Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ohh...I... I'm still alive... St. Croix 70.3 Race Report

Chrissy and I at the swim practice!

I just wanted to let you know that I made it back from St. Croix 70.3 Half Ironman (US Virgina Islands) safe and sound and happy to have competed this past weekend.

I had to travel for work the last few weeks quite a bit, and before I left something seemed to be getting under my skin virus-wise. However, I left last Thursday with a hopeful outlook and an excitement to race for the first time since breaking my collarbone in November at the Half Ironman World Championships.

After a long plane ride on Thursday, things seemed to be headed downhill with my health so I decided to take the antibiotic that was prescribed before I left. I had a great practice swim on Friday and a chance to hang out with some amazing athletes. I know many of you who may not be into triathlon don't recognize some of the people in this photo, but just let me say, they are some heavy hitters! Just Mirinda Carefree alone was the second place professional finisher in the Hawaii Ironman last year! The wonderful thing about our sport is that the pro'sare very nice and open to socializing with age-groupers such as myself. Amanda could not have been nicer, asking me where I was from, and what I was hoping for on Sunday. What other sport has the professional right alongside the rest of the field. Getting this picture was a huge deal and I was so happy to have met these great people!

I continued to feel a little "off" on Saturday, but awoke Sunday hopefully and ready to do my best! The gun went off from the island at 6:50am with about 28 other 30-34 year old women and I was fighting to the front right from the beginning. I never found any feet, but I was still excited to be in the mix.

My swim time wasn't what I was hoping to do, but it was still about a minute faster than two years ago so I was semi-pleased. I got out of the water at 34:08 (no wetsuit).

From there is was on to the bike. This course is described as one of the most punishing with hill after hill. Starting with the beast at mile 21. Twenty-one miles into the bike, The Beast is a 600-foot climb in a stretch of highway 7/10 of a mile long with an average grade of 14 percent and a maximum grade of 21 percent.

I vowed that after running up the beast with my bike two years ago, that I would make it the entire way up no matter what! I ascended with two other females and we put it in an easy gear and just started chipping away at it! My quads were burning, and I had to stand about half way through, eventually, my lower back started to spasm I was pulling up on the handle bars so hard! I passed many men my same age walking their bikes up the hill and at the top the volunteers and other spectators yelled "Female Power!!" for the three of us!! It felt great! Mission One - accomplished!

The rest of the bike ride just got hotter and hotter as the sun bore down on our backs. The temperature was rising into the 90's and the humidity was around 80-90%. I lost a bottle on the very rough course about mile 30 and picked up one at the second to last aid station, only to throw it again shortly after. I resolved to pick up another at mile 43, only to have it be about 1/2 full! I had to churn out the last 5-6 miles without any fluids which is not good for a course like St. Croix!

On a very hill, rough course, I was 4th on the bike with a time of 3:01 for the 56 miles!

Finally, I racked my bike in T2 and noticed only three on the rack. If I had a good run, I thought to myself "these girls are going down!" I ran out optimistic that I might be able to run somewhere in the range of 1:35-1:40. However, my legs had other ideas. Within the first mile my heart rate was soring and my legs felt like they were full of lead. My breathing was so labored and the sun seemed to be cooking me as I ran. I hit my first mile in 8:07 with a heart rate of 182, which I MUCH higher than I can sustain for a 13.1 mile run. I tried to bring things around at the aid stations by drinking water, Gatorade and taking additional salt, but nothing seemed to help. I continued running, only to find myself in so much pain. My legs just continued to get worse and I stopped even clocking my miles. At one point, I started walking, had a moment of breakdown and then decided the goal was now to just finish, no matter what.

I thought about Ryan, my Aunt Dena (who was just diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer), and how hard the things they were fighting on a daily basis just to live healthy. I decided if I could just do this one thing, I would do it
on this day to the best of my ability. I feel that is all we can ask of ourselves. So after bringing my thoughts back around to the positive, I decided to do things I never get to do during a more "serious" race effort! I did a lot of high
fiving other athletes like Sister Madonna Buter (82 years young and a Nunn) who passed me going the opposite way, I talked to other walking athletes ("wait, we do PAY to do this don't we?!"), and I cheered for all my favorite pro's and other athletes who passed me. It was a humbling experience, but one I am forever grateful that I can put in the memory bank for later.

