Race Coverage

Inconvenience & Triumph....

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By Branden Scheel

Texas 70.3 Race report! /weekend recap: Galveston was a major milestone in our lives lately. It has been around 600 days since we have gotten to do what we love to do: Race.

We left Wednesday afternoon to make sure that we got there in time for the chaos that seems to follow us around to settle before the race. Good thing we did. Our flight went to MSP then Houston. During our stop in MSP I looked up rental cars just in case this shuttle didnt work out but I couldn't find any. Every site said sold out. We both looked at 7 different sites all saying sold out. The plane was leaving so we agreed to look once we got to Houston.

Upon arrival we went to the rental car parking garage that was 100% empty. We asked and they were indeed 100% sold out of cars. We asked if there was an event, they said no this happens every day... poor planning on their part but whatever. So we requested an uber for the hour car ride and got super lucky! It was a pickup!! 2 bikes and full luggage it was the only way we would make it. During the drive I ordered Pizza to be waiting for us at the air bnb. About 5 minutes later I realized that I messed up the address. I called back 5 times but no one answered. Hopefully they would call back and deliver it down the street?   ...

The driver took us down to Galveston and dropped us at our Air Bnb. The hotel lobby had just closed and we looked for a way in to the gated community.... it took us 20 minutes to find a gate we could get through. We walked around for 15 minutes inside the gates until we found our building since they were so poorly marked, and made our way to our room. As soon as we got up there, I got a call saying the pizza driver cant find our hotel, i tried to get him to come to our apartment but it was outside his range, so he cancelled our order. Sadly we would get no pizza.

Oh well. We found our room and it had a key safe box hanging from it. I looked up the code and typed it in. FINALLY WE MADE IT! . Or so we thought.

The code didnt work. We tried again, and again, we tried until our hands went raw. Nothing. I tried calling the host but it was midnight at this point. We decided we would just need to get a hotel for the night. Luckily there was one just outside a gate. We went to the gate to go around to the hotel, it was double padlocked. So we walked another half mile around the development to the hotel with our bags!

Finally got to the hotel and got a room, went to the door and the key didnt work. Of course it's never that easy for us! We had the front desk lady check it out and she used her master key to get us in. She turned on the lights AND SOMEONE SAT UP IN THE BED AND ASKED US WHAT WE WERE DOING. There was an old guy sleeping in this room!!!!  Super awkwardly we backed out and got a new room.

After all the adventures. We finally found a room!brandenmedal.png

First day was over, and from there on it got a little easier. We got into the Air Bnb the next day, built the bikes, worked out some in the next few days, did some boogie boarding (sorry coach). And got all checked in!

Finally race day was here. We had a Lyft scheduled for 4;45 am. It never came. At 5am we tried a few more times to get rides from ride share apps.... nothing.

Finally at 5:25 we went to the parking lot and begged other people to take us, because we were super late at this point. Brandon and Jordan were nice enough to get us a ride and off we went to scramble and get ready. They called our swim groups 15 minutes after we arrived so it was a mad rush to get it all set up. But we did it (I think?). Only missing minor things. We sprinted to catch our swim groups and get wetsuits on and prepared ourselves to brave the next 4-8 hours depending on the day we have.

Not long after, the gun went off and we jumped in! The first few buoys went smoothly, I felt like I was in control and finding good fast feet to be on. Shortly after we turned, the waves grew. It got a little harder, my rythm was a little off, but not terrible. I found feet the whole way, and was pretty happy with my swim...until I got out and looked at my watch. Almost 32 minutes. My day was basically over. I knew that the top guys were swimming 24, 25 at the worst. And 8 minutes vs this field? Game over.

I came out of the water in 80th place overall. 7 minutes from the leaders. I sprinted to my bike, had a fantastic flying mount and tore off down the coast. (2nd fastest transistion 1 of the day. Would've been first if the wetsuit didnt suck to my heels like an octopus).

The first couple miles weaved through town and I caught a couple people as we went, once we arrived on the hwy, it was 25 miles straight with the wind. I tucked in to my bike and hugged it tight. Kept my power numbers low and rode the wind. Averaging almost 31 mph on the way out felt fantastic! The road was a little patchy and I lost my nutrition at mile 10, but chose to let it go as I was way past it before I noticed. I ate and drank well on the way out and caught 60 people before the turn around.

Then we turned. Oh my lord. It was like we were standing still. Power went up, speed went WAY down. I struggled to hit 20mph for a lot of the way home. I continued to overtake other riders but nothing felt good on the way home. The final 8 miles were brutal and I just wanted to run!!! I caught Noel and a large group coming into transition again. I finished the bike in 7th, with the 2nd fastest bike of all age group athletes.
I quickly passed the group in transition (fastest transition 2 of the day) and took off to my favorite thing. Outlasting and fighting people in an all out foot race. The goal was first 2 laps steady, last lap was war.
First lap of 4.5 miles was a breeze hanging out around 5:35 per mile, only rough part was a patch of sand we had to run in for a tenth of a mile that ruined me every time. I used that as my recovery.

After lap one I had Carter and Kyle updating me and heard one say I was in 3rd, I didnt know if it was age group or overall but assumed age group since I swam like a dying horse today. I picked it up a little and held a good pace for another 4.5 miles. Another good lap, passed a couple pros on their off day. Carter told me that I was 1 minute from the lead, again thinking it was my age group, I put my head down. Last lap. Time for war!!

Mile 10 went well and I found a rhythm. ..until it all went foggy. Remember that nutrition bottle laying on the highway? Yeah I remembered now..

Bonking. I composed myself, slowed down to 6:16 per mile and stopped at the next 2 aid stations. Chill out Branden. I took everything they had at the aid stations and threw it down the hatch. Off running again I went!. After the second aid station I was feeling good again and focused. 1 mile to go. All out. 5 minutes. Head down I took off hoping I didnt lose my age group for the slower pace the last 2 miles.

As I rounded the final couple corners I hear Kyle shout "First overall baby!!!" Shocked. It took me a while to realize I was about to win it all. And i lost it. I threw him a high five and fist pumped. I sped up and sprinted to the sweetest race finish of my life. they announced it over the loud speaker and I broke into tears. 1st overall. Run Months of training before and after long days at work, weekends spent on bikes, swimming with old people aquatics, it all paid off in this moment. Minus the swimming, clearly that was useless.

To all who have shown support these last few hours, days, weeks, months, years, and most importantly the ones who have always believed in me (mom and dad), thank you. I can't thank everyone enough for the kind words and outpouring of support on this journey.

Thanks to fantastic runs from both of us, ALEXA AND I ARE GOING TO WORLDS!! September we head to St. George for the 70.3 world championships!

ED. Branden's finish time was 4:09:39. His margin of victory over amateur runner-up David Wild was 3:24!.

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