23 Aug 2016
PREDRO GOMES WINS SAN FRANCISCO TRIATHLON
Being one of most iconic races in the World, I could not pass on the opportunity to race San Francisco Triathlon at Alcatraz after having the qualification to Kona sorted out. Tri California, the same guys that put on races like Pacific Grove and Wildflower, brought this race back to life after a 4 year hiatus, offering 900 athletes the chance to start the day with an “escape” from Alcatraz.
By sunrise, I found myself getting ready for this rather unique triathlon start, boarding a boat heading out to the middle of the San Francisco bay where we would all brave the 10 foot jump into the chilly waters right off the shore of the Alcatraz Island. I must say that this was by far the most choppy water I ever swam on but I focused on keeping my eyes on the prize (read: the big dome of the Arts Palace by the Marina) and I steadily made my way to shore. At any point I had a draft out of people around me because we were all zig-zagging and navigating the swell. While I’m not the most at-ease person with any sort of open water swimming, this one ended up pretty “mind-busy” as it was hard to just keep the momentum and actually sight anything on shore after my goggles completely filled with water from the jump off the boat. I’m a bad example of a open water swimmer as I panic when I’m swimming in the middle of nowhere or when there are fish around me, so I was actually happy that my mind was so locked and focused on swimming straight other than looking around or understanding what I was doing. I was 4th out of the water clocking a little over 27-min for the swim.
After the long swim – it’s a 1.2 mile swim.. if you do it on a straight line, which you don’t – I quickly made my way to the bike and off to face the hills. If the swim is hard, the bike does not get any easier, with the course going through the Golden Gate bridge entrance and the hills of Lands End Park. I did go with a borrowed road bike mostly because this was a very quick trip to San Francisco and wanted to keep it as simple as possible although I was still planning on racing it to my best. Given I was on a road bike, I played my aces on the hills and caught all the swim leaders on the very first hill. I had previewed the course on the day before so I was aware of the challenging descents as well and, above all, made sure I was safe. Once we got over the first set of hills, there was a long stretch, pancake flat, where I lost contact with the then new leader. Being on a road bike didn’t help my case but I was focused on keeping my power steady and high and just “survive” the flat section along Ocean Beach without losing too much time. I could still see the lead moto bike on the way back into town and again on the Lands End hill section so I knew I still had a chance of taking top spot of the podium since my run has been my “safety net” on all my races. I got to T2 after a 315 watts normalized power ride which really shows you how tough the bike course is and how much I was committed not to slack on this “bucket” list adventure.