Wow, what an “amazing race!” The 70.3 course in Branson, MO is both challenging and beautiful. The venue sits atop Table Rock Lake with views of the Ozark Mountains. The swim takes place in a beautiful lake guarded by dams on both sides. The bike course is 3 loops and nearly 8,000 feet of climbing in the Missouri mountains. The run closes the race throughout Branson Landing and an RV park very close by. All in all, one of my favorite courses on the Ironman circuit.
I arrived in Branson just in time to check my bike into T1. The race is a 2 transition event so bike check was mandatory on Saturday. I chose a hotel that was closer to the finish line 7 miles away from T1. When finished checking in and packing my transition bags, it was time for dinner! I got to hang out with my good friends Nick and Nicole Clark of Newton Running for about an hour before dinner.
I could feel the temperature dropping and wondered how the 45 degree air would feel on race morning. I found a pretty good place to eat dinner and was lucky enough to watch my Auburn Tigers play the “other SEC Tigers” or LSU Bayou Bengals! I was asleep by 9 and managed to get a pretty good night of rest.
The alarm went off at 4:30 and I was engaged in my race morning routine. I left my hotel room for the bus down at T2 to be taken up to Table Rock Lake. Sure enough, it was COLD!!! I have been racing in extreme heat all summer so it was a bit of shock to my system. My wave was starting at 7:36 so I had plenty of time to freeze before getting in the water! The scene at the swim start was pretty funny as everyone was trying to get in the water just to warm up!
Finally, I was in the water with my age group waiting for the fun. We were about to swim a clockwise rectangle with buoys on the right. Not more than 50 yards into the swim, my goggles filled with water…CRAP! Sighting was challenging as it was since I breathe predominantly to the left, but now I had the water impairing my sight as well. I fought through the swim and exited the water at 31 minutes.
I ran up the beach around people who were just walking (so frustrating to me, I can’t understand it….IT IS A RACE!! I peeled off my wetsuit and prepared myself as best as I could for the 48 degree air temperature. I tell you one thing for sure, it did not take long to warm up! My Quintana Roo Illicito performed beautifully for me on a beast of a course that had me climbing more than I had ever remembered. Seriously though, I spent more time in my small chain ring that I had the entire season up to this point combined! Despite the challenging elevation I felt really good and was trying my very best to save a little for the run. I finished the bike in 2:46 and was ready to run.
My plan for the run was to go out hard and keep the pace strong for as long as I could. The run was pretty technical with several breakneck turns that wound through a shopping center and camp ground sidewalks. I was running so hard that I forgot to look at my watch. I felt good but I knew I couldn’t hold my lace for much longer than 13.1! The first loop was solid, the second loop was even better but halfway through the third loop I could feel my energy stores leaving me. I started to get a bit dizzy around mile 11 so I took in some cola at an aid station. Wow, I love flat coke when body is on the brink of shutting down! It was just what I needed to finish how I had hoped to. I actually sped up the last 1/2 mile and crossed the finish line with a 1:28:07 run!
I looked at my Timex Race Trainer Pro and saw my overall time of 4:53:07. My first thought was that seemed REALLY slow as I walked through the finish shoot. I just kept walking to cool down and then wound my way back to the finish line. I inquired of preliminary results and found that I was in the top 15 overall finishers! Oh yeah…..that bike course was crazy challenging enough to add at least 15 minutes to most finishers! I felt a lot better after that realization!
I walked back to T2 to get my bike and then walked back to my hotel room. I took a shower and checked out before heading back down to the finish line. I was already starting to feel the soreness creep in but smiled as I knew I raced as hard as I possibly could. I got back to the finisher’s tent and found that I had finished in the top 20 overall and more importantly earned a slot to the 2013 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas! The season is drawing close to an end so it was a huge confidence booster knowing that I have my slot for Vegas and the year ain’t over yet! Next up….Rev3 Anderson on October 14th.