I finished the run with a final time of 2:10 walking / running. My total time was somewhere around 5:40 (I never got the details). I was 4th in my age group, and most importantly, I crossed the finish line!!

It's funny how something like breaking your collarbone (Nov.14th) can help you put things into perspective. That, plus all of the work we have been doing to promote Ballou Skies really changes the way you look at racing. Even when you don't get the "desired" result, you always feel that something really special takes place every time that you are out there. I feel so blessed to be a part of this team making a difference.

Thank you for all the well wishes and good lucks. You all never cease to amazing me with how you lift me up and make me feel so wonderful. I truly appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. Thanks to my Ballou Skies teammates, family, friends, co-workers and everyone out there who provided me with help and support. It's taken quite a bit to recover from this injury and it didn't happen by myself. A special thanks to my Mom for going with me and, Ramone for all the wonderful pictures and my other sponsors - Powerbar, Top Gear Bicycle Shop, and Super Donut! I really appreciate it!
Most of all, I just thank God for the chance to be healthy and out there. He's certainly the one giving me the health and strength to race. It is always a blessing and I don't take it lightly.

If you would like to donate to Ballou Skies, I have found an ananomous donor that is willing to match everything donated from my bio page, up to $1000.00 dollars. If you have the means and you would like to contribute to our cause, we appreciate it!

This article below was on the website. It describes the conditions of that day. I'm not quite sure what happened to me out there on the run, but either way, I'll get em next time!

Another Classic in St. Croix

Barry Siff reports on a tough day of racing at Ironman 70.3 St. Croix

Published Sunday, May 2, 2010

Another Classic in St. Croix

Nobody has ever called the Ironman 70.3 St. Croix easy and the the 22nd version of this classic redefined just how difficult this race can be. Race Director Tom Guthrie called the conditions "as hard as we've ever had ... truly. We always have heat, wind, and hills; sometimes we have overcast, but not today. Today was brutal."
Photos from today's race, courtesy of Action Sports International, appear at the end of the story.

The Cat Returns
Catriona (“Cat”) Morrison, the 33-year-old defending champion from Scotland, was one of the few pros – particularly on the women’s side – to have a splendid day. The day saw former Ironman 70.3 World Champion and last year’s second place finisher in Kona, Mirinda Carfrae, drop out at eight miles on the bike due to illness, as did 42-year-old Nina Kraft (who loves this race) and the 2009 Champion at both Ironman Canada and Lake Placid, Tereza Macel. That left the women’s race wide open - except for Morrison.
Still smiling wide and all cleaned up two hours after the race, the 2009 and 2010 champion joked about the women’s first transition: “We had a really slick transition – totally professional. First, we went to one rack, and Rinny (Carfrae) said this isn’t our rack; and, then we went to another and another, finally finding our bikes.” Once out on the bike, though, it was Morrison and Sam Warriner riding solidly out front. Morrison’s 2:38:29 on the bike was just 31 seconds faster than Warriner. On the run though, Morrison outran the Kiwi by 11 minutes to win in a time of 4:31:06, one minute and 22 seconds faster than her win last year.

Top ITU competitor and the winner of New Orleans Ironman 70.3 just two weeks ago, Warriner struggled for much of the day, but found the strength and determination to gut out a second-place finish. This was Warriner’s first trip to St. Croix, and it was certainly a tough day at the office.
“I don’t reckon I’ve ever raced such a tough course,” Warriner said following the race. “You get up the Beast, and you say ‘yeah, I’ve done it;’ and, then it’s either the wind or some other hills that are just as steep as the Beast; and, then when I got on the run, I had nothing in me – I struggled big time; but, you do the best you can on a bad day.”

Rounding out the top 5 women pros were Erin O’Hara, Heather Gollnick, and Amanda Lovato.

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