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St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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St. Criox,
Virgin Islands, U.S.
World Triathlon Corporation
85F / 29C
Total Time = 5h 03m 44s
Overall Rank = 64/800
Age Group = M30-34
Age Group Rank = 9/59
Pre-race routine:

We flew into St. Croix on Friday and had absolutely no issues with American Airlines. Actually, they delayed the plane so that 24 people with a delayed connection could board. They even put their bikes on first and their luggage on second. That meant that some of the connecting people did not get luggage but did get bikes. Mad props to AA for doing this since it was the last plane of the day to St. Croix. Our plane was easily 3:1 triathletes.

I was lucky enough to be staying with a guy doing the CEO challenge, so we got the hook up. Woke up at 4:15 and took a quick shower and ate some PB bread and coffee. The van took our stuff to Transition and we rode our bikes down (2 miles). Got set up and then just hung out for a while.

Took my gel before swimming over to the island for the start. Kept looking at the swim course and the white caps... It was going to be a tough swim.
Event warmup:

It was a 200 meter swim over to the island where the start was. We got to jump off of the sea wall and then swim over. I did some race acceleration and drafted off a guy until he realized what I was doing. :P

It was about 30 min before our start, so we watched the pro start and I was the 3rd wave.
  • 33m 26s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 35s / 100 yards

Started off to the right of the crowd because the "lane line" that arc'd around was very loose and others were getting caught up in it. As soon as I hit the water, my right goggle lens got 1/2 full of water. I had to decide to stop or keep going. I decided to keep going. I pushed hard for the first 100 meters and started to head for the hot gates. I was right on track which surprised me very much. I though I had overshot them. I settled into my stroke pretty well on the out portion. You could feel the up and down of the chop and it seemed like every time I was sighting, I was on the downside of a swell.

I saw several scuba divers beneath me and that was really neat. They were holding onto the buoy ropes taking pictures I think. I never had anyone to draft off of because I was passing everyone around me until we approached the boat at the farthest point. Then I saw a guy with a neon orange cap come by me. I tried to hold on but he was WAY too fast.

I rounded the buoy and headed for the fort. About 3/4 of the way to the fort, some other neon colored swim caps came by. I held on for a while and then started to think. Am I off course? Did I cut it? The pro's had that color cap and they went off 6 min in front of us. Finally, I took a moment to look at my watch and where I was on the course and realized that I was ok.

I lost focus about 3/4 of the way and fell into a 'comfortable' stroke pattern, but realized it and picked it up. My goal was to flirt with the aerobic/anaerobic line and I did that for most of the swim. The last 150 meters was really neat. We swam along the sea wall and you could see people right there. They were pointing and cheering you on. Really neat.

They were probably pointing at me saying, "How come he's not drowning?"
What would you do differently?:

Get a skinsuit. I think it would have helped me to be a bit smoother in the water. Focus only on smooth and strong strokes. Everything else comes secondary.
Transition 1
  • 01m 28s

Transition went by quickly. I took an extra 10 seconds to make sure things were good. Problem is...I forgot to put on my socks! I didn't realize it until I was approaching the mount line.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. Work on begin smoother.
  • 2h 42m 15s
  • 56 miles
  • 20.71 mile/hr

I knew this ride was going to be hard and I needed to attack it properly. The plan was to start off conservatively until I get to the Beast (20 miles) and then creep up into mid Z3 and hold on for dear life.

Got up to speed fairly quickly and immediatly started my nutrition/hydration plan. Most of the people in my little area didn't understand the concept of staying to the left. Since they drive on the left side of the road in St. Croix, you passed on the right. I experienced this in Australia too, so it wasn't that bad. But when I went to pass people, they were either in the middle of the road or I would have to ask them to move left to pass. Me and this guy on a cheeta painted Cervelo played leap frog and he refused to get over, so I just shot by him on the left. I don't think he appreciated me passing him because he'd ramp it up and then I'd repass. I never saw him after mile 15.

The hills came frequently and fiercly. The first climb was between 7 - 10% grade. As a courtesy or to kick you in the nads, they painted the % grade on the road. As I headed out, the pro men were flying back into town. 8 miles ahead of me or so. They were hauling some serious Butt. A little packish, but no pace line. As people had said and I read, the race starts after the Beast.

8 miles into the race, it started to sprinkle. I figured...awesome...overcast and it will keep it cool. Then it started to Monsoon! I'm talking chickens running for their lives type rain. And here we are looking like drowned rats flying downhill full on the brakes not slowing down one bit. It's one of the few times where I've actually been scared on my bike. But did I slow down?? Not really. I did make some seriously wide turns though. Coming back into town (after the small loop), you have what's called the hot corner. I didn't really know why...but found out. Essentially you blast into town and then make a series of lefts and rights as you zig zag through the 'main' streets. Great...unless the roads are soaked! I almost went down before I realized where I was and to stay away from the painted lines. A guy in front of me went down but it was only a slide, not a real crash.

