by Patrick Janukavicius
It’s hard to know where to begin listing the accomplishments of Quebec-based Annie Gervais. The mother of two works full-time as an emergency room doctor in addition to racing as a pro triathlete. Gervais won the inaugural ITU Winter Triathlon in Quebec City this past March. The two-time Long Distance Canadian Champion has also been on the podium at a number of Ironman 70.3 races, including Mont-Tremblant, Timberman, Syracuse, Austin and Rhode Island. Most recently she was third at Challenge St. Andrews in July.
Triathlon Magazine Canada: What are your goals for this season?
Annie Gervais: My biggest goal is to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Tremblant. The women’s professional circuit is getting stronger and stronger every year.
TMC: What accomplishments are you most proud of in your career?
AG: I am most proud of is being able to balance being a mother, a doctor and a triathlete. In 2010, I finished in third at Syracuse. My daughter was nine months old and I crossed the finish line with her in my arms. To have come back after a second pregnancy and still make the podium was a great moment.
TMC: What does it take to balance a demanding medical career with training, racing and parenting?
AG: I have great support. My husband is very helpful and my parents live close by. I try to include my older daughter in my training when I run and she swims with me twice a week. The club where I train also has coaching for kids.
TMC: What motivates you?
AG: That’s something that you just have in you, to be competitive and want to keep getting better.
TMC: How do you stay focused in a race when you hit a rough patch or you’re having a bad day?
AG: I have certain key words or phrases that I like to repeat. I ignore the negative thoughts and just focus on what I’m doing. Often, even when things feels really hard, it is just a matter of minutes and they shift and get better, so I just try to push through. On the bike the words I repeat to myself are “power” and “ease.” On the run it’s “turn-over” and “relax.” For the swim I repeat, “get long.”
TMC: Who has influenced your career?
AG: I’ve always had tremendous respect for Chrissie Wellington. She’s obviously a fantastic athlete but also a very gracious person who brought a lot of positive attention to the sport of triathlon. I really like how she always trained by feel.
TMC: How did you get involved with the 2014 ITU Winter Triathlon in Quebec City?
AG: I heard about the race in September and I was very interested. Growing up I figure skated for 15 years at the provincial level. I took up cross-country skiing a few years ago. Triathlon Quebec announced a winter series “La Coupe Des Neiges” and I participated in all the events. I did three races before Quebec City which really helped me learn the technical aspect and figure out the transitions.
TMC: Will you do the Winter Triathlon Series next year?
AG: Yes, for sure. I will do all the races in Quebec. There’s also supposed to be an ITU race in France and I hope to compete there. I’m very excited about this new sport. It looks like it will become very popular over the next few years.