IMC Race Report and the photos to prove I was there

Beauty shot by Jordan Bryden

I know it’s been a long while since Ironman Canada, and this upcoming weekend is the LeadmanTri EPIC 250 in Bend, OR, so I figured I’d FINALLY do a quick race report from Penticton’s 30th and final EVER Ironman Canada,

So here goes:

I was lucky to find an amazing homestay in OK Falls with Dave and Jackie Del Rizzo, who were so welcoming. They played a vital part in the week leading up to the race, as I was able to relax and focus on the race (although, being my general social self, found myself talking their ears off for hours about everything you could think of!) I made my way up there on the monday before the race, giving me PLENTY of time to settle in and get everything ready. This was a first for me, as I usually get to races a lot closer than that, and it’s always a big rush leading up to the morning of, with little time to kick back and relax. So the week passed by, with perfect weather to boot!

One thing that was a first for me was a pre-race interview with ShawTV Okanagan! There was also an interview the day before with Steve Fleck, which was pretty awesome! Going to the pro meetings at these races is still an awesome experience for me, to see all the other big pros that you see in magazines! But, another first for me, I tried to stay away from race site and expo the day before, so I could focus on resting up. I was feeling great the night before, and after a confidence boosting chat with coach Björn, I was ready for action.

Race day:
Started as usual, nice and early, with my standard breakfast of banana PB oatmeal and coffee. Standard, delicious, and hasn’t failed me yet! I had expected and prepared for a much slower transition entry on race morning, but was surprised by how quickly everything moved. The race volunteers did a great job getting everything through and keeping things running smoothly. Those volunteers were phenomenal! I managed to get some relaxing in pre-race with my teammates, and everyone seemed pretty damn focused on the day (I felt oddly focused as well, as I had all week.) We lined up, and it was game on!

Solid swim in my Nineteen Rogue!

The swim was fairly uneventful, although it got fairly choppy. I managed to lead the main pack for a good portion of the swim, its a pretty good feeling to be swimming strongly and out front. I could see helecopters flying overhead, and there were boats floating about everywhere (I could’ve given them a piece of my mind, they were making a fair bit of wake!) It was all exciting, and I was feeling great getting ready to hit the bike. I managed to come out of the water in 5th place, with a 57min flat swim (a bit slower than I hoped, but it seemed everyone swam a little slow on the day.)

First shots from Charlene and the gang

It was tough on the bike to go out and have people start to pass me as we went down mainstreet. I was riding a HUGE high, as my heart rate was crazy high from the swim, but mainly from all the AWESOME cheering from the crowd!!! It’s amazing to hear all your friends (and even complete strangers) just freaking out and screaming your name. It was tough to not just hammer away at the pedals. But I knew it was going to be a long day, and I just had patience! It was actually a bit chilly out (yet another reason I look for hot races,) until about Richter Pass. Then it started to get ‘warm.’ I saw Mark Bates of 321Photography out on course (multiple times actually,) on the way to Osoyoos. But the biggest surprise was seeing my triathlon mentor Charlene Croteau, along with a jolly gang of wig-clad, party-favor-toting mobile cheer section, that I heard LONG before I saw them! I could hear them coming, and all I could think was “Oh man, I totally bet that’s Charlene!” Well, I was right!

The bike went by fairly uneventfully, but I saw teammates and friends out all OVER the course, every time was a huge booster. By the time I was closing in on Keremeos, all I could think about was the special needs turnaround, and for ONE reason only: the magical surprise I had in the bag. You may or may not believe it, but I had a McDONALDS JUNIOR CHICKEN BURGER in there! Yup, that’s right: the thing I swore off 8 years ago, I went back to. And I tell you, it was magnificent. I absolutely CRUSHED that little burger, and by the time I was halfway up Yellow Lake, I was ripping it up.

By the time I was coming in to T2, I was hurting pretty bad. But as soon as I hit the run course, I started to feel great again, like my legs were fresh.

Must’ve been the crowds 🙂

One of many tongue-out exploits

I felt great going through the first few miles, and nearing the edge of town I joined up with Matt Sheeks, and we essentially ran the whole marathon together (until about the last 10kms.) I was cheering back at the crowds as they all cheered me on out there. My buddy Will and Roman were out on their bikes with airhorns, and they were being very generous with expending them! LOUD!!! But it was great, I soaked it up. I couldn’t believe how many friends I saw out there, they all played a huge part in pushing me along. WIth about 10km to go, I was falling off my pace and starting to hurt pretty bad. My nutrition was great, but all I could think about was how much my legs hurt! That marathon doesn’t get any easier; in 2007 I ran the Seattle Marathon, and due to horrible nutrition and pacing advice, it was the worst running race I’ve experienced. This marathon wasn’t feeling too much better by the end.

Throwing down some high fives!

It’s difficult to run AWAY from a finish line, but that’s exactly what you had to do at the end. You go past the finish line, and run along the beach avenue to a turnaround. As I rounded that final turn, I felt like I was home free. I pushed as best I could, suffering with a smile (as I did the whole day,) thinking I was in 6th place. I always sprint hard at the finish line, but with nobody close behind, I figured a few high fives to the crowd were in order. SO down the chute, to high fives and cheers, I finally made it! And I heard the one thing I had been waiting to hear for months, from someone who is a legend in their own right, Steve King. And he said his famous words to me:

“You are an Ironman!”

I was so happy to be done, and started at the beer garden asap! It was a great night of fun, cheering, BBQ, and maybe a few brews. I couldn’t get too crazy, cause EPIC 250 was only a month away.

The most colourful cheer squad EVER! Charlene and ‘Cousin’

Recovery has been great so far, and I am excited to get to Bend for the last race of the season, along with my teammate Rachel McBride.

This should be good.

Happy training everyone,

Nathan

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