I can’t believe that it's over. Two years of sweat and tears, training and racing, pain and suffering; all to get me to that one big race...Ironman Mont Tremblant 2017...and suddenly it's here.
Ironman events are more than just one race day; they are about four days of preparation, bike and transition bag drop-off, and far too much money spent at the expo. On Friday evening there's an athlete’s dinner and mandatory race briefing followed by the opening ceremonies with fireworks and music and for some too much beerJ then before we know it...race morning dawns.
The morning of the race was lovely. My guide Kory and I were up by 4:00 a.m. getting ourselves ready. Before the sun was up we were checking our bike for the last time and adding food to our transition bags. Then we were off for the long walk down to the beach and a quick dip in the lake to prepare ourselves for what was about to come.
Oh Canada was sung, fireworks exploded, a fighter jet did a flyby and the race began. We entered the water with over 1900 other people all there for the same reason - to get to the finish line and become an ironman. The lake that just moments before was still as glass suddenly resembled the water in your washing machine with what seemed to be millions of arms and legs everywhere. Thanks to Kory we made our way through only being kicked in the head a couple of times, and managed to complete the 4km swim in 1:47:49. We came out of the water and ran directly to the wetsuit strippers (they only take off the wetsuit; not sure what you were thinking), then we were off to the first transition to get ready for the long bike ride.
We ran our lovely tandem (her name is Black Beauty, by the way) out to the mount line and we were off on our 180km ride in the mountains. Mont Tremblant is known for having one of the hardest bike courses in Ironman and I can tell you that they are right. It is a 90km loop that you need to do twice with rolling hills along with a long stretch of a moderately steep hill mid-way through the loop that gets your legs burning. Then at the 74km mark you reach Mont Duplessis - a 7km stretch with climbs that caused many participants to get off their bikes and walk up the hills. Kory and I however were determined to complete the bike without having to walk so we buckled down and dug deep and got Black Beauty up that mountain. The second loop was tiring and the sun was beginning to heat up but, we kept pushing forward. Then we faced Mont Duplessis for the second time. We managed to conquer the beast of a mountain and rolled into second transition with a bike time of 7:27:17.
We were now facing our last leg of the journey. Only 42.2km to go. Unfortunately we had to do that part on our own two legs and they weren’t feeling quite ready to go run a full marathon after the bike ride. We faced the challenge and off we went. We walked up the hills, ran down letting gravity help us along, and we ran walked the flats. The goal was to get to the finish line alive and well so we were careful not to over task ourselves in the run. When I was feeling tired and fed up, my friend Cheryl would pop out of nowhere and play a voice memo from one of our friends cheering me on and it would give me the motivation to keep going. With only 1km to go Kory’s daughter played a voice memo from my own fantastic daughter, Summer. She reminded me that all I had to do was put one foot in front of the other and I would soon be over the finish line. Her words telling me that she was so proud of me gave my feet wings and I managed to run down the finishing shoot with Kory by my side to that final finish line through cheering crowds, friends, and family to hear the announcer say “Diane Bergeron you are an ironman!” We completed the race with a finishing time of 16:15:57.
I could not believe that I was done! All the hard work came down to just this moment. I was so honored to have the race Director himself give me my medal. The emotion was high with many tears of joy and relief that I was still alive. After returning to the hotel, drinking some chocolate milk for recovery, and a hot bath, I dropped into bed and was out like a light.
Monday morning there was a brunch celebration where the awards were presented. I won first place in the physically challenged category. Doesn’t matter that I was the only athlete in the category; I’m gonna take it anywaysJ The awards over, the expo closed, and we were off heading back home; leaving Mont Tremblant behind us. But, the memory of this special place will stay with me forever.
Now it is over and I've had a couple of days to recover. I'm thankful that I have no injuries and I feel only slight discomfort in my muscles. I feel so much emotion around what I just managed to do. I'm so thankful for Cheryl for convincing me five years ago that I could do a triathlon; for my husband Blaine who sat back and didn’t complain when camping and fishing trips didn’t happen so I could spend the time training; and all the people who took me out for training runs or swims to help me get ready. Most of all, I'm thankful for having a friend like Kory who would give so much of herself to get me to that finish line. She gave up time with her family to take me training or to do practice races. I'm so privileged and honored to know this fantastic lady! None of this would be possible for me without all of their help and understanding.
Now the race is over and the equipment is packed away. I plan to spend the next few weeks with my feet up and a glass of wine in my hand. After that, the training will begin again. This time it's training for a trail run. In 2018 we will be bringing a relay team to the Canadian Death Race - a team of all blind and visually impaired runners. So the Journey to Ironman Mont Tremblant may be completed, but the adventure continues.
Questions? Comments? Email Diane at firstname.lastname@example.org