Race Report: Escape from Alcatraz


Finished! So fun, so hot and what a day for the swim. I’ve only done a handful of sprint triathlons, and have no formal swim training, so the open water side of this was going to be a test.

Missed the last few weeks of bike/run training with a knee injury and overall happy with how I felt.


My formal training didn’t start until the end of March, which was likely a month too late. January – March looked like the following:

  • Saturday / Sunday: Alpine Ski
  • Monday – Friday: one day of yoga, two 3-6 mile runs and two 1-2 hour rides on a MTB or my trainer

Starting in early April I picked up the volume to 9-11 hours/week, stopped yoga (likely a mistake) and added swimming. Most weeks looked like:

  • Two 75 minute swim sessions with North Bay Aquatics at Redwood High School or the College of Marin. I only swam in open water twice; once for 25 minutes in 47 degree Lake Tahoe and another at Aquatic Park. Should have done a few more.
  • Two 60-75 minute runs; one with some speed/tempo work and one easy w Z2 heart rate
  • Two-three 75 minute – 3 hour rides; long ride was always super easy to build the base that I don’t have
  • One-two days with 20 minutes of core work

In late April I did a three day gravel bike race in Bend, OR and wasn’t ready for the 70 mile days and ended up straining a tendon/hamstring on the inside of my knee. Picked up the volume again after the race in the first two weeks of May, pushed it too hard on a hilly run, quads got super tight, went for a long ride and really hurt my knee. Had to take the last three weeks of training off completely and showed up on race day after PT/Chiro and hoped for the best. After missing three weeks I didn’t have a lot of power on the run or bike was surprised with how I felt overall — maybe the swimming helped me keep more endurance than expected.

Lesson: don’t pick up the volume before your body is ready for it, and pay attention. I knew things were too tight after the run and should have taken a day off. More importantly, I need to incorporate real strength and mobility work to get my glutes, hamstrings and hips working properly.


High-fives to the kids at the start of the run! Whoever gave me that water bottle, I love you!
  • Swim: old tri wetsuit with two caps; goggles in-between so they wouldn’t fall off on jump into water; extra pair of goggles around leg in case one broke
  • Bike: Seven Axiom SL with 28mm tires at 80lbs; no aero bars; wider tires were nice to have with all the rough roads and pot holes; put socks on after the swim which was worth the few seconds
  • Run: Hoka Speedgoat shoes; hat + full coverage sunglasses were necessary with the heat


  • Two days before: carb loaded, pasta dinner, rice and veggies for lunch, muesli and berries for breakfast; beet juice in afternoon
  • Day before: normal muesli for breakfast; almond butter sandwich for lunch; tacos and a beer / lots of water for dinner
  • Race morning: pancakes with maple syrup, banana and coffee at 4am
  • Race: 3 clif shots and a bottle of water 20 minutes before swim (brought a bottle of water onto boat which was a good call); one bottle of water w 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, salt and lemon juice on the ride with 2-3 gels (can’t remember) — had 2 duct taped onto my bars to force me to remember to eat them; 1 gel and 3 clif shots during the run with as much water as I could handle at each station – skipped the electrolyte drinks b/c stomach wasn’t feeling great


I’d recommend watching their videos to get a feel for things.

We arrived at 5am — the perfect amount of time to set up and get on the 5:50 bus.
I followed a friend and we took a more direct route which worked in our favor but put us at risk of ending up out by the Golden Gate Bridge (which happened to a lot of people!)
Highly recommend pre-riding the course to get a feel for the hills and rough roads.
I walk the sand ladder to save some fuel to finish strong.


Favorite part is a hug at the finish and high fives from my favorite people. Every run or ride I’ve done in this location, coming over the crest of the last climb after the sand ladder, with nothing but blue skies and ocean ahead, my only thought is gratitude. You see the birds flying and people of all ages and abilities fully living and are reminded of all the friends and family who aren’t with us anymore.

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David Swain

Outdoors, kids and building @prokit. Formerly at Instagram and advisor at Strava.  🚲 🏃🏼‍♂️🏄🏼‍♂️⛰
Cycling, Skiing, Surfing, Gravel Biking, Trail Running
Marin, CA

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