, the pros dived in, and next thing I knew, the race directors were yelling at us to get in the water. I had barely a minute between the horn and my entry into the water. Just enough time to get my goggles in place, but no time at all to second-guess what I was about to do. Alcatraz to my right and San Francisco straight ahead, I jumped into The Bay and started swimming.

The Bay's 55 degree water didn't even feel cold. The people swimming on top of one another didn't feel stifling. That ridiculously strong current? Well, it didn't eat me. I swam pretty well, I think. I didn't really see a kayak, proof that my sighting was right on. If anything, I was a little too conservative with my line. Nearly 15 minutes into the swim, I realized I should probably be heading further to the west. I started to worry that this swim was going to take me a long time. But eventually, I was at the St. Francis Yacht Club.


I felt the sand under my feet, and started running. I was kind of afraid to look at my watch, but as soon as I did, I saw that it was only 8:37 AM. Meaning, I had done the swim in about 35 minutes. I have never really enjoyed running after swimming, but on Sunday, I didn't even have to dig that deep! I took off my wetsuit, put on my T1 sneakers, and started running the half mile back to the transition.

I heard Mountain Man and AER while coming out of the water, and I saw my parents on the run back to the transition. Finally at my bike, I started to get ready to bike. But not first before sitting in the grass and peeing. I know, it's EMBARRASSING, but I couldn't pee in the water, and I had to pee before getting on that bike. So, I gave the most powerful powersquat of all time.

And then I started riding. For an 18 mile ride, the bike course for The Escape is brutal. It feels like the entire ride is uphill. And because there is virtually NO wave start to this race - all 1800 athletes enter the water in six minutes - I couldn't really tell how I was doing. I was riding with plenty of men, but hardly any women. My mind started racing...

Was I so slow that all the other 25-29 year old females were ahead of me? Or was I doing so well that I was ahead of them? Where the hell were the women?

Luckily, I had done this ride a few times. I was expecting the 18 miles to take me about an hour and 20 minutes. Up the steep hills into the Presidio. Up the long upgrade to Legion of Honor, and continuing, still climbing, up Clement towards the Pacific Ocean. I finally reached the Great Highway and turned into Golden Gate Park, and before long, I reached the halfway point. I had been on the bike for 35 minutes, meaning my roundtrip would take about an hour and ten minutes, way faster than my expectations.

So, I decided I was racing well. And from that point on, I couldn't stop smiling. Even up the Great Highway Hill by the Cliff House, and those two treacherous little big hills before Clement. I cruised through Sea Cliff, back up into the Presidio, and finally, back down towards Marina Green to the transition. By now, the crowds were really growing. I could see all of my friends lined up to cheer me on, and it felt fabulous.

I made it through T2 in decent time, not pushing myself too much, as I knew I had 8 miles - and lots of hills - ahead of me. I really can't think of a run I hate more than a run that comes after a bike ride, but I have learned I run better if I give myself some time to ease into things. So I started slow. I breezed past my friends and family, who cheered their hearts out for me, and headed out towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

I have never raced a course like this triathlon run before. Trail. Steps. Single-track. Edge of cliffs. Pacific Ocean. TONS of people. Remember, there is no wave start, and this 5 foot 3 inch girl was running with a lot of men. Men who were about six feet tall with long legs. It was a very crowded run, especially for a single-track course (on a cliff, above the Pacific Ocean) that is being used for both the OUT and the BACK.

There were few passing opportunities, but I ducked through all those Daddy Long Legs when I could. I'll be honest, I didn't have many opportunities to pass. And I'll be really honest - it didn't really matter. I think I ran pretty well, even up those never ending hills and stairs. Until we got to Baker Beach. Seriously - they make you run ON THE BEACH. And it's not like there's any packed sand here. The entire beach run - about a half mile or so? - is in loose sand. For the first time in the race, I started to feel miserable.

It wasn't that long of a beach run. But it wasn't over yet. The sand ladder was waiting for me. These race directors are EVIL. All the articles I had read before the race said to not even TRY to run the sand ladder. So I didn't try. Hundreds of steps. Lots of people. SAND. I held the railing and just tried to walk up the steps as quickly as possible. Without dying. It was another portion of the race during which passing people was not an option, but at that point, I didn't care. I just wanted to get out of the sand.

Nearly four minutes later, I reached the top of the sand ladder. Then I had only a little bit more to run before REALLY reaching the top of the hill. And afterwards, it was time to cruise back down to sea level and The Marina Green. So I picked up the pace, knowing that I had barely a 5K left until the Finish Line. It was a long 5K, but with every step, the spectators kept telling me I only had a little further to go.

And soon enough - seriously, it felt soon - I made it off the packed sand and back to the road, only a half mile to go until the Finish Line. I ran past my friends and family, SO HAPPY. For having such wonderful people in my life to support me. For the amazing race that I was about to finish. For that race to be OVER. For the day to be so beautiful.

As I rounded the corner into the finish chute, I saw that the race clock read 3:06. I couldn't believe it. For months, people had been asking me how I thought I would do in this race, and I honestly couldn't answer. I figured my time would be somewhat comparable to my time at Wildflower, but only if I had a really good swim. And a really good bike. And a really, really good run. It was amazing to cross that finish line feeling SO HAPPY. And GRATEFUL. And STRONG.

And now, a couple days later, I sit here wanting to do it all again. The day could not have been more perfect, and it absolutely embodied my favorite outlook on life.

Fear Less. Live More...

And Escape. From. Alcatraz.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Escape from Alcatraz - The Results

Crazily enough, Escape from Alcatraz is over. And I did it! Successfully! With a smile on my face almost the entire time. (The most important part, right?) So here are the results!

About 1800 people competed, approximately 400 of which were women, and of those 400 women, about 100 were in my age group, Females 25-29. As a reminder, Escape from Alcatraz is not a traditional Olympic Distance Triathlon. (Read more...)
Swim - 1.5 miles
T1 - Includes a .5 mile run
Bike - 18 miles
Run - 8 miles

And now, without further adieu, here's how I did...

Full Course
Time: 3:06:26.120
Overall Rank: 733
Overall Women Rank: 93
F25-29 Rank: 22

Checkpoint Time
Swim In 0:36:47.530
Bike Out 0:45:43.430
Bike Turnaround 1:21:40.400
Bike In 1:51:09.890
Run Out 1:53:18.700
Sand Ladder Start 2:33:11.420
Sand Ladder End 2:36:58.190
Finish Line 3:06:26.120

Swim Time
Time: 0:36:47.530
Pace (Min/Mi): 24:31
Overall Rank: 750
Overall Women Rank: 136
F25-29 Rank: 36

Time: 0:08:55.900
Overall Rank: 826
Overall Women Rank: 130
F25-29 Rank: 35

Bike Time
Time: 1:05:26.460
Pace (MPH): 16.51
Overall Rank: 693
Overall Women Rank: 73
F25-29 Rank: 17

Time: 0:02:08.810
Overall Rank: 706
Overall Women Rank: 133
F25-29 Rank: 31

Sand Ladder
Time: 0:03:46.770
Pace (Min/Mi): 15:09
Overall Rank: 824
Overall Women Rank: 124
F25-29 Rank: 29

Run Time
Time: 1:13:07.420
Pace (Min/Mi): 9:08
Overall Rank: 759
Overall Women Rank: 105
F25-29 Rank: 22