September 18, 2009


Tattoo #1 - Ironman tattoo
This tattoo was designed by my staff Joanna and Heather. Joanna gave me the idea and within minutes Heather was drawing it up on the computer. I love this original tattoo that incorporates Ironman, me being Canadian and of course the fact that Ironman Canada was my first Ironman (yes, there will be more Ironmans for me).

Tattoo #2 - Everyday is a gift
Sorry Mom! I know it is big and mom's typically hate tattoos. My mom handled the one I got on my foot when I was twenty very well (just don't ask about what my dad thought!). My heart actually jumped into my throat yesterday when my mom emailed me and asked me about it; it is funny that your mom can still make you *gulp* over certain things. So, this tattoo was actually inspired by my dear friend Terry Toma. I am not going to elaborate at this time other than saying that I never really appreciated every day. like I do now. I now wake up every day and take a look at the opportunities presented to me. I am thankful for everything I have, my friends, my family and more.

Note: Thanks to Jordan Bryden for taking these amazing photos to help me show off my new tatoos.

September 15, 2009

Short Hair - what was I thinking!

OK, so ever since I had cut my hair shorter before I went to Australia this year, I have really liked my shorter hair. It was chin length so not too short but definitely not long. And no more freakin' ponytails! So, before Ironman I wanted to cut it short but, my friend Lyndsey Clapperton convinced me to do pigtails for the race (which I did and loved!). But I really wanted to try even shorter; inspired by Tracy McQuillan - a friend/training buddy also on Team Tri Life who simply rocks her short hair. So last week I decided it was time to be brave and go short.

Well, I kinda like it but am really unsure. I maybe didn't want to go this short but here I am! I finally was brave enough to get Jeff to snap a few pictures at the request of many of you. So, here are the pictures of my new short hair. As my mom said, "hair grows".

And if you do have any styling tips, please let me know! I simply can't figure out how the heck I am supposed to style it yet!

September 13, 2009

Eugene Marathon

OK, so yesterday Rose was saying she was going to do the Eugene Marathon at the beginning of May next year. I really wanted to do a marathon in May (I was looking at Vancouver) and I did one day want to do the Eugene marathon as I can combine a trip to see mom and dad in Portland with this as I did last year when I ran the Portland marathon. Mom and dad are an amazing support crew with getting me whatever I need pre-race, cheering during the race and taking care of me post-race. So, I called dad and he had a hotel in Eugene the night before the race (as it is a 2.5 hour drive from Portland) booked within 10 minutes! I then went online and registered for the race! We have to still book flights but now with direct from Calgary to Portland, which I will be flying at Christmas, it makes for easy travel down there.

I am very excited! -

September 11, 2009

Ironman Canada 2009 (Race Report)

When my alarm went off the very thing to pop into my head was "today I am doing an Ironman". I had slept really well which is surprising for the night of my biggest race ever. Jeff and Annie got up right away with me. I even managed to eat breakfast which I usually can't do before a race as I am usually so nervous. Today, I was just plain excited! We made the dark walk from the hotel down to race start with the other triathletes and supporters. Annie said her good-byes early and then Jeff and I walked to the athlete transition entrance. I thought I would cry when it came time to say good-bye to him before the race but, I gave him a big hug and headed in. I dropped by bags off and saw Cindy's husband, Scott. He pointed out that I was about to put my run special needs into the bike special needs bin. Whew! Nice save Scott! I then headed up to body marking and saw Cindy and Carla. Quick pictures and it was off to my bike. It was alot darker than I expected but, I saw the unmistakable TTL jacket standing by my bike. Rena was right beside me in transition. It was so nice to see her. She loaned me her pump and then I saw Carla Jackman (big hugs!), Jane, and Susi. Susi had a few tears and we had a moment for Terry. She would be our Iron Angel today. I know she would be with us! With my bike all good it was time to head into the porta-pottie line.....luckily I found my friend Carolyn for this 45 minute wait. When I finally had that taken care of, I found Danielle Genung and we got our wetsuits on together while her husband Jeff chatted with us through the fence. It was so weird as it is usually Jeff Genung on this side of the fence. When I was ready I walked over the timing mat stating my intention to participate and walked onto the beach. I shook my head in disbelief that I was actually doing this. This is crazy! Normally I am on the other side of this fence - spectating. My day was finally here!

