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Amber takes on Alberta Ironman: “Anything worth conquering is always on the other side of hard”

January 20, 2022

Conquering something as difficult as an Ironman has helped me reflect on other aspects of my life. The thing about a triathlon, actually the thing about anything, is you feel like you’re doing it all on your own. It’s you motivating yourself, but having my family there reminded me that in both my personal life and my work life, I’m never actually alone.

On Sunday, August 1, 2021, I got on a bike and started what would be a long day: the Calgary, Alberta Half Ironman. A 90-kilometre cycle and 21-kilometre run lay ahead.* Eight hours and eight minutes later, I crossed the finish line.

Amber on a bike

After running a marathon in 2016, I had decided I was done with running. But in November 2020 I had been laid off from my previous job and was looking for something to do. When my partner suggested we sign up, I did it without even thinking about it. I’m a competitive person and wanted to see what I was capable of.

Even with months of arduous training behind me—gyms closed and a freezing winter followed by a smoky spring due to wildfires—it wasn’t until the day before the race that I realized what I was up against. When we went to drop off our bikes, it suddenly felt like an insurmountable task. Thankfully my cousin called and said just what I needed to hear: “Anything worth conquering is always on the other side of hard.”

It took five hours to complete the cycling portion of the race. By the time I got to the run, it was 32 degrees Celsius and smoky. There were a lot of elements at play. I ended up walking more on the first part of the run than I had intended. On the way back from my first lap, I turned a corner and saw my dad clapping and the rest of my family. It meant so much, because it was really hard. I ran the second lap, but the third and final lap was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life.

One of my favourite parts of the race was watching people pick themselves up. So many people get off their bikes, carry them to the top of the hill, walk with their friends and just keep going. My dad running with me was one of many family members who stepped off the sidelines to help.

It reminds me of PwC Canada. My colleagues are genuinely invested in each other. Starting a job in a virtual world and onboarding from home can be difficult. But my team has shown they care—they want to know how I’m doing inside and outside the office. It’s not something you come across every day.

Amber joined the PwC Canada Communications team as a senior associate in March 2021.

*Typically the Half Ironman race also includes a 2-kilometre swim. Because of inconsistent training conditions due to COVID-19, athletes were given the option to forgo the swim portion of the race. Amber and her partner chose not to swim on race day, but instead completed 2 kilometres in a pool during the week leading up to the race.