Professional athletes have different criteria for choosing races than age groupers. ,The first two criteria I look at is race timing and predicted conditions. Fortaleza promised many conditions that typically play in my favor: non-wetsuit rough swim, extremely hot and windy bike, and brutally hot run. The timing of this race gave me enough time to get in a few solid training blocks after IM Louisville, and enabled me to finish my season before late November (which then opens up early season racing options for 2015).
|One thing my brother and I do not have in common is our|
tendency for adventurous eating. While Matthew sampled the
local cuisine pre-race I stuck to cooking at home &
fresh coconut water every chance I got.
|Don't let the calm water behind me fool you.|
That only lasted for about 200m.
I thankfully linked up with (english speaking) Luciano at Barcellos Sports (bike shop). He took me out to drive the bike course so I was better prepared for race day. I tried not to be nervous when he told me that his car was equipped with bullet proof glass. My response: "wait a second. I certainly won't have bullet proof protection around me when I'm out there on Sunday." I'm all about expecting the unexpected, but..... I left this exchange out of any conversations I had with my parents pre-race.
Due to the extreme wind and heat the race started at 5:50 for the professionals and 6am for age groupers. Thankfully I adjusted to the time change quick and was ready to roll.
Swim: The swim was the most vicious I've ever done. Current, swells and constant chop. I got off the line well and fought to hang with the guys surrounding me. After the first 200m we were out into the open ocean. The instructions were to swim out to a "boat" since they weren't able to keep a buoy in place that far out on the course. Once there I severely questioned whether we had gone off course. This said "boat" was more like a piece of wood with a stick coming out of the middle, holding a piece of cloth (the sail). We made the left turn in search of one more turn buoy before heading back to safety. While out in the vast open ocean I realized there was no other sign of life out there. No kayaks, no paddle boarders, nothing - just us amongst the elements...hoping to survive (yes this sounds dramatic, but talk to anyone who did this race and they'll agree). The middle of the swim was about staying calm and not letting mind run away from me.
|ROKA definitely impressed me. I swam better than ever this year &|
capped it off will a killer swim in Brazil.
Bike: The bike course took us through town before making our way to a 4 lane divided road. Imagine riding through New York City with only an orange cone every 100 yards separating you from impatient crazy drivers. We completed 2 loops there before heading back into town. The wind was howling from the beginning, but I'd been training in strong winds in the weeks prior so felt right at home. My heart rate monitor wasn't working so I relied on my power and perceived effort to guide me. Not ideal. Stay calm. I felt comfortable (thanks to a recent change to the Cobb Fifty Five saddle!) and strong. I sat in 2nd until Mette Moe passed me around mile 30. Matthew was out there yelling at me (and my American cohorts of course). I have to admit that at times my mind wandered to the fact that he was driving amongst this mayhem. It was great to see him periodically and know he was still alive.
|Thanks Kevin Brooks for finalizing my look with a sweet |
CLIF Bar custom helmet!
At mile 60 I saw that teammate and friend Jessie was moving through the field and closing in. I held her off until around mile 95 and rolled into T2 in 4th. I flew through transition with complete confidence that this would be MY race.
|More of a grimace than smile at this point.|
The conditions were brutally PERFECT for me. Heat, humidity, no cloud coverage, and some wind mixed in there. Sadly my legs never came around. Every fiber of my being wanted to get back on the podium. Sadly not a single fiber was willing to fire in order to get me there. Matthew was there giving me splits and trying hard to motivate me. He was all over that course. Eventually I confessed to him that my only goal was to make it to the finish. 26.2 miles sure is a long way to run when every single second is a battle of wills. I finished 5th and soon after collapsed. I gave it everything!
The day did not end as I had hoped it would. I was fit, strong and ready for this race. The reality is somethings we fall flat despite not having any real answers for it. This is part of Ironman racing, and the reality is we only get a few shots every year to put all of our hard work to use.
Matthew and I escaped the city and spent the rest of the week on the beaches of Cumbuco so he could enjoy what he really came for: the kite surfing. I spent this time searching for the positive take aways from my race - and there were many. For the first time I was in a position to compete off the bike. I was possessed with focus and execution on the bike that was vastly different from any prior races. Coach Tim was quick to remind me where we were one year ago. I'm back in the mix and have a lot to look forward to next season. Most importantly, I BELIEVE in myself now more than ever! and this, my friends, is huge.
|Ironman Fortaleza Champion: Haley Chura. HECK YES! |
She absolutely crushed this race from beginning to end.
Inspiring & Impressive! So stoked for you my friend!
|Standing on stage with friends, teammates, incredible athletes and amazing|
women is something I will NEVER take for granted.
Congratulations to everyone who completed IM Fortaleza. It was brutal out there.
2014 is a season I am ridiculously thankful for! I'd say the 2014 season is one to smile about. When it comes to my excitement for the year ahead, I think this picture sums it up.
|All laughs and smiles from that podium. We earned it!|