Diane and Kory During a Triathlon with text "Leading for the Long Run"

Journey to Ironman Mont Tremblant

Posted on February 26, 2018
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I’m not a pro athlete, coach, or nutritionist, which makes me wonder why anyone would want to read what I had to say. But, I realized there must be people out there just like me: weekend warriors trying to keep fit and healthy, and trying to reach their fitness or personal goals. I am 53 years old and totally blind. I am also an Ironman.

This isn’t my first foray in challenging myself.

In 2009, while undertaking my Master’s in Leadership program, I decided it was time to face some fears and challenge myself. I began with a tandem skydive (maybe a bit drastic, but you know…go big or go home).

During 2010, I drove a race car at a speed that I could now probably out run, but since I don’t get to drive cars often, it was still very exciting for me.

2011 had me rappelling down the outside of a 29 storey building, a demonstration of courage mostly because I was dressed in a super hero costume involving spandex…at my age the outfit demonstrated more courage than rappelling down the side of a building.

In 2012 I was lost for what I could do next when a classmate from university sent me an article about a blind woman doing triathlon.

“Diane, you could do that,” said my friend, Cheryl.

Given that I was pretty much a couch potato, 47 and blind, I thought she had lost her mind. Not one to turn down a challenge, I decided to get fit and six months later completed my first Olympic distance triathlon (1500 m swim, 40 km bike, and 10 km run). I crossed the finish line second to last with a time of 4 hours and 26 minutes. I crossed the finish line upright and for me that was success!

“I bet you could do a half Ironman,” said Cheryl.

I told her she was crazy and I didn’t want to talk to her for at least a month. She took me to my word and a month later we were signing up for a half iron distance.
Since then I have completed several Olympic distances and four half iron distances. In August of 2015, I attempted my first full Ironman. I had paid for the registration and my Scottish roots wouldn’t let me back out.

The day of the race was beautiful and sunny. I felt calm and ready to go the distance. The swim went well and the first 90 km of the bike felt wonderful. The temperature rose to 40 degrees Celsius and I began to feel the heat.

I managed to reach kilometre 21 of the run when heatstroke took over and I decided that my health was more important than the finish line. I was disappointed but knew that I made the right decision.

I told the organizers of the race that I would be back in two years to try again.

Two years later there I was standing at the start line of Ironman Mont Tremblant 2017. I was wondering if maybe I lost my mind when I lost my sight…I mean what was I thinking! None the less the gun went off and the fireworks exploded; and there I was running across the beach and diving into the water for just one more shot at becoming an Ironman.

The day was beautiful and my guide Kory and I felt wonderful. It was a long but fun filled day and when we crossed the finish line I was exhausted and exhilarated all at the same time.

I started the journey thinking that I would come out at the other end more fit with the bragging rights of doing such a big race.

Well…I did get that, but more than that I learned so much along the way. During my master’s program I learned the theory of leadership, but during my journey to Ironman I experienced the practice. I would like to share my learnings with you. Please sign up for my updates and I will bring you along with me as I blog about my journey and the leadership practices that I learned along the way.