For the third time this year, I raced in San Francisco, on what may be my favorite course. Actually, the course was changed slightly, so last year’s set-up is my favorite. Anyways, true to San Francisco weather patterns, it was foggy, overcast, windy, and somewhat cold.

For the swim start, we lined up along the side of the Southern Belle and waited for instructions that never came. A horn went off and we did nothing. Another horn went off and again, we did nothing. It wasn’t until an age-grouper dove in the water, that the professional field realized it was go time. In any other event I’ve raced, there has always been a countdown; 1-minute, 10-seconds, 3… 2… 1…

From the very moment I hit the water, it was apparent that it was going to be a long battle to the swim exit. It was windy, the water was choppy, and the current was not in our favor. As if that wasn’t enough, I took on water in one of my goggle sockets. Sighting, as you can imagine, was more difficult than usual given the conditions – I’d look up and see water more often than not and I don’t mean the water that was in my goggle socket. I had a terrible time finding a rhythm, but found a small pack and swam with them for awhile. Then, like something out of a Bermuda Triangle story, they were gone and seemingly, so was everyone else. I was swimming near the front, so I carried on alone and hoped I was going the right direction. As I mentioned before, the swim course was changed, because Tri California couldn’t get the permit to build the swim platform they built at Marina Green last year, so we swam to the Yacht Club. For the first time in a swim, I actually felt panicked, because there was no one around me (no kayaks or swimmers) and I couldn’t see/didn’t know exactly where the exit was – I actually found the swim exit by surprise. Something more than a pale white swim exit banner would have been nice. Perhaps a bright beacon of some sort? Maybe throw away my mirrored, tinted goggles? (Note to self: buy goggles for low-light conditions)

I wish I could say I rode so fast, no camera could keep me in focus.

Knowing I lost considerable time to the super swimmers in the field, I knew I’d have to push that much more on the bike. I climbed well and passed a few guys, but the road conditions didn’t fill me with confidence on the descents. I felt like I road well, but looking at the times, I guess not.

My hair is getting long(ish).

I really like the run course at the Alcatraz events; they’re brutal, but in that brutal-fun sort of way. I ran well, but the times seemed really slow for the day. I never saw the guy ahead of me until the last 400 meters and by then, I was out of real estate.

Bad photo for helmet safety… I swear I only rode 50 meters.

For the day, I finished 15th and felt good, despite the forgettable swim. It’s been fun racing three times in the last eight days, but I don’t have anything scheduled until the Triathlon at Pacific Grove, which will likely be my last draft-legal race of the year.