On September 25th I raced Ironman 70.3 Superfrog. This was the 38th consecutive year this race has been held and the 6th time I have done the race. But this was the 1st year that it was hosted by Imperial Beach. Coronado had been a great host for many years, but this was so much better in Imperial Beach. I think Superfrog has found a new home for many years.
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.
I was racing to support this great local race, but to also try and win a slot to the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championships. The 1.2 mile swim was 2 laps in the ocean all on the right side of the Imperial Beach pier. The course would be 400 meters out, turn right for 200 meters, and then turn right again for 400 meters back to the beach. We would run 150 meters on the beach and dive back in again for lap 2. The current was very strong moving left to right and the surf was pretty big – 4-6 foot waves. Lap 1 for me was a bit scary. I did get tumbled 3 times by big waves and held under water. I have been in more frightening surf, but this was a major challenge. Somehow I made it thru the surf and had an excellent 1st lap in 14:42.
Lap 2 was another story. I made the mistake of starting too far to the right so I did not have the benefit of the pier deflecting some of the energy from the surf or more importantly the really strong current. I was being swept from left to right and could not make any forward progress. I recognized that I was in a rip current and that this was not going to work. I actually decided to swim back to shore and start again, except I’d start right next to the pier. I would estimate that my failed attempts to start lap 2 cost me 4+ minutes, but it was the right move. I finally completed lap 2 in 18:37 for a swim split of 33:20, putting me in 20th place. A bit frustrating, but I was alive!
I did hear after the race that some people were not able to complete the swim and had to abandon the race. There were some 1st time ocean swimmers in the race so I’m not surprised. I felt really bad for them, but I did not hear of any injuries. The lifeguards and water safety crew were excellent.
The 56 mile bike was 4 laps of 14 miles each along The Strand. It was pancake flat and the wind was pretty mild most of the time. I had the 14th best bike split of 2:43:26 (20.5 mph) and that moved me up to 16th place. I was very happy with this as usually I lose ground on the bike, but the very best cyclists really did get away from me and I was never going to catch them.
The 13.1 mile run was 4 laps of just under 3.3 miles each. The run course the last couple of years has been pretty easy, but 2016 was back to the legendary Superfrog with long stretches thru the deep sand. I would estimate that we had to run about 2 miles in the deep sand. On my 4th lap there was a very attractive young woman in the deep sand section spectating in a bikini. She actually urged me on saying that “it’s hard just ahead.” I bet it is! She was a great distraction, but where was she during my 1st 3 laps? I went on to have the 3rd best run split of 1:39:07 (7:33/mile) to finish in 5:00:46. I placed 7th out of 53 men in the 50-54 age group and 85th out of 630 overall finishers.
I really had a great race. I was actually 34 seconds faster than 2015, despite the more difficult swim and run courses. There were 4 slots in my age group for the 2017 IM 70.3 World Championships and they were claimed by the top 4 guys. The 6th place guy finished 6 minutes ahead of me so my problems during the swim didn’t cost me. I ran up against a stacked field – the 2nd and 11th ranked guys in the world raced Superfrog and 3 of the guys who beat me came from out of state. Uggh! I was a bit disappointed, but I know I will have a better chance to qualify next year when I can race in the 55-59 age group as the young guy. I can still achieve my goal. I have found it is more rewarding when the journey has some bumps in the road.
To see my race photos, click on this link:
Living the life…