On September 27th I raced the Ironman 70.3 Superfrog at Coronado, CA. This was the 5th time I’ve “done the frog”, but the 1st time on the new course. Superfrog is famous for much of the run course being in deep sand. Since I started battling plantar fasciitis issues in 2012, I have done everything to avoid running on sand. I decided to take the risk since this was my last race of the year.
The original purpose of Superfrog was two-fold. The first was to prepare the SEALs to race Ironman Hawaii. The second was to promote the sport of triathlon in the SEAL teams where competitive spirit is extremely high. Something every athlete and spectator must notice at Superfrog is how the race honors the SEALs who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. The fencing that borders the transition area has signage that pays homage to each individual SEAL who died in the act of duty.
My goal at Superfrog was to win my age group and qualify for the 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championships at Sunshine Coast, Australia. I was under the impression that there would probably only be 1 spot per age group so I felt like I had to win. The day before the race I ran into my friend Troy Cundari. Troy is in my age group and I have not beaten him for a couple of years. Troy was looking very fit so I feared he might present a problem for me. We exchanged text messages and he said he had no interest in Sunshine Coast so even if he beat me, it would be ok. But he said Alex Begg was racing. Alex is an ex pro. I’ve only beaten Alex 1x in my career and that was way back in 2008 at Wildflower. Uh oh! My only hope it seemed was the deep sand possibly slowing Alex down.
The 1.2 mile ocean swim was 2 loops with a surf entry and surf exit on each loop. The surf was fairly small so it presented only a minor challenge. I swam well. My split was 33:48 so I came out of the water in 3rd place.
The 56 mile bike course was 4 loops along The Strand which is pancake flat. I had raced Tri Worlds Sprint and Tri Worlds Olympic in Chicago 10 days and 8 days prior to Superfrog. I was well trained for short, fast racing, but not to race 56 miles. The fatigue started to show on the 4th loop at Superfrog. And the temperatures had risen to the mid 80’s. I muscled through it for a bike split of 2:38:24 (21.2 mph). This was the 15th best bike split and it dropped me to 10th place.
The 13.1 mile run course was 3 loops. There were a few out and back sections on each loop where you could assess the competition. I saw Troy less than 1 mile into my run and I calculated that he was 8 minutes ahead. At the same point in the 2nd loop he was only 4 minutes ahead. I was confident I would catch him, but would I catch Alex? I felt good and ran very aggressively. I was a bit disappointed that there was very little deep sand – maybe 200 meters per loop. The good news was that I knew my plantar fasciitis foot would be fine. But the bad news was I needed a really challenging course to catch Alex. This course was tough as it had a lot of loose gravel and some sand, but probably not challenging enough for my needs. Early in the 3rd loop I caught Troy. I had 4 miles to catch Alex. I asked Troy if he knew how far ahead Alex was. Troy looked gassed. He said nothing. I kept the accelerator down all the way to the end. My run split was 1:43:19 which was the best on the day.
As soon as I finished I started looking for Alex. He was nowhere in sight. Crap! He’s so good that he probably was already showered. Troy finished 4 minutes after me. I let him catch his breath for a minute and then I walked over to him. We were both dead. I told him I could not catch Alex. He laughed at me and replied, “Dude, Alex was not even in the race. I was just yanking your chain!” We both burst out laughing! You’d think I would want to kill Troy, but that was a heckuva practical joke. I gave Troy a big “man hug”. I had been chasing Alex all day and he was never there. I’d been chasing a ghost! Hmmm. Maybe I won?
As it turned out I was 2nd out of 55 men in the 50-54 age group. My finish time was 5:01:18. I was 57th out of 556 overall finishers. A guy named Alexander Pringle beat me by 11 minutes. Alex didn’t beat me, but some guy from Wisconsin named Alexander did beat me. Uh oh! Hopefully he would not want to go to Australia. Thankfully a couple of hours later at the Awards Ceremony I learned my age group was big enough that we would have 3 slots for Australia. I was in for sure! Wahoo!
To see my pictures from the race, click on this link:
Living the life…