Monday, May 11, 2009

2009 St. Croix Ironman 70.3 - DNF - Did Not Finish

Every time I think about it I just shake my head...I was feeling SO good and in 2nd place...ARGH!!! I'm not really a sandbagger and I truly went into the St Croix race having no clue where my fitness was compared to previous years. This year has been a total toss up with losing my job, the birth of my son, the economy and the headbanging process of finding a new job...my training was done with a lot of anger and whenever I could fit it in.

I headed down to the island a day earlier this year to try and acclimate and get in a few solid workouts so my body could be better prepared for the steam cooker that race day always seems to be.
I got into St. Croix Wednesday afternoon with all my luggage and my bike, a first!

I headed out that afternoon for a 5 mile run with some strong efforts thrown in to shock the body; then to the ocean for a good 15 minutes of swimming.

Thursday, I headed out to ride the second half of the bike course and test the legs a little. I felt great on the bike, totally dialed in to the fit and feeling like I could throw down some solid power when needed while staying as aero as possible into the relentless winds on the south side of the island. I jumped off the bike to do a short brick run and the legs were there with some spring.

Friday, I joined the group swim on the actual course. I was not too worried about the swim even though I had under 20 pool session this year. I worked on my technique in those sessions and felt I could get in around 30 minutes (31 minutes last year was good enough for 6th in the AG). The rest of the day was rest and anticipation as my wife and son joined me on the island Friday night...a great boost and reminder that I was there for more than the race (we had a week of vacation on the island after the race).

Saturday, I headed out for an easy hour ride followed by an easier brick run; at that point I really felt good and excited to see what a hard effort on Sunday would bring.

Race morning dawned, not a cloud in the sky, calm winds, smooth water and a great vibe! I got all my pre-race rituals out of the way and headed over to the start on the island in the harbour.

6:38 the 35-39 men's age group horn sounded and I bounded into the clear blue ocean...I turned the first buoy in the lead pack of 5 right on some feet. I fell into the draft in a good rhythm out of the harbour to the turn around. There were a few rough spots trying to navigate slower waves, but I felt good at the half-way point. On the way back in I focused on my technique and getting a good smooth stroke rhythm...I was jamming. Out of the water in 0:29:38; 4th in the AG.

Into transition I took a little more time than normal just to make sure I had everything to hammer on the bike. Ran out to the mount line and found that my cleats had filled with some nice dirt, I took about 200yards to get them to clear and lock into the pedal. I only saw two guys in my AG pass me during that time and I was not panicking.

Once I settled in on the bike I really got after it on the first loop out of town. I blitzed back through town and the "Hot Corner" and was really feeling good and strong. I made a good effort to the first aid station where I took a water and a Gatorade. After the station the course really allows for the opportunity to open it up on some relatively flat terrain. Once we made the turn to the north side of the island and a section that usually has the worst roads, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had been repaved! I took the smooth roads at full throttle and was making a bunch of passes on other AGs and a few in my own.
I hit the 20mile mark and the start of the beast...A gentleman at the bottom yelled to me "you are top 30 overall and 2nd in you AG." Holly $%!&... That gave me a little extra power to tackle the Beast. I crested the sucker and took on fresh fluids, ready for the fast decent...

BAM!!! Utter terror!!!

My front wheel exploded about 1/2 mile into the decent at about 50mph...I was about 200 yards from the next turn and fought the front end of the bike like a wild bronco to slow down before hitting the deck or auguring into the side of the mountain...the turn was getting closer and I knew there was no way I was going to make it and/or stop beforehand, so I spotted a patch of "grass" on the side of the road and did my best acrobatic dismount with a flawless tuck and roll...

I ended up on my feet with a few minor scratches, but miraculously totally in the zone...grabbed my bike and went to work to change the front tube...great fast change, throw the wheel on, sling the leg over the stead and thunk, thunk, thunk, skid...I grabbed the front wheel and gave a spin...

I could not believe my eyes at first...there was a gash splitting my tire down the sidewall (the newly inflated tube was bubbling out) and a nice dent in the clincher rim down to the fragmented carbon of my Zipp 808's...

This is where I went numb...my day was done...NO!!!...

After hanging out with a motorcycle official on the side of the road, I was scooped up by the sag vehicle and taken back to town...that is not a good feeling.

There was a lot of cursing, laughing, sadness and general bewilderment for the next hour...I changed and went to find my wife and son. Boy, were they shocked to see me.

I spent the rest of the day cheering on a few friends in the race and working on my sunburn before hitting the bar to further numb my senses.

With all that happened, I love this race! It is so demanding of an athlete physically, mentally, and their equipment, testing resolve at every turn. I'll be back in 2010 ready for the test.

The week of vacation afterward was...

1 comment:

Anthony said...

Hi Bouker,

Looks like the early 2009 race season has been pretty dramatic for a few of us. Sorry to hear about the blow out, at least you got over the Beast! The mental test.
And your swim was great. We have our work cut out for us again next year. Hope to see you on the start line in St. Croix 2010.