August 2, 2010

Calgary 70.3

I woke up around 2am to rain and thunder - ugh! I dozed in and out of consciousness until 4:15am when my alarm went off. Up and dressed, and breakfast in. As I got my bottles ready I started to get sad. Jeff was not there as he is on a kayaking trip with his buddies. Race morning he is always so great with helping get me organized and ready to go, and of course give me hugs and encouraging words to keep me calm. However, I was lucky to have Angie picking me up and delivering me to the race start and I knew Jeff was sending me good race vibes from afar.

When we arrived at Ghost I was less than happy to be there in the rain, and was extremely anxious about the swim. I had not swam in 2 months and had only swam 3 or 4 times in the pool previous to that since Ironman! That leads me to why the hell am I even at this race! I hadn't trained at all on the swim, or run, and for the bike - I've been only riding and racing my mountain bike. I had signed up for Calgary 70.3 last September and had decided that I was was not going to do the race a few months later, but a few days ago decided - what the hell!? Luke instructed today to be a long training day as Trans Rockies (a 3 day multistage mountain bike race) is next weekend. The plan was to survive the swim, bike hard and go easy on the run without pain. OK, dial it down. But I still had the "little" 2 km swim and I was very nervous. I know people tried to talk to me but I could barely compute what they were saying and forcing a smile was out of the question. Unusual for me. Gerry helped me get my wetsuit while I tried not to hyperventalite over the fact that I was actually doing this, and I then haeded to the water and did a quick warm-up. My friend Erin and I held hands and hugged while I tried to push down the nerves before the start of our heat.

The gun went off and I just went. Nice and easy and I quicky found open water. There was no kicking or punching, and I did not get hit. I was just swimming. I was actually nice. I focused on just one strooke after the other and before long I was at the last buoy to head to shore. It was all happening so quick! II hit shore with relief. I ran out and was my usual happy self again. "I did it" I yelled as I saw Coach Sarah and crew. I was so happy that I had survived the swim. It really is like riding a bike - it all comes back to you.

I went through transition as quick as I could and was on my way passing people on my bike. The bike was going great and I was feeling strong. I hit the TTL aid station and sat up and cheered and yelled as I went through! I saw so many happy TTL friendly faces - Hope, Danielle, Angie, Ally to name only a few! There were so many of you guys, THANK-YOU! I continued to push and ride strong until I saw my friend Amy walking her bike near the bottom of HorseCreek. I knew she was trying to qualify for Clearwater so I stopped. She needed a CO2 cartridge. As I got off my bike a cyclist with his head down came towards us and saw us at the last minute. He swerved but hit the ditch! He then went over his bars and landed on his head. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. He lay there unconscious. I screamed for a cell phone as cyclists passed until a rider stopped with one and I called 911. Then I saw a car and flagged it down and it was Richard (one of my athlete's dad). He got some jackets on me as I was shivering as I was talking to the 911 operator. The ambulance pulled up and Richard told me to get going. I really wanted to call it a day though. I was cold and this was an intense situation. The race official that had come up too told me and the other cyclist who had stopped with the cell phone that we should go, so we did. I got back on my bike but my head was still not all there and I could not believe the events that had just happened. However, after a few minutes I started pushing the pedals and working to pass people all over again. By the way, it felt like way more hills this year than last year!

I finally hit Glenmore Park despite being at a complete stop for over 15 minutes on the bike, and really wanting to quit. It was tempting. I was welcomed by tonnes of cheers off the bike. I went through transition and out on the run. I saw so many people cheering and giving me high-5's that it put me back in a great mood! There were so many people on the course and you have no idea how much your cheers are appreciated! THANK-YOU!!!

When I hit the Weaselhead hill to go down I hooked up with my friend Kristy who ran and walked with me until we returned to the top of Weaselhead hill again (about 14 km). Thank-you Kristy! We walked when my IT band hurt, all of the hills and aid stations. I was dialing it back and having fun cheering on others and just working towards finishing. And Kristy is one of the few people who yells louder than me so with the 2 of us yelling and cheering on the course we were having a blast! The last 3km did hurt however. My IT band was sore and I started to get impatient to just be done. So I pushed a bit in the last few km more than I should have. With 1 km to go Madi biked along side me and gave a few words of encouragement that I am thankful for. I turned the corner and into the finishing shoot lined with TTL crew! Yeah! So exciting to see you all!

Final time 6:05.  Got my second belt buckle! Not the ideal day but pretty darn close to how I wanted to execute it. And, I proved you can do a half Ironman on mountain bike only training but I do not recommend it! Now to recover and get ready for TR3 (TransRockies 3 day mountain bike race)!


Ken Hurd said...


To be honest, I can't believe you finished the race after that... And with a smile on your face to boot! Way to go Richelle!!

Hopefully that guy is ok! He must have gone down hard... A crappy way to learn to keep your head up :-(

Nicole said...

Okay, you are amazing!! I had no idea that you did not swim for that long AND you stopped on the bike course!! I, too, hope that guy is alright. You are hugely inspiring to this newbie!!! I hope I do HALF as well as you next year in my inaugural Iron race!!!

Nicole @ "Haute Runner" said...

Wow that is scary!!

Great job on your race. You looked super strong throughout!

Jarrett said...

Wow! I think I was behind you on the bike and run, because I saw the ambulance and fire crew. I wonder if that's the guy I saw finishing with his face all bandaged up? He got a pretty loud cheer for finishing despite the road rash... but really, he should be more careful!!