Day in the life: Rowing Alcatraz

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Yesterday morning I got up at o’ dark hundred to go jump in a row boat and race from Alcatraz Island to Hyde Street Pier, which is right in front of Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco. It’s the last race of the season and probably the most fun because of the location, the views and the turbulence of the San Francisco Bay’s open water. You never know what kind of water conditions you’re gonna get and who’s going to be out on the water with you: big sail boats, kayakers, big huge ocean liner tankers.

It was a beautiful morning and, well, an interesting race.

Things started out well. Spirits were high. The team got to Aquatic Park with plenty of time to spare. We parked next to an SUV that had these three yahoos standing around and struggling into their wetsuits. Aquatic Park is a popular stop for surfers who like to hit waves just below Golden Gate Bridge. But these guys didn’t have boards. Turns out they were headed into the inlet’s water way that is roped off for open water swimmers to practice their strokes. These guys were training for an upcoming triathlon and had come to swim in the bay. After chatting with them a bit, I could see the appeal. Hmm. Might have to try the open water swim from Alcatraz to Aquatic Park sometime. Not as scary looking as it sounds.

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Then, we ran into this little lover. He is half rottie, half mastif. His paws were enormous!

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I tried to snap his photo but he’s a wiggly licker.

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He kept crawling up my body to lick my face.

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Hello little lover.

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Finally, his owner, a very nice camera woman for the local TV news, was able to grab him and hold him still for three seconds. He wasn’t happy about it. But man, this little guy was cute. Check out that paw!

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Finally, we got to our boat at Hyde Street Pier.

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Across the dock from our boat was this baby. I was glad this was not my boat. Looked like it was rode hard and put away wet.

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Finally, we’re on the water.

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We rowed out to Alcatraz island, which is the starting point. BEEEEEAUTIFUL! Gorgeous, gorgeous morning!

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And here’s the view towards our destination: San Francisco’s shoreline. Nine boats in our heat.

We came in last. It was a complete and total bummer. We’re actually one of the strongest teams on the water, so something is pretty seriously off with either our stroke technique or some other mechanics for us to come in last. It makes absolutely no sense. To say the mood in the boat was grumpy is a bit of an understatement. I know that we’ll be analyzing the video (we always video the races) pretty intensely and the team will be talking about at the potluck celebration right after all the morning’s races are over. I wanted to stay and haer the instant replay discussion, but as soon as we docked I jetted out and headed for the airport.

Despite the last place finish, it’s still so worth it to be out on the water, to compete and whoop it up with like-minded competitors. Man, I love it.

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