BIT­ING THE ROLLER COASTER

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - MARKETPLACE - BY FRÉDÉRIC ROY

ON THE ROAD to Iron­man 70.3 Muskoka I ques­tioned my­self: Was I ready to meet the beast? I signed up for my first half Iron­man on Dec. 16, pre­cisely a year af­ter a bike ac­ci­dent al­most cost me my life. I was look­ing for­ward to that event, maybe as a way to cel­e­brate the fact that I was still alive and hadn’t ex­pe­ri­enced any per­ma­nent phys­i­cal dys­func­tion, other than the scars and the 12 miss­ing teeth. It seemed like a good idea and I was up for a chal­lenge.

I did not know then that my per­sonal life was yet to take a few more dra­matic turns. In the weeks pre­ced­ing the race, train­ing be­came te­dious and I wasn’t eat­ing and sleep­ing prop­erly. I was drink­ing too much and miss­ing a lot of train­ing ses­sions. A few days prior to the event, I highly doubted my abil­ity to make it. I hit the long road ac­com­pa­nied by my sis­ter and father to take on my first half-dis­tance race, one of the hilli­est in Canada, with all of this in mind.

The race is set in the beau­ti­ful Muskoka coun­try­side of On­tario. The race site and tran­si­tion area were lo­cated in the Canada Sum­mit Cen­tre, orig­i­nally built for the 2010 G8 Sum­mit. As I picked up my ath­lete bag on the Satur­day be­fore the race I started to feel re­ally anx­ious about the next day’s event.

In triathlon, swim­ming is my big­gest chal­lenge. When I joined Les Dy­namos Triathlon Club in Mon­treal three years ago, I couldn’t re­ally swim. I never imag­ined I would ever feel com­fort­able in open wa­ter. At my first triathlon in Gatineau, Que., I was al­most dead last af­ter the swim – I man­aged to get out of the wa­ter just ahead of an older man who did breast­stroke. Ever since then I’ve al­ways tried to do a pre-race swim to make my­self com­fort­able. That’s what I did the Satur­day be­fore the race in Muskoka.

I re­mem­ber that the wa­ter was warm with only a few soft waves. I started to re­lax and de­cided there was noth­ing to worry about: this first half-dis­tance race would prob­a­bly not be my best per­for­mance, but I’d be fine. I mostly spent the rest of the day work­ing on my bike, be­fore putting it in the tran­si­tion zone and do­ing a short run. Af­ter a good meal and be­fore go­ing to bed, I re­viewed my plans for the fol­low­ing day.

I was de­ter­mined to do ev­ery­thing I could to get to the fin­ish line. And I suc­ceeded. The swim was OK. The bike phase was amaz­ing, with its 832 m of climb­ing over 94 km (wasn’t it sup­posed to be 90?). The run was rough, but went great once I worked the cramps out of my legs (some ath­letes might re­mem­ber me as the guy of was hit­ting his thighs). I was so happy that I al­most sprinted the en­tire last kilo­me­tre.

I al­most cried when I passed the fin­ish line, know­ing that a year and a half ago an am­bu­lance was trans­port­ing me to the hos­pi­tal where the doc­tors wouldn’t guar­an­tee I’d make it through the night. Mirac­u­lously, I was given a sec­ond chance – and I will surely not waste it. Next up ? A full-dis­tance race in 2018.

Frédéric Roy, 30, is a writer from Mon­treal. He trains with the Les Dy­namos Triathlon Club in Mon­treal.

LEFT Frédéric Roy af­ter win­ning the over­all age group cat­e­gory at Iron­man Muskoka 70.3

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