I found Annie, Jeff and my parents along the wall among the thousands of spectators and said a quick "HI" and then headed into the water. I swam out just as the pros started and knew I was 15 minutes away from starting the race. I found a customer from the store and we chatted away the remaining time. She was really calm so it was nice to just chat with her before the race; it kept me calm and relaxed. Suddenly Steve King announced 1 minute before we started and before I knew it we were off. I didn't really think about it. I just started swimming. The swim went fast out to the houseboats and the turn-around point. I got a bit beat up but not too badly. I got kicked in the face but my goggles stayed in place! (for the record I was wearing the Kayenne goggles from Aquasphere). The swim back felt like it took a very long time. I tried not to look at my watch but, I did and knew I still had about 1/2 hour to swim. I just swam and finally saw ground and realized I was very close to exiting. Wow! I actually made it. I put my feet down but it was too deep. My calves cramped. Ouch! I had to keep swimming and finally hit ground where I could actually stand and walk out.

I flew through transition (thank-you amazing volunteers!) and was on my bike. I headed down Main street and saw my family. I waved as they all screamed "Go Richelle!". So exciting! I was actually heading out on my Ironman bike! I took it easy (as Angie says "easy cheesy") as many racers flew by me. I knew enough that if I was conservative here in the first 60 - 70km, it would pay off once I hit Yellow Lake. The ride was fairly uneventful. I saw alot of people that I knew who were spectating which was honestly very exciting. I waved and said HI to everyone I knew and rode very happy. I was having so much fun! The biggest challenge though was working to stay out of people's draft. So many people were passing me I had to keep dropping back. At the out and back I finally got to see a few friends up ahead and get special needs. This was not very exciting though as all I grabbed was my fresh bottle of concentrated Infinit and put some Vaseline on my neck as it was chaffed from my wetsuit. After that point (120km) I really started passing people on the bike. Many of these people were athletes who had passed me early on during the bike. I was feeling fantastic and was excited when I hit the climb of Yellow Lake where many of the TTL crew and Cochrane spectators were. This gave me a huge boost as I climbed and pushed on back towards Penticton. As we headed down with only 10km left on the bike I got passed by pelotons of men! Yes, pelotons that were 5 across and 3 deep! It was unreal! Where were the freakin' draft marshalls? I continued to ride clean back into town and was ecstatic to see all of my friends and family as I headed into T2.

T2 was fast and again had an absolutely amazing volunteer who helped me make that smooth transition. These volunteers really are amazing! And just like that I was out on the run. I came around the corner and saw Jeff and stopped for a quick kiss. I then headed along Lakeshore Drive and saw a tonne of friends, store customers, and my parents. I stopped and hugged my parents and thanked them for being there. And I was off to run out of town. I hit Cherry Lane mall and saw Angie. I gave her a big hug and she laughed at me over the fact I was still so happy. I really had to watch my pace and control it by slowing down so I would not blow-up by the half way point of the marathon. I hit Skaha beach and was still thinking this is so surreal, I am doing an Ironman! I continued to feel great but for some reason I suddenly wanted nothing to do with my gels - bad situation because these were my calories for the run. I stopped taking them and tried a banana but, started to feel sick so I stuck to water and Coke. I continued to keep an eye on pace and slowed myself down as I headed out to OK Falls (the turn around point of the marathon). When I hit OK Falls there were alot of spectators which again gave me a huge boost. Jason Chow yelled "come on Love" as he usually does at races and I hurried to get my special needs bag. Although I had gels in there I did not really want to take them as I knew I was done with gels for the day. However, I took them anyway (hey that's $8 worth of gels!). I came up out of OK Falls and was feeling great with renewed energy from my friends and other supporters.

