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.