Monday, August 31, 2009

IMC 2009

Here we are, home safe and sound again, with Amelia the cat only moderately annoyed at us.

I decided at almost the last minute not to take Estela with us. Originally the plan was to ride part of the course before the race. Then I found out the mandatory volunteer orientation was Sat at 2pm. So much for a long ride that day. Then I was figuring how how many K it was from Osoyoos to Penticton via Richter and Yellow Lakes. It turns out to be about 90, just for the record. Then I started thinking about it. I just had the bike fit done, and it radically changes how it feels. Sat was about 31C. I've never been up that road, and I'd be riding alone. I'd be getting done about sunset. I'd have a really long day on Sunday, what with seeing people off in the morning, and my volunteer shift ending at midnight, to say nothing of an early am line up the next day. Once I put it all in a line like that, not going for the ride turned into a sensible decision. Call me a weenie if you must. There will be camps next year for me to discover the course.

We stayed at a wonderful B&B in Summerland, about 15 or 20 minutes from the finish line, plus time to find parking. We had a relaxed drive out on Friday, plus lots of construction. Saturday we scoped out Penticton to get the lay of the land, since I'd never been there before. I think maybe once I drove through, many years ago. Nice place. Reminds me a bit of the Fraser Valley during my childhood.

Sunday I was there to see people off, and was close enough to the ramp I could see a few people finish. I hadn't known Katie F was there, and what super day she had! Darryl was by in a blur almost hiding behind other people. Julie came out of the water with a huge smile on her face. Susi looked determined.

I hung around to watch the last two people out of the water. Sad there was at least another swimmer churning away that was not allowed to continue. A little bit later I met up with Jenna for coffee, then Alan and Dwayne (sorry if I didn't spell that right.) Linda had slept in, so I went back to get her, and had a very nice nap.

Walking in we saw Darryl heading out for the run, looking strong. We found a great shady spot just before the last left turn on the bike course going into dismount. Once settled we saw Julie in and out, and I'm sorry if I broke her concentration. She actually looked over her shoulder and smiled, but that could be just a reflex. Heather had a huge grin. Susi had had a tough bike, and we were beginning to worry about her. She chatted for a second heading out for the run. She'll put the detail she thinks is appropriate in her blog, but it's fair to say she wasn't having the day she hoped for. It's kind of tough to watch for riders coming from the right, and runners from the left, all in time to cheer. Us spectators have such a hard life.

We both enjoyed watching it. You can tell some people are counting the seconds to get off the bike. Some are just coasting in, others are pushing it till the last second. Some are getting in the last bits of nutrition. One guy nearly crashed trying to get his shoes off. The running is fascinating. Some gaits I don't know how they do that for a marathon. Some looked like they were floating along. One guy I fear is me, pounding nails into the pavement with every step and he's bigger than me. I could see quads and calves rippling with every step. Ouch. I watched one guy find his stride and relax, all in the space of a few steps; it was almost like looking at two different runners. One girl was headed out like her ass was on fire, and I'd love to know how long she kept that up. Linda didn't want to stay till midnight, so I took her back to the B&B, then came back. Since I was there, and couldn't get a better view, I started my finish line duties early. All you can eat pizza, and I was hungry. Turns out that Grant that taught Chi Running, and Brian from Tri-it were also catchers. I met and chatted with lots of interesting people during the evening.

Catching was fun, in a strange sort of way. For readers new to triathlon, the athletes have just spent all day and part of the evening involved in intense activity, and are covered in a variety of bodily fluids and lotions. They gave us rubber gloves. Catchers are there because some people get across the line on will power alone, and a few steps across the line it's like someone cut the puppet's strings. There are all sorts of reactions as people cross the line. Most have a huge grin, and rightly so. Some are in great shape and look like they could go dancing. Others haven't collapsed, but they aren't far from it. We make sure they get their medal, finisher T shirt and cap, some fluids to drink, and get the timing chip off them. Then it depends on what the person wants. Some people go straight to the med tent no matter what they say they want. Others want their photo. Some want food, or don't want food. One guy said nothing but a very sincere "thank you, massage tent please". About 6 times. One guy wanted to go into transition to get his bags so he could towel off. We take them where they want to go and make sure they will be ok.

