Work til 3, drive to Greenville. Pick up the support crew (Josh, Ray, & Ross) for the weekend. Head to Edwardsville and eat with teammates Alex and Michelle at Pit Pit. Drive to Branson. Check into the Branson Windmill in at 1am. I stayed there last year, because I found a sick deal on it…same with this year. Good night.
Wake up. Breakfast. Outlet mall…it was right by the hotel…Check in. Pro Panel. Athlete Meeting. Ride. I was thinking about not riding…good thing I did. I had a small issue with my rear wheel…that would have been bad on race day! After getting that sorted out, I got in a quick ride before heading back to the hotel. Met up with Dan and Tammy, and went to Old Chicago for dinner. Dan was doing his first half ironman in Branson…brave man!
|Old Chicago is a MUST the night before the race.|
My wake up call was scheduled for 5am, but I woke up at 4:15 ready to take on the world. I didn’t want to wake the other guys up (although I’m not exactly super quiet in the morning) so I tired to get mostly ready in the dark. I stopped by McDonalds for my pre-race coffee and oatmeal, and went to T2. Set up my run gear, then went drove to Dan’s hotel…I apparently did not pack my CarboPro for the race, but he had some extra. Thank goodness. Went back to the hotel to pick up the support crew and drove to the race site.
Pre-race pictures (of course), warm up, and just enough time to get a little nervous. Perfect.
|They are really tall...Okay, I'm not tall.|
Had, so I have been saying all year I could swim 35:00 in a wetsuit, since I have been able to swim 37:00 in a swimskin. I got out quickly, and thought I was in a good spot. I had quite a bit of contact for the first 200m, and then I got into some clear water. I just assumed the swimmers gapped me I was falling behind…no big deal. I kept swimming hard and sighting. Well, next thing you know I am being tapped on the shoulder by a kayak paddle and the nice girl was telling me I am about 75m off course. What?! How in the heck did that happen?! So, I had to swim another 75m back to get on the course, and finally found a group to swim with. It was foggy and sighting was already limited, so I just figured whatever, I’ll just follow them. When I finally saw the arch, I put tried to prepare myself for a 40something minute swim and just told myself to stick to the plan. Well, I look at my watch, 37:xx. So….even with swimming an extra 150m, I still had a good swim...actually a great swim!!
I have done this course before, I knew what to expect. Spin the uphill, but don’t spike the power. Hammer the downhill. Use the momentum for the downhill to start getting you up the uphill. Use your gears. Be prepared to go slow uphill and fly downhill. This course has over 1k more of climbing that Vegas, and I think it is more challenging, but I rode the same time as Vegas, so I was happy.
T2: :46 short and sweet
The race always comes down to the run. I was in 2nd in my AG and like 10th OA going into the run. I ran out of T2 and saw somebody in a white jersey that was running about the speed I wanted to run (my garmin died on the bike, so I was just running off feel) so I hopped in and started running next to him. I looked over and realized it was Ben Hoffman…If you’re ever going to have one of those “Oh Sh*t” moments during a race, this may be one of them. Good thing my Garmin was dead!Anyway, we ran together for my first loop, and unfortunately he got to finish and I had 2 more loops to go. The run course was not very crowded (a good thing), but spectator support was scarce on the back half of the loop—it made for a good mental test. The volunteers at this race are simply AMAZING. They are by far some of the best I’ve ever experienced in a race. So hats off to you and a very sincere thank you! It was great getting to see my friends 2x a loop as well! Anyway, finished up, ran 1:20 and knew I was under 5, so I was happy.
Total: 4:53:42 –17 minutes faster than last year! 1st AG, 4th amateur. I was pumped.
After the race I also got to talk to Ben Hoffman for a few minutes, which was pretty cool! This was my first Rev3 event, and I really enjoyed it. I think it is more relaxed than a WTC event, but still with the big time feel. Also, they give away quite a bit of “free” stuff. I will definitely be racing more Rev3 events in the future. Branson will always be on the schedule...I absolutely love the course and it really is just a fun place to race.
Now, I am very happy to have won my AG in a Half Ironman and take a lot of time off the same course, but Branson is a special race for me for other reasons. Last year I qualified for Worlds at 70.3 Branson by finishing 2nd in my AG. Even more important than that, this year it has been 4 years since I decided to get help for an eating disorder that started in high school. To quickly sum it up, it started my sophomore year of high school when somebody I looked up to told me I needed to lose some weight to run fast in cross country that fall—I was 5’6” and 117lbs at the time. Over the next few years I continued to lose weight until spring of my junior year when I had a stress fracture (first of 4) and knee surgery. I did not plan on running in college and I let myself get to 140lbs…a healthy weight. I then decided I wanted to run in college and the cycle started again. By my sophomore year I was running 70-80 miles a week and eating once a day, sometimes less than that. I got back into the sub 120 range (which doesn’t have to be unhealthy, IF that is a natural weight for you—for me, it is not natural) and ended up getting another stress fracture after the first meet of the year, BUT I had just set a minute PR over 8000m. It was at this point people really started to wonder if something was going on and I decided to reach out and get help on Sept 22, 2009. Over the next couple years I had to turn to swimming and biking as a form of cross training for track/cross country, and a way to work out without putting pressure on myself to perform well. Swimming and biking played a huge part in my recovery—physically and mentally. I have had the support of many coaches, family, and friends along this journey, but I can gladly say I am healthy and able to compete at a decently high level today. Four year later, it was great to race Branson and have 2 of my good friends that played a huge part in my recovery there with me (and Ray too). Sure, qualifying for Worlds at Branson last year was great, and the age group win this year was fun, but being celebrating being healthy and being able to compete in a sport I love is just awesome. I really am thankful to have such an awesome support system, and I look forward to many more years of health, training, and racing.
Thanks for reading, y’all.