Wednesday, August 12, 2009

SuperFrog / SuperSeal Spectator Report

This was originally posted to the TCSD list on Monday, Mar 30, 2009 12:52 am

Before I get started, you need to know this report contains only my impressions of the SuperFrog / SuperSeal competition, and is not in any way a proper accounting of the event. I really have little clue what I'm reporting about, since I've never seen this event before, and I have yet to wear my own first triathlon bib number. So take this report with a grain of salt, and count it as an electrolyte.

I arrived at the south end of the Silver Strand early, in the dark, only to find I was actually late, claiming one of the last parking spaces available. In the competitor parking area, of course. OK, so I have trouble following parking directions. I sincerely apologize if any late-arriving competitor failed to find parking. Really. But no way was I going to give up my parking space.

Still being new to the whole tri thing, this was the first time I had arrived at a triathlon event early enough to see people being marked. I didn't know the age was on the back of the leg! They didn't do that during the one club tri I've done. This made it easy to see who would have been in my age group. Had I been crazy enough to enter, that is. It made me very glad I didn't register. I would have totally sucked compared to those buff folks.

I'm beginning to wonder if I really want to be marked when I do my first event. Can I be marked using invisible ink?

It seemed like forever until the sun came up. But as soon as things started to brighten, the Frogs were diving into the ocean. It was funny to see how many were so surprised after getting out of the water and heading toward the transition area to be reminded that the Frogs had to do TWO laps of the ocean course! OK, so it was only a very few. But it was still funny to see their faces when they learned. Despair can be amusing. But after they did both laps, I was there with a bunch of other cowbell ringers cheering them into the transition area.

Then it was off to the bay side to check out the Seal swim start. Big secret: There were no bathroom lines on the bay side. No pee-pee dancing for the Seals!

I couldn't make sense of the Seal swim course. I have never seen so many buoys in my life. Must have been eleventeen of them. Was it a swim course or an obstacle course? Which buoys are passed on the left and which on the right? I was so glad I was a spectator, not a competitor.

Soon enough, wave after wave of brightly capped SuperSeal swimmers plunged into the bay to wander randomly among the buoys. Or so it seemed to me. They were in oddly-sized bunches, and until the first came out of the water, I wasn't sure if any of them knew where they were going. Most of them seemed to be heading for Mexico. Some of them came back. But at least the Seals only had to do one lap, so nobody lost count.

This swim spectator stuff is hard when all you see are brightly colored Skittles splashing in the water.

As the Seals came out of the bay, they started running across the Strand toward the ocean! Fortunately, I did know that there was only one transition area, and it was on the ocean side. But it seemed to me that the Seals had a Swim-Run-Bike-Run Quadathlon, not a triathlon. A bazillion buoys backed by a barefoot run? What nut planned that? Is that even fair?

After most of the Seals were out of the water, I risked life and limb (and clothing) jumping a chain-link fence to view the bike course. There were way too many cyclists going this way and that, far more bodies than I had seen at either the Frog or Seal swim. Was there a simultaneous bike rally going on? Another spectator gently informed me that the Frogs and Seals shared much of the same bike course, and had to do multiple laps. Well, OK, that works.

For those of you who participated, I was the manic screaming guy with the cowbells during the bike segment, and I have the bloody peeling blisters to show for it! No wonder, since I wound up cheering each competitor in each direction on each lap. Felt like I was in a blizzard of bikes. There will be no podcast of this report, since my voice is still recovering. Good thing only one of my two typing fingers has a blister on it, or you wouldn't be getting this report either.

Before the last of the cyclists had passed, the finisher announcements had started! I had missed both the Frog and Seal runs! So once again it was back over the chain-link fence to the bay-side Finish area, where it seemed runners were arriving from several directions.

OK, I think these multi-meet things really need to publish a Spectator Guide for Dummies. The Frogs were coming from one direction, the Seals from another, and they met in a single lane just yards from the finish line! I was amazed they didn't have to fight their way through each other to get to the finish line (though that would have been a cool gladiator-style addition). And I had no idea which were Seals and which were Frogs. So I made a guess, which turned out to be wrong. Go figure. Like I said, a big fat large-print paint-by-number clue-by-four would have been useful.

To those of you who competed, you have my total respect, though I doubt your sanity. It was only at the very end that I learned that the Frogs did their half-marathon run in loops ON THE SAND! OMG! What kind of sadistic evil genius planned that? Did the Frogs know about it before they registered?

Bizarre buoys, quadathlons, circular cycles, and sand runs. Y'all gotta be certifiably wacko.

Who am I to talk? I was yelling and banging cowbells all morning. Much easier than being a SuperFrog or SuperSeal!

One more thing: What is it with so many dads carrying their kids across the finish line? Some of those kids looked to be on the verge of whiplash, their tiny heads bobbling to and fro, many on the verge of being dropped by drop-dead dads. Do they get extra points for that or something? I didn't see any moms carry their kids across the line. I suspect they knew about strollers or something.

Yes, I'm still a tri newbie. Maybe all this will make sense eventually. Just how many more marbles will I have to lose first?


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