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ST. CROIX TRIATHLON, Sarah Keller posted 5/9/02
Sarah is a new team member this year and completed the St. Croix Triathlon on 5/5/02. This is her first-hand account of the experience.

St. Croix Triathlon
May 5, 2002

Yeah, I'm happy with the results, even though I crashed twice on the bike, and my head set nearly came off. !!!! Explanation: It was really wet and curvy, the course was highly technical, and my new tires skidded out. The explanation for my lose head set (earbars and handlebars) comes harder since I should have known better....I really should have tightened everything down more when I put my bike together, BUT I was too BUSY worrying about the missing bike shoes and cleats that I had purchased down there that didn't fit my bike! Then messing with trying to get some kind soul from hear to airborne express my shoes to a local bike shop. Whew! A LOT of mishaps happened to me personally (including the breaking of my bikini top on a catamaran snorkel trip post-race)! Those stories will come out later.

The rest of the stresses were common to everyone: UNUSUALLY strong winds in excess of 25 mph; hot weather of somewhere near 90, with high humidity; and LOTS of crashes and broken bikes. Everywhere.

SWIM: That said, I was thrilled to SURVIVE the 1.2 mile swim, given the supreme choppiness of the water. In fact, I enjoyed it, got on someone's feet, and mellowed out. 46 min. For me, an OK time.

BIKE: Smooth transition, happy about the swim, sailing out of town, and SMACK into the headwinds. 56 mi. Umph! But, OK, I'm doing alright until I notice my handlebars falling down. SHIT. No allen wrench. No support vehicle. I'm screwed. It's going to be LONG bike ride. Then hauling ass through town on wet streets I cornered too sharply and spilled onto some spectators. Got back on and cruised. But wait, there's my main competition with a flat, so maybe I'm OK...I made it up the BEAST OK though, which is a 14-18% grade of .6 miles, 600 foot climb. OH MY F-G GOD! For those of you who don't ride, riding without aerobars on a tri bike means you have NOTHING to hold onto. I was riding in a very awekward position. OK, my competition caught up with me eventually and I was happy to simply hang on, and keep her in sight. 3:21. For me, a SUCKY time.

RUN: Quick transition ( my experience must be paying off - that or my anger). Then out on the course. 13.1 mi. At first, I'm thinking, "yeah," I don't have to race this, since most people would've dropped out by now. So I can just jog and chat. Well, that's still hard to do in 90-degrees. So as I was busy surviving, I passed a bunch of age groupers, friends, and competition, and started to convince myself that I could run. So gradually I picked it up to average a 7:55 pace, which, given taht I probably ran the first 5 at 9 min. pace, was FINE.

END: 5th place in age group with 5:50 time, WHAT made me most proud was that I was only off of 3d place by 2 minutes!

LESSON: The mental game is the MOST important. I was very happy that I was able to keep my attitude positive and in the race the whole time, and even bring it to a higher level by the end. WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!!