5/3/14

St. Croix 70.3 - Pre race

May 3rd

Around 5:45am I was out of bed and started the coffee. The forecast called for a slightly higher change of rain today (from the normal 30% to 50%) so I wasn’t sure if we would stay dry for our race warm-up ride but all worked out and it didn’t rain until late morning (a light shower with the sun still shinning).
After a pre-warm-up snack of banana w/ cinnamon, nut butter and raisins/granola and glass of water we were on our bikes around 7:15am.

My legs were itching to be on my bike so I really welcomed this ride. We rode the last 18-miles of the bike course (which goes by our cottage) in the same direction of the course and it was nice to get familiar with a few turns and key sections on the road that should be avoided. As I mentioned before, the roads are super bumpy so that adds to some of the difficulty of this beautiful course. The more I can ride/see a course to recognize where I need to shift gears (again – thank goodness for Di2!), where I do not have to squeeze on my breaks on a downhill (even though I can’t see where I am going) and where I should conserve energy because of the terrain or the wind (there’s a lot of wind on this course) is really helpful for me so this ride was really welcomed.

Karel turned around for me a  few times since he rode faster than me so it was nice to have him by me (or in front of me) a few times on the bike. I don’t know if I am going to see Karel on the course because he starts before me and because of the layout of the run course  so that makes me a little sad for he always gives me a boost of energy when I see him.

After we finished our ride we biked to the Buccaneer to check out the run course since that was the only part of the course we have not seen. We rode ½ of the bike course and drove the other half and we know the first/last two miles of the run course because it is on the same road that we bike on out of transition but the 2 mile loop in the Buccaneer was the unknown for us. We did not review the entire run course because we were on our bikes but we did check out where we start our 2 mile loop and part of the loop on the golf course.

After our warm-up I went for a 10 minute run (with a 30 sec walk after the first mile) and carried my flask with me with leftover sport drink from my ride. Karel didn’t run off the bike.
After I cleaned up it was time to make a yummy filling carb-rich breakfast of pancakes!

After we ate we lounged around with our feet up for a little bit and watched some TV and then after a light meal (or snack) we headed to the athlete meeting at 1pm at the harbor. It was neat to see the transition area being set up (with only 600 or less athletes, it isn’t a big transition area) and to realize that it is almost GO time!

I always encourage athletes to attend the athlete meeting before a race to ensure that all questions are answered and there are no uncertainties for race day. To arrive to race day with less nerves, get all your questions answered before the race, review the course and all rules and focus only on the controllables – nutrition, pacing, attitude and clothing.

After the meeting we headed back to our cottage w/ a quick stop at the market for a few more jugs of water and Perrier water (to help settle our nervous tummies before a race).
We had a good lunch and then did a little more resting/emails, etc.

We are really excited for this race although there are certainly some nerves in our body. We have trained smart and plan to race smart. 

This will be our hardest 70.3 course that we are sharing together and that makes the “unknown” a bit more overwhelming when it comes to racing. This course will take us a bit longer to cover than any other course that we have completed (well – Branson 70.3 was a little less tough than this course) so postponing fatigue is the most important thing on this course. In order to do that we must stay on top of fueling/hydration and pacing. 

If you like challenging courses, this course has it all. 
Ocean swim (although clear and beautiful water to swim in!)
Heat, hills, humidity and wind and a bike course that comes with a lot of sections that require good skills and pacing.
 The run will not be easy for it will be hot and hilly w/ a few steep climbs but hey, who wants easy when it comes to challenging your limits?


We are not injured and we are healthy. We have a lot to be grateful for and we will celebrate our good health by racing for 70.3 miles on the island of St. Croix.
The tough competition is here on the island with us and we welcome the competition to push us to a higher limit.

Wishing all the athletes a strong, smart and SAFE race. See you at the finish line….and the post-race party!
Thanks again for your support and for following us along. 

Karel Bib number 232
Karel Bib number 517

www.Ironman.com -  live tracking
Www.viradio.com – radio coverage




Morning walk around our cottages

Forecast for race day - gotta love weather in the Caribbean - feels like vs. actual temperature. 

