Ironman first made its mark on Julie Moss back in 1982, 35 years ago. Since then she has watched the sunrise over Kailua Bay, waiting for the cannon to go off nearly every year. We have long been a supporter of Julie, and are working with her again this year as she prepares to race Kona one more time.
Below is the first in a series of guest blog posts from Julie. Be sure to follow along as she shares race experiences, training secrets, and a look back on how the sport of triathlon has changed and evolved over the years.
As the end of April approaches I can look back and appreciate all that’s gone into making it an epic April, with Oceanside 70.3 on April 1st, and 3 weeks later, IMTexas on April 22nd.
Big April, as I’ve been calling it, was the culmination of 5 months of training.
In late November I received my invitation to return to Kona to race in my 35th Anniversary Ironman. I promised Ironman Race Director, Diana Bertsch, that I would do everything in my power to earn the invite by getting out there and racing for a qualifying spot. From the start my goal has been to not only feel confident in my physical abilities, and to hold my own against the world’s best W55-59, but to feel the deep satisfaction of having earned the right to toe the line along side them.
The plan was for Oceanside 70.3 to be a training day with speed, no taper required.Texas would be a trial run to measure how effective my training had been, and to learn what worked and what didn’t; again very little taper required.
I’m thrilled to share that in the aftermath of racing my first Ironman in 5 years I can honestly say just about everything worked.
So in the tradition of David Letterman’s top 10 list, here is my post IMTexas top 10 list of what
10. Dropping my Cervelo P3 off at Nytro Multisport after my final long ride so TriBike Transport could deliver it toTexas.
I can't imagine traveling to a race without the added security, convenience, and confidence of having TBT care for my bike. With all the hours of training I’d logged, the last thing I wanted was to worry about packing and traveling with my P3. I can’t tell you how good it felt to hammer out that final ride knowing that at it’s end I could simply pull up to Nytro and drop and go.
(Note to self, when your last long ride requires a driver's licence to enter Camp Pendleton do not leave it in your Xlab stealth pocket or it will arrive in Texas before you do and definitely complicate boarding your flight when you discover your mistake at 5am standing at the ticket counter.)
9. Using the TriBike Transport gear bag option.
By having my Roka wetsuit, helmet, cycling shoes, Base Performance Nutrition and CO2’s all go with my bike I was able to travel with a small carry on. Post race I was able to wash my Roka swimskin, running and cycling shoes and let them dry overnight then repack my gear bag to drop off just before the awards the next day.
No foul smelling gear to unpack when I got home.....priceless.
8. Walking through the Ironman expo where they handed out samples of Texas BBQ.
Y’all I’m talkin’ the full smokey combo of beef brisket, chicken and sausage all wrapped in a foil packet with your choice of mild or spicy BBQ sauce on the side for dipping. Seriously, don’t mess with Texas.
7. Staying with a host family that turns out to be Ironman royalty.
I reached out to the Houston Racing Triathlon Club to see if any of their members would be interested in hosting me. I love the added experience of staying with a local family whenever possible, and the Houston Racing Club provided a once in a lifetime experience. My host Bonnie Wilson, is the the daughter of Henry Forrest Jr. one of the original 12 ironman finishers from 1978. Henry placed 7th in the inaugural Ironman and sadly passed away 8 years ago from pancreatic cancer. His spirit and Ironman legacy were a powerful presence in Bonnie’s home.
At our first meal, she shared with me that when Henry was in remission the only thing he wanted was to gather together his family and friends for a triathlon celebration. Henry took his infant granddaughter and dragged her toes through the pool so she could swim, and then went on to push his sister in her wheelchair for her run. For Henry, Ironman was a birthright and he instilled his passion for the sport in his family. By sharing their stories, Bonnie and her four daughters, reminded me of what a gift it is to be an Ironman.
6. Dialing in your nutrition.
I did my homework and found BASE Performance Nutrition. I knew their recipe for ‘Rocket Fuel’ - mixing 2 scoops of the new BASE Hydro Electrolyte drink, 1 scoop of BASE Amino, and a dash of BASE Salt, was the perfect training and race day cocktail. I just doubled what I used in Oceanside for Texas, easy. I had 1 bottle in the morning, 4 bottles on the bike, a bottle for bike to run transition, and one bottle in my special needs bag at mile 20 on the run.
BASE was out on the run course at mile 7,16, and 24. Their team was in full force with tables laden with pop top container of BASE salt for athletes to grab. BASE salt turned the race around for so many of those athletes and saved their bacon.
5. Turning 30 miles of headwind into a win win.
The final 30 miles on the bike was into a strong headwind. As much as I tried to stay positive, at one point the apprehension and fear of how I was going to be able to run a marathon after feeling so worked over by wind culminated in me screaming, “THIS SPORT IS TOO HARD. (No one heard me over the howling wind.)
I knew I had to flip my switch before transition, and I had to find a positive image to hold onto. So I went back to my last brick workout where I jumped off the bike and ran 1:20, the equivalent of what I thought would be my run time for a loop of the 3 loop IMTexas run course.
Just one loop was the mantra that flipped my switch to start my run. I didn't worry about mile markers or pace per mile I just kept saying just one loop. The second loop went by quicker than the first, and I knew I’d find a way to hang on for the third. This was the first time in decades I can say that the run was my favorite leg of the Ironman.
4. Women who Fly is a Hoka One One slogan.
Wearing my Hoka Claytons in both Oceanside and Texas made me feel like I was truly flying. Finding a shoe that gives you maximum support and comfort will make or break your run, and Hoka allowed my run to work.
3. Winning my age group for the Roka Swim.
My strong swim resulted in me receiving a gift via email a few days ago....gotta give credit to my hot pink Roka swimskin.
2. Attending the awards and standing with the women and men in my age group while wearing the North American Champion’s jacket.
It wasn’t pink but it was still a look that worked. Oh, and watching the rolldown in my age group and seeing another Julie -3rd place Julie Kaczor - go bananas when she heard her name called punching her ticket to Kona.
1. And earning the number one spot in my countdown list of what worked ...being able to go home after the race, shower, have a cold IPA, and return a few hours later to sort out my bike and gear.
I walked my bike the short distance from transition back to TriBike Transport, which was conveniently located right next to the finish line. I simply handed off my bike to the crew and then was able to watch the final athletes come across the line, pretty sweet. The last finishers never cease to bring tears to my eyes.
Thank you Tribike Transport for being there from start to finish, helping make IMTexas a championship experience. I can't wait for Kona.
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