Uneventful until the Beast. You know when you've arrived because it's painted at the bottom. This was a test of if my 25 was going to stay or not. I had been fighting it to stay so I was afraid I was going to have to climb this thing in a 23. It's marked off in .1 mile increments and I was out of the saddle for most of it. According to my cyclometer I got down to 4.3 mph on this thing. For reference, I was able to keep 5+ mph all the way up HogPen. You can't help but read the % grade on the road. 19%, 21%..and then...the last left turn, I see 27.5% to the left and 16.6% to the right. I had just pulled even with a guy and I had to make a decision... So I forced the guy to my left onto the 27% grade while I took the 16% grade. Sorry's a race. I don't think he was pleased. One thing I remember distinctly about the Beast is that sweat was pouring down my arms and off of my bull horns. I don't think I've ever had that much sweat just drip off while climbing.

I had noticed a pink bike and rider up ahead of me on the Beast, but I didn't really pay much attention. She was climbing well, because I never made up any ground on her. Finally, on the back side and on the next climb, I passed her. Wouldn't you know it was Amanda Lovato. Yeah..she's HOT. I would see her again really soon!

After some more climbing and beautiful scenery (see my avatar) we go through another town. As we enter a military base, there are some huge speed bumps for about 1/4 mile. Right before getting there, a road marshall decides it's a good idea to let a car almost cut in front of me. He gives him the come on signal and I scream out, "NOOO"...then he stops the car and I fly in front of it by about 2 ft. I was handling the speed bumps pretty well until I got overconfident and then...PING! There goes one of my flasks and my water bottle. Crap...slam on the brakes and run back to get them. I had 2 gel was almost empty and one was full. So of course the full one gets ejected! So 5 people fly by me as I'm getting pissed off at myself. (Oh...did you see that...I believe I saw pink ride by...)

Got back on and into the wind tunnel that was some damn boring Hwy with hills that forced you to switch from big ring to small ring to get up them. My new buddy Amanda (Cause that's what she likes me to call her) and I were trading spots. Then out of no where as she passes by me, she says, "These roads suck". I was like...uh huh...she talked to me...ahh....

Then, when I passed her back I was like, "So...ride here often?" Ok..I should have said that, but what I said was, "I wish they'd stop putting these damn hills in our way". She laughed and agreed. We were both in no man's land, so it was good to have someone to pace/watch. I must admit that I sat behind her for longer than I should have until I looked down at my HR and was like, CRAP...gotta go. We're at mile 45 and I'm suppose to be on it! I told her see you later and she gave me the head nod.

Around mile 50, a guy flew by me like I was standing still. I noticed that he was in my A/G, so I was not pleased. But then...he slowed down and I noticed that his front wheel had gone flat. I thought to myself...Awesome! But then I wondered if I just cost myself Kharma points because I was happy that he flatted. I wasn't happy that he flatted per say, but glad that one more 30 - 34 was behind me. Know what I mean?

Got into Transition 2 minutes behind schedule, but pleased with my effort.

Nan was there screaming her head off...Gotta love the IronSherpa!
What would you do differently?:

Nothing really. Secure my gel flasks better. This was the first time I had them both in there and it was a bumpy ride.
Transition 2
  • 01m 15s

As I got into T2, I noticed that I was the 5th one back. This was the beginning of the end mentally for me. I remembered to put on my socks this time and I was out.
What would you do differently?:

Not worry about placing and just race.
  • 1h 45m 23s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 02s  min/mile

Remember when I said that it was raining on the bike? Well, it stopped raining but there was no water on the road. I wonder where it went to...OH...the air because I can breath the water that came down now. The clouds parted about half way through the bike and the temperature and humidity screamed up.

So as I head out, Nan is all excited and asks me how I was feeling. I gave her a thumbs down because I had already decided that Kona was gone. I don't know what got into me, but I couldn't shake the image of those 4 bikes in transition out of my head. My first mile was 7 min, so to my surprise I was on pace. Then the hills came...

I took sponges from every aid station and I had decided to carry my Nathan water bottle on the run. For some reason, it seemed heavier than usual. I also, skipped my nutrition plan on the run. Again, I don't know what got into me, but I didn't even as much as take a gel the entire run.

