Tuesday, May 3, 2011

St Croix Race Report and Adventures!!!

Beautiful St Croix!

Well I have many hours of sitting around an airport today so what better time than to write my race report while the race is fresh in my mind.

I raced St Croix back in 2005 the last year I raced as an amateur. I was thrilled then to win the amateur race and it started what was going to be a very successful year for me and ultimately the year that made my decision to turn and race professionally.

When either I or Coach Jesse, suggested doing this race I was excited at the prospect of returning and conquering the Beast yet again.

I was thrilled to arrive in St Croix, Thursday morning with my Kestrel 4000 in one piece, on a flawless trip….Well besides the fact that Continental upon landing in St Thomas flew so close to the water that I almost fainted… and the ride over on the small seaplane on Seaborne Airlines was so shaky due to the wind that I felt quite nauseas..but you quickly put those things right out of your mind once you have landed safely. Remember if booking this trip next year to try fly from San Juan on AA but do not book through Cape Air as no bikes are allowed!

My next surprise came at the location of my hotel that I had just booked a week ahead of time. The hotel was right at transition. I had not rented a car and this location really allowed me to spend the most of the two days before the race really just chilling and catching up on emails etc. and staring at the beautiful blue St Croix water.

Race DAY!
Nutrition Sponsor First Endurance
3am Wake up….probably a little too early given my location but got up to have a small breakfast. Consisting of a banana, 1 bottle of EFS and 1 bottle of Whey Protein.
Now I could have gone back to sleep but I was worried I might sleep right through the second alarm. So I just got organized and then reorganized even though I was already 100 % ready to race the night before. So basically I stared at my stuff and watched time tick slowly by….

Thought I would go check my bike in at 4.30 as it was something to do, only to be told bike check in was at 5. So back to the room and more waiting!~!

Finally 5am came and I tried to stretch what really just takes 5 minutes in transition into an hour. At 6 it was time to make the swim to a small island for a beach start.
This was my first hiccup of the day. I had my EFS Liquid Shot and my water which I was meant to take right before the scheduled 6.33 start. I was debating whether to take it 40 minutes early but instead opted to tuck it in my suit and hoped they would have water on the island.

Once on the island I found some water but reached in for the shot flask and it was gone. I guess when I jumped off the Pier it got pushed out so now I was without coffee or any quick energy for the am and just relying on pure adrenaline to get me going!!!
The adrenaline was definitely there at 3 but by 6.33 and waiting on that beach for 25 minutes all the girls were all sitting and ready to go back to sleep…well I was anyway!

6.33 Race Start
Swim TYR!

I had watched my fellow team mate Richie Cunningham and his high knee speed and quick entry into the water. So I decided to try replicate his style. As the horn blasted I sprinted into the water and find myself in open water ahead of everyone…the only problem is somebody did not like me being in the front probably because I did not belong there. So when we got to the turn they decided to grab my ankle and yank it backwards. Wander who the culprit was????
I just laughed to myself! Coach Jesse and I had been working on my turnover and I was excited to seeing it pay off but I felt like I was holding up the faster girls so I almost felt obliged to move over so they could swim by and I could try jump on their feet. Sadly I was now having my feet hit on every stroke which was really affecting my kick which I needed as it was a non wetsuit swim. So I pulled aside once again and decided to swim on their feet instead. Now I was a lot happier and was letting all the hard swimming and my speedy TYR Torque speed suit go to work.
I decided that I would rely on the girls in front of me to sight all the way out into the chop so I would not drink as much water as in the practice swim. I felt so much better in the water than a few weeks ago in Galveston.
When we made the right turn to start swimming towards the seawall that's when things got terribly confusing. First I spotted a pro guy swimming in the wrong direction …I could not fathom why???
Then about five minutes later we were swimming way to close to the age groupers which I could not understand either. Lastly we had a boat following us telling us to go another direction. We all stopped and had a little conversation with them and then continued on our way. Which happened to be a 90 degree left turn from the direction we were going. Just when I thought my swims could not get any more entertaining this one I think topped it. But above all that, I was determined that I would just stay on someones feet until I got to land!!! The result a slow 32 minute swim that was probably 1.6 miles long!!!
Mission accomplished!!!

Bike Kestrel!!

So the two girls I came out with were Angela Naeth who had got second in Texas Galveston 70.3 3 weeks ago and Leslie Patterson who I had googled and new she was going to be strong on the bike. They both blasted out of transition and within a few miles I could no longer see them.
Due to the lack of consuming my EFS liquid shot…. I decided it would be best to get right on some nutrition. So I started working on fueling. I had opted for 3 bottles of EFS which with the heat and humidity I knew would not last long. My goals was to get through at least 1 maybe two by the Beast so my bike might feel a little lighter going up!
I had not managed to see the course so it was fun remembering parts of it from my previous race experience. I knew the Beast was at mile 21 and I anxiously awaited it's arrival.

The Beast as I remembered was to be the second challenge of the day! Your mind starts to mess with you…questioning whether you will make it up. I had put a 12/27 cassette on so I knew that would help me. But as I approached the tail of the Beast with it's fiery flames and switched to my smallest cog I was shocked that with no gear left it was already hard at 14% grade. I started to sweat it out…wandering, hoping, praying I would make it up….wishing I got a practice round first. Coach Jesse had suggested I would be able to stay seated and spin my legs yet I was out of my seat grinding away. My hands were sweating and I was really nervous that one was going to slip right off the bars and I was going to go flying!!! Then my worst fear would be having to walk up or have to attempt to mount on a hill.

