|St Croix Ironman 70.3 RACE REPORT||May 7, 2006
The rest of the swim was not all that eventful. I did see another
DC Tri body swimming next to me- the water was so clear that I could
see the uniform.
Nevertheless the hills start pretty soon into the ride. There's an eight mile loop that comes back through town and then we head out on a large loop - that essentially goes around the island. The big hill - or Beast as they call it here - is about 20 miles into the ride so mentally I'm prepared to use the time up until then as a warm up. Get into a groove and get ready. I was excited to see it again- it's a 3/4 mile climb that averages 14% and tops out in sections (on the inside of the turn) at 25%! Conveniently they spray paint the grade % on the road so you can wrestle with the idea in your head. If these percentages mean nothing to you- think of the times you see "steep grade" signs on the highway for trucks to use caution- usually around 6%. So this is stand-on-your-pedals-and-grind-up-the-hill territory. I saw some people walking it, but honestly I don't know if that would be any easier.
And them comes the south side of the island - after crossing over the Beast- which is more rolling hills with a fair amount of head wind. This is when you remember why the waves were kicking up in the swim. But there are some distractions like the speed bumps - maybe 10-15 of them in a row through a small neighborhood. This is a race course right? Well, truth be told the road surface is not all that smooth so the speed bumps don't actually come as that big of a surprise. I'd rather see it than have a huge pothole to dodge. It keeps it interesting. And if you take your eye off the road for a bit and look up you tend to notice you're in the middle of paradise; looking across large fields dropping off into the sea or riding around a cliff side with the waves crashing below. It's awesome, and it's a thrill to be part of it.
The south of the island has the winds and then the last 20 miles
or so as it curves around the corner and back onto the north east
end the hills remind you why it's good to have some left in the tank.
They're not long but they don't have to be. The sun is hotter now
and the idea of getting into the run starts to sink in. That was
until my right leg starts to cramp up at about mile 45. So I quickly
start to empty all the fluids I have into my body- I know its too
late but something is better than nothing. I ease off my pace and
keep spinning through so I won't seize all together. Easy does it.
The idea of stopping is a terrible thought and so I gingerly keep
on going. I start to shift my drive to my left leg and it only took
a couple miles before I could sense it wasn't having it and started
to tense up as well. Take it easy. Relax. Just spin. I knew the course,
I had one more good size climb and then I had a fair amount of downhill
into T2. So I tried to brush it off knowing I was going to have to
take it easy on the last climb. And slowly I crested the climb right
on the threshold of pushing too hard. The rest was a prep for the
run- just take it easy and get ready to transition.
I had to take a leak- and not having had this issue in a race before I kept an eye out for a port-o-jon. This was probably from all the fluids I took in at once because of my leg cramps. None -- not one place. After 4 miles or so, which was most of the first loop, I used the side of the road. I really waited too long and it was an annoyance for much too much time and I should have taken care of it sooner. But I was trying to not go on the side of the road. Anyway, that's all I had when I just couldn't bear it anymore. So that took up a minute at least- crucial time.
The second loop I certainly slowed some, this time walking through some of the aid stations to get as much fluid down as I could and place ice in my cap and shorts. Keeping the core temperature down helps a ton. The hills took their toll but I was mentally gearing up for the last 2 miles, getting myself ready for a good punch to the end. Mile 10 was a tough one with the hardest hill which just about everyone walks. So I decided to keep steady and go hard when I reached the 11 mile mark. And as soon as I saw it I took off. Here's the payoff of pacing yourself, I was passing quite a few people and it felt like I was flying. Maybe 7 minute miles? but it really didn't matter. I was in the zone so it's hard to say exactly how fast I was really going, most others were at a crawl. No stops, no fluids, just go. I could sense the crowd cheering and sharing my enthusiasm for speed. The town grew closer and the cheers louder- although I was no longer making out specific voices- I was zoned and at the top of my throttle. Then I was in town- oh yeah, it's like another half mile or more through town center even though you see the finish line a block away! The cheers faded and I was alone in the streets fighting to keep my pace. Making promises to myself of refreshing drinks and a hammock. And while it seemed like an hour in the next few minutes I was cruising through the finish chute.
I was beat at the end. Those last couple miles took ALL I had- but
I had them to give and that was a great feeling at the end of a long
*Official results include T1 and T2 time in bike time.
70.3 World Championship Qualifier
Side note: In some of these photos and especially the last one you'll notice the sky and the ocean meet; blue on blue. When I'm in the islands and I look out into the horizon I imagine so many possibilities and set new goals to achieve those dreams. It's a place of inspiration and renewed determination. That's where the name for my company was born, Blue On Blue.
Click on images
Photos taken by an assortment of people: Liz, Christal, Jen, Patrick, Lindsay, Kelly, and Eric