7 Key Questions to Answer Before Racing the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

The Escape from Alcatraz triathlon is one of the most famous triathlons in the world. Set against the backdrop of the beautiful city of San Francisco, this 1.5 mile swim, 18 mile bike and 8 mile run endurance challenge is favorite triathlon of many! While training for Alcatraz requires special focus and dedication, choosing the proper equipment and understanding how to safely and effectively take on the course are all keys to a successful escape.

If you are signed up and committed to ‘escape’, here are 7 quick (but very important questions) you’ll want to be prepared to answer to be ready to ‘escape’ on race day:

1. What equipment will use choose for the bike? Road vs Tri/TT bike? Gearing? Wheel Selection?

2. What gear will you use for the swim? Full wet-suit, sleeveless? Neoprene cap, double swim cap? Goggle choice?

3. Given the varied run surfaces what is the best shoe selection to best navigate the 8 mile run course?

4. What are the key landmarks to sight off of during the swim? If you know the names of those landmarks, will you recognize them from water level while swimming in the San Francisco Bay?

5. What is the best way to prepare for the cold temperatures of the San Francisco Bay waters?

6. How can you train effectively for the technical aspects of the bike course?

7. What are effective training methods to be ready for the infamous sand ladder?

For over fifteen years I have been coaching athletes to successfully escape on race day.  I have coached hundreds of athletes from all over the world to their best possible race day experience. For 2016 I have updated our 12 and 16 week training programs to get you ready for race day. Unlike many training plans, our Alcatraz triathlon program includes coaching support via Q&A throughout the program. Athletes also receive 16 weeks of newsletter full of tips and guidance to most optimally prepare for racing in San Francisco on this most famous triathlon course.

Take the guesswork (and worry) out of your preparations.

Updated for 2016:

Sign up today for the 16 week (starts 2/22/16) or the 12 week (starts 3/21/16) training program.

You will ESCAPE!
-Coach Rachel Casanta

-Rachel Sears Casanta is a full time endurance sport performance coach and former professional triathlete. She has competed in 10 Escape from Alcatraz triathlons, including an age group win, three podium finishes and seven professional starts. Known for her blistering bike splits and runs, Rachel works with self-motivated athletes who are committed to giving their own personal best effort in life and on the race course.


Turkey Tri & Pumpkin Pie Kids Duathlon

Turkey Tri and Pumpkin Pie Kids Duathlon

Hypercat Racing Offers Bike Tech Support at XTERRA Renegade Triathlon & Duathlon


Xterra Renegade

Hypercat Racing is proud to offer bike tech support again this year at the Xterra Renegade Off Road Triathlon and Duathlon at Bonelli Park in San Dimas, CA. Look for the Hypercat Racing tent on race morning and Philip Casanta for your last minute bike tech needs. If you left something behind at home don’t stress, we’ve got you covered!  Hypercat Racing will have multisport racing supplies and products to help you be as prepared as possible for race day.

About Xterra Renegade Triathlon & Duathlon

The calm lake and abundant trails make Bonelli Park the perfect setting for the #XTERRA #RenegadeOffRoad Tri. This 1/2 mile swim, 15 mile (2-loop) bike and 3 mile trail run is challenging enough for the seasoned triathlete yet short enough to entice novices. The mountain bike course has a beginner/intermediate rating. The bike course is a mixture of paved roads, fire roads and single track trails. The trail run is hilly with a mixture of paved paths, fire roads and single track trails. XTERRA Renegade participants are eligible for XTERRA Championship points!

Mother of All Sales – Special Event – May 10 – Hypercat Racing



In celebration of Mother's Day, we invite you to join us in-store or online for our first annual 
"Mother of All Sales" Special Event!


When: Saturday, May 10th, 2014 (online May 10 and May 11th)

Group Ride starts at 8am, departing from Hypercat Racing – 4160 Market St, STE 13, Ventura, CA 93003

  • Up to 50% off BH Bikes – 2013 close-outs (limited inventory)
  • 20% off Profile Design wheels and aerobars
  • 15% off Cateye products
  • 10% off all saddles
  • 10% off all Hawk Racing products
  • Special pricing on Powermeters
  • Close-out clothing – up to 70% off.
  • Gear and component  ‘spring cleaning’ – sale of gently used components, bikes, frames and gear

