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Branson 70.3 - Finisher report!

We DID IT!!!
Branson 70.3 finishers!
First off, thank you for your support, enthusiasm and excitement for our first race experience together. Secondly, I apologize for any typos or spelling body and brain are very tired (thanks for understanding).
I am so excited to write my race report but for now, I am going to enjoy doing nothing. My season is official complete and it's time to reflect and think about next year.
A day after his 36th birthday, I'm so happy that Karel enjoyed his first half ironman....and this course was no joke. Harder than we could have imagined while reviewing info about the course but once we arrived to Branson, we knew race day would be a challenge.
The day started at 4:15am when we woke up (central time) and after riding the shuttle bus to Moonshine Lake, we were greeted with 74 degrees in the lake. This was very welcoming considering the shivers with 43 degree air temps.
The swim was beautiful. The water was clear enough to see your hand entry and the course was wide enough that there was room to navigate around the wave starts. I started at 7:15am and Karel started at 7:23am.
After the 1.2 mile swim, it was a quick run up a steep ramp (from the beach) to T1. This was the only time we would be at this transition since T2 was near the Landing (finish line/run course). It was a little chilly but I was comfortable post swim. In my race report I will go into details as to my gear/nutrition for this race.
The bike started w/ 6 miles of very rolling hills out to the 2 loop hwy bike course. I took Karel's advice and didn't not power the hills to start the bike and it paid off. Once we entered the closed course on the hwy, the long 1-2 mile climbs quickly woke up my legs. The descends were very welcoming but were not long enough. That's ok, what goes up has to go down. Between each out section was a turn off with steeper climbs than the highway and our turn around was in the parking lot of a high school.
The wind was not in our favor heading to the high school but we could feel a little give in the wind on the way back. Still, the same climbing and descending but as the course went on, it seemed like everything got steeper and steeper, longer and longer.
A few pics from the Internet of the bike course...

According to Karel's bike computer, our 56 mile ride included 5085 feet of climbing.
After 2 complete loops (out and back), we made the turn around and headed back on the out loop (again) until the turn off. The last section of the bike included some steep and steady downhills, a bike path, technical turns (just a few, nothing too scary) and of course, more climbs and rollers. With less than 2 miles to go, one last super steep short climb just to give the legs one more memory of this bike course.
After entering T2, it was time for the run. Karel had passed me on the way back on the 2nd loop of the bike (guessing around 40 miles?) so I knew he was already out on the course.
I saw three bikes on the rack from my age group but I new that there was around 6-8 girls ahead of me when I started the run. Because of the Olympic and sprint races, it was hard to tell the competition but I do enjoy having other athletes from different races on the course. It was a challenge for everyone and a beautiful day for a safe, well-run race.
The run was fantastic! Crowds and loops. That's my kind of course. The course was 3 loops, with the finish on the way back of the 3rd loop. It was so great seeing Karel on the course and every time I saw him, it would give me a sudden boost. Of course, the boost didn't always last long but I did feel great on the run...that is, until I started to race it.
After passing a few girls on the run who were super strong cyclists, I had confirmed an age group award....but I wanted more.
I had decided in my training for this event that I would race this race. Not racing a time but rather competition. On race day, I expected highs and lows and didn't try to ignore the lows. I dealt with them with mantra's, positive thoughts and trust in myself.
I want to save some excitement for my race report so I won't fill in the details as to how the run unfolded. I thank everyone who tried to track us all day (and for the overwhelming support on facebook!) and its a bummer that the run splits didn't show up because every time Karel and I ran over a mat, we thought about everyone who was tracking us, so proud that we could put our training to the test for you all to enjoy.
We are sore and exhausted but it was an unbelievable event to have in our memory bank. If you like hills and a lot of beauty in scenery, I highly recommend this race. The organization and support of the IM team as well as the volunteers and spectators was amazing  I'll leave you with the final results as a little spoiler...

Karel's splits:
Swim: 35
Bike: 2:45
Run: 1:33
Total time: 4:57
5th age group, 18th  amateur male
 My splits:    
Race Name/DistanceHALF Ironman
Overall Place52
Division NameW30-34
Division Place1st (age group)
Gender Place1st (overall amateur female)

Swim Time30:30 (2nd age group)
Swim Pace1:35
Transition 12:59
Bike3:07:47 (3rd age group)
Bike Rate17.9
Transition 21:13
Run1:36:33 (fastest female AG run)
Run Pace7:23
Final Time: 5:19.02