Julie Gadreau waited two long years to do her first IRONMAN in Tremblant. Last year, a femoral fracture three weeks before her race forced her to drop out. After spending two months on crutches, and after a new stress fracture to her food in April, Julie finally completed her bet. On August 21st, 2016, she swam for 3.8km, cycled for 180km, and ran 42.2km in 12:14:18; finishing in 11th position in her age category (40-44 years old). A fine example of combativity and self-sacrifice. Julie tells us about her race.
Näak: How were you expecting your first IRONMAN to go?
I was confident because I had lots of practice in swimming and cycling. However, I had a few doubts concerning the running portion of the race. While it was initially my strength, I was apprehensive about the marathon. Last year, I suffered from a stress fracture to my femur, which prevented me from training as I wanted. I consulted a doctor who told me that it was a serious injury, and that I had a fragility at my bone level.
Despite a progressive return to training, I hurt myself again last April; another stress fracture but to my foot this time. I had to stop running for 8 weeks, and I had to eliminate interval trainings and long distance running. My last long run before the IRONMAN in Tremblant was only 13km.
Therefore, it was the unknown for me after the 13th km of the race. However, my coach Bart had given me bigger volumes of swimming and cycling to compensate for my lack of training in running. According to him, the marathon was going to go well, and in the end he was right!
Näak: How was your race?
The swimming portion was vert chaotic. There were lots of waves and wind, mainly during the return. I am sensitive and I get seasick, so this part was not fun! I was happy that I had taken a Gravol as a precaution before the race. I honestly think that it helped me. I was very excited to get out of the water given the conditions. I knew I would not reach my swimming objective of 1:10. In the end, I finished the swimming portion of the race in 1:18. There were 50 people who quit during the swimming part of the race, so I am happy I finished it.
For the cycling, the first 30 minutes of this portion of the race were dry. For the rest, we were cycling under a flood of rain and wind. I won't lie to you, cycling under the rain was not very pleasant! I had already done a few long rides under the rain so I was prepared. These are factors that you cannot control and that you must accept. I put a smile on my face and reminded myself that this was the day of my IRONMAN I had anticipated with excitement for so long. Rain or no rain, I had to smile!
The running portion of the race went well. I maintained a good pace all along. After the 24th km, I started to find it hard, because I could feel unexpected pain in my Achille's tendon. I had never experienced pain in that area in the past. I also had to urgently stop a few time to use the washroom, which was also unexpected! But, after the 35th km right at the end of Petit Train du Nord, when you know you are going home and that your friends are waiting for you... it's an incredible feeling of euphoria. You hold on to that adrenalin which guides you to the finish line. It's a very big moment to live!
Näak: What lessons did you learn from your first IRONMAN?
The lessons I have learned from this experience is to listen to your yourself, and to respect your body and your limits. After my injury last year, I really had to listen to my signs of fatigue in order to minimise my risks of injury. In the past, I did not really listen to my signs of fatigue. That was a mistake. This year, I would rest when I was really fatigued, and I did not hesitate to start training when I felt I needed to.
Näak: If you had to give one piece of advice to those who dream to complete an IRONMAN race, what would it be?
Don't doubt yourself and your ability to overcome such a challenge. When humans are passionate in what they undertake, they can accomplish great things. We can all do it if we put our heart, time, and energy into it... Whilst respecting our limits. It can take more time, just like it did for me, but we can get there if we keep our objective in sight.
Näak: What are your objectives for next year?
I am already registered for Tremblant's half IRONMAN. I am still hesitating between doing another IRONMAN, the one in Lake Placid, or Lake Placid's half IRONMAN. I think that a year of partial rest could be good for me too. I'm going to think about it in the next few weeks. I need to have objectives and goals to overcome in order to be happy. Hence, there will definitely be more challenges next year!
Thank you to the Näak team for your support! Your bars accompanied me during the race!