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St. Croix Ironman 70.3 - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Christiansted, St. Croix
United States Minor Outlying Islands
Ironman 70.3
30C / 86F
Total Time = 6h 33m 12s
Overall Rank = 349/575
Age Group = W35-39
Age Group Rank = 11/26
Pre-race routine:

This wasn't my first visit to the Virgin Islands. I knew what was in store - beautiful beaches overlooked by mountainous terrain. We'd seen footage of the St. Croix 70.3, we knew what the temperatures could reach, and all things considered, we thought we were pretty well prepared.

This was my 3rd 70.3 and my 4th Ironman event. I had grown a little accustomed to the professionalism that comes with Ironman. The security, the attention to detail....all that was out the window here - we truly were in island mode. We made our way to the registration on Saturday morning prepared to go through the regular steps of checking ID, get ourselves weighed....instead, we simply had to state our name and they wrote our Bib # on a sticky note that would then be our "Id card" for the rest of the way. We picked up our Race numbers, t-shirts and when we had our chips checked, we had the choice of a plastic chip strap or paying $5 for the regular neoprene style. Sunday was going to be a long day and we were going to get enough chaffing from just our own gear. $5 seemed like a cheap investment for pain free ankles...although it did hurt a little to spend that money when we both had perfectly good chip straps sitting at home. The reason given by Sportstats was that it cost them too much to ship them....we're still trying to figure that out.

We spent the rest of Saturday putting our bikes together and taking them for a trial spin. My pre-race dinner was my usual - Pasta Bolognese and a glass of red. Early to bed as we had a 4h30 wake-up.
Event warmup:

Our hotel was literally a 4 minute walk from transition so we got up, walked our bikes to transition at 5h00 when it opened and made our way back to the hotel where we prepped ourselves for the race. What a luxury! I wish we had at all our events.
  • 55m 17s
  • 1920 meters
  • 02m 53s / 100 meters

AAARRRGGGHHHH! I am so frustrated with this event! I only do it because they say I have to. Whatever. I feel like my stroke is ok, but I couldn't sight for the life of me. There was a woman in my AG doing the backstroke and she was sighting better than I was. There was a point in the swim that I couldn't see a buoy or another swimmer. I was facing in completely the wrong direction, and I had to tread water for awhile in circles until I could make out what I believed was another swimmer. One of these times I'm going to tuck my garmin under my race cap so I can look back and see what the $%@% I was doing out there. Seriously. There is absolutely zero fun factor for me during the swim and I spend all of my time wishing for it to be over. I exited the water last in my AG and managed to pass one person in transition as she took her time getting ready for the bike. I knew I had my work cut out for me, but I'd rather be the chaser than be chased, so I guess in a way, I was in my comfort zone.
What would you do differently?:

Have different goggles - mine kept fogging
Try and draft
Have a better mental picture of the course
Transition 1
  • 00m

Transition was smooth - no time given by Sportstats. Picked up one spot.
  • 3h 31m 1s
  • 90 kms
  • 25.59 km/hr

It was overcast with isolated showers and the roads were quite wet. The bike starts by heading East out of town. There are rolling hills, some bigger climbs and some steep descents. I saw my first crash within the first 6 miles of the course and I spent the better part of the bike worrying that my brakes weren't tight enough as it seemed even though I was squeezing them as hard as I could, they just weren't gripping my wheel. I would have stopped to double-check them, but of course I was too pre-occupied with the fact that to the best of my knowledge, I was still 2nd last in my age group. Pathetic, I know.

I don't remember the course in great detail - Brian's report will probably describe it better. It does have many breath-taking views though with ocean on either side. I'm not sure we'll see a more beautiful course this year. Some fellow Ottawans who had had the opportunity to ride the course a couple of times earlier in the week, had debriefed us a little on Friday night over dinner. We knew the Beast (which boasts as much as a 21% grade) was scheduled to arrive at mile 20 and Dev Paul kindly gave us a little warning of when we need to get into our smallest gear. Any later, and we'd miss it. I heeded his advice, and at the base of the Beast, I sat up on my hoods and cranked it. Left, right, left right. There were a number of people who had already opted to walk - it really is humbling. To my surprise, I saw Brian just ahead of me and we rode beside each other for a bit of the way. I was happy to see him as I knew he'd be hurting and I was truly worried about him during the swim. With his determination, I knew if he survived the swim and was on his bike, barring any catastrophe, he'd make it to the end. I wouldn't see him again until the run, but he was on my mind for the rest of my race.

