10 weeks after my stress fracture & 28 days after my first run, I threw myself into one of the most competitive non-drafts of the season, the St. Anthony's 5150. I'd by lying if I didn't say I wasn't disappointed with my dismal 21st place, but I'm happy that I've now got an honest measure of my race fitness, and it gives me confidence that I can build my results into the season. Full results are
(skip across to the 'professional' tab).
I was 4th in the race last year, so I was hoping for an equal or better performance. Considering the training I've done & fitness I've experienced this year, I thought this result was possible. But when I put some context in place, it brings me down to earth a little. There was no way I was ever going to be able to run close to some of the best names in the sport from ITU only four weeks past a fracture & on my first outing of a season. The other point of context is that I literally didn't sleep for the five days leading into the race, the Australia-East Coast USA travel really bought out in the inner insomniac. So, moving along to the race...
(this is my first race report of the year & it's pretty boring, give me a few goes to ease into some more entertaining prose)
Winds kicked up a nice swell in the Tampa Bay which made the swim conditions pretty tough. There was $1,000 up as a swim preme, and I knew the conditions would play into my hands to get the much needed bonus. The start was the standard affair of creeping forward before the gun, but I managed to get in front pretty quickly even though I wasn't one of the dicks sculling forward (there really need to be some sort of control over this). I think I was only touched once on the feet before I managed to swim off the front so I was really happy with this. A trouble free swim is always a good way to start the race!
I exited the water with a gap & took the prime. I got to my bike quickly and was really excited to see what kind of bike shape I was in. I felt fantastic at the start of the bike and led the race for a good 10min before Cam Dye (the Spartacus of trithletes) rode up next to me. With the stagger rule the way it is in the States, I had to ride side by side with him if I wanted a chance to ride with him the whole way; there's no 10m rules to freshen the legs here. He hurt me pretty quickly, and I was shelved after a few minutes. After this everything slowed down and I was caught by the chase pack after about 25minutes. I sat up the front of the chase pack with some heavy legs until T2. There was a good 50-80 watt difference in effort between the start of the ride and the time I hit transition.
As expected the run was a bit of a struggle, with my split sitting just under 36minutes. I felt as limp as a wet flannel the first few KM's on the run, but I was happy to finish stronger than what I started. I could have started the run with fresher legs had I sat further back in the stagger pack on the bike, but there was little point to this in the first race back when I was looking as much for fitness than a good result. I'm assuming this race has probably given me more fitness than other single session this year. Playing this fitness card is also what has bought me to St. Croix for the 70.3 this weekend.
St. Croix is down in the Caribbean, and is one of the oldest races on the circuit. It thoughtfully doubles as perhaps the hardest race on the circuit as well! This island is literally a steaming hot wok of pain. It's hot, humid, windy and mountainous. On a course like this, it's almost like you race yourself to the finish, not your competition. So if the 10km off the bike on the weekend was hard, of course a 21.1km run is going to hurt. But while I'm here to win, I'm here to really consolidate some race fitness and actually feel like my training has had some purpose. So I'm going to leave it at that, and hopefully check back with some good news after the race.
Here's some shots of the island!
The view from the homestay
Swim course with Burgs, Will Clarke & Clark Ellice
This is part of the course, aptly named 'The Beast'. The climb is .7miles long & at 14-26% gradient
Unfortunately, this is the local style
Local swim pool