Branson is a curious place. It is both a live show tribute to the old with Hollywood/Vegas billboard glamour and a desire to be what is new - boardwalks along the river and lovely cafes. The race takes advantage of what is new. The course starts at the beautiful Table Rock Lake. This place would be a paradise for those wanting to have a weekend camping, playing on the beach or hiking the trails. The water is very warm (82F) so an easy dip is possible. The bike course takes you up to highway 465 which is north west of Branson. This is where the fun begins. The highway which you get to do twice is closed to traffic. It is awesome pavement, fast descents, tough long hills and pretty cool as you go over numerous bridges over huge valleys of trees. The run is in Branson Landing which is located on the White River. You run first through the pedestrian only outdoor shopping strip, then onto the path along side the river and finally looping around a residential area. It is flat and just nice.
The race for me was solid. I started the swim strongly but never fully caught onto the Jennifer Speildenner's feet so ended up being out there on my own exiting the water just behind the 2 leaders. The bike was absolutely fun. I am not so into short steep hills but long ones at a 3-4% grade give me any day. After two mechanicals taking me off my bike twice I was passed by 4 girls. Bit of a bummer. When I finally got going again it was around 30 seconds back of Jessica Meyers. I told myself to go 10 hard, but controlled minutes to get her. And slowly at every ascent I would close the gap. At 5 minutes I caught her and together we set on a mission to catch the next group of girls which included superstar biker Rachel McBride. It took until the second lap to finally get them but we did and I have to say I felt great. It was amazing how different it felt from Vegas two weeks ago - different rider all together. The huge effort to catch the girls though did me in a little though as in the last 4 miles Rachel and eventual winner Radka gaped me a little.
The run was always going to be hard. My training has simply not been there to enable me to run like I have in the past. My body is telling me loud and clear to back off training and so I have. My strategy was to just go as best I can and then get through the last few miles with whatever I had left in me. The first lap felt pretty good and controlled. The second lap I held on but it was starting to hurt. The third loop I was passed by two girls in the final 2 miles and struggled to keep moving. But even through that I never lost sight of why I was there.
I finished the race with a smile. It was not a phenomenal performance but one that I still can be very proud of. I am very satisfied. And so that is a wrap for me. Today is the first day of the next chapter.
I would not have been able to do all that I have this year without my absolutely awesome sponsors:
Specialized; Nineteen; Scody; Compressport; GU; Garmin; Rudy Project; Computrainer, Oak Bay Bicycles