When I was standing on the beach, waiting for my wave to be called, a couple of guys were chatting behind me. One had done St. Croix before, and they were talking about the course. He said that everyone spends so much time worrying about the Beast, but the race really starts after that. He said that the rolling hills and coastal winds are much tougher than the Beast - that that hill is the least of your worries. I kept that in the back of my mind and sure enough, he was right. The 2nd half of the course is filled with rolling hills and head winds. Just when you think there can't possibly be more, you turn a corner and there's another climb. I spent the latter part of the course chasing a woman in my AG after she passed me, and I think that helped to keep me focused. In the last couple of kms, the bike course merges with the run course and I can't say it was easy to still be on the bike and watch others making their way on their 1st or 2nd loop of the run. At this point, I already felt quite defeated and to know all those people were well into their run was difficult to say the least.

What would you do differently?:

Push a little harder. This is the 2nd of 16 so I went on the conservative side.
Transition 2
  • 00m

I felt a little wobbly off the bike. Did manage to pick up 2 places in T2
  • 2h 06m 55s
  • 21.1 kms
  • 06m 01s  min/km

I felt great on the run. I had been disciplined with my hydration on the bike since I knew the effects the heat could have if I didn't. I experienced little to no cramping in my quads which has plagued me in previous races. The course heads East out of town and makes it's way to a golf course where you spend 2 miles before making your way back into town. There were aid stations at approximately every mile and they had all the usual goodies - water, Gatorade, Coke, bananas, ice and sponges and I took full advantage of all of them. Who knew that I would come to crave warm, flat coke, but in my experience, there is no better picker-upper after a long bike in the gruelling heat. It's like magic and I'm not sure how I'd fair without it.

At just about the 6 mile mark when I was heading back to town on my first loop, I met Brian as he was heading out on his first. He seemed a little delirious, so I pushed it to catch up to him. In the time it took me to catch him, I decided that I would stick with him for the remainder of his first loop to hopefully give him a little boost and to put my mind at ease that he was going to be ok. We ran 2 or 3 miles together, reflected on the course, shared some laughs, had a good photo opp with ASI and then he insisted that he was going to be ok and that I should carry on and finish my run. So I did. Those 2 or 3 miles were by far, my favourite ones of the whole race, and I wouldn't have traded them for anything. Running together like that solidifies what we're doing, why we're doing it, and that we're doing it together. What an amazing experience.

I finished the run strong and I'm very pleased with my overall performance. They called my name at the finish line, I stumbled across and they hung my finishing medal around my neck...only it wasn't metal, it was wood and had no weight to it. I had to keep looking down to make sure it was still there. There was no finisher hat or T, and I guess because the race is so small (575 participants in total) it took on more of a local race feel than an Ironman 70.3 The recovery food was bananas, oranges, juice, chips and cookies...a little disappointing to say the least.

What would you do differently?:

Not much
Post race
Warm down:

I stood in line for a massage - where my massage gal tried to sell me on starting my own on-line travel agency....very odd. Then I milled around the finishing area and waited for Brian to come in. I tried to calculate how long it would take him and started to panic as Sportstats began packing up and the finishers were becoming few and far between. As I mentioned earlier, the conditions were hot and he was having difficultly keeping anything in his system. The heat can be a terrible demon and knowing Brian couldn't take ample hydration, risks of heat exhaustion were high. I was extremely relieved when I saw him coming in....but I won't go into too much detail as I'm sure he'll tell you all about it in his race report. In simple terms, I was very proud of him and even prouder to be partnered with him on the venture.

