The Canadian atmosphere was absolutely electric. 2700 competitors made their way to the start of what would be an all day affair. As the crowd started to slow and pool, I knew I had made it to the right place. Air was filled with high hopes and the urge to do the unthinkable. Whether it was our first time, 4th attempt, or 10th year straight, we all had the same idea in our head: I will become an Ironman. Looking into the eyes of those around me, I was pierced with the desire for them to be their best selves. I could hear the internal prayers and self encouragement for a successful completion of a devastatingly difficult trio. I could feel the tension from hundreds of hours dedicated to preparing for this big day. After what felt like forever, the time had finally come for us all to show what we had.
Let’s back up a little bit though before diving into the depths of the unknown. The road to Mont-Tremblant started well before my initial drive on August 15, 2019. After an internal tug of war in early May, I had officially committed to finishing what I started. There would be no pushing it back, no backing down from the challenge, and no more excuses for not swimming. In the words of a beloved runner and friend, it was time to drip or drown.
After some consultation, I found myself on the shores of Mary Alice Park on three separate occasions. In a first attempt, I was by myself and ill prepared. I forgot the strap to the swim buoy that would bring me comfort and it was just too hot for the wetsuit. I swam these small stints parallel to the shoreline. At the point of losing sight of the bottom, I would panic and turn around to make it back to my initial starting spot. After several iterations of this, I felt accomplished to call it a day.
Carl decided to join Patrick and I on my second attempt. He even provided me specific lake goggles (because that is a thing) to have for now and forever. With little warning, he highlighted “We are going to swim to that buoy over there,” as he pointed out 400 meters into the distance and made his way towards the water. I hesitantly spoke up and stated my apprehension with the water. Carl simply reassured that I would be fine, took to the water and urged me to do the same. In that big leap of faith, I just started swimming. Losing line of sight to the bottom, I pushed through the discomfort and eventually found myself out into the distance where Carl was once pointing. With a buoy break, I was mentally ecstatic that I faced my fear. Carl took the time to help with form work as we completed a half mile worth of swimming. It was officially on.
In the third venture out to Lake Lanier, I swam a mile and a half tied with a few breaks. Patrick and his wife were there to train and support me along the way. Miraculously, I was ready for what I assumed to be the worst.
The week of the big trip, I dotted my i’s and crossed my t’s. I prepped my bags, purchased a new triathlon kit, got my bike tuned up, and bought all the nutritional/personal necessities to put my best foot forward. All the preparation was finally starting to bring the event to life. By the time Patrick and I hit the road, it had finally dawned on me that we were actually doing this thing. As we trekked 1250+ miles, I reminisced on all the affirmation received from every angle and direction. I felt the excitement of every individual I told about this incredible feat. I thought of just how far I had come. And we were just getting started.
Upon entry to Canada and the beautiful Mont Tremblant, the air was just different. Bilingual was the language and the metric system was in full effect. We made our way to sign in and found the resort where magic would happen. Chateaus were tucked away into the mountains and weather complimented the smiles of all walks of life. Our first night was filled with expert advice, great food, live music, and fireworks. With the vast amount of attendees, roughly 550 would toe the line for the first time just like Patrick and I. A feeling of community engulfed me.
After catching up on much needed rest, Patrick and I had a day to preview the course. Specifically, I found it necessary to take on the lake before the big day. This was the second time I had worn the wetsuit (the first being in a local community pool with stares and all) and I just had to try it one more time. The water was frigid as it surrounded the suit with every step deeper into the lake. I will save you all the panic attacks, hyperventilating, and nausea of swimming that day to say that my biggest realization was that the wetsuit kept me afloat. And with a few strokes along the practice course, I just prayed to finish the swim tomorrow. We previewed the bike course via car and retired early for the night. It would be an early start tomorrow.