Demo Products

  • Demo Foundry Bikes – disc road, cross or Mountain Bike
  • Demo Somec road bike
  • Demo Profile Design Wheels (58mm and 78mm)
  • Recovery Pump system

Launch of Hypercat Racing’s Triathlon Club and Hypercat Racing Cycling Club

  • Official USA Triathlon and USA Cycling affiliated clubs
  • Membership Sign-ups – Be charter members in our new clubs
  • Uniform Pre-Orders (Cycling kits, Triathlon kits & running singlets)
  • Parents interested in Youth & Junior programming can talk with Rachel

Launch of New Webstore

  • To celebrate this weekend’s launch of Hypercat Racing’s new website we will be running specials throughout the weekend. To stay on top of these time sensitive deals and sales, follow @hypercat on Twitter and ‘like’ Hypercat Racing on Facebook.

Sampling, Goodies and More

  • Products from Powerbar
  • Schwag giveaways
  • Refreshments and goodies

Product Review: Spry Natural Oral & Dental Care

Throughout my life I have made it priority one to make healthy choices. Initially it was all about me. I wanted to build the strongest, healthiest body possible. A competitive runner turned professional triathlete I made it a point to make what I thought were the best choices and product purchases for optimal health.  In 2011 when I became pregnant and earned the title of mom, my zeal for making healthy choices became more focused on the health of my child. This meant closely examining anything that I put in or on my body.  During my pre-natal and post-partum phases, I truly became familiar with how powerful marketing and product labels can be. Many products I chose were not exactly as ‘healthy’ as they claimed to be.


What makes a product ‘healthy’ goes a lot deeper than claims or pretty pictures of flowers and herbs on the product label or in advertisements. To really know if a product is good for you (and even good for the environment) you have to dig a little. Reading labels and getting familiar with ingredients in a big step towards debunking what products are healthy and those that are posers. I started looking more closely at food labels, then cosmetics and personal care.


In my quest for optimal health (a mission that kicks in overdrive when you approach a certain birthday milestone, beginning with 4 and ending with 0), I have become very interested in oral and dental health. Many illnesses and conditions have been linked to poor oral health.  Call it serendipity, but right around the time I scheduled my first dentist appointment, I got the opportunity to test the toothpaste, oral rinse, gum and mints from the Spry Dental and Oral Care Product line made by Xlear.


Just some products from the Xlear dental and oral health care line. Have sinus issues, they have products for you!


The Spry products are made with xylitol, a natural sweetener that not only tastes pleasant, but has unique dental benefits that promote oral health. Xylitol is occurs in small amounts in nature in fruits, veggies and mushrooms. Xylitol is also produced in our bodies as a natural by-product of normal metabolism. Using products with Xylitol like the Spry toothpaste, oral rinse, gum and mints help to promote healthy gums, reduce the risk of tooth decay.


When I first opened my box of Spry products, I’ll admit to being overwhelmed! I had never heard of Xylitol before and that made me a bit uncomfortable. In order for my test to be effective I needed to stop using my current toothpaste and mouthwash and begin chewing gum post meals and taking mints, too. The day I was to start my trial was also the day of an appointment with my new dentist, Dr. David Satnick.  During my patient interview and exam, I asked Dr. Satnick about Xylitol. He was quick to give his stamp of approval to products made with Xylitol. He then handed me a goodie bag with a new toothbrush and samples of Spry gum! With the confidence that comes with my dentist’s approval I began my trial.


Spry gum samples at the front counter of my dentist’s office.



I brushed at least twice daily with the Spry toothpaste and swished with the Spry Oral rinse. The first thing I noticed was how pleasant the products were to experience. I really like the Spry Oral rinse. No burning! I have sensitive gums and I was so pleased to brush my teeth and rinse without discomfort.  My teeth and mouth looked and felt clean.







In addition to brushing and rinsing, I made it a point to chew once or two pieces of Spry gum after each meal or snacks. I’m not usually a gum chewer, but to get the positive benefit of the Xylitol you need only chew for five minutes or so – totally doable. I found that the refreshing taste of the peppermint or spearmint was a nice pick me up, too. (The gum also comes in cinnamon, fresh fruit and green tea flavors).



I used the mints a bit less, usually once a day as I was busy talking or chewing the rest of the time! Like the gum, I enjoyed the pick-me-up favors. I tried peppermint and berry blast. The mints also come in cinnamon and lemon blast.


I keep Spry mints and gum at my desk, in my car and in the diaper bag, too!


