5/2/14

St. Croix 70.3 - travel day

Even though our flight to St. Croix wasn’t until Wed morning, we started our traveling on Tues April 29th with a 3.5 hour drive (well, more like 4 hours due to a stormy drive leaving Jax) to my parents house to drop off Campy at his “resort” while we are away.
We had an early wake-up on Wed morning at 4:45am to drive to Orlando (2 hour drive) . 
Races are expensive, especially when traveling and even more so when traveling with two bikes.
When we are traveling, I try to consider every option to make our trips affordable, memorable and easy. Since Karel made the switch from Cat 1 cycling to triathlons, we have to double everything when it comes to racing so that makes our trips very memorable but a lot more to consider (money, logistics, etc.) with our travels.

I found a reasonable flight from Orlando (2 hours from Jax), where we have taken a lot of our race trips as the prices are a bit more reasonable (although we do have to consider parking economy Orlando which is a bit more than Jax) and can save us a couple hundred dollars. Karel worked his magic with our bikes and we have only 1 bike box (stand-up box) this time with two bikes in the box….that is, two speed concepts with Di2 shifting and two wheels sets. Karel really worked overtime on taking apart the bikes and when he rebuilds the bike in St. Croix he also has to make sure he has extra parts, cables, etc. in case anything breaks.  The bike box weighed #90 which meets the guidelines for our aircraft per the website, however when we fly to Austria in June, we are on Delta which has different guidelines so we won’t put the wheels in the box (and extra tools) in order to meet the #70 weight limit. 

For the first time for a race, we booked tickets on Jet Blue. Not only was the price great for both of us but we couldn’t pass on the $50 bike fee (one way). The bike counts as one of our “free” luggage so we both combined our clothes into one large suitcase (meeting the #50 weight limit).


April 30th


With our car packed with luggage and food for traveling, Campy was left covered in kisses from us and we were off to Orlando. I packed snacks for the flight but also, since we never travel hungry and always need to eat within an hour of waking, I had a Fage 0% yogurt and a banana and Karel had  an egg and cheese and broccoli sprout sandwich that I had made for him. After a stop at Starbucks we arrived around 7:40am to the Orlando airport. I dropped off Karel with the bike box and Oakley suitcase (both bags to be checked) and I went to park the car in economy and to take the shuttle to the airport.
We were so impressed with Jet Blue and the service they gave us while checking in our bikes. There were no questions asked about our bike box and the agents at the desk even helped Karel with the oversized luggage. What an easy process that fit nicely into my 30-minute extra time allowance for checking in a bike. By 8:30 we were through security and ready for a breakfast meal.
Our flight was scheduled to leave at 10:22 to San Juan and we boarded just around 10am. With our water bottles filled with water, 110% compression on and happy-tummy snacks (and hand sanitizer) for the plane (KIND bars, chocolate covered espresso beans, PB&J sandwiches, fig newtons, Trimarni trail mix) we were ready for our 2.5 hour flight to Puert Rico. Not sure why they couldn’t just fly 20 minutes more to St. Croix but it was nice to get some lunch at Chiptole (veggie and guacamole sandwich for me, chicken sandwich for Karel) at the airport and stretch our legs. On the plane, Karel napped and I watched Saving Mr. Banks on the airport TV screen (on the seats)  which was a great movie. Jet Blue also had a wonderful snack selection for free so we shared Blue Chips and Pop Chips which were both yummy. I got Seltzer water and Karel got apple juice.
When we boarded our flight to St. Croix (40-minute travel time but only 20 minutes of flying), the plane was filled with triathletes, compression socks, water bottles and bike boxes. Karel and I started to get even more excited that this bucket list race was finally about to happen.
Our flight was short and we spent the entire time looking out the window. St. Croix is a small island and it was so neat to be able to see all of it as we were flying.
When we landed in St. Croix we departed the plane outside for the outdoor airport (just like in Kona). Karel picked up our rental car from Budget (Ford Focus) and I waited for our luggage. Our bike box was the very last one to come on the baggage claim but thankfully all the boxes arrived for the triathletes. We gave ourselves one extra day in St. Croix (Wed) just in case our bikes didn’t make it on the plane. Because of our enjoyment to travel to new places for our race-cations, we enjoy having at least 3 full days before a race (if possible) to adjust to a new setting (or time zone) and to ensure we have everything we need, can grocery shop, relax, get a few good nights of sleep and warm-up in the race environment.
Karel did a little more magic with our bikes and removed the top of the bike case to put under the bottom case, removed the wheels and adjusted the handle bars and voilà! Karel managed to fit our bikes into our small car (II will save our IM Austria plans for another blog as that gets a little more detailed with the planning of our international trip with our bikes, which is already booked).  
It was an immediate adjustment to drive on the left side of the road and our brains had to adjust fast! There was a few times when I would say “left, left!” to Karel but otherwise, Karel picked up immediately.
Although there are very few stoplights in St. Croix and the island is not that big, it took about 40 minutes to drive from the airport to Chenay Bay Beach resort (East End Quarter, Christiansted, St. Croix).
I brought some foods with us in our checked bag (chia seeds, cinnamon, whey protein, jasmine rice, oatmeal packets, small container of PB) as well as our sport nutrition powder/bottles, pills (endurance aminos, Optygen, tissue rejuvenator) but we still needed to get some food for our stay.
We stopped at a grocery store on the way to our resort and purchased some staple foods that we not only eat on a daily basis but also that we enjoy on race week. 
Fruits and veggies, water (2 jugs to get us started), deli meat for Karel, fresh bread (local! We got three kinds – French bread, sourdough and raisin walnut), skim cow’s milk, fage 0% greek yogurt, eggs, tempeh, cheese, butter, frozen veggies, pasta, marinara sauce, boxed rice, tuna, soup.

