One Sunday I did my seventh half Ironman! It was Superfrog 70.3 in San Diego. The reason I ended up doing this race is because originally I had registered for Ironman Wisconsin (full Ironman) before I knew I would be moving to LA. Wisconsin took place the weekend before this past weekend, which was only like a month after I moved. I just couldn’t justify spending all that money on flying me and my bike out to Wisconsin after I just spent a bunch of money on moving. Also the fact that I essentially took an entire month off of training between going to Belize and moving across the country.
Luckily, Ironman has a transfer option! I could transfer to any race but it had to take place in 2019. I considered Ironman Arizona which takes place in Tempe in November, however it was sadly sold out. So I decided the best and closest option was Superfrog 70.3. The one thing that really sucks about Ironman is that if you transfer from a full to half, you lose the difference in cost. So I had spent like $750 or whatever for Wisconsin but Superfrog was only like $350 so I lost that $400. Lesson learned: ALWAYS GET THE RACE INSURANCE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. I didn’t get it for Wisconsin because I was already spending so much money on the registration that spending the $40 or whatever on the insurance seemed overwhelming. WELP, $40 is a lot less than $400! I goofed.
ANYWAYYYYYYYYYYYYY. As I said above, I took about a month off of training in the summer so I did not have high expectations for this race. I also found out that some of the run course was in the sand. So I figured that was no way I would beat my PR from Steelhead either way (but you never know!).
The day before the race, I found out that apparently the week before, there was a huge raw sewage spill from the Tijuana River into the ocean. The mouth of the Tijuana River is only like 4 miles away from Imperial Beach and the beach had been closed for like an entire week. So I was definitely worried about the swim getting cancelled, but at the same time I was also okay with not swimming through, and I quote, “more than 100 million gallons of raw sewage.” WELP. By some miracle, officials decided that the water was clean enough to reopen the beach literally the evening before the race. Now, do we really know how clean the water was??? Or were they just saying that so the race could go on??? Either way, I was happy that I would be able to do my very first ocean triathlon swim! And I DEFINITELY made sure to keep water out of my mouth during the swim (which is hard when waves are literally crashing into you). It’s now Tuesday and I haven’t died from some weird GI issues so I might be okay.
So anyway, it was race morning and I was standing on the beach talking with some fellow triathletes. The guy next to me says he’s done this race every year for like 4 years, so it must be a good one! Before the race started, there were Navy Seal parachute guys that jumped out of planes and parachuted down holding an American flag. I should mention that this race is very military-themed? Or military-heavy? They basically cater it to military people because of its proximity to the naval base (or maybe it started because of the Navy? I don’t know). But they also have special military age group lists that were separate from the normal age groups, and if a military person won their age group they were offered a special spot to go to Kona! Which is really cool!
ANYWAY. So swim course was very strange. We basically ran straight into the water and swam out parallel to the pier, got to the first buoy, turned right, then swam parallel to the shore, swam to another buoy, turned towards the shore and swam back in. But here’s the thing, once we got back to the shore, we had to get out of the water, run down the beach back to the area where we started and then run back into the water for a second lap! Running barefoot on the sand and IN A WETSUIT is not easy. Then by the time I had ran back to the starting area I was totally out of breath from running. This posed quite a challenge, being out of breath and fighting through large waves wasn’t easy! But I eventually found my rhythm again on the second lap. The other part of the swim that kind of sucks is that we self-seeded by what time we thought we would go. I was in the fastest group which went first, but by the time I had finished my first lap and had run back to the start, people in the slower groups were still starting the race. So on the second lap I had to pass a lot of people. Overall though, I was a fun swim and I ended up going 29 minutes and was the fastest woman swimmer in my age group (which means I get a $50 gift card woo!)
The transition was tough from swim to bike in this race. We had to run all the way up the beach to a road where the transition area was. Transition was super long too so I think I ended up running like .5 miles from ocean to my bike! Also, most races have volunteers who will help you get your wetsuit off (it’s really hard to get it off of your feet!). I ran over to the wetsuit strippers and laid down on the ground for them to pull it off my legs. It got caught on my feet but they kept pulling and were literally dragging me across the concrete. I had to yell at them to stop because I was afraid they would rip my triathlon suit! Luckily they didn’t but damn. That pissed me off a little bit.