I started testing the Spry Dental and Oral health care products at the end of February. My test products were free.  I’m still using all of the products today, over two months later and plan to continue to do so. I am purchasing the Spry products because they are effective and healthful. I like that Xylitol is natural and that there is a complete system to help you manage and care for your oral health. Healthy teeth and healthy gums are key to a healthy body. The fact that my dentist, a highly regarded man in his field, recommended the products makes using Spry products a no brainer.



Don’t leave your oral care to chance. Picking up toothpaste or mouthwash that is on sale is not an effective strategy for the best possible oral health care.  Xylitol is natural, tastes great, is clinically proven and endorsed by dentists, pediatricians, medical doctors and health professionals across the globe.  Give the Spry products a try. You already eat well, workout and do other goods things for your body. Why not do the same for your smile?  Visit: http://www.xlear.com/  and follow @xlearinc on twitter.

Here are coupons to try products yourself !

Xlear Toothpaste $3 Coupo

Xlear Nasal Spray $2 Coupon

IMG_20140427_084421 (1)


Rachel Sears Casanta is a former professional triathlete, coach and co-owner of Hypercat Racing, and endurance sport coaching and bike fit studio based in Ventura, California. Mom to an energetic toddler, when she is not chasing her son, Rachel is busy helping athletes achieve their goals while herself keeping fit in the water, on the bike and on the run. Visit www.hypercat.com for information about coaching for running, cycling, duathlon or triathlon events. 

I escaped! – 2013 Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon –

The 30th annual Escape from Alcatraz triathlon took place on March 3, 2013 in beautiful San Francisco. This multisport adventure is one of the world’s most beautiful and most famous swim-bike-run events. Each year Hypercat Racing and coach Rachel Casanta helps guide athletes from all over the world in the preparations for this event. Her “Alcatraz triathlon” training plans are used by first time Alcatraz participants and podium finishers alike with great success. Below is a note from one of this year’s Hypercat Racing Alcatraz triathlon program participants.


I wanted to thank you for the plan you provided us to prepare for the Alcatraz race.  Despite arthroscopic knee surgery in November, a hip flexor injury in January and a bad case of respiratory flu in February, I made it through the race under my goal time of 3 hours.  I credit the plan you put together for much of what I consider to be a very successful race.  Thank you…and best of luck with the remainder of the 2013 season!

Tim Thompson

Junk in your Trunk – 8 Tips to lose the luggage

StethoscopeIt was just a routine checkup. The requisite pre-exam paper work had to be filled out. You know the stuff; general personal information, health history and questions about any chronic health conditions and the like.  Oh and vaccination history.  Goodness, who the heck can remember that stuff! Thankfully I snagged the health file from the office and was able to piece together those historical medical tidbits and scribe them into the forms.  After handing the paperwork back to the receptionist, a brief wait ensued and then it was game time. There was definitely a bit of anxiety present; increased heart rate and an almost caffeinated alertness.  Totally understandable I think. A lot of us get visceral reactions to the smell of antiseptics, Band-Aids and the sight of those ‘biohazard’ bins in the exam rooms.

After of few minutes, the visiting intern came in and took vitals. Oh, no – the weigh in.  Why does that simple act of stepping on a scale create so much apprehension?!  Thankfully this one would be barefoot (no added ‘bonus’ weight!).  The numbers were recorded without much ado. After some quick conversation about running and triathlon (the doc commented on a race hoody I was wearing) she left and commented that the doctor would be right in.

As if on cue, the head doc entered the exam room.  He was really fired up because the intern shared with him that was a professional triathlete. He had a six degree of separation connection to another female pro and was curious if I knew her.  The conversation then rambled into the arena of bicycles and Mr. Doc had just dropped some coin to buy himself a new bike. Though he admitted he didn’t know when he would have time to ride it, he was definitely inspired by triathlon and everything it represented.  It’s amazing just how much triathlon has found its way into so many people lives! Anyhoo, just when I was starting to wonder if this appointment was going to cut into today’s training time, the doc got back to the business of medicine.

He pulled out all the doctor tools – the stethoscope, thermometer and that thing that you look in ears with and systematically completed the remainder of the exam.  After reviewing the healthy history file and satisfied with the info he collected, the doc took a deep breath.  He exhaled, “well, I’m afraid to say, you’ve got junk in your trunk.”

