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Some are made of iron, I’m not

Ever since I moved to Whistler I’ve been operating on this terribly false assumption that I fit in with all the athlete types who live here.

I’ve learned mountain biking, snowboarding and yoga, all things that I had never tried before when I lived in Toronto. I’ve "competed" (and I use that term very loosely) in snowboard races and Loonie races.

And some old friends say they don’t recognize the person I’ve become.

Well, when in Rome, right? These things are huge parts of the Whistler lifestyle and if you don’t join in, then you’re left behind.

But I think I was getting a little carried away with myself and my so-called new-found athletic abilities on the six hour drive to Penticton last weekend when I was actually thinking about one day competing in the Ironman.

In my daydreams I imaged the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment of finishing an Ironman, knowing you’re at the top of your game, in peak physical and, most likely, mental condition. I thought of how great it would be to say I competed in one of the toughest physical challenges in the world with professional athletes.

This of course was on the Saturday afternoon before race began.

Then I watched the competition.

And now the word athlete has taken on a whole new meaning.

We were in Penticton to cheer on a couple of friends in the event. All I knew about the Ironman was that it would include a 4-kilometre swim, 180 km bike ride, followed by a 42 km run. I knew it was big but I didn’t know how big.

Those distances take on a whole new meaning when you’re staring at them from the sidelines.

Early Sunday morning there was a growing knot of tension building in the pit of my stomach as we planted ourselves along the beach of Lake Okanagan.

The air was getting heavier with the smell of the forest fires burning Kelowna. But the smoke and fires were the furthest things from our minds as we stood on that beach.

The countdown was on. In the distance, roughly 2,000 competitors stood in a crowd, looking like a pack of restless seals in their black wetsuits.

The national anthem did nothing to quell my nerves and worries about our friends in the race and the thought of what they were about to go through over the next 12 hours.

At 7 a.m. on the dot they were off in a pack moving en masse through the water. Those 4 km didn’t seem to be getting any shorter as their arms and legs kept kicking and propelling them forward at a grueling pace while I slurped my ice cappuccino on the shores.


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