St. Croix 70.3 Race Report

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

Well, I’ve fallen a bit behind with my blog posts over the last month so hope to catch up with a few over the next few weeks….stay tuned. I definitely have a bunch of coaching thoughts to share that have been bouncing around. However, this post is meant to address St Croix 70.3 in which 10 QT2 athletes raced this past weekend!

This is one of those races that when you mention it, everyone knows what you are talking about and everyone knows its a tough race. I’ve confirmed that assumption this weekend for sure!

After arriving on the island on friday afternoon, we (all 10 QT2 athletes) began our carb load with a pasta dinner. Saturday was then the typical large breakfast where QT2 hosted a breakfast at the beautiful Divi Carina Bay Resort (ocean front). The rest of the day was the typical lay around the hotel room and eat grains, go over race pacing and nutrition plans with the athletes, and get rev’d up for a tough race.

I have to say, this race is MUCH different than your normal 70.3. Arriving at transition is more like arriving at your local sprint triathlon with an open transition area, minimal security, and unfair transition entrance/exit. Kind of nice to see the laid back atmosphere at a race that’s STACKED with top pros and age groupers. It seemed to me right away that this year’s race had really attracted some top athletes on both the amateur side and pro side. This is always good news and a good challenge for our athletes.

The race start was pretty calm but quickly became a rough open water swim with no wet suit and some seriously salty water. I felt great in the water and really THOUGHT I had a great swim. However, coming into T1 I found I was 15th in my age group! Well, that was a surprise but nothing to get hung up on. Later on I found that I had likely one of my worst swims in about 3 years……I must have been all over the place out there on the course! With that, I was about 3 minutes slower than typical relative to other folks I was racing with (it happens, again nothing to get hung up on).

Heading out on the bike, I began executing my fueling plan which was critical for a day like that forecasted (85-90 degrees). Like most competitive, hot tough races, dozens of people went out too hard on the bike and I very quickly fell back to 20-30th in my age group before 25 miles into the ride. The “beast” came which is advertised as a terrifying climb but really wasn’t too bad when controlled with a capped power number/perceived exertion which helped “flatten out the course”. Following that climb, the field really seemed to take a hit, and I wasn’t passed again on the bike for the remainder of the ride. The last 10 miles I passed at least 10-15 people that had passed me earlier in the day. And boy, it was getting hot!!

Going into the race, I thought I’d catch Cait Snow right at the end of the bike ride since she started with a 4 minute lead over me, which proved to be true as we rolled into transition together. The run started off very well, finding a rhythm of 6:15 pace through 3 miles. Cait began to pull away from me as I wasn’t able to (or planning to) match her pace. Now, everyone knows the bike course in st croix and the “beast”, but heck, this was likely the toughest half iron run course I’ve seen! The hills and heat really hit home when combined with the hills and heat of the bike course that precede it. Having said that, I was able to keep a steady and strong pace throughout the run. About half way through, I saw all of our other athletes on the course, which was a relief after a dangerous bike course. Everyone looked fantastic, and of course were ripping through the field in the typical QT2 fashion on the run. I finished the second loop with a total run pace of about 6:30 on my garmin and having passed a whole bunch of folks in my age group. Having said that, I really had no clue where I placed. Later I found that I had come in 3rd in my AG about 4 minutes back from the two in front of me. Had I wanted a kona slot, I’d have been pretty pissed about my swim, that’s for sure (there were 2 slots up for grabs)!!!

Everyone else who raced (other than Phil who got 2 flats, and ran his bike into T2!), finished dead on expectations which we had calculated prior to the event. What a day! I couldn’t be happier with our athlete progress at this point in the season. The hard work is paying off. Sometimes I think its tough for new athletes to see their progress on very tough, very competitive races like this one, and I must reiterate that they are doing fantastic and push them to see the light and positives of their performance. This is important for a healthy mental cycle in racing. Of note, Tim Snow had a VERY solid day (which was great to see), as well as Cait (his wife) who was dead on our calculated targeted time as usual. Also, my wife Chrissie continues to impress everyone with a 7th place age group finish at her 4th half iron and 6th triathlon ever! She is looking fantastic for Lake Placid and has a very good shot at going sub 11 there in her first IM…..amazing. Then again, she does have a decent coach :). I’m SO proud.

Next up: Mooseman, where 16 QT2 athletes will descend on the Half Iron there and hopefully produce some powerful results. This one will be a blast.


Comments (3)

  • Paul Wessel


    Great job Jesse. Thoroughly impressed with the QT2 team – you guys are killing it out there.
    Love the reports and coaching points via your blog – look forward to reading more.

    Especially interested in your comment “controlled with a capped power number/perceived exertion” while riding the Beast…
    Reason I say this is due to being dropped by my fellow riders this past weekend on a long climbed b/c I was trying to hold a power number in check (~80-85% FTP). Figured I catch them on the other side or soon thereafter (if they expended too much energy on the climb) = well, that wasn’t the case and I couldn’t close the gap until they let up later on.

    So, on our second loop (20m loop) I literally pocketed my PT and rode solely on RPE up the climb and the rest of the ride – felt good and stayed in front. My conclusion based on my 2nd loop “test” is to increase power up the climb (how much still TBD) as long as RPE doesn’t sky-rocket = my interpretation of “controlled with a capped power number/perceived exertion” …. ? Wondering your thought on this.

    Keep up the great work –


  • Mary Ironmatron


    So impressed with the performances of QT2ers down there! I’d love to do this race some day, and it was fun to hear first hand how tough it actually is. Congrats to all of you.
    Why don’t you want the Kona slot?
    I’m excited to see all of you up at Moose!


  • Jessekrop


    Paul: Check out my post called “V Squared” on the home page at QT2. This addresses the additional power question for the climbs. What we do at QT2 is use the triathlon calculator to determine goal wattage for a particular race. Based on that, we then set wattage caps for the steeper climbs which typically equate to about 15% percent beyond the average power target for the event. I hope this helps, and thanks for the comments on St Croix!!

    Mary: Thanks for the comments! The race was a blast….you should definitely do it if you get the chance some day! I’m not looking for a Kona slot this year because I plan to do IM Cozumel instead. It will be Kona 2010 for me….



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