This was my second Ironman distance event.
I hope you enjoy the read.
IRONMAN YOUTUBE VIDEO
THE SWIM - OKANAGAN LAKE
So much made about the temperature of the lake. I never did hear the exact temperature but over the loud speaker it is announced that wetsuits are permitted. Nothing left to do here, it is time to leave my spot in the transition area and make my way into the lake.
I have time for a warm-up swim. The water is warmer than the air. I feel ready to swim.
The pre-race atmosphere at IRONMAN Italy, was a "Euro-Dance Party" on the beach. The tradition here at IRONMAN Canada is a lone bagpiper rocking a catchy tune.
I am standing ahead of 70-80 minute group; right where I need to be. The shuffle to the start line begins.
Beep, Beep, Beep. It is my turn to go. The lake is shallow for a bit from the shore. I finally take that first stroke; it feels great and I am off.
The 300m marker is to my right and I am on auto-pilot. I feel great the entire swim.
THE ONE-LOOP BIKE COURSE
A crowd has packed the street around the start of the bike course. The cheering is incredible. Heading south on Main Street is emotional. Maybe it was the effort from the swim.
The residents along Lakeside Road are out and cheering. I see a large Canadian flag; close to that is an equally large Italian flag. I call out, "Forza Italia!" The family gives me an extra cheer! As I ride away, I hear "Forza Azzurri!"
McClean Creek Road is a hill. I tackle it with as little effort possible. The day is still too young.
65 kilometres to Osoyoos, I've spent the majority of Highway 97 in the aero-bars; my lumbar is starting to act up.
Richter Pass is a slow and steady affair at least for the climb to the summit. The race to the valley below is a very different affair.
If you passed me on the way up, don't worry, there are more up-hills for you to catch up to me again (maybe). Zoommm!
The distance between the Aid Station going up Richter and the one in Cawston is being felt. My water bottle has been empty for some time and I can use a bio-break. My lower back needs a break too. Finally at kilometre 106, that break is here.
Leaving Keremeos, I have family on the roadside cheering me on. Forty-something years ago, my aunt would have been babysitting me in a tiny town in Northwestern Ontario, now she is cheering me on at 110 kilometres into this ride.
Rolling through Olalla, a hamlet between Keremeos and the hill in front of me, I experience a moment of perspective (and gratitude). I spot an elderly woman in front of her house.
She is happily cheering on the cyclists as they pass. Just a few weeks ago, this woman would have been evacuated from her home as a forest fire threatened to take everything she had.
The climb up to Yellow Lake was a little easier with perspective.
The kicker by the Twin Lakes Golf Course is an out of the saddle, +150 BPM effort (highest of the day). Despite the discomfort in my lower back, everything else is feeling really good.
Lots of downhills for the trip to Willowbrook is the reward for all the climbing so far.
The only out and back section of the bike course, finally gives me a chance to see my friend Kevin from Victoria. I did some quick math and he's maybe 4 minutes behind and closing.
The climb out of Willowbrook is done and I am at the turn back on to White Lake Road. Another crowd of people is here cheering on the participants.
"Look at this guy, he is still smiling!"
Hey, that was someone commenting about me!
Also in that same crowd, I see Katie and Jason, more friends of mine from Victoria. So cool!
Jason is running beside me, his words of encouragement light a spark. Instantly, the pain in my lower back disappears. I am back in the aero-bars, picking off every rider ahead of me.
But it's the rider behind me that is my motivation. I am wondering, "Will Kevin catch me before we get back into town?"
Highway 97 is coned off for the cyclists and this is fast descent back to Penticton. I pre-rode this segment a year ago and noted as the valley warmed, convective winds blowing uphill make for some tricky handling with a TT bike. The wind I was expecting is not nearly as intense today.
Head down and pressure on the pedals, remember Kevin is still coming.
Skaha Lake Road and I am back on the closed road into town. This is my first look at the race leaders, almost half way done with their marathon. How fast these runners are moving is incomprehensible.
MAKING THIS HAPPEN
The long grass was cool and damp when I left transition this morning. My bike is racked and I am sitting on ground, putting on my running shoes. I find myself wishing for that cool grass again; it is really hot out now. The procrastinating is real. Let's get going.
Ahead of me is the 12% grade of Vancouver Avenue. People are running past me, I choose to walk up.