Just after the mile marker, here comes Amanda flying by me. I had half a though of going with her, but shut it down quickly. Then as I turned into the Buccaneer, Faris Al-Sutan came flying by me and some other pro's came by a bit later too. It was really neat, although I don't know how he keeps his race belt up when it's down below his butt cheeks.

My desire and body was waining and I could feel the heat building up on my shoulders from the sun beating down on me. I think the straw that broke my back was the huge hill on the golf course. I think it was like 14% grade and I passed more people walking up it than running. That was a 9 min mile and my motivation was coming and going. I didn't even attack the downhill like I normally do.

This was what Jorge warned me about as the Dark Times. This is where if you want to play with the big boys, you have to HTFU put your big boy pants on and go. Unfortunately, I failed to do that. Perhaps Amanda would let me borrow her pink panties for miles 3 - 7. I got to the turn around and Nan knew it was bad. She could read my body language and my attitude.

I tossed my Nathan bottle and thought about pulling the plug on the race. I felt sorry for my slow A$$ and wanted so badly to quit. But I knew that not only would I never be able to live with myself, but everyone I've ever told that it's about crossing the finish line would see me as a hypocrite.

Then as I left Nan in my rearview mirror, her words kinda hit me like a ton of bricks. "STFU and Race!" Granted, Jorge told her to say that, but for some reason it sunk in at mile 7. I decided that I was going to start picking people off. I started drinking the coke on course and felt a bit better.

I got back down to below 7:10 for miles 8 & 9 and started picking people off one by one. A guy in a Puerto Rico jersey ran by me on the first loop and I saw him up ahead walking. I had 2 miles to catch him. Then a guy from Panama comes by me (32 on his calf) and I get pissed off. Now I'm motivated even though my body is breaking down from the heat and lack of nutrition.

When you pass the turn around, you have 1/2 mile to go. Up a block and back down to the finish line. I pass Nan and gave her a thumbs up. I am now at least 40 meters behind these two guys. They are running side by side. All of a sudden, as we make the turn for home, they look at each other, then back at me...and take off!

I had nothing left to give, so I checked my 6 to make sure that I wasn't going to be passed by anyone. I enjoyed the last 100 meters or so as I got the crowd stirred up. I have never been so happy to see a finish line in my life. This was by FAR the hardest HIM I have ever done.
What would you do differently?:

Stick to my nutrition plan and stay POSITIVE. A race is about going as hard as you can and seeing where it lies at the end.
Post race
Warm down:

Crossed the line and Nancy was waiting for me. She gave me a big hug and I was happy to be done. I looked at my time and was very upset at not only myself, but at my effort. The more I thought about the race and what happenned, the more I realized that it was a very hard race. The fact that I was only 30 min off of my best race on this course with these conditions, I should be pleased.

It took several days, but now I am pleased with the time, but not my mental race state. I can reverse engineer the race all day. 5 min would have gotten me 4th in my A/G, 44 sec would have gotten me 2 places higher, etc. The reality of it is that I swam in choppy seas, averaged almost 21 mph on a bike course that had 4860' of climbing in the rain and sufferred through a run that probably had at least 600' of climbing in 90+ degree heat and high humidity.

There was no where to hide on this course. It kicked you in the balls from the first step to the last. I survived it mostly intact and THAT is what matters in the end. I learned a lot and I have a lot to work on...that's a fact.

But to be unhappy because the clock didn't read what I wanted to is just asanine. Each course has it's difference and challenges. The job of the athlete is to take them on and fire back with all they have. What that results in is what matters. Not how long it took, but that you fought and won. So this was a victory for me...

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Other than the chop in the water, the rain, the 15% avg grade and heat on the run...nothing.

Event comments:

St. Croix HIM is one that you will never forget! I don't care if you win the race or are the last finisher. It's very well run, hard and falls into the category of an Epic Race.

The only downside to doing this race is that people stop listening to you after 30 min and you haven't even gotten to the Beast portion of the bike yet.

Oh, at the Awards ceremony, we happenned to be where the pro's were hanging out. So I got a picture with Faris, Craig, the Lovato's, Richie Cunningham and some others. Amanda remembered me from the bike course. But then again...who wouldn't? :P I found it funny that Mike L. was carrying her purse!