Most of my 'catchee's' were in great shape. There were a few that were disappointed with their time, or were in rough shape. For all of these it was their third Ironman. My guess is that they did the first one, then did the second to show the first wasn't a fluke, then tried to race the third. I saw a few people carted away in a wheelchair. One of my catchees got all the way to the food tent when her legs started going wonky.

This was my first triathlon volunteer experience, and I'm going to have to do it again. Maybe not catching next time, but something that needs doing. We all need to remember, and I've said this before, without the volunteers the race wouldn't happen. My goal is to volunteer a race for every one that I'm in.

I somehow missed Julie, Chuck, and Heather, even though I was working the finish line when they crossed. I was probably already helping someone else. What was important to me is that I caught Susi, and didn't even have to trample anyone to get to the front of our line. I just happened to be there. This was a tough run for her. What amazing grit she has! I am in awe. I took her into transition for her bags, and Sherpa'ed for her. While I was there I heard my name and it turned out to be Kelly R that I've raced with a few times! I was confused, thinking it was Kelly B, but thinking I'd have heard if she was going to be there. We got Susi's stuff and I handed her off to a buddy that would take her to her parental unit. She was firmly clutching a tin of special cookies Linda made for her, and I hope they have the same effect as at Chinook.

Sometime later in the evening I sat and chatted briefly with Katie and then Verna showed up. Katie's such a humble girl, I only found out just a few minutes ago just what an awesome day she had. Can you say first in her very competitive age group??? Way to go Katie!!!!!

One of the high points of the night was watching Sister Madonna Buder cross the line just before the cut off time. The crowd went crazy. A 79 year old nun, running an Ironman triathlon. For about the 36th time. What an inspiration!

This parking in a bunch of different places is for the birds; I nearly got lost after my shift. After not enough sleep, I was back down to the Expo first thing in the morning. The line up is out the gate, but that's for finisher swag. Looked for Julie in particular, since I was pretty sure that Susi was still in bed. Ran into Verna there. Then there was a long line for people wanting to sign up for next year. Then, at last, (deep breath!) the much shorter line for volunteers to sign up for next year. Chatted with one of the guys from spin class, and I'm sorry I've forgotten his name, and since it was pre-coffee it took a bunch of time to clue in that this familiar looking dude really was familiar.

I have to admit the IM corporation is very efficient at extracting money from your credit card.
$603.50 later, and I AM SIGNED UP FOR IMC 2010!

There is no doubt the next year will be amazing. I'm looking forward to the training, and from what every other triathlon blog or triathlong buddy has said, there are sure to be some adventures along the way. Stay tuned.


  1. I finished right after Susi.....I am happy you were her catcher!!

  2. Way to throw down the gauntlet Keith!

  3. OMG Keith, you are IN for the ride of your life...I think volunteering is amazing and I truly believe that they put something into our beverages, so we DO want to sign up for the following year!!!

    I bodymarked in Lake Placid, I don't think I could hold my emotions to be a catcher...good job and Wow, I can hardly wait to read about your trainig!!! YOU GO!!!

  4. So glad you were there for Susi at the end. I haven't heard the whole story yet. IM volunteers are theee best on the planet and I hear Canada has some of the best. It's good to give back or pay it forward, as it were.

    Can't wait to watch your training! How fun.

  5. Congrats Keith!! This next year is going to be fun watching you get ready for the BIG ONE!!!

  6. Awesome man, thanks for volunteering. I don't remember seeing you, too bad I didn't get to talk to you, but I was off to the medical tent for a bunch and hurting too much to come back to watch. Good job getting into the race, maybe I can catch you next year. ;)

  7. Hey Keith,

    Sorry I missed you and Linda while in Penticton.

    Congratulations on signing up! I'll be there to volunteer next year, maybe as a catcher. :)


  8. Good stuff Keith - as catchers go, I reckon you'd be a great one! Hope you have a great year this year, and enjoy every step of the way (well the majority of them anyhow!)


  9. Hey Keith, Congrats on signing up, thats a big step!! I will definately be there next year but hopefully you won't see me in the med tent, lol. I think you are going to have a great year! And thank you for the words of encouragement on my are right, the race will be there in another year...and I am going to rip that race up then ;)


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