Darcy Wefers has worked with Clive Caldwell for 18 years at Head Office of the Cambridge Group of Clubs. Darcy and her husband, Tom, set a goal last year to complete a full Ironman (a triathlon consisting of 3.8km Swim, 180km Bike, 42km Run) in Mont Tremblant on August 20th, 2017.
As we had anticipated, both were successful in their attempt! We asked Darcy about the planning, training, logistics and challenges that went into this personal feat.
Why a full Ironman and why Mont Tremblant?
After completing a number of triathlons, including 2 Half Ironman distance races (Peterborough, 2014 and Muskoka, 2016), we wanted a bigger challenge and had heard so much about the picturesque setting at Mont Tremblant, the volunteers, and the commitment of the entire region to make IMMT an incredible experience.
How did you prepare for IMMT?
We thought it was important to work with a coach who had completed an Ironman personally. We approached Blair Larsen, a personal trainer at the Adelaide Club. Blair has 17 years of experience and, among many certifications, is an IM Coach. He has completed 8 Half Ironmans, 5 Full Ironmans and represented Canada at Worlds ITU twice. Blair's personal experience combined with his qualifications – and, above all, patience for our never-ending questions – was the perfect combination.
What was the training plan and commitment leading up to the race?
Our training plan was created by Blair and downloaded to an app called Training Peaks that we could access on our phones or iPads. Typically, each week had 2 workouts in each discipline – one shorter workout that focused on drills and speed, and one longer workout that focused on distance, endurance and form. Nutrition and hydration are the fourth discipline of triathlon and the longer bikes and runs allowed us to practice eating and drinking to figure out quantities and technique.
Training Peaks example workout
The training time commitment ranged from about 8 hours per week in the winter months, to 10+ hours in spring, to 14+ hours as we neared our full Ironman. Needless to say, house and garden chores were neglected, social invites declined and bike maintenance, eating well and sleep took top priority.
Our race plan included an indoor triathlon, a sprint distance outdoor triathlon to practice transitions and racing in our wetsuits. In June we travelled to Mont Tremblant with Coach Blair for a training camp to swim, bike and run the actual course. The Mont Tremblant area has routes that are permanently marked for athletes to practice all season. Blairs past experience competing at Tremblant was invaluable as he accompanied us on the course. Lake Tremblant was a very cold 59 degrees and during the 3.8km practice swim, I experienced severe cramping in both legs that required some floating and stretching – Blair stayed with me the entire time. I think it took the rest of the weekend to warm up!
It was truly an advantage to bike the exact IM course and experience the 8km climb up Chemin Duplessis. The running was picturesque on converted rail trails with golf courses or water on either side. Blair gave us a tour of the village and pointed out transition areas, change tent location and the famous finish line were we hoped to be declared an Ironman!
Our next training triathlon was in July at the Muskoka Half Ironman. This was exciting as we were familiar with the course from 2016 and both did personal bests.
What were the days leading up to the Ironman like?
On the Thursday before the Sunday race, we drove to Tremblant with our 19-year-old son who was coming to cheer us on, help with equipment and communicate to friends and family on our progress. We unpacked and went directly into the village to take in the vibe that was starting to build among the triathletes. It was raining, but everyone was still smiling and looking forward to race day. Friday was athlete check-in and we received our race packages. Saturday was bike check-in and while prepping my bike I found a small piece of glass embedded in my tire! I quickly bought and installed a new rear tire as I didn’t want to take any chances.
August 20th – Race Day!
The alarm was set for 4:30am and although it was still dark, the rain had stopped. We had breakfast, lots of water, some coffee and of course the very important bathroom visit! With our tri suits on and our wetsuits, goggles and caps in a bag we made our way to athlete marking to get our race number and age on our arm and calves. We then went to pump and check tire pressure on our bikes before heading to the lake for the swim start. The method for the swim start was “self-seeded”, which meant placing yourself in the line-up according to your predicted swim finish. This is where my husband Tom and I said our goodbyes (he's a faster swimmer and was much further ahead in the line-up).
After singing "Oh Canada" and witnessing the jet fly-over, the professional triathletes started their race. It was then time for the 1,900 athletes to begin. 12 at a time, 5 seconds apart, we were told to enter the water.
The water temp was 69 degrees and with a wetsuit was very comfortable. Both Tom and I had great swims and came out of the water according to plan.
After the volunteers “strip” your wetsuit, you run 800m on carpet to the transition tent to prepare for the bike portion. By this time, the sun was starting to shine and the cheering crowds were plentiful.
The bike route was two 90km loops on closed roads that included Highway 117, a quick trip in and out of St. Jovite and an 8km climb up Chemin Duplissis. Unfortunately, Tom experienced some severe leg cramping on the second loop of the bike and his finish took longer than expected.
During the first loop of the run Tom and I saw each other on the course and I could tell he was hurting. The cramping was not as severe but still slowing his running ability. I asked if he wanted me to stay with him but he encouraged me to continue on at my pace and have a good race. He declared “even if I have to crawl, I will finish”! So I continued the first loop at a good running pace, knowing that my second loop would be more pedestrian due to fatigue and a foot injury I was battling. The second loop was slower but I had a good power walk going and knew that this was the day I would become an Ironman!
I finished in 12:48 and Tom in 13:10 – we both heard the famous “You Are an Ironman” announcement from Mike Reilly and will never forget our experience of the entire day and especially running the last 500m being cheered into the finish by our son, close friends and hundreds of incredible IM supporters.
Needless to say, we are both signed up to do it again next year. IMMT 2018, we’re coming for you!!