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From the Other Side of the Triathlon: A Message from our Win4Youth Ambassador Anne

The Win4Youth program brings Adecco Group employees, associates and clients together to share their passion for sport and to have a positive impact on the lives of young people around the world. Anne Nguyen was one of two members of our Canadian Adecco Group family selected to represent the Win4Youth program in October’s Ocean Lava triathlon in Lanzarote, Spain. Here is Anne’s last blog as 2018’s Win4Youth ambassador.

After the triathlon, I was able to reflect on the reason I wanted to become a Win4Youth ambassador. Growing up, I was heavily focused on academics and never truly got to experience what it was like to participate in extracurricular sports or group activities. Because of this, I have always felt like I missed out on being part of a community that wasn’t made up of my immediate family or friends. Even though I was hesitant, I jumped at the opportunity to apply for the Win4Youth ambassadorship because I knew it would help me get active and expand my connections within the Adecco Group globally.

This program has far exceeded my expectations. Not only was I able to complete an Olympic-distance triathlon, I made lifelong friends from all around the world. Together, we conquered the hardest bike course in the history of Win4Youth which created an unbreakable bond between us (#weareWin4Youth and #alumniproud for life!). Even though my journey as a 2018 Win4Youth ambassador is nearly over, I am still going to help motivate and be a voice for the underdogs. After all, if this couch potato can turn into an athlete, you truly are capable of anything you put your mind to!

Journey to Lanzarote

After the training camp in Ghent, Belgium, I was tasked with training five days a week for the following five months. I literally went from sleeping in as long as possible to waking up at 4am every morning to train before work. While I had the guidance of my coach, it was truly up to me to push myself through those sessions. I am not going to lie and say those five months were easy. There were days when I felt I was on top of the world and other days when I truly struggled because I was sick or was simply just tired.

But through all the trials and tribulations, I was able to learn some valuable lessons. The first lesson I learned — and kept getting tested on — was listening to my body. I always felt terrible for missing sessions, but I quickly learned that rest was what I needed. And I always came back even stronger than I was before — go figure!

The second lesson was to trust the process and not compare my journey with anyone else’s. The other ambassadors were hitting some major goals when it came to their training. I couldn’t believe how much faster than me they were at swimming or biking! But I had to learn to not compare myself to them. This was by far the hardest lesson for me as I feared I would not be good enough to complete the triathlon. I realized (with a few reminders from my coach, of course) that this was my journey and I needed to focus on myself and not what others were doing.

What I didn’t realize when I signed up for the program was how much these five months would change who I am. The person that started this journey is nowhere near the person that I am today. I have made changes to my life that can be seen in both my personal and professional life. I am more confident, driven and know that no matter what comes my way, I can push past my comfort zone and accomplish anything. This program and the support that I have received from #teamanne continues to push me to be a better person every day.

Reunion of a lifetime

I was counting down the days until I got to see the other ambassadors again. I may be biased but the 2018 Win4Youth Ambassadors are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. I’ve never met a group of people who rallied so much for each other. Even though we lived in different countries, I never once felt like I wasn’t supported or didn’t have anyone to lean on. Supporting each other was easy and looking back now, I realized the support started in Ghent and didn’t end until the last person crossed the finish line in Lanzarote.

An alumnus organized a group swim in the ocean the first morning we were in Lanzarote. When I left Canada, the mere thought of swimming in the ocean made me feel sick to my stomach. I knew I had to conquer my fear of the ocean and swimming in the open water. What didn’t help my fears was my experience with open water swimming during training. I freaked out each time, so I knew there was no way I would be able to stay calm in the ocean. Everything I feared was quickly dispelled that morning as I had the encouragement and support of my fellow ambassadors. It was after that swim that I realized that I was more than ready for the swim. All the training I did prepared me for it and the only thing I had to worry about were the fish touching my body.

Anne riding her bike.

When thinking about Lanzarote and the three triathlon events I’d be participating in, I thought I was most prepared for the biking portion. However, when we drove on a small part of the bike course before the triathlon, it made me realize how far from the truth that was. The hills I trained on in Calgary paled in comparison to the hills on that short drive. Our trainers told us that if we needed to, it would not be frowned upon to get off our bike and walk. I had so many negative thoughts flood my mind that evening and into the next day on our bike ride. The hills were slightly challenging, and the thought of the steepest hill made me rethink why I wanted to do a triathlon in the first place.

The day before the triathlon went by so quickly. We rode our bikes to the transition zone, did our swim tests and indulged in a pasta dinner. I was excited, happy and nervous all at the same time. I couldn’t believe the day had finally come for us to put all our training into practice.

