My journey on the Mountain.

Something would happen one day on this mountain and it is like I always knew it had to…

Growing up, sometimes, it felt like I was attracted in a certain direction. Through music, sport, I went through phases. One -obsession of the moment- lead to another and I was consumed by many passions. I wished I had a life for each of them. Somehow, through it all, my life path felt like a continuum. An artist at first (with Violin), I grew into an athlete, convinced that life would guide me to my perfect place of happiness, a place I would find ME. I was constantly refining a search for my place in life. The place where I would succeed and  become a champion in my heart. I just followed inspiration and gravitated towards what felt the most natural and fun and as long as I was doing that, I had a feeling I was on my life path and on the way to finding my true identity.

Amazingly enough, a big part of this personal search took place on the mountain of Mont Tremblant:

First, I did my first endurance event on this very ski hill, years ago. I discovered cycling in a mountain bike race at Tremblant because a friend had convinced me to get a bike and try it. I loved it so much and knew I would come back to cycling one day. It felt natural and fun, but it wasn’t my path yet. I had a hunger to try many different things in life.

I later did my first boardercross race on that hill, making it to the final, only to break my leg in the final practice run. Another emotional moment at Mont Tremblant. That dream ended there though. Again, other interests consumed me while I was healing my leg and I went onto something else.( I do plan to come back to boardercross one day though! ;)

I then got a summer job on the mountain and decided to bike to work some week-ends. Unfortunately, I got a computer with the bike and could see my speed and going to work became a personal TT mission every Saturday from that day on during that summer! I guess I was already training for the Mont Tremblant 70.3 back then without knowing it. In fact without knowing the meaning of the word -triathlon- yet.

That sunmer job lasted one season and I went on to other things, pursued my studies, and…through my studies, discovered a sport I would love and finally stick with it. I had found it and would grow with it and never let it go.

This year, at Mont Tremblant, I got to mark a small place in the story of my special mountain and this is what it felt like:


The last few meters before the finish line, when I ran through the cheering home crowd (never seen a crowd quite like this one in a 70.3), must have been one of the happiest, proudest moments of my life. It was the location, but it was also the people. It was the fact that people from home were welcoming with emotion and joy, the sport that I love. What is more,  in the final stretch, the crescendo of emotions was at its peak when old friends surprised me, calling my name in the final meters of the race. I saw familiar faces that just popped up on the side of the course. People that had been part of the journey: my -big brother- Ugo Cianciulli, that I hadn’t seen in years, the one that had gotten me into those  first Mountain bike and boardercross races in Tremblant years ago who yelled my name with just a few meters to go. A final high five to Ugo before taking the win felt like another one of those moments where life was to perfect to be real. Can life talk to you in any clearer way? This happens alot when you are on the right path. You keep on wanting to pinch yourself to make sure you aren’t dreaming. And…it didn’t need to be a world Champion performance on that day to make me feel so happy. There are days for that and there is alot of thrill in that, that’s for sure. But that day, it was going to be a solid effort, a good performance but it would be mostly about embracing a sport that I love and to embrace the fact that I had grown to find my place in life. My wishes had come true. After the finish, it was emotional too as I walked away from the line and saw the friends had made the trip to come and see the race. My Chiro Sophie Limoges and her partner were there smiling and so was a friend from L.A. It all meant alot to me that people I loved shared my joy the way they did.

Quick race recap:

Mom and I drove down with the RV the night before the race (we live about 40 minutes from the race site and wanted to wake up on site! As late as possible..haha). So we camped out. I was nervous because I really wanted to do well. I knew this day would be important to me. I wanted to give the first 70.3 in Quebec a special place in my heart.

I woke up with a bad headache. But I tried not to focus on it as there was little I could do about it. The ambiance at the swim start was fantastic. I was standing on the line with my friends Erin Spitler and Jenny Fletcher and it eased the pressure and made it feel fun! Other things that helped me find my happy race heart were the morning sun on beautiful lake Tremblant, my feet on the sandy beach, the people lined up on the VIP deck, standing there excited. On the deck, I also saw the race crew that I had seen work so hard, preparing to attack the day like champions alswell. To many of us, the day seemed like a great vision about to come true. As we held our emotions and the butterflies in our bellies, the Snowbirds, planes from the canadian air force were deployed over the beach. We watched them fly in formation. It was like time stopped for a moment and everyone’s eyes were directed to the sky. When the planes flew back over the beach, the curtains rose to the sound of the canon, it was show time!!!

