Wednesday, September 21, 2011

REDEMPTION: Ironman Branson 70.3 Report

I am not even sure how to start this report. There are alot of feelings and emotions that I have about this race, that I am sure I will ramble, but I am going to try to keep it in some sort of reasonable flow. Before I go any further, I have to say this, I FINISHED! That was awesome to be able to type that after last years epic failure. This may well be one of my longest posts, but please hang with me.

Pre Race:
I woke up early, around 4 AM and got me something to eat. A bagel and apple juice to be exact. Then I was checking the computer about the weather. I t had rained all Saturday and the forecast called for rain and Tstorms all day on Sunday. I was really praying for no rain while I was on the bike, but I knew it was out of my hands. My dad drover me to the race start and I set up my transition area. First thing I did was to check my tires and they were fully inflated! WIN! I was then able to get everything setup right, wetsuit on and got in the water for a quick swim. the water felt great. It was 70 degrees. After my swim I was able to find my wife and kids and mom. It was nice to see them before the race and being to talk to them. As soon as the pros went off, I slowly started to make my way up to the swim area. I was feeling very calm and focused abut the swim.

I guess I would say I was mid pack of my wave, not in the front, but not in the back either. There is not alot to say about the swim really. I was able to find some space to swim, the water was clear enough to see my fingers when my arm was extended, I only got hit or bump a few times. I swam like I wanted too. I did not get to caught up in trying to go all out and I came out of the water feeling good. I saw my wife and 2 yr old as I ran up the ramp and got a high five from Jesse. TIME: 40:59

T1 went pretty smoothly. It took alot of time getting everything back in the bag they provided to us, so we could gather our stuff at T2, but other than that there were no issues. I was a little nervous about getting on the bike, but I had confidence in my tires. As I was leaving, I heard my oldest son Jacob yell, "Only 69.1 miles left!"  Thanks Jake!  TIME 5:07

I knew the bike course would be tough. I expected it to be tough. My goal was not to crush the course, but to finish this course and still have some legs to run. I was able to maintain as steady a pace as I could through the hills. Every time I passed a spot where I flatted last year, I gave a quick "thank you" that I was passing it on inflated tires. I made it to the turn around point and had to stop and use the porta-potty. This actually turned out to be a good thing. It reminded me to take my nutrition and refill my bottles, which I did. The hills were as tough as I remembered and the downhills were as fast as i remembered them. Once I passed mile 42 (place where I was pulled last year) I know I had a smile on my face, but I still had a ways to go. Thankfully the rain had not yet come like the forecast said, so I kept on trucking. There was one downhill at about mile 53 or so that had a sign on it that read "Extreme downhill, Use caution". they were not kidding. I hit 53.1 MPH going down that hill. My goal was to pucker up, hang on and keep it straight. I know I let out a Yee-haw flying down that hill, the speed limit was 45, and it was scary fast! After the bike path, there was one more hill to climb and it was so hard to get up, but it led me to T2 and to the rain. It was coming down in buckets, but thankfully I was done with the bike course. I cannot describe the feeling I had knowing I had made it to T2. That monkey was off my back and I knew I would definitely finish the course. I did not care if I was DFL, I was going to finish this course this year, and I did. I had been thinking about the bike course for a year and it felt good to have it behind me.  TIME: 3:55:48

It was raining so hard by now that there was no point in trying to keep anything dry. I was glad that I placed my shoes and new socks in a bag so they were dry, but it was a worthless point. Before I even got out of T2, I was soaked head to toe. The best part of T2 was seeing my wife and kids. I said out loud "TAH-DAH", like here I am, I made it! It was a great feeling of relief to be running. TIME 2:37

Did I mention the rain yet? Because it rained and rained and rained and then rained some more. There was no way to avoid puddles cause it was like a monsoon. My goal on the run was to run in a comfortable pace for the first lap (we had 3 laps to do total). Within the first mile, I started to cramp in my hamstrings. Luckily an older guy next to me offered me some TUMS, he said it was the best thing for cramps, which I never knew. After the first aid station, I saw a sign that made me laugh. It said "70.3 cause 70.4 is just crazy!" The run went better than I expected it to go. I got a lift every lap when I could see my family cheering me on as I past them, I even got a kiss from my bride as I went by. I soon went to my 10 minute run, 2 minute walk plan. I kept it moving forward , knowing I would finish. Lap 2, I was still feeling good. Lap 3 was tough, I think I walked about half of it, but I was empty. My tank was empty, but I was determined to keep moving forward. As I came to the finisher chute, I almost couldn't believe I was finishing. I could hear the announcer saying my name as I crossed the finish line. The lady then placed the finisher's medal over my neck and I almost lost it. It was very emotional for me. I then hugged and kissed my wife and said "We did it". what a great feeling.  I was cramping pretty bad and an EMT asked if I wanted to go get fluids, but I declined. I wanted to be with my family and enjoy the finish line. I grabbed a warming blanket, 2 chocolate milks and a hot dog, which was the best hot dog I ever tasted.  TIME 2:51:08

Total Time of 7:35:39
66 out of 102 in Age Group
496 Overall

I have to mention the volunteers at this race. They braved out the rain and stayed to help us out the entire time. they were very supportive and even called us by name as we passed. Great job to them and I made sure to thank them every time I passed them.

Also I have to thank my family. My wife and kids, my mom and dad, and my sister and her family all were there to support me, and they crammed themselves into a mini van to wait out the rain and cheer me on. It was such a pick me up to see them and hear them yelling for me. It was especially nice to see my wife there at every lap yelling support to me. I so appreciate them all. My nephew had the quote of the race. he knew I was doing a half Ironman and he said "if he does another half Ironman, then he will be a whole Ironman!"

Redemption was mine. I beat the course. Well, I don't know that I beat it, but I conquered it. I finished, and it felt great!


  1. Congrats!!! I hope you still have that finsher medal one, you worked hard for it

    Tums. I didnt know that

  2. Congrats James!

    Sounds like it was a long, tough (and wet) day out there! But you sucked it up and got er done.

    That bike course sounds freaking brutal!

    Great work man!

  3. Fantastic! Those hills are a bit scary! I heard that a lot of folks flatted multiple times this year at Branson so I was pleased to read that wasn't your fate this time. Congrats to finishing. I really like how your nephew thinks!

  4. Congrats, James! Sounds like a tough day, but you pulled through and did it. That course can't hold anything over you anymore!

  5. Fantastic! Rain sure takes some of the fun out of the day for sure but you got it done.



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