October 27, 2018 – Ocean Lava Triathlon

We left the hotel at 6:30am and got to the transition zone in the dark. Everyone was calm and quiet. I didn’t feel nervous until I was standing on the beach. I am so proud to say I was able to swim front crawl the entire distance, which I thought I would never be able to do. It’s funny how the one thing I feared the most is now probably one of the things I miss the most. For those of you who don’t want to apply because you fear the water or can’t swim, rest assured you will be okay in the ocean. Your training combined with adrenaline and your wetsuit will turn you into a mermaid/merman.

Despite my misgivings about the bike course from earlier in the week, it ended up being my favourite leg of the triathlon, even though I nearly choked on my chocolate protein bar during my transition from swimming to biking. Note to all future ambassadors: avoid chocolate protein bars to refuel because it will melt all over your fingers and make it impossible to chew as quickly as possible and you’ll get your picture taken with your mouth full of food.

But even with sticky fingers and a messy face, I was ready to face my fears… or at least, I had no other choice but to face my fears of the hilly bike course. As I was riding, I felt great. I kept waiting to get to the steepest hill and when I realized I conquered it, I felt like Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic: I was “King of the World!” When I think back to the bike course, I have to say the greatest part was passing the other ambassadors. No matter what part of the course I was on, each time one of us passed one another, we would cheer each other on. The energy was amazing and that’s what got me through each hill. During my training, I got really scared going down hills as it was “too fast” for me. As a result, I always used my brakes to slow myself down on every hill. But I figured this was the time for me to take the chance and go as fast as I possibly could. So I did. My greatest accomplishment on the bike was being able to go down a hill at 61 km/hour. Nothing makes you feel more alive than conquering one of your biggest fears!

As I was cruising down one of the last few hills, I looked up to admire the scenery. In the distance, I saw the ocean, and in that moment, I realized how grateful I was for this opportunity and experience.

The run was the last leg and it was far from easy. I had just come off riding a bike for over two hours and the sun was beaming. I didn’t hydrate enough (sorry body!) and I was really starting to feel the fatigue. But I knew I had to keep going. I was so close — I could see the finish line! Now was not the time to give up. So I pushed myself. I was also encouraged by fellow athletes I didn’t even know. The great thing about this sport, in my opinion, is that everyone is competing against themselves. You are and will always be your biggest competitor so it’s up to you to decide how far and fast you want to push yourself.

I also luckily had some help during my last kilometer; thank you to the stranger who helped push me a little harder. He encouraged me to keep going and before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line. In the excitement of finishing, I forgot to take it all in and the details are slightly blurry. I do remember saying over and over “I can’t believe I did. I actually did it!” I might have said it in the Adecco Group’s Chief Executive Officer Alain Dehaze’s ear while hugging him maybe a little too long but there literally is no better feeling than knowing you have accomplished something that you have worked so hard for.

The words that I have written throughout this blog don’t even begin to fully describe what this experience has been for me. I challenge all of you to push yourself out of your comfort zone. I once read a quote that said: “Your comfort zone is a beautiful place… but nothing grows there.” Keep growing and keep reaching for the stars because the sky’s the limit! I have been asked if this is where it ends. And the answer to that is no. This is just the beginning for me. I have set so many goals in 2019 that I want to #ANNEihilate including competing in an Ironman 70.3 with some of my new friends for life. Win4Youth has changed my outlook on life. See what it can do for you. Take the leap and apply as a 2019 Win4Youth Ambassador. I guarantee you will not regret it!

Lēad Blog is part of Adecco and Roevin Canada. Find and apply to your dream job, or get more career advice from our experts.

#Win4Youth: An update from triathlon training camp

The Win4Youth program brings Adecco Group employees, associates and clients together to share their passion for sport and to have a positive impact on the lives of young people around the world. Anne Nguyen is one of two members of our Canadian Adecco Group family selected to represent the Win4Youth program at the Ocean Lava triathlon in Lanzarote, Spain. Here, she talks about her experience at the Adecco Group training camp in Ghent, Belgium, which helped prepare her for the triathlon in October.  

Training camp in Belgium was nothing like I expected but everything I could have wanted. In the days leading up to the training camp, I was extremely nervous that I wasn’t at the level I wanted to be with swimming, running or biking. I regretted not starting my training sooner as I felt that I wasn’t on par with the other ambassadors. But that feeling quickly went away when I started training with my fellow ambassadors. Everyone was so supportive and the trainers catered to each participant’s level. Truly, everyone was on their own journey. What made it even better was that everyone cheered each other on. Just imagine: 74 ambassadors from 34 different countries all coming together and rooting for each other!

