Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Oliver Half Ironman 2012 - Spectator Report & Wine tour

This past weekend was the Oliver Half Ironman.  Joe and I have been doing this race for the past 5 years.  It is a favorite of ours and makes for a nice holiday.

Now calm down - I did not race I was able to get a deferral to next year.  I went up to watch Joe race, do some light riding  and to do some wine tastings :).  There are so many amazing wineries up there and because I am always racing I never go so this was my opportunity. I would say I had a rather successful weekend and came home with 10 bottles from various wineries - it is going to be a good summer! 

The wineries I hit in Oliver are Wild Goose, Oliver Twist and Hidden Chapel.  I also hit a few just outside Penticton on the Naramata Bench - Blue Ruby and Black Widow.  I like to go to the smaller wineries because I feel like they are not so commercial, their wines are very nice and the owners are usually the ones running the tasting room so you get to have a wonderful conversation about the history of their winery and such.  It just feels more folksy and authentic. 

I did take Isis up and Saturday I rode to Osoyoos, enjoyed a coffee and bagel in the sun, and then rode back.  It might have been a bit long.  It is about 65 km round trip from Hotel to Timmy's and back and my leg was tired and a bit achy near the end  but overall I was happy with the ride and yes Joe followed me there and back  on his bike to make sure I kept the tension off and did not get out of the saddle. 

Sunday the weather was absolutely perfect for a tri.  It had clouded over so it would not get too hot and there was no rain and very little wind.  Joe has been having some issues with his calf and had said to me that this is just a training day  - only 6 weeks till he races in the Alps for 8 days - so he was not going to push it and if he was not feeling it when he got to the run he would walk off and DNF rather than risk it. 

I actually knew quite a few people racing so it was nice to see them all out. While watching the swim I noticed there were no strippers - volunteers to pull off the swimmers wetsuits for them when they exit the water.  They were really short on volunteers this year so a bunch of us that were watching put our stuff down, went down to the water exit and started stripping wetsuits.  It was super fun and I loved it as I got to strip Joe's and a few other friends wetsuits as they came out and congratulate them on their great swims.  One of my friends came out with a real bad cramp so I sat with her and talked to her until she felt she could continue.  Then I went and got a bite to eat, tried to find Joe on the bike course (more on that later) and hit a winery. 

I zipped all over the course trying to find Joe with no such luck - so I thought to heck with it I will just go back to transition and wait there.  I headed back to transition and got there at 10:50 - he has said he was not racing, just a training day so I calculated that would be just under 3 hours so I would see him.  Well WRONG - I looked at the racks and did a double take - those were his cycling shoes.  CRAPTASTIC - he was already on the run course!  Guess the "training" day was going better than expected....

So I started running to the start of the run course - OH be quiet! It was only like 600m, 1km tops - it was important.  I thought maybe he had just left - of course I did not find him so then I just started walking backwards along the course.  I figured he has to run towards me and that way I will see him. 

Sure as heck about 15 minutes later who comes running towards me at a good clip but Joe.  I was like - training day?!?!  - he was like I feel good and gone.  YEE HA so I started doing posts but wanted to stay calm because some quick number crunching told me that he was going to PB and not by just a little.  soooooooo excited.  So I turned back and started walking back to the finish/turnaround and caught him on his second loop out and took a great photo of him.  This worked great to because I got to see all my peeps out on the run course to!

So his final time - 5:30:23 - BOOYAH - he took another 30 minutes off his time!!!  Most on the bike.  It was so awesome!  Now about not finding Joe on the bike course - we both have Time Trial helmets we wear for racing.  My helmet is small and his is X-Large (his head is really big) - yep you guessed it he grabbed my helmet. So when he went to put it on obviously it did not fit and I was wet suit stripping so he could not call me to go get his other helmet at the hotel.  He was about to DNF when another guy pulled out after the swim - one of the officials talked to the guy and he generously agreed to let Joe use his helmet.  Joe did not get his name or number so we could say thank you - feel bad about that - but that is why I could not find him on the course because I was looking for a time-trial helmet.

All my other friends finished and from emails and quick conversations at the awards BBQ they all were happy with their races.

We have already reserved our hotel for next year and will both be using it as a prep race for Ironman next year.  If you are thinking about doing a Half Ironman - this a great race for a newbie - well run, huge community support, great volunteers, fantastic course and next year is their 10th Anniversary.

Hope to see you there

Shaun


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