St.Croix Ironman 70.3 Race Report

     This was my second time racing St. Croix Ironman 70.3 and I was very happy with my experience there. With a top notch professional men's field, my goal was to finish in the top-10, which I accomplished by finishing 9th overall on a really tough day. The race director said that in the race's 23 years, it was the toughest conditions he's seen. It was super hot and humid, making the run as much a death march as it was a race.  Given the winter I had this year with a string of sickness, injury, and cruddy weather, my training had not gotten off to a great start this spring. So I was very happy that my body responded as well as it did to the last 6 weeks of training. Despite being very happy with my race, I also know where my major work needs to be focused in the coming weeks as I build for my first “A” race of the year, Ironman Coeur d'Alene in June.


The beautiful island of St. Croix in the USVI; once the race starts though, the island has nasty teeth

    First, I want to thank our home stay family, Richard and Laurie Wood who opened up their beautiful home and took great care of Richie and I. They are so so kind to welcome us into their lives and I am very grateful. Also the race production staff puts on a superb event and the island wholeheartedly embraces the race. This combined with a beautiful, but super-difficult course, makes St.Croix Ironman 70.3 one of my absolute favorite races! As hot and tough as Sunday was, I would like to come back to this race again.


Lobo takes a dip in Richard and Laurie's pool. Their house and view are spectacular!


Lobo poses in front of my bike (Max, the black lab not pictured)


The back patio outside of the guest house where we stayed at Richard and Laurie's, just amazing!

The days before the race were pretty standard. Richie and I arrived on the Tuesday before the race to acclimate to the heat and humidity (and flights were about $300 cheaper than if we flew in on Wednesday). The next days were a matter of getting in our workouts, resting, doing all the normal pre-race logistics stuff. Richard and Laurie live only about 0.5 miles off of the run course and bike course, so we could do all of our training on the course. We did a few warm-up swims on the swim course, but it was only open an hour each day because it's a functioning commercial harbor. We found a few other beaches were we could swim in the ocean on the days before the race. I must say that swimming in warm, clear tropical water makes all the training to get to the race well worth while!

 
Richie and I take a training ride on the bike course

 
Get some clothes on these guys, boy do we need a tan!!                              Now that's better 


Nice swim the day before the race. This scene is like the start of a joke: 3 Belgians, an Aussi, a Scottsman, and an American go for a swim...... Photo by Pieter Van Neve


Stop to enjoy the scenery on the bike course a couple days before the race, because heavens knows that race day you can't take the time to stop and smell the roses.


View again on the bike course

I was very happy with my swim. The swim times don't tell you everything. I have made huge improvements in my swimming and it's really starting to show. So it was good to feel improvement. First, I was 2 minutes closer to the lead group than I was in 2008 when I raced there last time (time gap went from 6 to 4 minutes). That alone, I would be happy about. Next, according to a good friend who was in the lead group, the leaders accidentally skipped swimming around a buoy! It wasn't a huge difference, but it means that the lead group skipped a good 20-30 seconds of the course. I'm not complaining or protesting, just had they swam the real course, I would have been even closer. Also, at the furthest point on the swim, when I made the turn towards town, I got a bit disorientated and was trying to sight the buoy line leading to the yellow fort (note, 50% of the buildings in the town are yellow!!). I accidentally started swimming down the wrong buoy line back towards the start rather than the triangle shape of the course. After a couple minutes, a life guard on a jet ski came over, stopped me and told me to go left. I looked over and was about 100M off course!!! I angled back to get back in the game, but it cost me a solid minute. So had the lead men swam the right course and I hadn't made that huge blunder, I think my gap to the leaders could have been at least another 1:30 smaller. So versus 2008, I could have brought that swim gap from 6min down to 2:30, a huge victory in my book. The other positive that came from this swim was that when the women's swim leader caught me (Nina Kraft), I jumped on her feet and swam with her the whole way in. Last year in a couple races, when she swam by, I couldn't swim with her. Again, a huge improvement in my opinion.

I got on the bike feeling pretty good. I noticed that my legs just didn't feel like I could push the gears that day. Yes, it's a tough, hilly, windy, and hot course, but I really expected to bike better than I did. My legs, for the first time ever in a half-Ironman in my life just didn't feel like I could push the gears. I stayed consistent through the whole course, didn't fade at all. I actually biked the second half better than the first, but just felt like I was stuck in 4th gear at 80%. I biked completely alone and I mean alone. I didn't see anyone the whole day. No one in front, no one behind. I did pass one guy, but that was it. I couldn't see the guys up the road to act like a carrot, so it felt like I was on a solo training day.

I'm not too concerned about my biking at this race, it was a good checkpoint and it told me that I have to go back into the bike monster training in my Coeur d'Alene build now. Rest assured, I won't be skimping on the bike miles over the next 5-6 weeks. Look for a different biker at the Ironman!

 

    


I came off the bike in 10th place, but feeling pretty fresh. When I got a couple miles into the run, it became very apparent that it was going to be a scorcher of a day. It was blazing hot. The temperature readings on the run course road were over 100 degrees with the heat coming off the pavement. I ran the first loop really well and caught one guy. The second loop, it felt like I was crawling, but a post-race time analysis showed that I ran well compared to the other guys. When your face is melting off, it's hard to feel that you're really spry on that course, but I was happy with how I ran. As the temps soared, every aid station was an exercise in grabbing, stuffing, dumping and drinking. I got into the routine of a cup of water, cup of sports drink, squeezing a sponge on my head, dumping a cup of ice in my hat, and for the grand finale dumping a cup of ice down the pants..... perks you up (and helps to keep your core temp down).

     I was really happy with my overall placement for the day. Every time I finish in the top-10 in an Ironan event, I'm satisfied. The overall synopsis from the day was that my swimming has really made a jump, my biking needs some work over then next 5-6 weeks, and my running is tracking along well. Overall, I'm happy with the day considering the winter I had this year. This was my first major race in a while and I know that each race will build on this one over the coming months.






On the podium with the 7th and 8th place pro men, Frederick Van Lierde (BEL) and Romaine Guillaume (FRA)
photo by Ramon Serrano

I really enjoyed my experience in St. Croix. Richie and I had fun the whole week and we got to spend time with our good buddy Fraser Cartmell from Scotland. Richie finished in 4th place and Fraser finished in 5th, so it was great to see my friends having solid days.

Now it's time to start Ironman specific training and to spend some time in the saddle.

I really want to thank Little Caesars Pizza for their support of me and my racing this year. Their belief in me is so important for me be able to do what I'm doing in this sport. Jack and Adam's Bicycles in Austin are always there to help support me and my racing. Champion System Clothing provide me with the best race and training clothing. Quintana Roo's CD 0.1 is one fast machine. Xterra Wetsuits are providing me with the best wetsuits and speedsuits in the sport and Advanced Rehabilitation in Ausin helps to keep me healthy for training and racing. PowerBar and SBR Sports Inc's products are also a great help for racing and training. Also I want to thank my family and friends for their unending support for me. Without these people and sponsors, I would not be able to pursue this dream.

Thank you,
Pat


Yes please! Always carry your camera on bike rides in new locations, you never know what you'll see!

 

 

 

 

Website Builder