Mike Roy of Moncton says his road to represent Canada in the ITU world triathlon championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands, this weekend started more than five years ago when a friend challenged him to lose a few pounds.
"After achieving a 30-pound weight loss I knew that I needed to find some new goals — otherwise I may put it back on," Roy told Information Morning Moncton.
'Growing up I always wanted to wear the maple leaf in competition.' - Mike Roy, Moncton triathlete
That's when he turned his attention to triathlons, a sport he had always watched from afar.
"It looked like something interesting and I ran into a friend who was doing it who said, 'Why don't you come out and train with us.'
"And the rest is history."
Roy competed in his first triathlon in the summer of 2013. Even though he fell short of his goal by about a minute, he knew it was the sport for him and he set out to qualify for a world championship.
"If you want big change you have to set big goals — and I knew it was going to be something that was going to take years to achieve, not months," said Roy, now 48.
"Growing up I always wanted to wear the maple leaf in competition. When I was a younger man I was always a competitive athlete, but injuries and life kind of got in the way so it's pretty sweet to be here."
Training is 'kinetic meditation'
Roy said when people hear he is a triathlete, they usually think of the punishing Iron Man race that ends with a marathon, but he competes in the sprint distance event, which includes a 750-metre swim, a 20-kilometre bicycle ride and a five-kilometre run.
He calls the shorter distance "intense" and said his fastest time so far is just over one hour and five minutes.
"I love the day-to-day training," Roy said. "I call it my kinetic meditation time.
"All of your daily issues get parked for an hour or two while you focus on your breathing and how your muscles are firing, and it's a very Zen thing once you get into it, and I think that's a big part of what keeps me going."
Personal best in sight
Roy qualified for the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in the 45-to-49 age category by winning a race in Summerside, P.E.I., in the summer of 2016 and since then has taken his training and nutrition to a new level.
He hired Moncton coach Cedric Boily and said it has paid off.
'I was almost 250 pounds at one point — the middle-age spread had hit, but at this point I'm expecting to set a new personal best while I'm over there and I believe that. - Mike Roy
It's proved to be very, very worthwhile for me. I've been achieving personal bests in every race since then."
"I managed to take almost four and a half minutes off the time so far from the qualifier last year. ... I'm really excited about that."
When he dives into the Maas River on Sunday in Rotterdam he is confident his 15 hours of training per week, and the 65 pounds he has now lost in total, will pay off at the finish line in his first international race.
"I was almost 250 pounds at one point — the middle-age spread had hit, but at this point I'm expecting to set a new personal best while I'm over there and I believe that.
"The people that are in the sport are an amazing group of super positive and genuine people who are out to help each other get better — it's a really addictive place to spend some time."