Saturday, May 2, 2009

St. Croix 2009:Pre-Race

Well, we’re back in St. Croix. Last fall Dana signed up for this race so I followed along too. I had a great race here in 2007, and nabbed a Kona slot. It’s a tough race, probably the toughest 70.3 race on the circuit. I often wonder why they chose Clearwater as the World Championship. This course is epic in so many ways. This would be a destination as desired as Kona if they could move the race here. Have it in May to avoid the hurricane season. Just my opinion.

We had an uneventful trip down here on Wednesday. These folks have it figured out. It’s a small airport, and most of the planes that fly in here are double props. There isn’t enough space in the cargo area for all the bikes and luggage so they are shipped over separately on a cargo plane. When we arrived, our bikes were waiting for us in the baggage claim.

We met some nice people on the flight over and pro Mirada Carfrae was sitting behind us. I wished her luck even though I don’t think she needs it. This course seems to favor the “small athlete”. It’s hot and hilly.

We rented a car and I made sure that I concentrated on driving on the left side of the road. It’s easier in Britain because the driver’s side is in the middle of the road, on the right side of the car. Here you drive an American car, so the driver is on the edge of the road. Weird. Island music piped from the cars as we sat at stoplights. The atmosphere was definitely island.

Last time we were here, we stayed at the Buccaneer hotel. It was nice but very expensive. This time we reserved a spot at the Carrington’s Inn. It is a nice little bed and breakfast with a great view of Christiansted Harbor. When we arrived at 11 pm, we were greeted by, Roger, the inn’s proprietor. He was friendly, and showed us to our spacious room. It was painted a pastel yellow. The ocean breeze was blowing through the windows and it was quite refreshing after our long trip. Something about a sea breeze just helps you sleep better, which we did.

The sun came up at 5:45am, which brightened our room. We were treated to an awesome view and sunrise. Breakfast was at 8:30. The inn has five rooms and we all sat together, family style. We met a few other folks at breakfast, including two Germans who had been here for week training. Both were surgical residents currently training in Switzerland. Man, in my residency, I had a total of two weeks vacation for the entire year and there was no way I could have done a triathlon, let alone this one! They work 50 hr weeks, pretty much what I do now.
After breakfast, we put the bikes together then went down to the harbor for a swim on the course. The water was rough with a resistive current on the way out, and a nice smooth push on the swim back in. I timed myself at 29 minutes, which included some stops to tread water and check my sighting points. Swimming shouldn’t be a problem.

After our swim, we loaded up the bikes and drove the front half of the course. Some folks were out riding it. I remember some of the roads being very rough with potholes and loose gravel. I wasn’t interested in riding over that. On a positive note, they were oiling the roads and laying down fresh asphalt. Unfortunately, the folks on their bikes were riding through the oil and the hot asphalt. I was cringing hearing the sound of the rental car driving through it. I sure wouldn’t have ridden my bike through it.

We stopped at the foot of “The Beast” to take some photos. Laura Sophia and Kevin Moats stopped behind us. Kevin pulled his bike out of the car and without a warm up proceeded to ride straight up it. Laura, Dana, and I choose to save our legs for Sunday. Kevin is a stud!

We drove the rest of the course and refreshed our memory, then stopped at the Divi hotel and unloaded our bikes. This is the Southern and windward side of the island. It has some great views and rolling hills. People are all freaked out about “The Beast”. In my opinion, this is the part of the course that is the toughest. Winds can come at you like the climb to Hawi in Kona.

Dana and I rode this loop and the Lowery Hill. I felt great. I was hitting target wattage easily and the climbs seemed effortless. After an hour, we called it a day and headed back to the room for a dinner consisting of sandwiches and chips on the floor of our hotel room.

Typically before a race, I usually take a day off two days before so Thursday we went down to the Boardwalk to Rum Runners had breakfast, then went on a half day snorkeling excursion. A catamaran took us out to Buck Island. It would have been great if it weren’t for some obnoxious, beer-drinking, wife beater t-shirt wearing hillbillies that were lighting up their next cigarette before they finished their last one. They were told not to smoke but did it anyway. Smelling cigarette smoke really bothers me and they poisoned the smell of the fresh sea breeze for all of us. An interesting note is that they had the smoker’s version of the Bento box around their necks. A clear plastic box necklace with a case of Marlboros inside…. I’ll see you folks on the table for your lung lobectomy in a few years.

Saturday morning Dana and I were up early, drove to the Buccaneer for a run and a ride. We ran the golf course loop with a few race-paced efforts then rode the lowery loop, also with a few race-paced efforts. We were back at the inn before 8 am for our breakfast and some down time for the rest of the day.

Wondering around town, I have seen a lot of fast people. I don’t think the recession is slowing down the fast folks travel plans. It looks like the field will be stacked in both the pros and age groups tomorrow. Dana and I are just going to race our own races and let the rest take care of itself. I keep in mind that that in a race like this, hot and humid conditions, one needs to pace appropriately for optimum outcome. The best result here will depend on who runs the quickest.

In my age group, I think it’s going to take a 4:45 or better to make the top three. I was 4:53 here in 2007. I don’t think that’s going to cut it this year, unless the conditions are poor. If I can equal or better what I did a few years ago, I will be happy. Thanks for reading… I will post a race report sometime following the race whenever I find some free time.

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