I've run out of hill, my walk is over; time for me to get going, for real this time. In front of me is 4 kilometres of an out and back section of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail [KVR]. The surface is a very fine gravel, not quite sand but it still feels loose.
This is the heat of the day and this trail is false-flat uphill. My quads are noticing the grind.
At the 5km turnaround, a smile appears from the crowd. My sweetheart, Carina is here! It is instant happiness and I stop for a kiss.
My trek back to town starts with a huge smile.
With the turnaround barely behind me, I spot Kevin on his outbound leg of the trail; he is at most, just 30 seconds back. He is a strong runner; I am confident that I will be caught for sure now.
Off the dirt of the KVR and finally on asphalt, I intentionally walk down to the bottom of Vancouver Ave. 10 kilometres in the books, 20 miles in front of me. I am feeling good.
When IRONMAN announced the route for this new run course, I can not say that I was overly excited about it. A long section of false flat road, lined with very uninteresting box stores at the south end; to me it sounded terrible. Now that I am on that road, what I am experiencing is very unexpected.
Main Street is lined with people and I get the sense that the majority of this crowd consists of families cheering on their loved one(s). I hear the cheers for me personally too. I smile and return a "Thank you!".
If that cheer comes from a youngster, I make sure to tell him or her how awesome they are.
Mentally, I am treating this first loop of Penticton as a recon-mission; a preview of "the real race" happening in a couple hours.
The south end of Main Street becomes Skaka Lake Road and where I thought I'd be looking at those box stores, I only see people. I get the sense that the crowds lining the street at this end of the course are predominantly locals. There are lot's of people out cheering us on.
Northbound again, I see Kevin making his way south. I give him a cheer and he cheers back. I wonder, "How has he not passed me yet?"
Lakeshore Drive and the sidewalks are packed. Lot's of cheering as the fast kids finish up on the Red Carpet. Keep going, my time will come.
I am handed a cup and I put it down the hatch. Residual carbonation and acidity hit my gut and the reaction is instant. It's Pepsi and this is very uncomfortable. With 17 kilometres of run course in front of me, I am turning off auto-pilot and going into problem solving mode.
My plan was to slowly consume a gel during the time between Aid Stations. That plan is tossed.
The entire distance back to the southern end of the course, I have been fighting back the urge to vomit that cola. In my hand is an opened, but barely consumed Maurten packet. It has been there for the last 3 Aid Stations; time to place it in the trash.
Less than 10 kilometres to go and the sun has just dipped below Blue Mountain. I am sure Kevin has been saving himself for a kick to the finish. After he catches me, I will give myself permission to walk for a little bit.
5 km to go and I spot Carina in the crowd again. We make a plan to meet at the finish line in 30 minutes. She's going for pizza and a glass of wine, I set off to complete this task at hand.
The watch says I'm running 6:45/km pace, my brain thinks I am travelling at 5:00/km. I am as strong as I've ever been.
— I am an IRONMAN. (again)
I felt hungry on the final leg of the swim, maybe I could have had more for breakfast.
I fuelled on the bike with two aero bottles, 400ml of maple syrup in one, 350ml and a splash of coffee in the second. I also had a Maurten gel during the first half of the ride. ~2850 calories total.
Legs and lungs felt good on the bike, my lumbar (left side) was my limiter.
Applying sunscreen before bed was a great idea but I need to cover everything exposed (lats).
Pepsi is NOT my friend.
Kevin never did catch me out on the course today, but his overall time was faster than mine. Chapeau my friend, you were a part of what made my experience great.
IRONMAN may have brought the participants, but it was the people of Penticton that made this a truly memorable event.
VICTORIA TRIATHLETES — Whether we know each other from the pool, other races or another setting, seeing a familiar face in a crowd of strangers made for a better experience for me.
Kevin Nunn • Matt Patriquin • Jason Ball and Katie Quast • Chris Mavrikos • Jim Runkel • Christy Gain • Tammi Carter
Pattie Rosen, it was a sincere pleasure meeting you in Penticton. Best wishes on your inspirational IRONMAN adventures.
Penny and David, thank you for opening up your home to us before the race and cheering right to the finish line.
Coach Elliot Bassett, Mountain Endurance
The strategic mastermind behind my daily preparation.
To my number one fan and the love of my life,
Carina. ❤️ She is beside me the entire time.