This past weekend was Ironman Canada in Penticton - it was amazing! I was not competing I went up to volunteer, cheer, support, and just overall soak up the atmosphere. I love this weekend.
There were many times I had to stop and take a breath because all of the sudden I would stop and remember a certain memory about like last year when I was competing and be amazed that I had actually done this, that I was alumni - wow.
The energy from the moment I arrived in town on Saturday morning was electric. I knew so many people who were competing. There was Cindy, Darin and Rochelle - Zimich Team mates. My massage therapist - Kenji and running buddies - Tina, Henry, and Melinda just to name a few.
First thing I did on Saturday morning was "treat" myself to a bike ride - I rode out along the course to OK falls turned around and on the way back rode UP a VERY steep hill to the Blasted Church Winery. I have been deteremined to go there for the last 3 years - everytime I ride the course I see the sign and think I need to go there so as a reward to myself for doing my ride I got to ride to the winery and buy some wine. I got a lovely merlot and white which I will open on a special occasion - I then packed them in my backpack and rode back to town in BRUTAL headwinds. They were awful and all I could think was I sure hope it dies down tomorrow for everyone - this is nasty!
When I got back to town and I went and picked up my volunteer shirt - I figured it was time to give back to the race - so I volunteered as a wet-suit stripper. Plus I really wanted to "strip" all my friends. It was super fun! I got to strip Tina and Cindy and yell at Darin and Henry - I was so proud of them all. Not to mention all the other swimmers - it was really awesome to strip them, congratulate them on a great swim and wish them luck on thier bike ride.
I think next time I will do another job just to experience another part of the race but I did love it and will definately volunteer again. The adrenaline rush is awesome as you want to get the suit off the athlete as fast as possible and get them on their way for the "wee" bike ride. I got kicked in the throat, stepped on and almost cold-cocked by one guy. When I was pulling off his suit another swimmer running by kicked him in the head so he came up ready to swing. Fortunately I was quick and grabbed his arm before he let loose and talked him down. Honestly he was over 6 ft and a big boy if had hit me I would have been out - that is a sure thing. There was the excitement of the pro's coming out of the water - most did not want to be stripped but the lead lady came out and there was trouble with her suit - the zipper jammed - after people were fussing with it for about 2 mintues she ran off to the tent with it still on - not sure how they got it off her. I tell you though I stayed way the heck away on that one - I did not want feel I had affected her day. In the end I heard she got caught on the bike at the out & Back so I guess the wet suit did not affect her day overall thankfully. Then there was the heartbreak of watching a lady come out 4 min past cut-off and know that her day was done. But I am sure she will be back because Sister Magdalena (sp?) was waiting for her and walked with her to the change tent. The sister had problems with her wetsuit and had to pullout- the first Ironman she has ever pulled out in after being in over 40 races. Yep I would say volunteer - the experience was amazing.
After my shift I had to get out for my 19km run so I ran along Kettle Valley trail - it is stunning - I had never run it before up on the bluff and would recommend it to anyone. On the way back I could see the clouds moving in and thought to myself -uh oh. I made it back before it started raining but apparently around the same time I got back 12:30 or so the folks at the top of Yellow Lake were not having a great go of it. The skies opened up and at one point there was hail!! Makes last years 37 degrees and smoke seem like a picnic.... Apparently there were a lot of crashes as the wind was brutal and the roads were slick.
When I got back I changed hooked up with some other friends and we settled into our cheering mode - chairs out on the strip and enthusiasm in hand. I stayed out there until 8:30pm or so cheering and then had to leave as Joe was flying in to Kelowna so he could sign-up the next day and I had to pick him up at the airport. But I did get to see Darin and Kenji finish and knew that all the others were safely on the run course and on their way home.
The next morning got up and headed down for registration - NO not me - Joe. yes after 4 hours of waiting I am super excited and very proud to say that my hubby JOE is registered and this time next year will be an Ironman. I have already lined up our hotel on the strip and am planning my ensemble for next year. I am hoping to volunteer at the finish line so I can hand him his medal like he did mine. I can hardly wait.
Peace out Shaun