Friday Feature – Linda Lafrance

Friday Feature!

I still remember the moment when approximately 10 years ago, I was looking at pictures of myself and could not believe how much weight I had put on over the years.  It had all been so gradual.  The children, full-time university and post-graduate studies, full-time work were all seemingly good reasons not to focus on my health.
That’s when I took on a membership at OAC and started attending regularly. My weight started to come down and I was feeling better about myself.  One day, my friend talked me into doing the Early Bird Somersault Sprint triathlon.  I did this on a heavy hybrid with fat tires and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  The next year, I thought, if I can do a sprint why not an Olympic or Standard distance.  That’s when I knew I was hooked.  Within a few years, I wanted to attempt a ½ IM distance but knew the commitment was more than I can manage on my own. If I was going to do this, I was going to need help.  One day at the OAC, I saw a woman wearing what I knew to be a Tri suit in spin class and approached her to ask who she trained with. It was Sue… an early Team Triumph member. She told me about Julia Aimers and her coaching style. As a healthcare professional, credentials and education are important to me.  Julia looked good on paper but could she deliver?
It was 7 years ago when Julia and I met for the first time to discussed my goals to try a ½ Ironman distance. She recommended I do the Esprit in Montreal as it was a flat course and I would be easy for family and friends to provide encouragement. During this initial meeting we discussed my lifestyle, my athletic background, my goals, and my aspirations then she set out to develop a program that was customized to my needs. The first year at Esprit I took 2nd place in my age category then went back the 2nd year to take first.  To this day, I still remember the overwhelming feeling of pride and elation I felt coming to the finish that first year.  With Julia as a coach and Team Triumph, I was also introduced to a group of amazing people and athletes who were like-minded and focused.
Once again, in my mind I was thinking, if I can do a ½ Iron Man distance, could I possibly do a full distance IM?  Julia was realistic, if I wanted this, I would have to be willing to put in the time and the discipline but she believed in me.  Finally, we decided the Canadian Iron distance in Ottawa would be a good first to get a feel for the distance without too much technicality and it was close to home.  Encouragement from your friends and family are so important when attempting an endurance event, even more so one of this magnitude.
Over time, my goals started to become more specified and diversified and Julia always managed to develop the appropriate programs to help me reach them. I attended her training camps in Tucson, Arizona and in St-George Utah and Mont Tremblant to get the intense boost in coaching and training.  In 2015, I ran the Ottawa Marathon and qualified for Boston.  Due to a hip injury sustained in training I wasn’t able to complete Boston in 2016. This disappointment was crushing but not debilitating.  With the help of Julia and my friends in Team Triumph, I managed stay focussed on my recovery, modify my training and complete IM Tremblant that year with a program that was adapted. I came back in 2017 fully recovered from my hip injury to qualify for Boston again at the Québec City Marathon.
The World IM Championship in Kona was not on my radar until a few years ago after a discussion with Team Triumph friends following the Rideau Lakes bike tour.  When I discussed this goal with Julia, she again encouraged me to reach for the stars.  At this point I had lost approximately 25 lbs and I knew that if I was going to qualify for Kona I needed to address my nutrition, bring my weight down to ‘racing weight’ and buckle down on my program.  That was my focus last year as I started to eat a mostly plant-based diet.  I finally managed to reach my racing weight goal this year in order to become more competitive.
Over the past year, Julia, always adapting to my goals and needs, developed a program to get me through the Winterlude Tri, the Canadian Ski Marathon, the Boston Marathon, the ½ IM Tremblant and the full Iron Man Tremblant.  I was hoping to qualify for Kona but tried not to get my hopes too high. I had technical issues with my bike during the ½ IMT and lost valuable time.  As a now somewhat seasoned athlete, I know that there are some things you can control and others you can’t.  I have had my share of obstacles that helped me learn lessons. The most important of all, is that in order to reach my goals, I need a coach and a team/friends/family to support me, I need to stay focused on my goals, put in the work and have a race plan. The stars are more likely to align in my favor if I control as many variables as I can. Finally, with Julia’s guidance and support, it all came together for me at IM Tremblant in August of this year when not only did I manage to finally obtain one of the last of the original Tri Rudy Awards, I qualified for the prestigious World IM Championship in Kona for October 13, 2018.
Without the help of Julia/Team Triumph and my family and friends, this dream could not have been possible.  I am healthier and more fit now than I ever was thanks to the lifestyle supported by the coaching and the friends I’ve made in this sport. I am confident that if I really want something, anything is possible if I am willing to put in the work and do the time.
What is your dream?