I transitioned and got onto my bike. The bike course was 4 loops on the Silver Strand Highway. It was a closed course, so we went down one side of the highway, and then after we turned around we came back down the other side. This was nice because there were so many people all around me and it made me feel more competitive. During longer tris, the bike course is such a big loop that you don’t really see many people because everyone gets pretty spread out (well except if you are passing someone or vice versa). The crowded course definitely kept me on my toes. I will say though, doing four laps on the same highway gets HELLA boring after the second lap. It also got windier each lap! We definitely had a headwind going north. I was averaging like 20-21 the first lap going into the headwind but by the fourth lap I was down to like 16-17mph!
I finished the bike and ran into transition, changed into my running gear and was off. During basically any triathlon it usually takes my legs like 2-3 miles to stop feeling weird and get into a good pace at the start of the run. Now, as a I mentioned earlier, I knew there would be sand running on this course but I wasn’t fully sure what that would entail. After leaving transition, we ran literally like .2 miles before we were out on SOFT SAND. Like deep, loose sand! And my legs were NOT ready for that. The way the course went was we ran down the soft sand towards like the harder packed sand near the ocean, ran down that for a bit, turned around up in the soft sand, ran back on the packed sand, then had to run back up the soft sand to the road where we had a short stretch of road, then ran BACK onto the soft sand at another part, down to hard sand for a bit, back up soft sand, back onto road for a second, then onto a dirt trail for a little, then we looped back around essentially the same way we came in, THEN we had to do loop FOUR TIMES. It was a mess. I felt like I was constantly trying to dodge people, especially on the sand parts because there wasn’t technically a dedicated path for the runners. And on the packed sand, there were people running both directions after the turnaround, PLUS people were trying to dodge waves that were coming into shore so people were running into each other.
In the middle of the second lap, my legs started to feel more awake and mentally I was starting to accept the fact that I SIGNED UP FOR THIS and needed to suck it up and stop thinking negatively (the first lap I was NOT having a good time on that sand). The four loop course got pretty boring just like the bike did, but it was kind of nice because you knew EXACTLY what to expect by the third loop. The other really tough part of this run course was that there was not a single ounce of shade the entire time. It was very sunny and hot on Sunday. Luckily there were abundant aid stations with ice or ice water to pour all over myself. That really saved the day.
Overall, my run time was fine. On the pavement I was holding like 8:30 which is what I should be holding. In the sand I was holding like 10 minutes or slower because it was just so hard. By the third lap my legs were getting really tired from the sand running and my pace on the paved parts started getting slower too. I ended up running a 2:14 half marathon which is not very good for me. During Steelhead I did a 2:01 but that was a flat, shaded, and fully paved run course so it’s not really fair to compare the two.
My total time for the race was 5:39:15 which is 17 minutes slower than what I went at Steelhead, but my second fastest half time overall. The craziest part of this race was that that time got me second place in my age group. At Steelhead my 5:22 time got me like 11th place!!! It really just showed the difficulty of the course. Also, to be fair, this race was a little smaller than Steelhead too. BUT WHATEVER, I’m still excited that I got an award! I definitely stayed an extra 3 hours after I finished just so I could stand up on the podium!
For the Ironman 70.3 World Championships, they allocate a certain number of spots per age group for people to qualify. My age group only had one spot allocated, but if the first place finisher decided she didn’t want to go, then it would have rolled down to me. I didn’t even stay to find out if I qualified. If I did qualify, I would have had to pay for registration right there on the spot (it’s like $400 I think) AAAAAAAND the race is in fucking New Zealand which would be SO COOL but like also…. Do you really think I can afford a flight to New Zealand!? That’s cute. Homegirl desperately needs to buy a triathlon bike before I can spend exorbitant amounts of money on anything else. I told myself on Sunday that Superfrog will be the LAST triathlon I do where I have to put aerobars on my road bike. I WILL own a triathlon bike before next year’s race season. How I will afford this?? Well that’s TBD but Craigslist seems to have some decent options……
Next up for me is Phil’s Cookie Fondo which is a 50 mile bike race taking place the last Sunday of October. The elevation profile looks very scary. I’m talking like 2 mile long climbs at like an 11% grade, so I fully expect to die. But at least I’ll die doing what I love right?? Then the following weekend I will be running the Malibu half marathon! As for next year, I’m still perusing my options. There are a lot of races out here in California to choose from. Top considerations: LA Marathon, Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz, Malibu Triathlon, and probably at least a couple other Olympic distance tris, maybe another half Ironman? WHO KNOWS?! The world is my oyster.