St Croix Ironman 70.3 RACE REPORT   May 1 , 2005    

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An Interview Perspective

When did you get to St. Croix?
We arrived in St. Croix early on Thursday afternoon, April 28th, as the blast of sun and humidity was immediately apparent from the first step onto the runway. We were now on island time. Everything slowed down, free rum drinks in baggage claim, and no bags to claim for 45 minutes. We flew through Miami with the other 100+ athletes on our flight and we played the “which bike box is yours?”. No wonder it took so long to unload the plane!

How did you feel after the traveling? What was your mental and physical state?
Totally relaxed and anxious at the same time if that makes any sense . . . This was my first 1/2 IM, and only my third triathlon ever, so with all the talk about the "tough" course I really just wanted to see it. . . but, being in the islands naturally makes me at ease. The travel day was easy and I had tapered my training for two weeks- not by choice- so I was mostly rested and ready.

How did you feel about your training up to this point? What were your worries?
My main worry was that I had never done a 1/2 IM and I never ran a 1/2 marathon. I got close a couple times but knew this bike course would beat me up some. I started training February 15, just over two months before the event, and mostly in the cold . . . many times with four or five layers and double gloves. I knew I could have done more training and I knew the humidity and heat would be tough. But I was prepared to do the best I could.

What was your race plan going in?
The plan was simply finish. That became tougher than I could have imagined. The goal was delicate- finishing in 5:30 would be extremely rewarding but finishing in 6:00 was more realistic; well, so I thought- that was before ever doing a 1/2 IM, ever looking at the course, ever running a 1/2 marathon, ever feeling the humidity at that level for such a prolonged period of time. Incidentally this was my third triathlon and third open water swim ever as well; so, there was plenty to learn.

What was the weather like race day?
It rained early in the morning and then some more right before the swim start. This created some heavy and choppy waters to swim in but also left some cloud cover for the first part of the bike course. Unfortunately, it also made it like a sauna when the sun came out for the second part of the bike and the run. I guess I should have been faster to avoid the swamp.

How did you feel when you hit the water?
I felt a bit anxious like usual but glad to have started and on the way.

How did the swim go?
At first it felt crowded and I was looking forward to getting out where it was more spread out. I was looking for someone to hang on too since the swim is my weakest link. Itís hard to do that when you swim 2 miles on a 1.24 mile course. Yeah, I could have trimmed some time if I went straight, but I keep telling myself I enjoyed watching the divers looking up at us and video taping parts of it. Being in the Caribbean waters also had a calming effect on me even with the nasty conditions. It was warm so I may have relaxed a bit too much. It felt like I was out there forever - and after checking my time I realized I WAS out there forever. 46:28

As you came to T2 what was going through your mind?
Thank goodness the swim is over and the bike is here. I can't wait to make up some time.

What was the Transition area like? crowds? chaos? etc. . .
By the time I got out of the swim the transition area was pretty calm-that was the only advantage. It was an easy one to get through-just run out about 40 yards on clean grass and head out the gate another 10 yards away. The fans were all over the place outside the designated area and the hype was invigorating.

How did the bike go 1/4 of the way. . .1/2 way. . . .3/4 of the way?
The bike was smooth on the way out. I felt like I passing everyone and since this is the part I enjoy the most I was really feeling good. The course heads out on an eight-mile loop before coming back through town and out for a huge loop around the island. My energy level was high and I started to remind myself to drink and get enough Gu . . . and that’s when my stomach started to act up. I couldn't tell if it was a lack of something or too much of something else- like salt water from the swim. I knew the “beast” was at mile 21 so I wanted to keep pushing but also leave enough to not feel the pain when I got there. Before getting there I flatted - how far back I’m not sure. But when I looked down my front wheel was all the way gone. I was hoping I didn’t ride it long that way and didn’t cause any damage to the tire itself. I pulled over and started to change the tire while adding critical time to my plan. I was probably thinking about getting back on too much because after re-inflating the tire halfway I remembered I hadn’t checked for the cause of the flat. What to do? Ugh, the agony of losing more time.. and using my last cartridge... but I had to check. I took it back apart and after several checks (I was going to find something- I had to!) I did find some glass. Well at least I knew it was out. Back together and back on the road- with no spares and no cartridges. I rode gingerly until mile 21.

Then came the beast. The “beast” is a climb 7/10 of a mile long at an average grade of 14%. That being the average, there were sections that reached as high as 21%. The idea here is to keep moving forward without rolling back. Stand up on the steeper parts and sit on the less steep (like 12% grade). But I had a good time at it and knew this was as much fun as I was going to have today. I kept telling myself itís all downhill the rest of the day, and keep pushing. The downhill was sweet- but not all day. It was a hilly course, with some rolling areas that pronounced the headwind. But overall I was passing people left and right - some of whom I had passed before I got the flat. It was an awesome sight around the east end and as I headed back into town I started to spin more to get my legs ready for the run. 3:07:42 (includes about 6-8 mins for flat repair, AND both T1 an T2 times)

Any thoughts as you hit T2?
Doing good. The heat is in full effect. I can’t believe how close I am. So glad that tube made it through the ride.

How did your body feel after the bike and into the run?
I went into the run strong. Felt good overall but that changed quickly. My stomach was at it again and the humidity gave me no rest from the thumping heat. And I probably went out too hard- this was my inexperience teasing me. Every heart beat reminded me how over heated I was and I should probably tone it down a bit so I can get through this.

How were your legs on the run?
The legs were fine. Actually looking back on it, the legs weren’t what gave me issues- or maybe I just wasn’t able to focus on them.

How was the run portion?
It was hot, humid and miserable. I wish I could say I did my best but it was a poor show. And the large amounts of people walking only helped me give in to temptation of easing the pain. I think the low point of the entire race was the mile two marker on the run course. When I saw that, I thought I had done five miles. Only two! It was a long ways around the golf course and ocean side cliffs back to town and then there was another loop. Once again I gave a push and had a couple 7:30 minute miles. Then overheated and slowed at each aid station drinking two full cups about every 1km. It was gruesome but I knew I could finish at that point and it was clearly in sight. I wasn’t as tired as I was hot. And I knew the run was the hardest part by far. 2:14:12

Feelings of doubt? happy? pain? sad?
Very happy to finish and be part of such an amazing event - one that I will certainly go back to. Excited and relieved that I completed my first 1/2 IM. Some pain but nothing that stayed with me after a few rum drinks later that night.

What did you feel when you hit the finish line?
This is it. I did it. That's what a 1/2 IM feels like? Sign me up for next year! 6:08:21

The next day. . .?
Next day was another early start, but this time for a leisurely scuba trip. Hang out with the DC crew and soak up the sun. Interestingly enough it didn’t feel hot, the water was great, and my stomach was fine. It was vacation time now. Payoff for all the training (even though it could have been more). The place was paradise and there was nothing but smiles.

Will you do another? What about an Ironman?
I signed up for another 1/2 IM as soon as I got back and an IM is a possibility next year- but I want to see how this summer goes. I need to get that run under control and keep up with training in the winter months. There’s just not enough time when you start in February!


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