Julie Paquette is an Ultraman Champion!
LifeSport Athlete Wins in Florida
This past weekend, Julie Paquette of Ottawa, Ontario went on to win the woman's title at Ultraman Florida with a time of 29:33:00, a full 2:07:25 ahead of runner-up Cindy Braden of Goleta, California. Never having competed in an Ultra event before, Paquette decided to test her limits and find out just how far her body could go. Well she definitely found out this weekend and exceeded her expectations by miles!
In the past Paquette had completed several half and full Ironman distance events, along with the occasional marathon for training. She used endurance events as a way to test her determination to the limits as a tribute to her mother who passed away from cancer back in 2007. Originally given a prognosis of six months to live, Julie's mother fought with complete determination (and a bit of general stubbornness) to extend her life an additional five years. Knowing she had yet to fully push her own personal limits, Julie was inspired to make the leap to Ultra events and truly test just how far she could go. With the voice of her mother constantly reminding her in her head, "Quitting is not in your vocabulary!"
In order to make the leap from Iron distance to Ultra, Paquette knew she needed to make some changes. Her first step was coaching. She believed that when choosing a coach they had to possess not only knowledge towards race training, but experience completing the actual events as well. Her coach at the time was experienced with Ironman events, but had never completed anything more than that. He also lacked nutritional guidance, which when training for extreme distance events such as this one, was key! So Paquette decided to reach out to the Ultraman Florida Facebook page for guidance. She needed advice on all aspects of training, especially since she was at a bit of a disadvantage as it was currently winter for her and all training had to be indoors.
The Ultraman Florida Facebook page was where she initially connected with LifeSport Coach and Ultraman World Record holder Chuck Kemeny. Through the course of their correspondence, Kemeny was extremely generous with his advice and always willing to help. It wasn't until their communication progressed to phone conversations however, that Paquette made the realization that her long distance training assistance was not only from an actual coach, but an incredibly experienced athlete as well! This was perfect. Kemeny was everything she looked for in a coach. He had the knowledge, he had the experience, and his advice was always logical and practical. It was then that she reached out to him and asked him to be her coach. Their training focused on nutrition (workout and recovery), adapting the body to the increased mileage, finding recovery strategies that worked best, and implementing proper pacing and racing strategies.
Finally it was race weekend. Chuck, Julie, and her crew (including her dad, husband, sister, and close friend) made the trip to Orlando, Florida where they unknowingly prepared themselves for the experience of a life time.
Day one was comprised of a 6.2 mile swim and a 90 mile bike. Having been a competitive swimmer as a child, Julie planned to excel in the first aspect. Unfortunately, due to cold water temperatures causing her to shiver, Julie found herself struggling before she even reached the first mile of her swim. As she recounted, "It was a horrible swim with no way to warm-up. It was almost stressful� What if it gets worse and I can't keep going?" Needless to say, the race was not off to a good start. Thankfully Paquette had selected an amazing crew. Having her dad kayaking along with her and by her side as she exited the swim was extremely reassuring.
Despite a long transition between the swim and the bike, Julie was able to make up for some lost time. Similarly to being surprised with her swim performance, she was equally surprised by her biking. This time was a positive surprise though! Relative to other woman, Paquette had always felt that her weakest link was the bike. This was not evident however as she managed to catch up with the second woman out of the water ahead of her and was only 11 minutes behind the first.
Day two was the day Paquette realized she was a lot stronger than she ever thought she was. She started her ride along with everyone and by mile 20 had passed the leader. She excelled on the hills and executed everything exactly as her and Coach Chuck had practiced and trained for. Throughout the 171.4 mile ride, Julie's father (who used to be a competitive cyclist) was hesitant at her desire to maintain a faster than normal pace. Much to his surprise she managed to hold her pace for the entire duration and finished her day two ride in first place. Paquette was greeted by her father with tears of pride at the finish.
On the third and final day Julie found herself exhausted and was not looking forward to running the 52.4 miles. Within the first three miles she felt as though she should have been at mile 50! Thankfully this was just a case warming up and she quickly lost the feeling of heaviness in her legs. Due to the extremely warm temperatures that day, the main goal was to stay cool and hydrated throughout the race. Her crew worked relentlessly to keep her cool with ice, water, and sponges and consistently provide her with her sports drinks and nutrition to keep her energy up. Her crew also took turns rotating as pacers every two miles which helped make the time pass quicker. It wasn't until mile 44 that Paquette finally started looking forward to the race being over and done with. As a result of the help of an amazing crew and following Coach Chuck's advice to the letter, Julie went on to complete her run with a time of 10:05:38. She was met at the finish line by her coach while her crew and son joined her in the last half mile of her run.
As Paquette described, finishing the race and being able to share it with the people she loved most was such an incredible experience. In that moment there was nowhere else she wanted to be more. The realization of her accomplishment and win of the woman's title for Ultraman Florida 2015 took a little while to set in, but when it did she was even more grateful and blessed to have had such an amazing team and coach backing her the entire way.
Currently Paquette is registered for the Mont Tremblant half Ironman in June followed by the Lake Placid full Ironman in July. She also plans to crew for a friend at the Ultra 515 this year in Penticton. After an accomplishment such as this, another Ultra event is definitely in the future, with Hawaii 2016 looking promising. She also has a mile long bucket list of other races and events and hopefully a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro to plug away and keep her busy!!
CONGRATULATIONS JULIE!! Can't wait to see what you accomplish next!