And that’s what really helped me during my time in Belgium. Over the four days I spent in Ghent, I achieved so much more than I thought I could thanks to the valuable instruction and advice from talented trainers, incredible support from my fellow ambassadors, and a whole lot of hard work!

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And now for a message from our Canadian Win4Youth Ambassadors!

The Win4Youth program brings The Adecco Group employees, associates and clients together to share their passion for sport and to have a positive impact on the lives of young people around the world.  At the end of October, we’re excited to have 2 members of our Adecco Group family join 70 colleagues from around the world at the first ever Win4Youth Triathlon, powered by Oceanlava, in Lanzarote, Spain.

Anne Nguyen and Christian Robert are Canada’s representatives on the North American team. They were selected for their passion for Win4Youth, social media and fundraising efforts, and their dedication to The Adecco Group core values. Below, Anne and Christian tell us about their individual journeys to become Win4Youth ambassadors.

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Win4Youth 2017 | The Year of Opportunities & Challenges

As the weather gets warmer outside, Win4Youth nestles deeper into the hearts of all colleagues at Adecco. For the eighth year in a row, colleagues all over the globe will be taking part in sporting events and individual athletic pursuits — united behind a great cause of giving disadvantaged youth around the world a brighter future.

And to celebrate Canada150, we’re encouraging each and every colleague to complete 150km this year. It’s ambitious, but with the dedication of Adecco’s colleagues, clients and associates — we know we can reach it!

To champion the cause, each country elects a deserving ambassador to organize athletic events, encourage teammates and eventually participate in in the Gavà Triathlon in Spain this September. We are thrilled to announce Canada’s 2017 Win4Youth Athletic Ambassador: Genevieve Ferlatte, Branch Manager – Montreal!

Genevieve will spend months training for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and will document her progress and journey here on Lēad Blog. We are confident that she will apply the same tenacity, dedication and winning attitude to her Win4Youth ambassadorship as she does to her branch.

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Win4Youth 2016 | 2 Weeks Before Ocean Lava

Tracy Rocca—Adecco’s VP of Partnerships— learned in April that she was selected to represent Canada as our Win4Youth ambassador for 2016. Before starting her journey, she had never completed a triathlon and could barely swim. But it was Tracy’s passion, tenacity and commitment to the cause that made her the frontrunner for this year’s ambassadorship.

In just 2 weeks, Tracy and 72 other Adecco ambassadors from across the world will be participating in the Ocean Lava Lanzarote Triathlon in Spain. The event will mark the finale to the 2016 Win4Youth Initiative: a 10-month long journey in which Adecco employees, Associates and clients across the world run, swim and cycle to accumulate mileage towards a collective kilometer goal. Once the goal is met, Adecco makes a substantial donation to various global foundations that support disadvantaged children and their families. This year, we’re jogging, swimming and biking towards an ambitious 3,500,000km goal!

Below are Tracy’s reflections as she gears up for Spain.


It’s hard to believe that in 2 short weeks I will be competing in the big event for which I have been training for over 4 months: the Ocean Lava Triathlon in Lanzarote, Spain.

The last 4 months have been an absolute whirlwind of activity. In addition to my kids, concentrated training schedules and daily life, this is also the busiest time of year in Partnerships, as—for the most part—our clients ramp in Q3 and Q4.  Finding the time to fit in intensified training has been challenging as I need to make sure I am available to our onsite clients, support my staff and continue my Win4Youth responsibilities.  I’m not sure how, but so far—I’m right on track.

It’s the support I receive from my friends, colleagues and family that keeps me committed to the program. One of my favorite moments throughout this journey was when I first rode my bike on the road and I could hear loud music blasting behind me. As I was trying to stay on my bike, I thought “turn your music down!” Then I heard a familiar voice:  “GO MOM GO!” It was my son following me in the car playing the Rocky theme song…Gonna fly now!

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After the Belgium training camp and my last post, the other Global ambassadors and I were given a 6 week training schedule (to start).  As intensive as it seemed, I was still unsure about how I was going to be truly ready for this huge event in 4 months. Well, I approached it like any large project: breaking it up into baby steps. I started with cycling for an hour, running for 30 minutes, learning to swim—and gradually increased each activity and intensity level.

