My friend and awesome teammate Shannon is one amazing lady and athlete. She's raced Ironman Canada three years in a row and it has been her dream to go to Kona. Lucky for her she had her name drawn in the lottery this year! She's the only woman from all of Canada to get picked!
Last weekend was her final big ride in her prep for Kona…180 km. None of us are really ready to knock out 180 km these days, but that is far too long of a ride for Shannon to be by herself. So Tara, Kelly and I headed out to Banff along with a few other friends to keep her company on her bike.
It wasn't exactly the warmest day out there, in case you can't tell from the way everyone is bundled up! I thought it would warm up later…with any luck! Kelly, her husband Mitch and I would take the later shifts so we hung out in the truck and drove ahead to cheer and provide support.
It was amazing how quickly the time went! Before we knew it we had driven to the end of the Bow Valley Parkway and it was time for me to get ready to ride.
It was still pretty chilly out! I had a warmer cycling jacket but I was regretting not throwing a pair of tights in with my gear or my full fingered gloves. Pretty soon Shannon and Tara showed up, 50 km in!
Time for me to jump in and join them! When the sun was out it was beautiful. When it was cloudy it was a little brisk. The ride felt great and I enjoyed being out there. We are pretty lucky to have Banff and the Bow Valley Parkway so close by as there is some amazing scenery for us to ride through. I haven't spent that much time on my bike since Great White North but I'm looking forward to building fitness on the bike over the winter moving into plenty of long rides outside next year in preparation for IM Boulder.
Just as my portion of the ride was finishing I started to feel spits of rain. I was hoping it would be a drizzle and that was it, but it looked like it might have more staying power than that. Kelly was ready to ride though so her and Shannon took off on their bikes. Tara had to say goodbye and I hopped in the truck with Mitch to follow them as they rode down the the Legacy Pathway towards Canmore. And as we drove the rain got worse. I felt so bad for them!
They were total troopers though and kept on riding. While we waited I explored the scenery and snapped a couple of pictures before my phone died.
About 125 km in Kelly and Mitch swapped out. There seemed to be a break in the rain right at that point, but as they started riding back towards Banff the rain got worse. So bad that Kelly and I pulled over at the next available opportunity in case they wanted to call it quits and jump in the truck. I had been texting with Coach Angie (who's now in Arizona) and she was getting concerned about the rain and the temperature. Shannon and Mitch kept on riding though, so Kelly and I were the best cheerleaders possible!
Finally back at our cars at 150 km Shannon was ready to call it a day. She could head back to Calgary and finish the ride on the trainer, but continuing on in the cold and rain was no longer worth it. She sure built a whole lot of mental toughness out there though on this day! I told her that when she's in Kona she may be saying some thanks and feeling grateful for the warmth after that chilly ride.
I'm so excited for Shannon. I hope she has a wonderful and amazing day in Kona. She continuously inspires me with her tenacity, her ability to juggle family, work and training and her bubbly and warm personality.
If you want to read more about her journey a fantastic article popped on about her on Ironman.com today.
Have a great race Shannon! Thanks for being a great friend and teammate and enjoy every minute out there!!