Overlooking our run course

My awesome hubby, rocking our pink Trimarni kit

This is part of our run course with the grassy field in the center. We run 2 miles out to this area and then 2 miles in the golf course by the Buccaneer. 

Every IM I buy a fun 2 in 1 shampoo/conditioner for post race (and before) because it's just too much work to shampoo and condition my hair post race. :)
This has been a tradition of mine for several IM's so I decided to bring the same shampoo that I used in Kona in October 2013. Purely Awesome is the name. 

YUM! Pancakes w/ chia seeds and cinnamon, scrambled eggs and oranges for breakfast!


To-do's for the day before race day. I don't show Karel this list because it would overwhelm him but it is helpful for me so I do not feel overwhelmed. 

Transition area


Bike out (right) and run out (left)

Chillin before the athlete meeting

Looking at the swim start in the far distance from our transition area. 

Athlete meeting

Transition area

Representing from flat Jacksonville FL. We are ready to climb and descend! 

Looking forward to seeing Karel waiting for me at the finish line!




St. Croix 70.3 - Day 2

May 2nd


After a great night of sleep and waking up without an alarm at 5:45am (the sun comes up early here!) we both enjoyed a cup of coffee on our patio while watching the ocean. Funny how watching the ocean is so relaxing and calming.


It’s important to wake up the body and to keep the body from getting lazy/sluggish on race week so the timing and duration of workouts is key. The day before the race is a warm-up day whereas three days out we will still do a slightly longer brick or three workouts w/ a swim included (maybe 2 hours or 2.5 hours with no more than 30 min run off the bike). If we are racing on a flatter course, we will typically do 2-3 x 90sec – 2 min faster efforts w/ double or triple the time recovery. If we are doing a hilly course, we will typically do a few short climbs to wake up the legs. After the 1 hour ride or so we will do a short 10-15 min run w/ a few short pick ups to get a good cadence with the legs off the bike.

I typically reserve the morning two days before a race as an off or super EZ day (30-45 min of activity at most) with no pressure to do anything. I like to bottle up my energy for as long as possible and typically two days before the race I am just itching to workout and push my body. It's always a good sign to feel hungry to race. Perhaps you may be nervous but you have to trust your training and all that you did without a taper and that on race day the only pressure you have is the pressure you put on yourself to put it all that training together and pace your own race. The day before the race is our warm-up day for we never take this day off. Compression is also a daily, all-day occurrence for us the week of the race so even on an island, we are still dressed in our compression and will be wearing calf sleeves for the race. 

Karel went for a short 45 min spin and a short 10 min jog on Friday and I did nothing except write on my blog and catch up on some emails at the reception office (internet access there). I had a small snack in the morning when I woke up with my coffee and glass of water of banana + nut butter, cinnamon and granola w/ raisins and then around 9am I had breakfast of eggs mixed with veggies and rice and topped with a little cheese, French bread w/ jam and an orange. Karel had a snack before his ride as well. We never  workout without a pre workout snack.

Around 9:30am Karel and I drove to downtown to pick up our packets. It was so neat to turn on the radio to 104.9MhZ and hear the pros being interviewed. This island really supports the triathlon which is great. The roads will be closed for our race on race day which is also a huge plus (although they can't control everyone so we still have to be safe) since we have a lot of sharp/hidden turns and climbs/descends on bumpy roads. 

After we parked we walked to Kings Alley and stood in a short line (our race has around 600 athletes total including sprint and relay distances so small compared to other popular races) while waiting for our awesome swag bag.

Now this is something new– two 750-ml bottles of Captain Morgan in our race bag. For any triathletes who are Captain Morgan fans, be sure to pick a triathlon that is sponsored by an alcoholic beverage company for some great swag!

After getting our bib numbers, chip, carbo-feast/jump-up party and awards party tickets and t-shirt and some other swag, we headed over to the room w/ the t-shirts and we each picked out a vintage-looking shirt (super comfy), both on sale.