Profile Album

Last updated: 2008-04-25 12:00 AM
00:33:26 | 2112 yards | 01m 35s / 100yards
Age Group: 13/59
Overall: 96/800
Performance: Average
Suit: All3Sports 2 piece
Course: 200 meter arc to the left and through the "hot gates". Then out to a turn buoy, 200 degree turn to the right back towards shore. 200 meters along the sea wall and out.
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 80F / 27C Current: High
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting:
Waves: Average Navigation: Good
Rounding: Average
Time: 01:28
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Good
02:42:15 | 56 miles | 20.71 mile/hr
Age Group: 8/59
Overall: 59/800
Performance: Good
Max speed: 39.2 mph on wet roads. ;P
Wind: Some
Course: Large loop around the island with a double lap/loop section to start and finish.
Road: Rough Wet Cadence: 89
Turns: Average Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:15
Overall: Below average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
01:45:23 | 13.1 miles | 08m 02s  min/mile
Age Group: 10/59
Overall: 96/800
Performance: Bad
Course: 2 loops. On road for 2 miles, then on a golf cart path, some grass/trail, back on golf cart path and back into town. 4 moderate climbs with one NASTY one right at mile 3.25. It sucked.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Below average
Mental exertion [1-5] 2
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2008-05-15 11:20 AM

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Atlanta, Ga
Subject: St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon

2008-05-15 12:02 PM
in reply to: #1404514

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Cycling Guru
Fulton, MD
Subject: RE: St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon

Kick azz Dan!  Great report and solid race on a really tough course.  It is one I'd like to do in the next few years.

And top 10 in your AG and another Clearwater slot!  A great day even with the challenges of the course, weather and mental aspects!

2008-05-15 12:29 PM
in reply to: #1404514

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Subject: RE: St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon
Fantastic rr and an even better race.  You may have been disappointed by your finish time, but I'm absolutely floored by it!!!  BTW - I'm digging the new avatar.
2008-05-15 2:02 PM
in reply to: #1404514

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Science Nerd
Redwood City, California
Subject: RE: St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon

So now instead of fast pants, you need big boy pants?  Or is that big boy fast pants? 

Congratulations on the race.  You did a great job.  It was a really tough course and you made it through - 9th in your AG is nothing to complain about.  (well, you can, but then I'll come beat you up because I'd love to be there.   

2008-05-15 2:03 PM
in reply to: #1404514

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Atlanta, GA
Subject: RE: St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon

Great RR.  I enjoyed the detail.  By the time I am done, I do not think I could write that much on a race.  The insight is valuable...especially about Amanda. 

Seriously, this was a great start to another banner year!

2008-05-15 3:24 PM
in reply to: #1404514

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Subject: RE: St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon
Great race report.  Bagging a Clearwater slot is nothing to complain about. 

2008-05-15 3:41 PM
in reply to: #1405316

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New City, New York
Subject: RE: St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon

RR was worth the wait. "If it doesn't kill you...

A mentally tougher Dan will be a force at Clearwater. Congrats on that! 

2008-05-15 3:55 PM
in reply to: #1404514

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Nashville, TN
Subject: RE: St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon
You are such a stud.  Congrats on yet another awesome race
2008-05-15 4:36 PM
in reply to: #1404514

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Gulf Shores, AL
Subject: RE: St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon
Congrats, that bike picture is cool. Way to gut it out in tough conditions.

2008-05-15 5:15 PM
in reply to: #1404514

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.
2008-05-16 8:46 AM
in reply to: #1404514

Boston, MA
Subject: RE: St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon

nice job dude and no worries; we still have time to convince you that it is ok to push hard and go after the fast dudes. At that level it gets to the point the fitness is there, you just need to be willing to suffer more than them

2008-05-16 9:57 AM
in reply to: #1404514

Roswell, GA
Subject: RE: St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon
Wow!  Awesome race report.  I felt like I was with you on the whole course.  Sounds like the toughest course one could possibly imagine.  You're a true winner just for having the courage to race it.  Congrats!
2008-05-16 10:07 AM
in reply to: #1404514

Reykjavik, Iceland
Subject: RE: St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon

Wow that was a great read, I was really felling your pain on the run.........having been there it was not to hard

It is a very tough race and you did awesome, congratulations

2008-05-16 10:35 AM
in reply to: #1404514

Subject: RE: St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon
Excellent race report.  Way to perservere through extreme, grueling conditions.  It sounds like you learned a lot from this race. 
2008-05-16 11:44 AM
in reply to: #1404514

Extreme Veteran
East Aurora, NY
Subject: RE: St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon

Great job Dan! pics of Amanda!??

2008-05-17 8:26 PM
in reply to: #1404514

Subject: RE: St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon
Always learning from your race reports.  It also helps me put GCT in better perspective.  Thanks!

2008-05-28 9:26 AM
in reply to: #1404514

Vestavia Hills
Subject: RE: St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon

Fantastic effort on race day, my freaskishly fast friend. 

Your race report did not disappoint either as you captured the effort, the drama, the struggle and the conquest.

Conrgatulations on another Clearwater slot.  You ROCK!

PS: I too {heart} Amanda ... a joy to see on the race course.

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