We attended the Awards dinner with the Ottawa crew, and shared stories from the day. Everyone had seen something or done something different and it was interesting to hear different perspectives - although they all came to the same conclusion - it was a tough day. A couple from the UK joined our table and I chatted with the woman. She had said she had trouble sighting in the water too, so I felt a little better knowing it wasn't just me. This was her first 70.3 and I congratulated her - telling her she couldn't have picked a tougher course. Then about 1/2 an hour later, I watched as she went up to accept her 5th place award for the Pro Women. Boy! Did I feel like an idiot. Her tough swim was twice as fast as mine....all of a sudden it didn't seem to me like we had exactly the same experience in the water....

After the awards, Brian introduced himself to Craig Alexander, Mike Pigg and Faris Al-Sultan, and told them about Tri The World. They all had very good things to say - another successful day of PR, plus I got to shake their hands

What limited your ability to perform faster:

This was our 2nd 70.3 of 16 in the next 7 months. I was conservative so as to avoid injury and ensure I could recover quickly and be prepared for Florida in 2 weeks.

Event comments:

In summary, St. Croix was an awesome race. If you're looking for a lot of bling and swag, then it's definitely not for you, however if you're looking for a course that will challenge you and push you to limits you've never been to before, then I can't think of a better race. The scenery is beautiful, and the people are awesome. There's a bonding that happens in St. Croix that hasn't happened in previous races. I'm not sure if it's because it's approximately 1/4 the size, or if it's because the island is small, but it's an amazing feeling. And now, for the rest of my life I'll be able to say, I climbed the Beast!

Last updated: 2008-03-20 12:00 AM
00:55:17 | 1920 meters | 02m 53s / 100meters
Age Group: 25/26
Overall: 545/575
Performance: Bad
Suit: No
Course: Ocean Swim - heads North then loops back to the main island
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Bad
Breathing: Average Drafting: Bad
Waves: Bad Navigation: Bad
Rounding: Average
Time: 00:00
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
03:31:01 | 90 kms | 25.59 km/hr
Age Group: 10/26
Overall: 376/575
Performance: Average
Wind: Headwind
Course: Small loop + big loop Many hills including the Beast which boasts 21% grade. There were several newly paved portions but a lot of the course was rough.
Road: Rough Wet Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 00:00
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Average
02:06:55 | 21.1 kms | 06m 01s  min/km
Age Group: 11/26
Overall: 271/575
Performance: Good
Course: Runs East out of town toward the Buckaneer resort where you loop in and do a couple of miles in the golf course before you head back into town. 2 loops in total.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2008-05-08 9:02 PM

New user

Subject: St. Croix Ironman 70.3

2008-05-09 2:00 PM
in reply to: #1391443

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Central New York
Subject: RE: St. Croix Ironman 70.3
2 down! 14 to go!

Sounds like an awfully tough course, and there's just no way to prep the body for a scorching day like that this early in the season. Way to marshal your resources and still get the job done. It's very cool that Tri the World is starting to get some exposure.

One comment, which you can take or leave, as you please"

We all have our limiters. Seems like you're pretty fed up with the swim right now, which is understandable considering the goals you've set yourself. Just remember the BIG PICTURE: It's EARLY in your adventure to starting getting down on yourself over something that will undoubtedly improve as you go along. No sense trying to make yourself feel SMALL now, when you've got BIG challenges ahead. Keep a cool head. Stay the course. One step (or stroke) at a time.

2008-05-11 5:34 PM
in reply to: #1391443

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Reykjavik, Iceland
Subject: RE: St. Croix Ironman 70.3
Congratulation a finishing such a hard race.
Besides from the swim, you seem to have had a great race where you really paced yourself perfectly
I just had a look at your race schedule for the year Oh my god !!!! You have set yourself some schedule !! are you on some kind of a mission ?  
2008-05-12 12:39 PM
in reply to: #1391443

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Subject: RE: St. Croix Ironman 70.3
Sounds like a really nice race, great venue, even with the nickel and diming on chip straps. You can not beat the walk in the morning.
2008-05-13 3:34 PM
in reply to: #1391443

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Millersville, MD
Subject: RE: St. Croix Ironman 70.3

Really enjoyed your RR.  Having done Savageman, which is very similar to St. Croix (although freezing cold last year) in terms of one terrible climb and that only being the beginning of your suffering, I know exactly waht you mean about the "bonding that happens" on these small venue and very difficult races.  It's hard to describe but it's not like any other atmosphere.

Congrats on your race!

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