Dr. William Vu and Dr. Andrew Madej have been doing triathlons for over a decade. When we first started competing in triathlons, the two of us would complete in 6-8 races per season. This year with our recent major renovation at our dental office, we decided to focus on the 70.3 Calgary Ironman Triathlon; which consists of a 2km swim, 90km cycling and 21km run.
As dentists, we have a rewarding but busy profession. Lately it has been even busier with the renovations at Foothills Dental to upgrade and update the dental centre to provide better technologies, amenities and patient comfort. We will be the first dental office in the Yellowhead County to own a CT scanner! Now that our renovations are completed we can now focus more on our training!
The 70.3 Calgary Ironman Triathlon is a race that we have never competed in before so the novelty is exciting. Their website states that the rolling terrain and clear blue waters where the swim event is held and the views of Western Canada’s Rocky Mountains during the cycling and running events make this race one of the most scenic on the IRONMAN circuit.
This course is one of the most challenging in the IRONMAN 70.3 series and has been voted one of the top-ten most scenic triathlons in the world by Triathlete Magazine.
Athletes will begin with a 1.2-mile wave-start, one-loop swim that will start and finish at the beach of Auburn Bay Lake in south Calgary. A 56-mile bike course will take cyclists point-to-point through a tour of Southern Alberta’s ranch country, featuring views of the Rockies. The course is challenging, but fast. The 13.1-mile run is an out-and-back paved run course through the beautiful pathways of Glenmore Park that will take athletes along the Elbow River in the urban Weaselhead Natural Area. The run course will test athletes with two challenging hills.
Training in the Hinton and Jasper National Park is great preparation for the challenging course since there are an abundance of hills and challenging terrain to train on. Right now the water is still too cold to swim in lakes. We have been training weekly at the pool and have already trained up to the 2km distance. Our goal now is to increase our speed and endurance. Once it warms up, we will be training at the lakes with our triathlon wetsuits. Swimming in open water is very different compared to the pool as there are no lanes to guide you and you have to contend with the cold water fogging your googles, choppy water, and finding a space to swim amongst all the triathletes without being hit in the face by moving hands or kicked in the head by legs of other swimmers.
We love cycling in Jasper National Park since there are so many roadways with beautiful vistas of the mountains, streams and forest. There are plenty of hills to test our quads and lungs! One of our favourite route is cycling to Maligne Lake, not only because of the beautiful sceneries but we have also seen black bears, moose, bald eagles and mountain sheep.
The most challenging part of the triathlon is the transition area where you have to change out of your sport attire for one event and prepare for the next event as quickly as possible! It is always more challenging to transition from a swim to the bike during a race because you are giving it all and are often cold and hypoxic coming out of the water. During the IRONMAN events they have people who are called “strippers.” After exiting the lake, you unzip the top of your wetsuit and lay down on the ground. The strippers would come and grab your wetsuit and yank as hard as they can to remove your wetsuit. You would then run to the transition zone and get ready for the bike event. Without proper “rehearsal training” and strategic placements of different equipment and gears at the transition area, it could be frustrating and you could lose valuable time.
The most rewarding part of the triathlon events is always crossing the finish line. We feel a sense of self-accomplishment, knowing how hard it was to train for the 70.3 IRONMAN triathlon, especially with a very busy profession. What is unique about us is that we take a lot of professional continuing education courses and programs. As dentists we have to take 30 hours of continuing education but each of us has been taking over 200 hours each year, over the last decade. This has allowed us to provide comprehensive care under one roof, often saving our patients the time and effort of travelling to Edmonton to see a specialist. Having one dental office know a patient’s dental health, needs and history is important for continuity of care. In dental school they only have time to teach students the basics of dentistry. It is up to each dentist to taking continuing education courses to further their knowledge and skills. Our general dentists at Foothills Dental have the training to place implants, reconstruct jaw defects with bone grafts, regenerate gum tissue for gum recession, provide iv sedation for patient comfort, treat malocclusions with braces to name a few.
We have always been used to working hard and being busy while in University. Although we had obligatory family matters to attend to while attending the Dentistry Program, we were able to achieve high academic standards. Andrew’s dad suffered from congestive heart failure and eventually passed away from heart disease. William’s dad had a long battle with lymphoma which eventually metastased to the lungs. We had to be responsible at a young age with strong work ethics since we had to care for our fathers, drive them to medical appointments for tests and treatment, while excelling at the same time in school. Taking care of people comes naturally to us and that is why we both gravitated towards the health care profession. We are very passionate about dentistry and give 110% of ourselves to caring for our patients. Our experiences with caring for our fathers also made us realized how important our health is and that is why we maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. Training for our triathlon event allows us to stay healthy so that we have the energy and can better focus on caring for patients.