Cheryl Vianzon – Stories from the Finish Line

Cheryl Vianzon

Like many working mothers, Cheryl Vianzon dedicated herself to training, learning, and hoping that her hard work would impart valuable lessons to her children. She loved being a homemaker and raising a family but desired fulfillment beyond that.

Participating in IRONMAN races and triathlons had given her something to take pride in. Initially, she had worked as a nurse in the Neuroscience Unit at Foothills Hospital in Canada for a year after graduating. However, her stint didn't last long. Around the same time, she had to leave her position as a Nursing Officer reservist in the Military because she had a daughter and couldn't fulfill the commitments. Her spouse's work in the field meant that he wouldn't be available when she had to go to work.

Eventually, she found solace in personal training, allowing her to work flexible hours that accommodated her family's schedule. Sometimes, she felt guilty about having given up so much to pursue her dream of having a wonderful family, especially considering her own upbringing as an only child raised by a single mother who worked long hours. Wanting a family had always been deeply ingrained in her, but she hadn't fully grasped the extent of the sacrifices she would have to make. Achieving a successful career seemed out of reach because she couldn't afford to take time away from her family, and the support available from her extended family, located in different provinces, was minimal. The high cost of childcare further added to the challenge. Cheryl was torn between two worlds, one she dearly loved and one she yearned for.

She found herself even farther away from her family. With her children now attending school full-time, she couldn't work due to being on a TD visa in Canada, while her husband was the only one with a work visa. During a period when her husband was laid off for nine months, she seized the opportunity and applied for a job as a police officer. Becoming a police officer had been another dream of hers, one that she and many others believed she would excel in. She truly believed she was embarking on a new career, albeit a bit later in life, where she could establish herself.

However, her husband received a job offer in California after nine months of unemployment. She made the difficult decision to follow him and keep the family together, prioritizing their unity over a career as a police officer. This turn of events left her feeling both angry and sad, making her question her self-worth.

It was during this challenging time that triathlons entered her life. Engaging in the sport kept her occupied and helped her escape feelings of worthlessness. Each time she completed a race, she felt a sense of accomplishment. Though she hadn't been participating for long, she knew she had to tackle the ultimate challenge—an IRONMAN race. Reaching that Finish Line would serve as a declaration to the world of her true worth.

She eagerly awaited the opportunity to complete her very first IRONMAN, relishing the energy of the crowd. The voice at the finish line would affirm that her choices in life were the right ones because she was there, with a beautiful and supportive family by her side. Despite the mixed emotions she experienced, she firmly believed that she was an extraordinary person—intelligent, accomplished, and capable.

Thus, she expressed her heartfelt gratitude to Mike Reilly, recognizing him as a guiding light in her life and in the lives of others who may forget their own amazing qualities. She eagerly anticipated hearing his voice as she crossed the Finish Line, validating all the rigorous training she had put in and was currently enduring. And she did hear those words - “Cheryl Vianzon, You are an IRONMAN!”