Around 10:45am we headed to the harbor for our last 1.2 mile swim before race day on Sunday. The water was not as choppy this morning as yesterday which was welcomed. It was still a bit choppy in certain sections (especially on the way out to the first turn buoy). It is really good to be able to be on the course of races before a race (safety first) as a way to build confidence before race day so if you ever get a chance to swim or bike parts (both being non weight bearing and not as damaging to the body) before a race on certain parts of the race course, I highly recommend it.  

Yesterday I choose not to wear my speedsuit so I could swim with a little drag of my two piece but today I put on my new TYR Torque Pro to wear for our swim. Karel had his Zoot swimskin.

Although my speedsuit was super tight to put on over my legs/hips, it felt SO good once I put it on. It was not restricting and felt really comfortable around my neck and arms. I choose my tinted Speedo vanquisher mirrored goggles for this race (I brought two pairs, one tinted and one not) and the water is still crystal clear.

Karel and I swam together just like yesterday starting from the first buoys of the race start. Although it was my intention to swim easy again like yesterday so Karel could continue to practice drafting off my feet w/o spotting, I kept looking at my Garmin 910xt and couldn’t believe how fast I was swimming. My speedsuit is super fast, I kept thinking to myself!! We still got some chop but with a lot more swimmers in the water, this swim got me super excited for race day to come! I had 1 scoop INFINIT in a water bottle that I sipped on before and after the swim.

I would make sure to look behind me a few times to make sure Karel was on my feet and a few times he wasn’t so I slowed down for him. These swims are great for me to get out there and just swim because I love it but I really wanted this swim to help Karel for as a non-swimmer, if he goes into the race feeling confident for the swim, I know mentally that will set him up for a better race day experience. The more good workouts you can bank in your memory for race (even on race week for tune-up workouts) the better you will feel on race day. But if you don’t feel sharp on race week, don’t worry! You can always surprise yourself on race day so just let your body work it’s magic when it counts. And like I always say, save your best performance for race day so do not waste it on a tune-up workout on race week!


I spotted much better today for the swim and we ended up swimming the course 2 minutes faster than on Thursday (thanks TYR!!!) which made Karel super happy. He was a bit tired but I knew this would give him a lot of confidence that he can swim fast. Our 31:57 min swim ended up being a PR swim for Karel without a wetsuit and in the ocean – great job babe!!

After our swim we met up with one of our Jacksonville friends and enjoyed spotting some of the pros that are at this race. We then walked to the Luncheria restaurant for a tri-club party w/ some appetizers (nachos) where we socialized and received some course tips.

Around 1:30pm we left downtown and drove the 4 miles back to our cottage for lunch. (Karel had a burrito at the Luncheria and I waited to eat until we got back to our place).

The afternoon was great – resting was on the to-do list although it also included more computer work.
Karel did a little last minute mechanical work on my bike (moving my frame water bottle cage to the front tube instead of the downtube) and we both snacked on fruit (oranges/bananas), lots of water w/ FIZZ or OMSO hydration and granola. Karel also worked on another bike from a friend of ours who just arrived.
With the jump-up/carbo feast event in downtown this evening (free for all triathletes), Karel and I opted to eat dinner in our own environment before the party and then enjoy the party with a satisfied belly.
My typical pre-race meal is pizza and Karel has pasta, two nights before an endurance race. We keep the night before a lot lighter in the belly, even though this meal does not leave us stuffed or uncomfortable. On the day before the race, our breakfast meal is our biggest meal of the day. We are planning fruit, eggs and pancakes.

I made a delicious creation of pizza bread w/ local bread, cheese, marinara sauce and topped with grilled tempeh (leftover – I made two packages all at once so I wouldn’t have to cook it again during our stay) and a salad and Karel made a pasta dish topped with cheese, deli meat and veggies and a side of lettuce topped with greek yogurt.

After dinner we drove to the Jump Up festival where there was a lot of entertainment as well as shops open late (6-10pm). Karel and I supported a local business that had some doggy gifts and the proceeds go to a animal shelter which is great. We walked around and by 8pm (although it felt much later) we headed back to our cottage.

