[Raced September 22, 2013; Posted February 6, 2014.]
Skipping to the end, for me, this race ended after the bike. At which point the sun was out, the temperatures were up, and the course was flat.
At which point the biggest balls competition was already over.
Race morning was cold. And not just for someone coming from summer
in Texas. My car said 47 leaving the hotel. It hasn't been 47 in
Austin since February? 2012? And then we rode in open-air Duck Boats for the 20 min drive from T2 to swim start/T1. I was cold.
The inaugural Ironman Lake Tahoe was being held the same day. Their race morning weather forecast was 27 and snow. Everyone in Branson just looked at each other and said "at least we aren't in Tahoe."
The first time I wasn't cold was getting into the water to warm-up. Pun intended natch! Before race start, the race director called us out of the water to go over the timing mat. No one moved. Again he called. Again we stayed huddled in the shallows, with wild eyes and facial expressions that clearly said "nuh uh." A third time he called and we all practically sprinted up the beach, around the barriers, and back to the water's edge.
By the gun I had my arms wrapped fully around my torso and my teeth were chattering uncontrollably.
The water temperature was nearly 80 degrees, with a sub-60 air temperature. Those who know science know where this is going: fog sitting on the water's surface.
When the sun started to come up, the light diffused through the impenetrable fog and that whole half of the horizon just glowed and gave up no directional secrets.
I was swimming into a cheesy horror or alienation abduction movie. And getting very lost.
But I wasn't alone! A couple of us realized we were lost together. We would pop up, survey our current section of fog, ask the paddle boarders for directions, and then strike out again.
It was a long swim.
Back to goose bumps and chattering teeth.
At mile 10 we entered the real downhills and the testicle comparison began.
See these hills cared more about how fast you could down them than how fast you could go up them. 50mph? 60mph? 70mph?
Throw in some wind from the side and uneven pavement, and testicular fortitude comes immediately into play.
Pull your ejection handle (your brake levers) when you are ready to exit the ride (slow the ever increasing rapid rate of descent).
The Run That Wasn't
Due to a resilient deep-seated chill and other reasons that you can read about in my next post, my day ended in T2. I packed my bike in the parking lot, caught up with my friends as they finished, and was back in Austin by sun down.
Still, I enjoyed the town of Branson, or I took to calling it, “Hillbilly Vegas”. I found a great Tex-Mex restaurant run by Mexican brothers who had lived previously in Austin, and the surrounding area was very naturally beautiful in a West-Virginia-In-The-Ozarks way. Believe what they tell you about the hills, but be more worried about going down them.