As my endurance and time has increased over the last 4 months, so has my confidence…for the most part.  But I have also had a few dips in the road.  There have been some practice triathlons (which I call baby tri’s) that I have entered.  The first one was in August. I was so confident going in but after about 5 seconds in the open water, I had a panic attack.  However, I was able to lean on my mental training, calmed down and swam the whole thing! I was one of the slowest people that day—based on my doggy paddle and back crawl—but I proudly made it out!  The bike and the run were pretty awesome but that swim was tracy_hockeymy wakeup call. I went the very next day to the Caledon Triathlon Club and chatted—well, pleaded—with their head coach to give me some lessons.  It’s funny how the same message stated in a different way can change everything.  I now can swim in my new 2,000m “pool” (the quarry in Caledon) at a very leisurely and relaxed pace.

Not only can I swim 2,000m (in just over an hour), but I can also ride my bike on the hills in Caledon for 3 hours or more (and amass 70km in W4Y mileage) and run 10km in just over an hour.  That is where training has gotten me today. Every week I take part in about 10–12 hours of training and have added hockey recently as well!

I leave in a week for the journey of a lifetime. Our North American team is 11 people strong and I have become so close to all of them. I am filled with pride at my accomplishments and am overwhelmed by the gratitude that I feel for Adecco in supporting me through all of this.  I get goosebumps every time I realized that every single kilometer that my colleagues, clients, Associates and I take gives dollars to our supported charities that provide better lives and opportunities for youth around the world. And that’s what this is all about.

I can’t wait to see all the other ambassadors in Spain and run this amazing race with them…Let’s go Win 4 Youth!

About Adecco’s Win4Youth Initiative:

Win_4_Youth_RGB LogoNow in its seventh year, Win4Youth supports foundations giving children and families in need a better start in life. Since its inception, Win4Youth has raised over $2 million USD for youth charities through sports events organized in more than 60 countries, involving thousands of Adecco employees, Associates and clients around the world. In 2016, we will be swimming, cycling and running to reach the goal of 3,500,000 kilometers. The combined kilometer count will be converted into a donation to 9 foundations, supporting abandoned, orphaned or sick children, helping families from disadvantaged communities and assisting civilian victims of natural disasters, wars and economic collapse. Adecco employees will also be volunteering at the foundations, helping them in daily operations and learning first-hand how Win4Youth supports their work.

More about Adecco’s global Win4Youth initiative and how you can get involved can be found at: www.win4youth.com | https://www.facebook.com/win4youth/

Win4Youth 2016 | Solidarity Day: 1 day, a Lifetime of Change

By now, our loyal readers know all about Adecco’s Global Win4Youth Initiative— currently in its 7th year. Adecco employees, Associates and clients run, swim and cycle throughout the year to contribute to each country’s mileage goal. If they meet it, Adecco Group gives a sizeable donation to various foundations supporting disadvantaged communities and youth development around the world.

In Canada, our 2016 goal is to reach a whopping 60,000kms and this past Tuesday— July 19th—every single one of Adecco’s 40+ branches and offices across the country helped us get there by taking part in our annual Solidarity Day.

The day started off with speeches and words of encouragement from our President and Country Manager—Sandra Hokansson, and our 2016 Canadian Win4Youth Ambassador—Tracy Rocca. The speeches were delivered out of our Toronto HQ but were broadcast live through Periscope for all to hear. These inspirational words were followed by a heartfelt rendition of the official Win4Youth song. Being the land of Celine Dion and Neil Young, we had to show off our singing (and swaying) chops: “One soul, one vibe, one team, one goal!”

W4Y_baby_strolled2

 

After lunch, our 400+ Adecco Colleagues from coast to coast departed from their respective offices to take either a 1.5km, 5km or 10km scenic route through their city streets, towns or neighborhoods. Colleagues walked, jogged, sprinted, rode, ran, biked or “strolled” in unison with their fellow co-workers from across the country—all to benefit this year’s chosen youth foundations.

The W4Y branded t-shirts, water bottles, canteens and temporary tattoos we donned also helped bring awareness to the initiative as the teams snaked around the chosen routes. Pictures from across the country piled in on social media through the #W4Y hashtag of Adecco Colleagues painting their towns red for the cause.

canada-map-w4y-2016

From 1.5km power walks to 10k races among friends, each employee brought Canada closer to reaching its 2016 National Goal. Solidarity Day had a tremendous impact on our rankings. The day alone added 2,165kms to Canada’s tally and 30 new Colleagues signed up to track their mileage!

Our 2016 goal is to reach 60,000kms by the end of the year. We’re right on track by being half way there at 37,438kms and counting!

 

Win4Yout Goal Tracker

 

Thank you to everyone for making Solidarity Day such a success.

For more on Adecco’s Win4Youth Initiative, visit: http://www.win4youth.com