Halfway up you reach the 24% grade…a narly section where everyone stands just waiting for the beast to claim it's first victim. I was not going to be it! Actually it was around halfway up that I realized that my mind creates a pretty good movie and I was really making this Beast out to be a lot more ferocious than it was. I settled in…regrouped…sat down and began spinning my way up the never-ending hill where I survived but didn't slay the Beast!!!!
From there I knew there were more challenges to come!!!
Most new comers to St Croix assume once the Beast is over its smooth sailing. This is far from the case. You not only have headwinds to deal with but never ending climbs. When you are used to riding the flattest of flattest roads in preparation for IMTX these hills start to get old quick. One thing I was prepared for was the wind! From mile 25 -45 was nothing but pure headwind!!!! Followed by 2 -4 steep hills in the last 10 miles!

From mile 25-45 three small groups of five guys went by. I had just done a 10 mile section by myself and what was me laughing at the winds was now angry screams. I was getting testy and when the marshalls's went by me I signelled them to please break up the drafting as it was getting annoying. They acknowledged my concern and sped up like I had sent them on a exciting mission. But then what did they do...drove aside these guys just
letting them continue their rotations..one guy pulls then recover switching every few minutes. Me being irritable now and seeing that these guys were nervously slowing down waiting for the bike to leave decided to pick up my watts a tad and catch up to the group to kindly request an answer to why no red cards were being handed out.
Now I know I am not racing these guys but at that point in my race I could not fathom why a group of very capable guys could not do their own work like I was doing. Why could they not break the party up….Funny enough I don't believe the marshall were even carrying penalty cards never mind knowing what they were!
When I asked the marshals what was going on up there they just smiled!
Not the reaction I was looking for 3 and a half hours into a hard race.

So sadly I returned to my race plan and continued on my efforts of enjoying the beautiful scenery St Croix has to offer all the while being hit left right and center by the never-ending climbs.

Finally 5 bottles of fluid later I finally raced into town….feeling ready to get my run on!

AVIA!!!! RUN 13.1 miles Unofficial Time 134 7.10 pace

With my speedy Avia Bolt's on I tore out of T2 with a plan to run nice and steady and finish strong!
It was very humid and the challenging bike course were definitely making my legs a little heavy. But after a solid mile of uphill running I started to settle in and feel pretty good. I passed a friend or two along the way and it was great to be out there. The guys were coming past running fast downhill and it was motivating seeing there efforts. When I made a left into the hilly Buccaneer property the heat was weighing down on me and I was feeling a little sick to the stomach. Once again I distracted myself with the beautiful ocean views and smiled always happy to be racing and doing what I love. A lot of the terrain in here is grass and trails and a windy golf course tar trail that takes you on loops up and down the golf course including a very steep hill that you have to do twice being a 2 loop course. Most of the guys I saw on the second loop were walking up….I tried to put myself into my hill repeat mode and charged this hill trying to keep my heart rate mildly under control.

I actually kind of like this run course as it has so much variety. Uphill downhills heat wind grass and people to cheer you on.

On my second loop the constant caffeine/sugar feed of gels /gatorade and pepsi actually gave me a kick and enabled me to finish strong…and happy!!!!

I finished in seventh place behind some great girls. Congrats to Cat Morrison,Miranda Carfrae ,Angela Naeth,Leslie Patterson, Kate Major and Amy Marsh who all raced so strong! Big congrats also goes to Rev 3/Trakkers Teammate Richie Cunningham for his
3rd place finish! Thanks to Coach Jesse Owner of QT2 Systems for getting me through a big training block and ready to race!

I encourage everyone to come and have there own crazy experience of this race. A small island race that probably has changed much in the last ten years that will reward you of great memories and stories to tell for years to come!!! This race has Heat Humidity Hills and Headwind!!!!! Be Prepared!!!!

Next up Ironman Texas in 3 weeks!


Bre said...

okay that swim definitely beats Cedar Point...but swimming on feet is wayyy more fun than being at the front ;) (btw- how do you like the Torque/Hurricane?)
You have no idea how happy you made me by posting pictures of the bike course...the beast. I've heard so many stories from that race and want to try that bike course!
Thumbs up for speaking up about the guys- I've actually never done a race where I've seen the officials get mad at the age group paceline.
Congrats on a solid finish! I'll be cheering for ya during IMTX- happy training till then!

bryan said...

Great post! Congratulations on your 7th place finish.

Jacqui said...

Bre...Love the Torque!!!! Need to get a few more swims in the Hurricane but it seems to be a great wetsuit.
You have to do the race...It is so relaxed and old school for a M dot race...Love it! Will you be at IMTX? Or just cheering from home?
Hope your training is going well!!!!

Thanks Bryan!

Bre said...

Cheering from home :( I wish it was in person- I'll cheer for you at Quassy in person once I'm done the swim/bike.
St. Croix is on the list- I wanna meet the beast.
Training is going better- I ran for the first time in 16 months without IT band pain on Wednesday so I'm actually not dreading Knoxville anymore!
Swim like a fish, ride like the wind, and run like a cheetah in TX :)