Challenge Penticton

An early start (3:45am wake up) translated to an easy calm vibe in transition. I put my bottles on the bike and in my run bag and then sat on a bench relaxing. Before we knew it, Erin and I heard the last call for age group athletes. Shoot!  How did that happen?  We put our wetsuits on really fast, waved to our family, and then watched the pros start.


I did a short warmup swim and then got myself in the front line behind 7-8 fast looking guys lined up right along the bouy line.  The start siren went. No one heard it.  We all stood still.  I thought I heard something, so I turned around to see the starter waving at us to go from the beach.  So I said, “Go guys, go!”  After a bit more confusion, the front guys started swimming so the rest of us started swimming.  There was fair amount of chop.  I swam the first quarter on my own… and then decided that was stupid so swam over to swim behind the only guy that was near.  As we approached the turn around, there were a few small groups.  For the second half of the way back, I decided that the group I was with was too slow… so I moved up a group.

I exited the water and Tiffany and Cat helped me get out of my wetsuit.  Tracy handed me my bike gear and the volunteers helped me get my shoes on. It was great to see friendly faces in transition. Thanks for volunteering! I found my bike no problem and headed out on the ride.  A few people were stopped on Maclean, so I rode right up the middle in case there were tacks on the road.  I rode strong to Osoyoos. However, it was a bit lonely and I noticed the lack of “racing.”  I’m glad I had a power meter because without many other racers out there was all about pushing yourself. I was at Osoyoos, over the top of Richter and up/down the rollers with only a few riders around.  Heading into Cawston, there was definitely a head wind.  I felt good and starting passing riders as I rode strong.  At the out back turn around my head started to feel hazy.  I decided to switch my gels/salt to every 20min (instead of 30min) and grabbed another water.

On the way back on the out-back, I couldn’t get my power up and started to think – what the hell is happening?  According to my computer, I’ve lost all the power from my legs and that guy in front of me is pulling away.  My head was feeling hazy and my doubts about my legs didn’t make sense.  My power meter was reading <100W yet I was going 38km/hr on the false flats up to Yellow Lake.  This is when I realized my brand new power tap had obviously crapped out.  I know there is a way to reset/re-calibrate the thing so I had a look through the garmin menus but I couldn’t find the option.  So I just got back to riding.  I was a little annoyed about not having power heading up Yellow Lake – and again my head was a little hazy.  But I was together enough to keep my nutrition plan going.  However, I think I might have forgotten to change out of my big ring for the yellow lake climb. I’m not sure. When I went to change into my big ring for the flats after yellow lake, I was already in it. Whoops!  The ride into town was non eventful. I caught the guy that pulled away from me on the out-back, descended fast but safely. As I passed Shaka Lake, I came to the conclusion that with my ride time today was not the day to break 11hrs and had a brief thought about 11:20 instead. I rode through town and saw Dawne coming into transition who said, “Wow, Joanne, Wow!”  That gave me a boost.

Running out through town, I saw Torbin who said, “You look great!” and my response was a shake of my head.  Nope, I don’t feel great.  Up main street, I felt like crap and contemplated walking the marathon.  I thought of the RFM (relentless forward motion) tattoo on Dan’s arm and then a random spectator in a green shirt saved me. He said, “You are in ninth place, the next women is 10min and 30sec ahead of you.” Inside my head I said, “You can’t walk.  You need to run like you deserve to be in the top ten.”  And that’s what I did.  I still felt like crap but I kept eating and sucking on my “go juice” (my salt water mix).  After 10km, I said to myself only 3hrs to go.  That strategy didn’t help… but it did make me laugh at myself a bit.  I started to feel good about Mclean Creek where I was able to eat half a gel and some water.  I had a film crew following me like I was one of the pros.  I counted the girls coming back towards me.  There were six.

On the climb into OK falls, I spotted another girl.  It was Erin’s pro friend.  As I passed her, she said, “You must be on a relay team.”  I said, “No sorry.”  And her response was, “Wow, you are runner!”  I kept that mantra in my head for a good long while.  “That pro just said, you are a runner.  You are a runner.  You are a runner.”  I kept repeating it over and over.  Then I spotted the last catchable lady and passed her before the turn around.  I hadn’t been looking at my watch but at the turn around I had a brief glimpse, to confirm that even if I ran 2hrs back, I would still be able to get a marathon personal best.  I ran with smile on the way back, knowing that I was a runner, and that I was putting together the run that I wanted to have on this course. This is why I was back at Penticton racing. This run course and I had some unfinished business.  I ran back knowing that I had this conquered and that I had to keep going if I wanted to keep my 7th place overall.

It wasn’t all rosy on the way back though. At 3hrs, my stomach said, “No more!” quite emphatically.  I barfed 4 times.  Yuck.  After apologizing to the spectators just up the road, I kept running and felt Ok.  For those last four aid stations, I drank pepsi only.  At 8km to go. I started counting down the kms.  This time the, “only 50min to go, only 30min to go, less than 20min” to go strategy worked.  Coming into town, I smiled and pumped my fists at all my friends cheering.  It was great to see everyone and I had big smiles to thank them all for their support.  I had no idea what my finish time was until the line. 10:57 Yes!  New marathon personal best of 3:46 YES!!
Triathlon is an individual sport but you can’t do it without a team of supporters. Torbin puts up with a lot of craziness from me and his daily support helps me to achieve all my goals. My family and friends cheered me on in Penticton and from afar. I have trained with inspiring athletes and dedicated coaches. I feel blessed to have shared this experience with such special people.

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