Holy, neon compression socks! Did he say what I think he said?
Those words could seriously traumatize any female and send her on a salt and sugar bender.
Who knew that despite regular sprints

down the beach and healthy carrot treats, Bella was clearly not exercising enough. It’s my fault since I have been so busy and I haven’t taken her on walks as much as I used to.  Fortunately, aside from the thermometer thing (you know where they put those things), Bella wasn’t offended. She was shivering and shaking a bit like Chihuahuas do, but likely resigned to reality. The pooch has to unpack the pounds.

Bella the chihuahua
It’s no secret. We all probably have some extra luggage that we’d like to unload. Whether it’s the accumulation of weight from a former lifestyle, a little post pregnancy weight or those last pesky pounds to get to a desired race weight, we are all in the same boat. Add in the specter of squeezing into some skin tight tri gear and even tighter wetsuit and few (or many) extra pounds can sometimes work against one’s motivation to get out and train or race.

Whether you’ve got 3 pounds or 33 pounds you’d like to shed,
Here are eight quick tips to help you on your way:

  1. Take Inventory. Write it down.
    We are really good at fooling ourselves about what we eat.  Keep track of your food and drink consumption for 3 to 7 days. Write down the what, when, where of what you ate or drank.  You’ll quickly start to see patterns, giving you direction for a plan of attack.
    Are you eating too little or too much? Do you starve yourself all day and binge at night?
    Do you eat enough at one sitting to feed a small country?
    Identify an area you can work on and set small goals accordingly.
  2. Increase your vegetable consumption. Add a veggie or two to each meal. Fill up on colorful, nutrient dense choices. Fiber is filling. Be sure to choose of mix of textures including crisp and crunchy for the most meal satisfaction.
  3. Check your fluids. What are you drinking daily? Water, energy drinks, juices, alcohol, sodas? Do you know how many calories that ‘healthy’ smoothie from the local yoghurt shop contains? Awareness is half of the equation. Understanding what you drinking may uncover a chronic state of under-hydration or perhaps an over consumption of fruit juices.  (lots of calories!) Make sure you are getting what you need but consider reducing consumption of drinks that pack in excess calories or don’t provide critical nutrients.
  4. If you eat out, choose your selections wisely. Consult the menu and the nutritional information.  We are not talking deprivation here, but aim to balance the nutrient and calorie load. If you really want to fried appetizer, then maybe opt for lower calorie vegetable or protein dish. If it’s dessert that you are dreaming about, skip the appetizer, choose a main dish that fits your desired calorie profile and split the dessert with your dining companion.
  5. Calories in / calories out. Be realistic about the calories you are burning. Are you running 3 miles a day and burning a few hundred calories? Or are you logging 50 mile bike rides and churning through 1500 calories in a workout? If dropping some wiggly stuff is your goal, then it’s important to have a good sense of your daily energy expenditures so you can fuel accordingly. In other words, running three miles and rewarding yourself with a 1500 calorie burger and 450 fries won’t help you on your journey to svelte street.
  6. Fuel for your workouts. Reduce your portion sizes / calories at main meals.
    During the main part of your training/racing season, be sure you are fueling during your workouts. It might make sense to not take in calories while training because you want to burn them off, right?  Not quite!  Generally speaking, for workouts over 75 minutes, you
    want to provide your body the fuel to perform. Under hydrating and under fueling will compromise your ability to perform (and get the most from your workout) and impede recovery. Instead, check your portions at meals and choose what you eat carefully.  Manage your calorie reductions at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  7. Ramp up the intensity. Add short intervals to your workouts to boost your calorie burn and fitness (your coach can help here!) While it’s true you burn a higher percentage of fat at lower intensities, you actually burn more total calories and boost your fitness simultaneously when you pick up the pace.
  8. Get strong. Strength train. Not only will strength training help your build muscle and increase your resistance to injury, working the weights (or strength exercises) will assist you in your quest for less (of you).

I don’t believe that there are ‘bad’ foods when it comes to eating, just better choices (ok, except maybe pork rinds).  Keep your diet varied and colorful and integrate the tips above and you’ll be well on your way to dropping the junk in your trunk!

Rachel Sears Casanta is a professional triathlete, endurance sport expert and owner of Hypercat Racing, an endurance sport coaching and bike fit studio in Ventura, CA.  Rachel coaches runners, cyclists and triathletes of all levels. Contact Rachel for more information about triathlon training plans and coaching packages. Visit www.hypercat.com