San Diego is a special place for me. My first memory is playing on the beach with kelp near the Del Coronado hotel. I transformed from a doughy boy into a Marine at the recruit depot in the fall of 2001. Now with family living down here I have enjoyed the occasional visit paired with a quick tri in the morning. SuperSEAL was a great chance to see how my training was coming along for Ironman California 70.3 next month.
The SuperSEAL Course
SuperSEAL was a bit longer than the last Olympic distance triathlon I raced. The 1 mile swim was much closer to the Half-Iron distance and the 40k bike a decent length to see how my indoor trainer sessions (thanks to El Niño rains) had prepared me. The 10k run was standard length with the first leg on a dirt trail. Racing in San Diego usually affords great scenery, but Coronado’s Silver Strand tops them all.
Being close enough to walk to the swim start and transition to set up was phenomenal. No need to wake up an extra hour to drive and hassle with parking. After a quick coffee I stepped out and laid placed my gear in transition.
Learning from past mistakes, I gave myself 10 minutes to warm up and swim easily in the bay. I had a lot less of the pre-race jitters that have shown up in the past, which was a pleasant surprise
Following the cannon blast my wave (18-34 year old males) was off. We were the first to go, adding to the excitement of the race. The water was much warmer than the ocean side of Silver Strand and much warmer than the San Francisco Bay. My goggle choice was the only hinderance to an otherwise great swim. I went with a pair of tinted goggles that have served me well for Alcatraz swims, but started leaking on one eye almost immediately. The tint made spotting the buoys slightly harder, but I don’t think it slowed me down. 27 minutes later I exited the water, my fastest mile time so far.
Transition took me through a pedestrian tunnel under Highway 75 and to the beach parking lot. It was cramped, but fortunately I was the first swimmer back in my section and did not have to bump elbows with anyone else as I peeled off my wetsuit and strapped on my helmet and cleats.
The bike course was flat. A two loop circuit of Highway 75. I was riding my brother-in-law’s bike, which was not quite my size and I struggled to find a good balance and riding position the first few miles. All that said, it was much better than having to bring my own bike down. I averaged 19 mph and worked some unfamiliar muscles due to the difference from my own bike’s fit. Up until this point I had not eaten anything so I chewed on a few Jelly Belly electrolyte beans. Not optimal, but feeling no drop in energy during the first hour of racing reassured me that my body was able to handle the pace without needing to suck down calories every 20 minutes. The course was flat and there was minimal wind in the morning. After my two uneventful laps I returned to transition to change into running shoes.
Not having totally gassed it on the bike, my legs felt fresh enough as I began the 10k run. The biggest relief was not experiencing any of the arch or right calf tightness that had sidelined me for most of January. It turns out if you do the stretches you doctor assigns, you get better. Some of the elite runners breezed past me, but the overall feel of the course was positive. Most everyone was in good spirits and excited to remark how great a day it was to be healthy and racing in Coronado. The view of the bay, Coronado Bridge, and downtown San Diego was only exceeded when Point Loma and the ocean came into view. The turnaround was across the highway from the Navy SEAL BUD/s training facility. I finished strong on the run and smiled as I saw my family waiting. Getting cheered on by my two-year old daughter was the icing on the cake.
Surprisingly, of each three disciplines I ranked the highest on the swim with a 26:54 for the mile-long course. I give all credit to Kerry O’Brien from Walnut Creek Masters Swim Club. My bike time was 1:19:50, which I was satisfied with given the different fit. I logged a 47:58 for the 10k run, which is roughly a 7:44 mile. I knew I was ready for Ironman California 70.3 two weeks later. But the numbers don’t tell the whole story. As I hugged my family and high-fives the other athletes I met along the way I felt a profound sense of gratitude for my health and the chance to partake in such a dynamic sport. I plan on coming back next year for SuperSEAL 2017!
Mike can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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