Around 9:45pm we were out although not the best night of sleep for me (my bites were itching me!) it was still nice to wake up without an alarm to the ocean breeze and sun light at 5:45am.

Is it race day yet? One more sleep until race day and then it’s time to get this party started…or at least suffer for 5.5 hours and then party with all the athletes at the post-race BBQ and beach party/awards banquet. 

110% Play Harder gear - love this brand!! I can have a (mobile) ice bath whenever I want!

Streets of downtown - we get to bike through the downtown after our first loop and finish the run in downtown. 

Overlooking our course - northside/northshort in the far distance. This heads to the beast. 

No caption needed.

Someone is starting early....

A little cuteness at our swim start

Getting ready for our swim - thanks Gloria for my awesome DAM FAST cap! 

Too much energy


Ready for our swim! So proud of Karel and all of his progress in the pool (and now to open water in the ocean!) 

Cheers!



Campy check-in! He's doing great at his "Resort of grandparents!"

My delicious pizza bread creation!

Karel's pasta creation

Downtown Christiansted for the Jump Up festival.

Meeting the furry locals. 

Downtown activities. 

5/2/14

St. Croix 70.3 - Day 1

May 1st - Thursday
This race is termed “beauty and the BEAST” because the course is beautiful but it comes with every type of challenge on the bike. There is wind, rough roads, heat, humidity and a lot of climbing. The beast is a well-known section of this difficult 56-mile bike course for the half ironman and it is around ½ mile long and the incline ranges from 11-21%. After you tackle the beast, there is a windy stretch of road to descend down from the beast. However, what we found out during our 90 minutes ride on Thurs with our new triathlete friend and tour-guide, the entire course is difficult! There is hardly any stretch of road that isn’t without some challenge. The road conditions are bumpy with potholes and lots of bumps, there is non-stop climbing and descending so you must have great bike skills on this course (and electronic shifting on a tri bike comes in super handy since a lot of time while riding will be NOT on aero bars – although a tri bike still puts the hips in a good position to run off the bike) and we were really happy to ride some of the course to wake up the legs and to get comfortable on some of the sections that require shifting of gears at certain times. All that being said, this is exactly what we wanted in this course – we love beautiful, yet challenging courses and this race is going to give us our money’s worth!

After our bike ride, Karel and I went for a 2-mile run (drenched in sweat) and we both had our flasks with us of sport nutrition (which we do no matter what type of run off the bike) and I practiced holding back the first mile and then walking 10 sec and then trying to run per perceived effort the 2nd mile. With this type of race, there is no need to focus on any type of pace on the run or speed on the bike. This entire race requires pacing and GOOD fueling throughout to stay hydrated and to postpone fatigue. For those who are racing (me and Karel), I have a feeling the race will be determined in the last 4 miles of the run (or last 30 minutes). Those who overbike will suffer on the run and those who start out too fast on the run will fatigue quickly. This is a tough course so every athlete will have his/her own pacing strategy and fatiguing is a given but it will all be determined by who slows down the least. With the bike times for this 56-mile course typically being over 3 hours for females (about 30 minutes slower than most half IM courses) and 13.1 mile times over 1:45-2 hours, this race will last over 5 hours for the females and will be a true test of strength, patience, skills, nutrition and most of all, enjoyment for a challenging course.

After our workout we rehydrated with a Hammer FIZZ electrolyte tablet and recovery drink (milk/whey protein) and had a yummy breakfast of eggs, veggies, bread and fruit.

After cleaning up a little we gathered our swim gear and headed to the harbor (by car) for the organized group swim in the closed harbor at 11am. We had a little trouble finding parking but we allowed extra time. There was a small group for the swim and I have a feeling it will be much bigger on Fri and Sat (just like in Kona when athletes arrive closer to race day) .The race director gave us a chat about the swim start on race day – we jump off the ledge on the harbor into the ocean around 6am and then swim about 200 yards to Hotel by the Cay and that is where we start for the waved swim start (pros start at 6:30am). There were many orange buoys set out for our triangle swim so the goal today was smooth swimming for me and confidence building for Karel.

