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I love the Okanagan!

Tara Norton's Blog from Penticton, BC

It is Ironman Canada time again. The training is done, my bike is checked in (and looking pretty hot with my PRO disc wheel if I do say so myself) and I am about to have an early simple dinner with Bruce and my friends David and Andrea at their beautiful cottage overlooking the lake and vineyards. That leaves one last sleep before the race is on!

This is my second year in a row racing Ironman Canada and it sure makes me proud to be Canadian. I love it here and Penticton really is a great little town. I arrived on Sunday and am staying with the same home stay family I stayed with last year. Sharon and Tim have become great friends and it has been really nice spending time with them again, along with their two kids Simon and April who have grown up so much since last year (oh, and there is now a third one on the way)!

This course is one of the most beautiful Ironman courses I have ever ridden and that says a lot because I have experienced a lot of amazing courses since I started racing Ironman. I reminded myself of the bike course by driving it in its entirety and I also rode a couple sections during my pre race training, including the famous climb up Yellow Lake. Yellow Lake sure seems like an entirely different climb (much harder) at about the 160km mark of the 180km bike leg than when you ride it on its own.

Not only do you witness spectacular views as you drive the course, but you can also stop to sample the wine at the many grape vineyards, stop to eat fresh fruit (which is best done at the Bears stand before Yellow Lake) or eat some fudge covered ice cream (I saw all the parked cars and could smell the hot fudge sauce as I rode by the ice cream stand). I have not yet gone on a wine tasting tour of a vineyard but this is the plan for Monday!

Okanagan Lake is amazing. It is so nice and clear and while it isn’t too cold, it is cold enough for the race to be a guaranteed wetsuit swim. Yippee! Because I got so cold in Lake Placid I know if this was made a non wetsuit legal swim, I would have had to bow out.

The weather has changed a little bit since my arrival. A cold front has come through and so the mornings are quite chilly. As a result, the talk around town is what to wear starting the bike. I certainly plan to wear my Zoot white “cooling” arm warmers that will keep me warm when I start the bike but will keep me cool later in the run when they are wet, and maybe some throw away gloves as well. Otherwise if it is sunny we will be warm enough pretty soon, and by the time the end of the bike comes and the marathon starts I am sure it will be feeling unbelievably hot.

Last year there was an incredible headwind heading back into town and I look forward to the possibility of having the last downhill 20kms feel fast without a headwind this year, but you never know what might happen come race day and I will deal with whatever comes my way… I also look forward to a stronger finish than last year with a solid run split to show all my hard run training has paid off.

Talk to you all after the race is over!!