Thank you to Chris Barnes for this and all pictures within this post!Good morning Branson! As the sun peaked over the hills of "crazy town" (my self proclaimed name for Branson, Mo), I couldn't wait to toe the line, dive into the water, and get back to the very thing that makes me feel most alive: RACING! My last race was almost 4 months ago. I've been chomping at the bit/dying to get back out there. This race offered me the opportunity to get my heart back into the game. Lay it out there, have fun, and remember why I love this sport so much!
Race weekend started with an eventful Frontier flight from Denver. The flight (like last year) was loaded with most of the pro field. It was awesome to reunite with some great friends. Together we shared MANY laugh as we geared up for Sunday's show down. Dinner that night, on the Branson Landing, included a standing ovation when (very randomly!) Whitney Houston's voice started playing over the loud speakers and we were entertained with a water and fire show. Only in Crazy Town! I think I can speak for the entire pro field in saying that we loved the town, volunteers, atmosphere and race! Unique indeed...
The bike cours is AMAZING! Huge climbs and descents that even I can fearlessly fly down. The climbing helped warm me up, however what goes up...must go down. Frozen again. I relinguished the lead to Jenny a few miles up the road, before we entered the portion of the course that is closed to traffic. A group of cars got between her and I. This caused me to drop back more than I would of liked and suddenly it was as if they were "out of sight, out of mind." This isn't to say that it is anyone's fault but my own. I had the choice to stay in the game or drop off the pace and I chose the latter. That choice had it's consequences.
The Branson bike throws almost 5,000 feet of climbing in your face! The majority of the course is closed to traffic- offering us 2 lanes in each direction to race fair AND safe. I've heard rumblings that the race contract was not renewed, and this really saddens me. I wish more courses out there mimicked this one. Safety first, and this course provides that.
I think I finally came around until mile 30. I rode blind. no power nor heart rate. Where other girls are coming off months and months of dedicated training, I am only about 6-8 weeks of significant training in the legs. It showed. My bike split was slower than last year, and last year I raced IM Wisconsin the week before. I learned that I have to go with the lead girls and hang on. Once I'm off on my own I drift too far and I can't keep leaving this much for the run.
In my last post I promised I would smile out on the run course if indeed my foot pain was gone. I wiped the grimice from my face (because I was so mad with how poorly I biked) as I remembered that I have finally overcome a huge hurddle. For the first time in 2 years I raced without forefoot pain. I can't believe it!
One thing I try to reiterate with other athletes is the need to didgest a race, learn from it, and then move on. Dwelling on the past doesn't help us in the future. Professional athlets have no choice but to become good at this. So....
3 positives from Branson: 1) I finally overcame a huge mental block in regards to my swim. I got out with the fast girls, fought the whole time, and was rewarded kindly. 2) Happy feet are fast feet. I've finally tackled this endless mystery! 3) I returned to the podium. Enough said.
1 negative: my bike split. Problem will soon be addressed as I am using the prize money from this race to buy a Computrainer!
I was a bit overwhelmed with just how happy I was out there. I love to race, to test myself and dream big. Every race is a learning experience, and this one was no different! Things are lining up well for a very strong 2013 season. I have some honest (and very painful) work to do, but this is something I welcome with open arms.
Thank you TYR for your continued support and belief in me. One step closer to living by our slogan of "always in front." Vision and FSA thank you for my amazing wheels and components. I love my bike set up and the ease of shifting was essential out on that course. Scott for a bike that I absolutely adore and continue to admire! My Garmin computers provided accurate information I needed out on the bike and run course. Gu and FRS were my go to nutrition: bike: 4 GU's, one Roctane GU drink, and 3 FRS soft chews to get me past the low moments. Run: 1 package of GU strawberry chomps. Big time congrats to Jenny Fletcher on her first win on the Ironman circuit; and to Nina Craft for throwing down a gutsy race!
Happy training and racing to all! and a special good luck to those preparing for the big dance in Kona.