::Challenge Penticton 2016::

Final season wrap up, a little late, but saving the best for last.  I’ve probably said this a million times, but for some reason Penticton usually gets me a little more motivated then most races.  It did take me til about 6 o’clock on the final day of registration to sign up, but  it was always on the list from the start.  My bike volume and swim volume continued to suffer and sore feet continued on through the whole season. After my first real blow up in Whistler, I really had a hard time getting my head into another race.  (Especially one that added more distance.) The first week of August was going to be a week long stay in Penticton with the hopes of me clawing back some early morning and evening sessions on a much needed family vacation.

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PC: Kenny Withrow

The  week started with many swims in the early mornings with my little family heading down to the beach from the Park Royal RV park, with a playground stop on the way back to the trailer.  It was starting to be a routine that I could handle for another week.  Throughout the day we would scout the city for what it had to offer, which usually ended up at the beach or a channel float.  Evenings were mostly a sun down bike ride with a couple of late night tire changes with one 10k double flat front tire, night ride back to the park.  By day 5, I was going out on the old Ironman Canada bike course.  A once busy and enjoyable mission, with general good handful of others out suffering together.  On a 36 degree Wednesday, climbing Ritcher Pass, I would pass the lone other rider on my whole ride.  It was a mental grind, and man was it hot.  Of course I got a flat , right when the hurt was really setting in!  I figured once I got that big bike done,  I would decide if I felt like I was ready to race a 3/4 – (long distance) triathlon.  That ride hurt so much and with only 2 runs in the bank from sore feet,  I still wasn’t sure if I race.

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Come Friday night at about 6 o’clock, I finally pulled the trigger and signed up.  My motivation was still pretty low, but the thoughts of racing at the ITU worlds next year was enough to get me to the checkout page.  Come race weekend, I was pretty relaxed with a few friends going up, minus the family.  I figured, I would just go into the race and slowly try and hit the gas.  Fast forward to race morning and I got up and had the usual, WTF moment of why?  I timed everything perfect and walked to the transition zone.  Once I got there, I remember why.  Running into all the other athletes and seeing so many familiar faces.  Faces I didn’t know before I started this sport.  Many of the people that I have raced with for a hand full of years, also got to meeting some new ones.  I got my ass into the water for the start, and randomly with no real start line, the gun went off.

PC:Russ?

PC:Russ?

Every race since I joined Team Every Man Jack, I have swam with a teammate.  This year was no different with Steve Marshall looking into my big Roka goggles.  I came out of the water feeling fine after the typical toe cramp at the start.  My swimming volume was down about 4-6k a week  but again another first out of the water for my age group.  (A theme to the season.)  I slowly got my bike gear on and was ready to get on my Felt.  I did a few more upgrades with some ceramic speed pullys and a different set of tires, so I was looking forward to seeing how it rode.  I did ride all of the course in bunches on my vacation, so I was mentally ready for the ride.  I held back til about 80k on the bike and on the last loop I made sure I held or pushed the watts.  Since I still had the power number up and felt like the running section could be not too bad, but only if my feet could take it.  The run was the wild card.  I’ve ran the course a million times over the years, and also drank a lot of beer in a tube beside it too.  I only had about 4 miles of running in 2.5 weeks, so the tail end was going to be purely mental.  The first 10k were ok, same with the second until a tough cramp left me sitting out for a few minutes.  I kept on the GU gels (diabetic by the end, 12 in total) through out the race and had one while I waited for the cramp to pass.  I charged on and finished up the last 10k in a slow and shore feet ugly run.  Got to the finish with Steve King calling out my ironman sloth to the finish.  I came in roughly what I thought and  25 OA and a spot for next year.  Looking like this will be the A race next year!

PC:Russ---Oh the pain !

PC:Russ—Oh the pain !

Coming out of the race I felt better about the season, after a blow up in Whistler I really didn’t know where my cards were.  The best part about the sport is the challenge and this season was no different. Going back to Penticton really got me remembering why I race.  I got to race with familiar faces as well as meet new people,  people that I ‘ve connected with but actually met for the first time. (SO to Kenny Withrow and Jeremy Hopwood.)   Next year will come with it’s challenges with a new baby and a new house.  Looking forward changes ahead.  2016 is boarded up and ready to build for 2017.  Thank you so much to the wife as well as Ritch Viola for being apart of such a great team.

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