Dispatch: Project Penny (Challenge Penticton), Chapter One

  • By Holly Bennett
  • Published Jun 27, 2013
  • Updated Jul 24, 2013 at 12:29 PM UTC

Name: Jené Shaw
Title: Senior Editor
Age: 29

Wait, I have an iron-distance race in eight weeks?


My whole “aimlessly training for life” approach has worked pretty well so far this year, as I’ve surprised myself with top-five age-group finishes at March’s Escape From Alcatraz (MY GOD that swim), April’s Leadman Tempe and May’s Wildflower Olympic. But the time has come to get a little more focused on the task at hand: Challenge Penticton on August 25 (I just looked up the date—good sign).

The race-formerly-known-as-Ironman-Canada will be my fourth Ironman since starting in the sport in 2008. Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t it seem like the first time you tackle 140.6 miles, there’s a lot more fear-induced motivation that dissipates slightly with every subsequent sign-up? Now that I know I’m capable of completing the distance, my motivation stems from a place of loving the training lifestyle and essentially just wanting to race in a beautiful place with good friends. I’m a laid-back but dedicated triathlete. Type B+, as I say.

Deciding to sign up for Challenge Penticton was an easy choice. I’ve reported on a couple of Challenge races in person, and both times I was thoroughly impressed by the Challenge Family’s professionalism and warmth. As a result, I had been eagerly awaiting their first North American event and was psyched to have the opportunity to test it out first-hand.

I’ve also heard nothing but praise about Penticton as a beautiful race location. In my short long-course career, I’ve learned that while flat and fast is great, I don’t really want to spend a weekend in, say, the spring break airbrush t-shirt capital of the world (i.e. Panama City Beach/Ironman Florida). I much prefer pristine mountain lakes, a stunning foresty bike course and the happy vibe of a little triathlon mini village similar to Ironman Lake Placid. Put simply, I like doing races where you know if you rent a house nearby, it will likely be decorated with lots of bears. Fingers crossed for Penticton housing.

As far as training…

Over the winter, I focused on training for a marathon, my first standalone one in more than six years. I discovered that I had more potential than I thought, and PR’ed by 35+ minutes and qualified for Boston (as did my fantastic training partner, Julia). Woo!

After I got that out of the way, I decided that 2013 should be a big bike year. I’ve put in a good amount of miles and my vacations have all been ride-focused. I spent a week training in Tucson with the awesome crew at The Cycling House, three days riding the coast from San Francisco to Santa Barbara (my most mileage in one day, times three), and I just got back from my dream vacation—riding bikes, drinking Chianti and eating cheese/pasta/bread all around Tuscany. I’d say the only thing standing in the way of me confessing my undying love for my bicycle is all the mechanical BS I suck at dealing with. Maybe that’s 2014’s goal.

A few weeks ago I started working with coach Dave Sheanin of D3 Multisport out of Boulder, Colo. Dave came highly recommended from a coach I respect, Mike Ricci, and so I (annoyingly?) tasked him with plotting out a last-minute-ish plan for Penticton. He rose to the challenge and has made my life much easier, giving me workouts that are more strategic and inventive than I had the energy to create myself.

I look forward to seeing what Canada has in store for me, Julia and Holly this August. Thanks for following along!

RELATED: Challenge Penticton To Replace Ironman Canada

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