Wow, wow, wow! What an adventure I had in Brasil!
It’s taken some time to process the whole trip as I relive the four week experience with friends and family and finally, here online!
The tears streaming down my face as I crossed the line in Fortaleza truly were tears of joy and gratitude. This year has been exceptionally challenging for both myself and those closest to me. My thoughts running down that finish chute were all silent thank yous to everyone who’s supported and believed in me this year, when I needed it more than ever. Because of that I thought it best to start my recap posts with some public thank yous!
A week before I flew down to Brasil, I moved out of my Atlanta apartment and in with super-friends Betty & Ernie Janelle. When Betty helped me get started in the sport six years earlier, I’m sure she never imagined she’d someday be referring to “Haley’s room” in her own home, but the move was probably the best change I made all year. Betty is constant positive energy and her husband Ernie has that calm, reassuring demeanor that makes everyone feel comfortable. Betty & Ernie have supported me for years, but the week I spent living with them prior to heading South put me in the best possible race mindset. Not to mention Betty’s VERY early race morning ‘GOOD LUCK’ text messages! No wonder I won!
Matthew Rose has coached me since I first learned how to clip into bike pedals six years ago. Six years is by far my longest coaching relationship and sometimes I’m embarrassed to admit just how well Matthew knows me. Matthew took a crazy backstroker who considered 12 miles a “long ride” and made her an Ironman Champion. A transformation like that takes a LOT of belief and patience. I’m sure I won’t be Matthew’s last success story, but I also know my chapter isn’t quite finished!
The Dynamo Pool is a pretty special place and I’ve held the Dynamo Swim Club in high esteem for decades. Maria Thrash coaches the Dynamo Master’s Group in Chamblee which includes the widest age and ability range I’ve ever seen in one 50 meter pool. I’m beyond thankful for both Maria’s oversight of my own swim training, and her amazing ability to give one lane a set designed for sub-50 minute Ironman swimming, while simultaneously helping people in another lane learn to swim. It’s cat herding chaos and she makes it look easy!
Growing up swimming, I always liked the sport, but it’s taken adulthood for me to realize just how much I love it. My Lane 8 Ladies, Beth, Betty, Dori, and Shelly, are directly responsible for this. Our workouts are filled with just as many laughs as laps and there are many days when I just can’t wait to get to the pool and tell my latest (usually embarrassing) story.
Professional triathlon training is often pretty lonely. There just aren’t that may people in the world who can (or want to) go for a five hour ride on a Tuesday. That being said, I’m extra thankful to the folks who joined me this year. Special shout-outs to my super-bestie Drew Marlar for keeping me company on a Valentine’s Day smashfest I will never forget (thanks to Brian for that one too!) and to Brent Pease for always being up for 100+ miles in the gaps, especially when you’re sick and Sean and I decide to race up Neels.
Speaking of smashfests, if Smashfest Queen dropped me from their ambassador team tomorrow, you would never know because I’ll support this Company and wear their clothes for as long as I’m able to swim/bike/run. There’s a lot to love about clothes that are great quality, colorful and happy, and they even named a kit named after me! But the best part of being a Smash ambassador is just having founders Hillary Biscay and Michele Landry in my life, as well as getting to know the other amazing Smash ladies, Alyssa, Anabel, and Dawn. These are women to root for in business, triathlon, and life and I’m so grateful to be a part of their team!
All of my sponsors have been incredible this year. TYR swimsuits, swim skins, wetsuits, and goggles keep me fast in the water, no matter what swim conditions mother nature throws at me! This year I rode a Quintana Roo Illicito bike equipped with SRAM Red components, Reynolds wheels, Mavic tri shoes, and a Kask helmet. My bike was built and maintained my Allen Heaton of Kinetix Endurance and thanks to this superstar team, I clocked the fastest bike splits at both races in Brasil. I train and race everything from ten minute easy runs to Ironman marathons in Mizuno running shoes and the comfortable fit and colorful designs make Mizunos my go-to shoes for walking around as well. Racing an Ironman on the equator requires extra emphasis on hydration and the hot and humid conditions really put my race nutrition to the test. Thanks to Osmo Nutrition, I pulled it off just about perfect! I get all of my triathlon gear from all3sports and when I stop by the shop I usually also pick up a few laughs from the hilarious (and very helpful) store staff. I pack my bike in albopads and slather my skin in Zealios Sun Barrier and I’m happy to report both my bike and skin came home in great shape!
I’m a proud member of Dynamo Multisport as both a coach and athlete. In 2014 I coached four amazing athletes who inspired and helped me more than they will ever know. Thanks to Lauren, Stephanie, Tiencia, and Barbara for taking a chance on me and letting me be a part of your own triathlon adventures.
A HUGE thank you to my parents, Jerry & Elizabeth Chura, and my younger sister Hannah. My family is always supportive, but they definitely put in extra time this summer when I did a big training block while staying at their cabins in Montana. Providing SAG support for dozens of bike rides is surely outside the realm of “family obligation” but those summer workouts laid the foundation for my success in Brasil and I couldn’t have done it without them. I’m looking forward to heading back to Big Sky Country in 2015, hopefully with a few friends!
Thanks to everyone I met and hung out with in Brasil. The whole trip would have been impossible without the help of Ana Lidia Borba, who not only let me stay with her in Florianopolis, but translated the whole Challenge Floripa pro meeting from Portuguese to English and found me to make sure I knew that the swim course had been adjusted just minutes before the gun. Ana is a true ambassador for the sport not just in Brasil, but worldwide (seriously, this girl speaks more languages than the Pope) and I’m so thankful I got to know her and Lis and their adorable dog Eisen a little better on this trip. Thank you also to Brasilian pro Mariana Andrade and all of Equipe TIME for their hospitality and cheers in Florianopolis.
One of the best things about international Ironmans is meeting new people, pros and amateurs, who are extra adventurous and ready to take on the challenges of racing outside the US. Petr Vabrosek was the first familiar face I saw in Brasil, and running into him at the airport in Rio helped me calm down from my initial culture shock and let me know I was in fact, at the correct departure gate. The staff at Endurance Sports Travel made me feel like a rockstar in Fortaleza and patiently accommodated my non-existent Portuguese language skills. I enjoyed getting to know fellow pros Balazs Csoke and Bryan Rhodes in Fortaleza and without Rhodsey’s feet I’d probably be lost at sea swimming toward Africa right now. I shared meals, swims and laughs with Kau, Monica, Ariane, Joana and Bob, and met several other incredible Americans in Fortaleza. It was extra special to share the podium and represent the USA with fellow American pro women Jessie Donovan and Caroline Gregory. And thank you to MundoTri for covering both races so well on Facebook and Twitter (with some English for me and my American friends!)
And last but definitely not least, I need to thank YOU! Everyone who reads this blog, follows me on social media, THANK YOU! I read every tweet, Facebook message, Instagram post, email and #savethefish text message with a huge smile on my face. I appreciate you more than I could ever say, even in a post twice this long! Every triathlon requires help, but a month racing in foreign country takes even more. Thank you for your continued support. I really wouldn’t be racing as well or having as much fun without you.