The food is pricey on an island (just like in Kona) so our total bill was around $130 but a lot cheaper than if we were to eat out every day, for 2-3 meals a day. Plus, there’s nothing better than being able to control the food that you put into your body before a race, especially a race which you are traveling to and is a key race.
When arrived to our resort, it was exactly as I had imagined it to be from the website. 50 cute little cottages spread out along 30-acres, with a mile-stretch of private beach w/ incredibly calm waters. Our room was $150/night (triathlete special) which is a bit over what I’d normally spend when traveling to a race except for our key races that occur once a twice per year. Also, with a full kitchen (microwave, refrigerator, stove top) and just a few miles (3-4) from downtown/race venue, I just couldn’t pass up this beautiful and relaxing resort. Karel and I enjoy being close to race venues and for a race like Kona, it is ideal to be within walking distance. However, we typically do not stay at the “host” hotel for races for the amenities that we desire at our hotel/lodging to give us a great race experience are typically not included at most hotels. Aside from an extended stay hotel or condo, this resort had everything we wanted. And even better, our cottage has a beautiful view of the ocean and a little island!
Karel got started on assembling the bikes (which took about 90 minutes or so) and I unloaded the groceries and unpacked and got started on a light dinner (since we snacked all day) of eggs, veggies and bread.
After dinner we took a dip in the calm ocean around 6:30pm and we were greeted by a host of NO-SEE-UM bugs! Karel knows that I swell very badly when I get bit by bugs and we didn’t know about the bugs until we read about it on our resort guide so the first thing on our to-do list for Thursday was DEET bug spray! It was a rough night for me (tip for me, bring Benadryl next trip!) before bed but I ended up sleeping fine at night which was a relief, even though I felt like I had gained 10 lbs from so much swelling. Ugh.
We settled into bed around 8:30 and by 9-9:30pm we were asleep.
Although normally we don’t set an alarm the day after traveling to a race (if we don’t have to), we woke up around 5:30am so that we could ride with a guy we met (in the next cottage from us) who had done this race 3 times and this year is racing for a Kona slot. He is originally from Spain but lives out west and we knew it would be great to get some insider information from him and ride with him at 7am.
After we had a pre workout snack (wasa + PB and banana and cinnamon for me, oatmeal, milk and granola for Karel) we headed out around 7am on our bikes to ride the beginning loop and end of the bike course to familiarize ourselves with the course as well as to wake up the legs from our travels. 

Fruit for the road trip to my parents

5:30am early morning, pre-meal snack

My coach, best friend, hubby and bike mechanic. 

Precious cargo! 

Keeping everyone updated on our travels .....and answering emails. 

All race gear packed on the plane with us. 

Happy tummy snacks for the plane

Always bring an empty bottle with you through security and fill before you get on your plane to stay hydrated during traveling. 

We never travel without our compression socks on!

Yummy, Chipotle sandwich.

 Excited to make some memories together. 
St. Croix! Are we there yet??

Touchdown!! We have arrived!

Priorities.....food!

Shopping like the locals. 

Our cute little cottage

Fresh bread in the kitchen



Food

More food

Resort pool

Play time....

And back to work.

Enjoying the sunset in St. Croix. 

Stay tuned......day #2 of our trip is coming soon. Riding some of the bike course, driving the rest of the bike course and 1.2 mile open water swim.