When I hit the 25km mark and I distinctly remember that my excitement and fun on a scale out of 10 went from a 10/10 down to about a 7. I know I ran past that sign but it felt like I stopped and stared at those large sign, "25km" for an hour. I knew I could finish this 17km though - and it was a good sign that I could still do math! Although my stomach was hurting I knew I would finish today. Angie's words came back into my head, "on an Ironman day, if something goes wrong you have to deal with it and fix it right away". OK, I had let this stomach issue go on for 8 km and I need to figure this out. So, I saw 2 guys running together up ahead of me with multiple Ironman tattoos on their legs and I ran up beside them. I explained my situation and asked for advice. Not only was I in alot of pain from my stomach, the thought of a gels made me want to puke and I was a bit hungry! They told me I most likely needed salt and to go for the chicken soup broth or pretzels. They even offered one of their gels to try a different kind of gel! I thanked them and ran off to the next aid station. (I really can't thank these men enough. I don't know who they are, and I unfortunately did not catch their numbers but, I owe them BIG time!). So the next aid station I tried the broth. I took one swig and asked the kind volunteer if I could give it back. He laughed at toook it and got me some Coke instead. I them grabbed a handful of pretzels and got those down. I ran to the next aid station and got a few more pretzels in. I saw Rose Serpico (my boss at Tri It) at the 30km mark and I vaguely remember saying "I was having fun until 5km ago" which she reminded me of later. She gave me a big hug and away I went. I hit Skaha beach and I knew I only had about 7km left to go! There was an amazing crew of spectators there including a bunch of Cochrane folks and other people I knew. When I ran though they were playing "I'm in a hurry to get things done"and I got a huge lift! I was so close now. I then saw a bunch of customers from Tri It not a kilometer further down the road - Colin, Kendall, and Tanya! Tanya ran beside me for a minute and chatted and Kendall told me to get my ass to the finish line. I was working on it!

I rounded the corner and was back on Main Street - so close! I struggled as this is finally where my hip flexors started to really ache, my stomach pain was excruciating and I realized my lungs were hurting so bad I could not take a full/deep breath. I was so close though and I knew it. I got cheers from Tony Smith, Joanna from Tri It and then Grace, Michael and Sylvia Wetherup which was amazing. I stopped quickly get a hug from little Grace and her dad, Michael leaned over and said "in 2km, you are gonna be an Ironman". I smiled but, I am not sure I even believed it at that point. I ran onto Lakeshore Drive where the main crowds were to finish my last 2 km. I heard so many people cheering and saw so many people but, I was hurting so bad there were no smiles. To be honest at this point I finally realized I could go sub 11:50 and I pushed the last little bit with my husband and friends yelling, my parents screaming and so many others encouraged me on. At the last pylon I made my final turn to head to the finish it was still very surreal. Annie was there and ran along and yelled. I unfortunately couldn't even crack a smile or say anything at this point. "Get to the finish" was all I could think about. I ran as strong as I could and hit the blue carpet of the finishing shoot. I ran and jumped over the finish line though the tape. I was an Ironman!

Some nice volunteers ran up to me and started to walk me away from the finish area. Shannon from TTL suddenly appeared and I threw my arms around her and let my weight go. She held me up and told the other volunteers that she had me. I was so excited to see her! She was with Brian (my other boss at Tri It) and they walked me through the finish area. They got me organized with finisher gear, pictures, and made sure I was OK. I couldn't believe I was walking, talking, etc. I didn't want food and did not need medical so we found Jeff and they left me in his capable hands. With the help of Jeff, Leslie, Heather and Jae we walked to get my bike and all of my gear. It took us over an hour to walk that 1.5km as I kept seeing people I knew and stopped for a quick chat. Tonnes of hugs and congratulations all around. It was an amazing day!

Thank-you to all of my friends and family who helped me finish my first Ironman. With your support I have realized my dream of calling myself an Ironman.

Note: there were so many other stories and moments of my Ironman day that I could not list them all. Thank-you to all who cheered me on, gave me hugs, talked to me pre-race, talked to me on course and congratulated me post-race. You all helped to make my Ironman day so special. And thank-you to all of those who encouraged me throughout the year, gave me anvice and pep-talks and swam, biked and ran with me! You helped me here and I will never forget that! Thank-you!

September 10, 2009

Ironman Canada - leading up to the race

The few days leading up to Ironman are very busy. You always have some thing you should be doing or could be doing! It is a fine balance between doing everything you need, some of the things you want and resting. I tried to do my best not to do too much and stay out of the heat. There are lines wherever you go and like I said always someone wanting you to do something, or something you should or could do.

Here is my attempt at doing as what I needed to do and a few things I wanted to (in a very short recap):

-worked at Tri It until late afternoon
-flew to Kelowna and drove with Kori and Mike to Penticton
-checked into the hotel and tried to organize the mass of gear and stuff I brought with me
-went to Salty's for late night snack and chat with Annie

-open water swim
-stood in line to get race package (almost 1.5 hours)
-stood in line to get free Crocs (almost 1.5 hours)
-went back to hotel to relax and again try to organize gear and start organizing gear bags!
-went to dinner with Annie


-did the underwear run
-rode my bike and went for coffee
-went for lunch with Peter, Elaine, Sarah-Jane and Jeff C.
-attended the IMC pre-race dinner and meeting (couldn't stop thinking....WOW! I am really going to do an Ironman in 2 days!


