KickStart Endurance Ambassador Stephen Patterson sat down with us recently to discuss his upcoming trip to St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. Ironman St. Croix is a 70.3 event consisting of a 1.2 mile ocean swim, 56 mile bike ride and 13.1 miles of running (half marathon). St. Croix is warm and humid but does provide some relief with ocean breezes. This race is one of the few 70.3 races which offers 30 spots to the Ironman World Championship race in Kona, Hawaii. Race day is May 5, 2013 so check our Facebook wall for updates.
Best of luck this weekend Stephen!
KickStart Endurance: Have you raced St. Croix previously?
Stephen: No, its been on the calendar for a long time but the logistics of getting there haven’t worked until this year. I have wanted to race it because it is similar in profile to a favorite race of mine, the Mooseman 70.3.
KickStart Endurance: What, if any, are your expectations heading into St. Croix 70.3?
Stephen: I prefer not to place specific times on a race as each course is different. I judge performance on how well I executed the race plan and handled the weather and course.
KickStart Endurance: St. Croix is known as one of the, if not the toughest half-iron distance race on the Ironman circuit due to the heat, humidity and hills, what is your plan to stay cool and not burn out on the bike and run?
Stephen: We’re lucky to train in Florida where it is humid and hot. I like to keep myself soaked in water as much as possible to help keep my core temperature down. Dumping water on myself from the aid stations is the fastest and easiest way to stay cool. The stomach has a hard time handling more complex sugars when it gets hot so I’ll use gels, specifically Honey Stinger, since they’re more viscous.
KickStart Endurance: How have you modified your training to account for the hills of St. Croix?
Stephen: I trained in Clermont, FL to get in some hills and rollers. It was 92 degrees when I rode 75 miles and did some repeats on Sugarloaf Hill which is similar to The Beast at St. Croix. Its good mentally to prepare on hills when possible.
KickStart Endurance: Do you have specific time goals for any of the legs?
Stephen: It’s a non-wetsuit swim (which means times are usually a little slower) but I have heard it’s a slower swim in general so I don’t have much of a time expectation for the first leg. I want to see how the bike and run go especially considering this is my first go at St. Croix on a course I’ve researched a ton about but its different than actually doing the course. Each day is different so you’ll get different outcomes.
KickStart Endurance: St. Croix offers 30 Kona slots, are you aiming to capture a spot during the race or are you looking to peak at Ironman Coeur d’Alene?
Stephen: Obviously, Coeur d’Alene is my A-race however if you have a good race and the chips fall your way, it would be great to have a spot going into Coeur d’Alene but its not the end all be all.
KickStart Endurance: What nutrition do you plan on using before and during the race?
Stephen: Being a hot venue, hydration is paramount leading up to the race however I don’t want a lot of sugar but need electrolytes so I’ll drink Nuun for the days leading into the race. On the bike, I’ll supply my own nutrition. I’ll primarily use Honey Stinger gels and then about 10 minutes before the bike ends, I’ll use a double caffeinated Clif Shot gel. On the run since its so hot, I’ll use primarily hydration nutrition and grab what is at the aid stations.
KickStart Endurance: What are you hoping to experience or learn from this race?
Stephen: As athletes we like to race in different venues because it makes you a better athlete and as such you get to experience new places. Racing forces you out of your comfort zone and are your best training days. Clearly, St. Croix isn’t a bad place to race either!
This race will be a good benchmark leading into Idaho as Coeur d’Alene is a hilly race and is a good indicator of how things can go for the full Ironman.
KickStart Endurance: The official title sponsor of St. Croix is Captain Morgan. How much did this play into your decision to attend?
Stephen: It didn’t play into my decision necessarily but it is certainly one of the cooler race sponsors I’ve seen. I will definitely support the title sponsor….but only after proper post-race recovery!
KickStart Endurance: Anything else you would like to share with us about this event?
Stephen: I’m excited to go to a totally new venue in a place I’ve never been before. Hopefully it be on my annual race calendar going forward.
You can follow Stephen’s and the rest of the competitors’ process at ironmanlive.com on Sunday.
Click here to read Ironman’s Preview of St. Croix 70.3