Wednesday, August 27, 2014

We took up the Challenge and OWNED IT!

Cole's notes version

Joe CRUSHED his 2011 time by 1 hour and 39 minutes. - Final time 12:19:06

Team Gets Better with Age rocked the course finishing 29 minutes behind Joe  12:48:04

Okay for those interested in details here they are.

Joe and I got up at 4:45 am so we would have time to eat and digest before going in the water.  The weather reports had been sketchy all weekend calling for rain, thunderstorms, wind, sun - it was changing from hour to hour so we had no idea what we would get. 

We were hoping for calm water and warm to hot temperatures with no wind.  Thankfully when we headed out the door at 5:45am the lake looked  calm, the sky clear of dark clouds and it was nice and warm.  We made sure to wake up Joe sr before leaving and I reminded him I hoped to be out of the water around 8:40 am so be there for the chip handoff. 

It was quite a bit quieter walking down to Transition than previous years but with only 1400 athletes in all races combined not unexpected.  It always amazes me how fast that hour goes until you are in the water but the next thing we knew we were standing beside each other in the water waiting for the gun.  The Joseph Witnesses were on the beach in full ensemble with their Joe Head sign which was great because they were easy to spot. 

The swim for me was awesome - it is my weakest part of triathlons and the one that causes me great anxiety.  However from the first stroke I was okay and calm.  Maybe knowing I was only doing this portion helped but the water was gorgeous.  Thankfully it was cool enough that we got to wear wetsuits one degree warmer and we would have been like the pros.  They were not allowed to wear their wetsuits.  I was very relieved when they said age groupers were still in wetsuits.  My time in the swim, which was 100m longer than the 3.8 km, was 1:37.  This is a great time for me and a personal best by at least 10 minutes!!!!  I came racing out of the water hoping Joe had beat me and was out on his bike.  He was very anxious and wanted to beat his dad on the bike.  When I ran into Transition I could not see Joe Sr but I found June bug right away - the multicolored rainbow wig was easy to spot.  It took another few seconds before we found Joe SR - I handed off the chip along with my little envelope of Bishop's fur that I had carried in a water proof bag on the swim and shoved it in the back of his jersey and told him Bishop and Mom will keep you safe - ride safe and be careful - no speed wobbles - see you on the course.   The bike he has been using has had some issues and if he goes to fast he goes into a speed wobble - I wanted him to use my bike since we are about the same height but he said it would be fine. June and I hugged him and off he went to his bike while we zipped back to the hotel so I could change in to my cheer gear.

On the way June told that Joe had come out about 15 minutes ahead of me so I knew he was on the course - I said a short prayer to keep him safe, no flats and let him ride fast and strong.  At the hotel the Cheer squad regrouped and we talked strategy - we would head out to the bear and check on wear the leaders were when we got there.  At the Bear I got to chat with an official and he gave me the update that the leader was probably about 30/40 minutes away which let me know we had some time.  So we decided as a group to head to the out and back and start chalking messages on the road.

We got to the first aid station on the out and back and jumped out to write some messages - Beer this way with an arrow and Ice Cream this way with arrow.  Go Joe x 2 with their numbers.  THen an official came and asked what we were doing so we told him and he went to his vehicle came back with a spray paint can - it was chalk paint - AWESOME.  AND THEN HE WENT OVER OUR SIGNS AND MADE THEM BETTER - how cool is that we were like you are the best and he just laughed and said we need more spectators like you ladies.  So I hugged him - high fived him and said we are off to Special needs to do more chalking and away we went.  But before we left we got to see the leader Jeff Symonds ride by and we yelled and screamed for him it was awesome. 

In the car and to the Special needs corner where we continued to cheer for people while we wrote messages on the road encouraging people.  Athletes were super excited to see us as we had cow bells,  pom poms,  tamborines and of course our Giant Joe  Head on a stick.  You could not miss us that is for sure!  I checked the updates online of times and Whats App'd the family as they were chattering like mad on Joe's phone.  And then there he was my boy riding into Special needs looking happy and full of energy.  He jumped off the bike to go to the bathroom and came out and said where is he?!?  LOL I was like about 30 - 40 min out maybe.  In actuality it was about 15 minutes - woops.  A quick hug and he was off and I said to the others June and I are going to bolt so I can get her back to town.  They were staying to wait for Joe Sr and continuing cheering.