I didn’t wear my speedsuit (TYR Torque) for this swim (just a two piece swim suit) but Karel had his Zoot swim skin on. I wanted Karel to practice drafting off my feet and I also did the spotting for him so he didn’t have to spot and could just focus on his swimming.

We heard on Wed the swim was too choppy for triathletes to swim the entire course but luckily, on Thurs the water was just a little less choppy so we were able to swim the entire 1.2 mile course.

The waves were coming toward us on the way out so I made sure to not overdo it and  to keep the same RPE throughout this course in all sections. I figured I wouldn’t gain much trying to fight the waves and it would only cost me on the last section of the swim. Karel stayed on my feet the entire time and I was so proud of him – he has worked really hard with his swim and although he gets frustrated sometimes that he can’t “feel” the water the same everyday, he never gives up on his quest to become a faster swimmer to be competitive with the triathletes who are either born swimmers or have been racing longer than Karel. Karel needs to be out of the water with the top guys in order to be able to bike/run near the front of the pack for he can’t risk overbiking just to “catch” up so he can still gain a lot in triathlons by being a faster swimmer  with good efficiency so he is not expending more energy.

We finished the 1.3 miles (a bit extra – I think I swam a little off course in once section because of the waves) in around 34 minutes and I was super proud of Karel. This was not an easy swim and his first 1.2 miles in an ocean. The clear water made the swim enjoyable although, unlike Kona, no tropical fishies L
After the swim we purchased some needed bug spray and some postcards for Karel’s family in Czech (we do this at every trip we take for a race) and then headed back to our resort for some lunch.

The rest of the afternoon was relaxing while doing some computer work (no internet access in our cottage, only by the reception desk) and working on race plans for our 5 Ironman Texas athletes.

Around 3:30pm we headed out to drive the one section of the course we haven’t seen – the beast! We drove from the race start (still need to walk through the downtown area for there are a lot of sharp right/left turns on bumpy roads out of transition on our bikes) to the beast and the course is well marked on the ground but we also had our turn-by-turn maps from the athlete guide.

The one thing that is hard when driving a bike course is that the course ALWAYS feels harder in a car than on a bike. Not lying, the course is crazy difficult but in a car you don’t get the same feeling as when you are on a bike. Karel gave me some great pointers as to where to take the turns and the climbs for it is a lot of switch backs and steep climbs, one after another. The course did make me smile at times because there are paintings on the ground. 
“Only 11%”

“Only 14%”
“Still only 14%”
“1/2 way there”
“21%!!!”
“27%” – Karel said DO NOT take this line when climbing, go to the outside!

As I mentioned before, the beast occurs around mile 26 of the course and is not the only climbing section of the course…the entire course is filled with climbs and there are plenty of 11-15% inclines throughout this course, no just in the beast section.

After we drove the course, we made a delicious dinner (pasta for Karel and rice for me) and veggies and tempeh and we enjoyed our dinner outside and then spent the evening relaxing. 9:30pm, lights out for another beautiful day in St. Croix.  

Part of the bike course - riding around the island. 

Check out the road conditions - when the roads are smooth, you can't help but smile. 

Either you go up or down. That's how this course goes! for 56 miles!

Beautiful scenery

Bikes are enjoying a little shade from all the heat and wind.


Our ocean view from our cottage


Hotel on the cay

Swim course

Downtown hotel

Roosters

Rooster and baby rooster

Walk on our private beach


Sea life


Endless shore


Selfie with my travel buddy


Morning bike ride - hot, windy and hilly. So much fun!

Great swim this morning!

My bike is excited to race (so excited to have Di2!) 

A yummy Trimarni creation

Veggies, brown rice and orzo and tempeh - delicious!

The same food that has fueled my half ironman training and that has protected my immune system is the same food that I am enjoying on race week. Although this time my plant strong plate is enjoyed with a great view.