Okay, now imagine a vinyl scratch noise a rewind to just before the canon: because something had to get my feet back on earth 30 seconds before the start: My goggles snapped. S***!

Thank fully, Erin’s husband Rob, standing near the line, threw me a new set of goggles he had in his bag. I was saved. My friends smiled at me one last time, and we were off!

It felt like I was swimming fast and my swim time was quite good. Only I had a pounding headache that gave me a scary thought half way through the swim:

-What If I am sick or something-?? I felt a bit off…

-Shush! What are you going to do about it now anyways! FOCUS!

I lead to swim for a while, then, I saw my  friend Jenny pass me and hopped in her feet. That was a great swim for Jenny! She lead out of the water and I was behind. I still laugh at the moment when she got up in front of me and started running out of the water. For some reason I thought I would start running too. But I would soon realize that when Jenny is standing knee deep, I barely have my neck out of the water. She’s a giant to me!!!!haha. I went back into the Dolphin diving as she kept on striding out with her long legs. Tough luck to me, the shorty! Better luck next time.


Running out to T1!

I took the lead out of T1. On the bike, I felt a little bit tired as I had been doing high power workouts like I hadn’t been doing in a while. It felt strong but a little bit tired maybe. I focused on what I was working on: mainly cadence and confidence… ;)

There were a few turnaround points on the course and I could see I was clearly riding away. But the girls definitely kept me honest. I got a good steady effort in and I could feel that the recent bike focus was definitely paying off on that ride.


So I started running with a good lead (I think about 10 mins, and the fastest bike split of the day, just like at Mooseman! That made me feel confident!). But I knew there were some strong runners in the field and I had to again, keep it a good solid effort! The first 4-5 K of the run is a little challenging in Tremblant but I love it when it gets hillier and I embraced the challenge. I loved having a few pro guys around to gage the speed on. Although most of them gave me a true lesson of modesty. After the hillier run passed the old village, you hit -the petit train du nord- pedestrian trail and that was nice but HOT!


At the first turnaround I saw I had about a 13 minute lead and it was getting quite hot so I raced the last half of the half marathon without taking chances. I guess my choice of racing style echoed what a friend had yelled to me after the second turnaround: You’ve got the win. Enjoy the moment. I did enjoy the moment with all my heart.



An image of the final stretch of the half marathon (once the crowd was gone).



Left to right: Mayor of Mont Tremblant, me, Romain Guillaume (Fr.) (Men’s Champion) and David Johnston, the governor general of Canada.


Congrats to Men’s champion Romain Guillaume. Very strong performance. A convincing 15min win.


Congrats to the girls and specially to second place finisher Annie Gervais, also from Quebec. She went on to place second at Rhode Island 70.3.

I am so proud of the way Dominique Piche and his team turned their dream into reality. They put their heart and soul into this race and it turned into a very special day. It was an inaugural event that had AT LEAST all the beauty and excitement of a world championship event. The city of Mont Tremblant definitely was VERY supportive and helped make this event exceptional. The volunteers were driven and very present. Everything was there to guarantee a successful event. It has definitely become my favorite race of the series and I definitely recommend you all give it a go at some point. It is something you definitely will not regret. The Ironman (on the same course) is coming up August 19th and I am very excited to see how it will turn out. I would really like to race the full Ironman there one day soon.

Thank you to my sponsors for having made this possible for me. Blue bikes, Shimano, Avia, Kask Helmets, Fuel Belt, compressport, FiZiK, computrainer. Also a Huge thank you to Torhans, and -GU- for having supplied me with my favorite nutritional products. Finally, thank you to my mom for having welcomed me back home and really helped me in my preparation for the event, also to my coach Lance Watson and for the help of bike advisor Pierre Hutesbaut and local swim coach Michael Calcutt. Great support I could not do without, back home.

I am currently in Victoria, training one on one with Lance in preparation for world championships. On the way back home to QUebec after this camp, I will race Calgary 70.3. I will have to train through it and make it part of my preparation for worlds but am definitely excited about the race. Had a great time there a few years ago!

Happy training everyone and thanks for following!




Ugo Cianciulli said...

Great story, great performance !!!
You rock Mag !!!

Jul 29th, 2012 : 2:04 pm


rino cianciulli said...

felicitations et moi nous suivons ta cariere et nous sommes tres fiers de toi.Tu travailles fort et tu merites tes succes.
Bravo et continue.

Jul 30th, 2012 : 5:26 pm