I had pondered stopping at the top of Yellow Lake but I knew that June had to change and wanted to eat something so decided it best to just get back to the hotel so she could get changed. Turns out this was the right decision because Joe Sr was only 15 minutes behind Joe and looking strong! 
June got ready and we booked it down to transition because we did not want to miss Joe coming in.  We got into transition and had about 15 minutes to wait before I saw Joe running into transition - we was looking a little tired but still smiling and he shouted at me - he is only 15 min behind!  Bike time for Joe 5:59 and change I told him well best get a move on if he is only 15 minutes behind.  LOL   He changed his shoes came hugged me and June and was off for his wee run.  Now to wait for Joe Sr.  Sure enough 15 minutes later a happy but tired Joe Sr came strolling into transition.  Bike time 6:04 and some change - not bad for 72 years young.  Boo Yah and the race is on.   LOL - meanwhile the rest of the Joseph Witnesses had called and were on the race course cheering - Joe had just gone by and was on his way out of town.   I told them June will be out on course shortly. Quick hugs for June and off she went for her "catered training run". 

Back to the room again so Joe sr could shower and change into cheer gear and then into the car to "break" onto the run course.  It was much easier to get onto the course this year than past years.  I know the runners appreciated it - the smiles that would come on their faces as we drove slowly by -tunes cranked, cow bells and tambourines going with our cheering were the best thing to see.  Having been out there - it can be lonely and you are soo tired that any type of encouragement is deeply appreciated.  

We found Joe around 18km and first words out - where is she?  Yeesh - no hi, hey what's up - LOL.  About 15 minutes behind - and he was like gotta go and away he went.  Sure as heck June, 15 min later June was on the horizon - go girl - we yelled our hearts out.  Hugs all around and back in the car - off to the out and back/turn around.  We were able to park for a bit there.  I cranked the music opened all the windows and doors and athletes were happy for the distraction and said thanks as they went by. 

When we had seen Joe at 18 I knew he was in some pain and struggling a bit.  I had anticipated this and had thrown a running hat and my shoes into the car.   It was time to payback the favour from last year when he ran with me for a while to help me.  I took off the wig, changed shoes, grabbed my hat and tossed the keys to Karen.  Joe was jogging up the hill and I jumped in beside him - his legs were cramping pretty bad.  On the way back there are some big climbs back out of OK falls so I just jogged with him and talked to him.  When we hit an aid station I rubbed his calves and the backs of his knees, grabbed him whatever he wanted for nutrition and just generally kept encouraging him.  I stayed with him for about 5km and I think it was a good plan because he started to pick up his pace and I was having to start working hard to stay beside him.  So I told him I jumping off - go you got this - see you at the finish line.  Then I waited at the next station for my possee.  We parked and cheered for everyone until June came by.  The station was about 34km.  June had fallen to about 25 min at this time so when she came by we all hugged her and did a photo op and then I told her - we are off to the finish - we will see you there - you are doing great. 

We zipped to the finish line and headed to the chute - after about 20 minutes of cheering there he was  - my Joe - right on schedule.  Challenge encourages loved one's to cross with their athletes - it is an amazing gift to the families and athletes to allow this.  Sadly Ironman does not allow it.  Joe sr and I argued who should go and in the end I went out and ran in with Joe.  It was so great to be part of that moment with him.  I stayed with him for a few moments for some finish line pics and stuff and to make sure he was okay and then bolted back out to wait for June bug. 

The wait was not long and there was our girl - we jumped in beside her - me in my colored wig, Joe Sr in his viking helmet - dancing and jumping beside her all the way -  yelling at the crowds to cheer.  People said we had the best finish  - it was awesome.  So much fun. 

But it was not over  - Challenge has a beer garden at the finish line so after getting food for and bevvies for all we settled in to stands to cheer till the very last finisher crossed. And we did not leave until the last person crossed.

The other great thing is for the last 20 minutes they set up an athlete tunnel so the last finishers get to run under a tunnel of arms into the finishers chute - I jumped in there and had a blast - the winners were there along with other pro athletes and it was just so much fun.  These people know how to make this about the athletes and the family!  They throw out prizes to spectators and when the last person crosses - they have fireworks which were amazing to watch.

I can honestly say that I will be back to Penticton - they did not let us down.  I encourage everyone to try this race if for nothing else then the atmosphere.  They care about the athletes - Joe was walked to the massage tent and was  put in right away - while he was there they went and got him food and a drink  Oh and the food - no crappy pizza but the option of beef, chicken or veggie burger with 3 types of salads - greek, greens and pasta salad.  That was a special surprise and so delicious. 

Next years registration is open and they have lowered the entry fees.  Depending on if I get into Roth or not will be dependent on what race I do but I do know I am going back.  We need to support this race and this organization - options are half ironman relay or solo and full ironman relay and solo. 

Peace out


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