I wanted our weekend to never end; more specifically, I wanted Sunday to last forever. IMC weekend in Penticton was the most inspiring thing I’ve ever seen, but the best part was that I felt right at home through it all. They are my people.
There were so many moments that a recap can’t and won’t do justice. The experience felt so sacred I almost don’t want to speak of it, and instead only feel it. So for now I’ll do a top 10 of my favorite moments.
1. Not boiled down to a moment so much, but how much Garth loved the weekend and race made me fall in love with the sport even more. An Ironman, heck even running a marathon, is a selfish endeavor in the amount of training time and money one can spend to reach the goal. He ate up the excitement every much as bit as I did if not more, and seeing him believe that I will be there next year goes right up there right behind our wedding day in my mind.
2. The Great Clean Up. If you haven’t read Jordan Rapp’s race recap blog entry please google it and do so. The “inconvenience”? Garth helped clean it. Enough said? I think so.
3. I signed us up to volunteer for selfish reasons, but it felt really good to help out with the race. Athletes on the interwebs have written some very kind thank you posts, and though I didn’t feel the connection and emotion during IMC, I remember what Boston felt like. Without some of those water stops I would have passed out, and without some of the genuine cheers I may have stopped in my tracks. Granted, we were only security, but we ensured the roadways were clean and clear, and got to stand along the course to hoot and hollar for athletes.
4. Wine Tasting. Again, perhaps enough said, but Sonoma & Napa have nothing on Penticton and the Okanagan in my book. The wine was delicious. The tasting rooms were beautiful and authentic and close in proximity. The people were friendly. And again, the wine was delicious. If anyone wants to go to Eastern Washington to taste I say, “Skip it!” and go to Eastern BC instead.
5. Post volunteer shift, Salty’s, race day, 5pm. We got a table on the upstairs deck overlooking beautiful Lake Okanagan as well as the turnaround before the last mile-ish of the run. Though we had accomplished nothing other than assistance, we drank and cheered for the runners at what is probably one of the hardest points of their long journey. Seeing each person round that corner, pause, take a deep breath and keep going was something that I won’t soon forget. Not to mention most of the athletes looked 100x better than most people do when they finish just a marathon, let alone a swim and bike beforehand. Oh, and to thread a common theme here the drinks were delicious.
6. At some point during the weekend after a long silence Garth shared a thought, “If a person was dropped into IMC without any knowledge of the outside world they’d think that Cervelo was the most successful company in the world. I mean, Cervelo would seem bigger than Coca-Cola!” A funny though, and it’s true. Triathletes have their own little crazy and insane world (as do runners, it’s just a different one), and it was really fun to be a part of it.
7. After Salty’s on Sunday night I started getting a little bit stressed. The next morning I wanted to be sure to hit registration in time that there wouldn’t be any risk of not getting a race spot. Registration opened at 9am, and volunteers got their own line that would run through at first priority, but I didn’t want to wait for hours. What time did I need to show up? I settled on 6:30am, and the next morning I woke up, swung by Starbucks and found my way to the line. When I arrived there were at least 50 people already in the registration line (2.5 hours early!), and about 3x that many in the merchandise line (to scoop up the special Finisher’s edition goods). Only in this sport would there be so many people more OCD than I am. And you KNOW I’ll be in that Finisher’s line next year!
8. Penticton is simply a beautiful and charming place. I can see why people love it and why the race has such a following.
9. On Saturday I did a long ride to try to get in some training and see the course. I did two out-and-backs, one 12 mi toward Yellow Lake & back, and one 13 mi toward Oliver & back. During the couple of hours I dropped my chain, nearly got hit by a scared deer, ran over a few dead rattle snakes and felt very glad that when I ride by myself in Seattle I don’t generally have quite so many strange new things to worry about.
10. I drove into Penticton feeling scared, intimidated, and scared that I would soon feel even more intimidated, but I left feeling at ease. IMC wasn’t scary, but rather a heart-wrenchingly extreme but doable challenge. People were nice, and the event itself felt more approachable than Boston did. Athletes were focused and not outwardly showy, and Penticton really made the whole event feel welcome. My goal was to leave feeling excited and inspired, and that I certainly did, but I also felt comfortable and at home. I hope I can remember all four of those feelings as freshly as I do now until next August when it’ll be my turn.