Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Escape From Alcatraz

As my California family and I took a boat ride around San Francisco Bay, looking out at the Isle of Pelicans, better known as Alcatraz, I could feel the cold breeze, the rough sea, and the splashes of icy cold water.  To think my son, Jimmy, the next morning, would be jumping from a ferry boat anchored off the rocky coast of this island into the frigid water and taking part in The Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon, was too hard to fathom!

Alcatraz became the home of some of California's worse criminals just because of its location, a mile and a half off the San Francisco coast.  Extremely rough currents and the cold, shark infested water made it impossible for a prisoner to survive.  Thirty three years ago, a group of triathletes did try, and made it.  Since then, it has become one of the most prestigious and challenging triathlons in the world.
Usually, the event is held in June with the lunar moon deciding when the tides and currents would be right for the swim. 

San Francisco was chosen to host The America's Cup Race this June,  changing the date to March 2nd for the 'Escape', making the air and water temperatures that much more cold.  The starting time, 7:30 a.m., was set according to the moon but a surprise cruise ship decided to sail four hours early, delaying the race by half an hour, causing the current to be even meaner.

The California cousins and I were standing on the beach when it was announced that the first swimmer had jumped from the boat.  
Within six minutes, the last of over two thousand triathletes had to be in the water.  My fear let go to tears, as I waited.  Soon, the first couple of heads were bobbing in sight. 

Then, more and more.  As they ran ashore and through the time clock, we searched to spot Jimmy.  Hundreds of black wet suits, where was he?

I wandered away from the rest of my watching family.  Leaving them with my phone.  Now, I was lost, not knowing if Jimmy was yet on land.  I could see a multitude of swimmers being carried toward the open sea by the heavy currents.  

Where was Jimmy??  In a panic, I headed a mile back to the bike transition point to see if his bike was still there.  I came upon my niece, Lucy, and was told that Jimmy was almost to the half way point of the 18 mile bike ride. I could relax.

We shouted as he returned on the bike ride and screamed encouragement as he left on the nine mile run.

The best part was seeing him cross the finish line, looking as if he had just gone for a walk around the block.

We were one big, happy family at that line, making plans for next year and maybe, even having more family involved in relays.

This morning as I awoke, I thought of the excitement and fun of yesterday.  I am so proud of Jimmy being able to accomplish this.  His discipline, his determination, and his fitness are just a part of what makes him the special person that he is today.  But Jimmy, one Escape From Alcatraz is enough! Love you, and, Congratulations! Mommy

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