-met the team for a swim (that I did not do so I just talked to everyone who was on the beach) and a team meeting; we talked about Terry and shed a few tears
-finalized all of my gear bags
-Jeff worked on my bike and got it working perfectly!
-put my bike and my 2 gear bags in transition (swim-bike and bike-run
-went to the IMC expo with Jeff
-drove around looking for lip moisturizer/sunscreen as I had lost mine
-made dinner and had dinner at hotel with Jeff (thank goodness for the kitchenette)

Xterra Alberta

Many people thought I was crazy racing Xterra 1 week before Ironman. In fact, I did nopt tell my coach until after it was over. Luckily I was not hurt so she didn't get mad. I had a great day and LOVED this event. For those of you who do not know, I came from a mountain biking background. I raced mountain bikes and one day bougt a road bike to cross train. Well after I started riding road bikes, I knew I could swim and run so thought I would put it all together. I did and the rest is history!

OK, back to Xterra!

The day started off early as I had to bring some of the registration packages from Calgary out for Tony. I got there early and headed down to transition to meet Colin who had kindly brought my bike to Canmore for me as I had all of the registration stuff jammed packed in my car. I got settled asnd I had a few comments that went like this "Arn't you racing Ironman next weekend? Are you NUTS!!! You shouldn't be doing this race!". I laughed and commented on how life is to short. "Seize the day!" I said.

I was very calm about this race as I wanted to race hard but knowing with IMC 1 week away this was not a priority and if I felt pain, got scared, didn't feel like doing it that I would pull out at any point. I don't normally race like that but given my Ironman dreams for the past 5 years with 2 years prep I think it was warranted.

Pre-race was great. I headed back up to the day lodge at the Nordic Centre and chilled. I had 2 athletes racing so we just hung out and talked. I was so relaxed it was wonderful! It was finally time to get on the bus and head down to the lake. I actually realized the girl sitting next to me (Amy) was a girl who I used to mountain bike race with. So cool! We got into our wetsuits and I helped about 10 girls who knew I was from Tri It and asked for assistance and headed to the lake - I love how small Quarry Lake is. A quick warm-up and we were off. The swim was great and I didn't even get banged, hit, kicked, etc. once! This was great! When we came out it was a LONG way to run to T1. Whew! I blazed through T1 and manged to get ahead of many of the girls who beat me out of the swim. When will you learn? Keep transition simple!

I headed off on the bike and realized something was wrong with my bike. Doh! I forgot to put my seat back up after it had been transported. Ok, there is such a thing as being too relaxed before a race. Maybe that uptigt triathlete side of me is not such a horrible thing. I jacked it up and away we went (this is after many girls passed me back). I was then on Amy's wheel which was a perfect spot. We passed few girls who has passed my when I was fixing my seat and I thought "This is great". Then Amy realized we were off course. We turned around just to see the girls we had passed head up the trail before us. Rats! I stayed near Amy for the rest of the bike. The bike course was awesome. It wasn't too technical but it was so fun! I encouraged people as we rode the hills (some of which I had to walk). I made a few technical errors such as gearing due to not being on my MTB for almost 3 years but I didn't care - I was having so much fun! I also played with my seat a few more times (up, down, up , down; thank goodness for quick release). The second lap was a bit better but we slowed up as the duathlon people headed out right before our second lap and many of them were not as experienced on the MTB. So I chatted with another racer and it was nice to get my HR down a bit.

We headed into the stadium for our run. It was great to see so many spectators! I took a second to look where I was; it is beautiful here! I am so luck to be here and doing this! I headed out on the very hilly run course. I was sucking wind pretty hard but was still having so much fun! I got passed by quite a few girls on the run but I was laughing. This was the most intervals I had done all summer. When you do 30km runs you are just not at the speed for these short 7km runs. The girls who all passed me were wonderful and encouraging. Such a friendly environment these Xterra folks! On my final lap I haeded into the stadium and heard my Tony call my name over the PA system. I crossed the line and threw my hands in the air. Mike Whittle and Greg Bradly were there to laugh at me and tell me I was lucky I wasn't hurt.

I cheered my friends, other athletes and my athletes for the next bit until everyone was in and we headed for a delicious lunch.

I loved Xterra and can't wait to see what Tony has in store for next year. I hear registration is already up and the date is September 5th. See you there!

September 9, 2009

Ironman Race Report

I am working on it! I hope to have it up by the end of the week.