Thank you for stopping in!
My name is Julie, and welcome to my inaugural blog post!
Triathlon. What an amazing sport encompassed by amazing people! I tip my hat to all of you - whether you've completed multiple Ironmans or just finished your first sprint. If you've never done one and are considering it, you'll find it's a pretty welcoming group! The goal of this blog is to promote the sport and more specifically, promote the people who make it what it is. The Yearbook section features competitors and people involved from around the Twin Cities area (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN), telling mini stories, giving race accounts, or simply random thoughts. :-)
Stephanie, Vanessa, Jean, Zach, Mitchell, and Rob were great sports and so fun to meet! I suspect they will be joined on the blog with many more examples of the positive, fun people you'll find here. In addition to the Yearbook, you'll find videos from the races, as well as longer featured stories. If you or someone you know has a story you would like to share - please contact me at email@example.com!
This blog is not about me - It's about you.
...But this next section is about me. ;-)
To give you my background and how I got to this point, we need to go back a few years...
After I sold my car to pay for passage to Alaska, as my excellent transition plan from college into adulthood, I may have returned to Florida a bit short on cash. I decided to go back to my college gig, working on the golf course. Job? Check. Transportation? Well, I decided that biking would be an excellent option, since the area was spread out and had very little public transportation. This was an interesting choice for me, because although I was decently athletic and played sports in high school, I had done very little in the way of running or biking in college. (Clarification. I ran a few times, but still thought 3 miles was more than anyone should run. ever. I think the last time I had biked was junior high.) The $300 Trek mountain bike I purchased with the few funds I had became my horse. :-) This would suffice for a few paychecks.
I did not expect the transformation that started to occur. I could feel myself naturally getting stronger and faster on the bike, almost mindlessly. Even though the distances I was riding were usually only 2-6 miles at a time, the consistency seemed to really be paying off! I wasn't exactly looking for exercise momentum, but this was kind of a high! Meanwhile, I was struggling with the fact that I was working where I had worked in college. I knew I needed to move on, but wasn't exactly sure how.
Fast forward, I'd been bike commuting for a few months, and in an attempt to teach myself discipline I made a commitment to wake up at 5:30am, bike to the beach (6 miles away), and run for 15 minutes straight. I had been doing this a couple of weeks and was relaying my excitement to my brother, who was also starting out "as an adult." He too started committing himself to certain physical challenges and running. Then one day, I ran into someone I'd met before, and they suggested I do the local triathlon. Since I was already running and biking, it seemed like throwing a 400m swim in the mix wouldn't be too bad! (Nevermind the fact that I have major water phobias and had not been in the ocean more than 15 feet off shore. I recall many swimming lessons that involved me beelining it for the side wall due to drowning fears.)
I was completely IN! I felt like I had a purpose, a tangible ambition - I could really do something meaningful to me during a time in my life that I felt a bit lost. I didn't care about working at what I considered sub par employment. I was in training, that's what mattered, that's who I was. I had found an identity I could get on board with and even feel great about! I LOVED talking shop to anyone who was willing to sacrifice themselves to do so. :-) Lucky for me, my brother was going through the same thing. In fact, when I mentioned he sign up for the tri with me, he not only said absolutely, he signed up for a sprint that weekend "just to see what it's like."
Nearing race day. My brother ventured over from the east coast, and we were ready. The feeling of just walking through the transition area as the sun was coming up just felt so "big". It felt like we were doing something epic, and yet it was 13.6 miles in total - 5k, 10 mi, 400m. We start right at the front, then I try to back into the line a bit, knowing I'm not exactly taking home prize money. This was a reverse tri, so running was first. Everyone started out so fast! I tried to keep pace to the best of my ability, which I did ok with, but not without difficulty. I was worried I'd be spent. I survived. On to the bike. Wow. That felt incredible. As mentioned above, I owned a mountain bike, but just for the race, I rented a carbon fiber road bike from the Trek store. Oh my - I was riding on air!! I have never felt a thrill like I did when I jumped on that bike. I felt strong and fast. As I passed people, I imagined it as a ladder, and I kept repeating to myself "climb it up, climb it up." The glory of the bike ended, with nothing short of impending doom awaiting me in the water. It IS funny though, when you are in a crowd of people, how something you would never do on your own suddenly seems possible. I think the kayaks in the water helped with that as well. ;-) I dove right in! I started with my freestyle stroke like a boss...for three strokes. I then panicked and began doing the breaststroke. My wonderful and loving mother, kindly informed me that I had the appearance of a bobber - that they couldn't exactly make out whether I had forward motion or not. Anyway. I did have enough forward motion to get me across the finish line, thankfully. ;-)
I can honestly say there are very few things in my life that have had the same impact on me as what lead up to that first race and the race itself. The best part of my day was when I was biking!! Gyms never appealed to me - trying to squeeze 30 minutes into my day out of duty fell flat. I have an experience when I'm outside. I can't say I'm driven by "this is what I should do" in and of itself. Quite the contrary, I do things I shouldn't do, all too frequently. I AM driven by passion and purpose. When I see the building blocks start to stack up, I want to keep them going. Nothing builds momentum like momentum. I think we get that spark that allows us to even consider giving something a shot, and there are some forced growing pains, but then there comes a point when you don't work as hard to make it a priority, you want it to be a priority, it comes more naturally and you find yourself compelled.
Life has taken me in many directions - many learning experiences along the way. I find myself today back at square one. However this time, I'm in Minnesota ( technically I live in Wisconsin), I work full time, I have a 45 minute commute to work, and I'm married instead of single, so it's going to be a bit different. I made an appearance at some of the sprint tri's for the last couple of years in this area, as well as an olympic tri and half iron duathlon in other states, but I didn't really train aside from a few workouts. Although I loved the atmosphere, I felt pretty icky about it. It wasn't a good feeling to walk in unprepared. It really is the training that matters. It's the training where all the lessons and growth come from - the race is just the icing on the cake! What I learned from that first experience is what I hope to use as my spring board. I fluctuate between very disciplined and very lazy. I have moments of existential crisis from time to time. I have the tendency to doubt and question myself, and my monkey mind often gets the best of me - but progress not perfection. :-) The stories told from the Kona Ironman coverage make me cry. It's incredible to hear what people have overcome to get there, and it's obvious that their reasons for being there are what kept them going. It's truly the WHY that drives us.