Monday, July 23, 2012

I'm Officially An Ironman 70.3 Finisher

Last November I decided to go for it and register for a half Ironman. For those who have followed along, the road to this was not easy. There were several moments of self doubt, fear, and points in my training where I just wanted to give up. I remember staring at the drop deadline and contemplating giving in but a few of my friends who knew how much this meant to me encouraged me to keep going.

Weeks leading up to this sent me in a wicked frenzy. I'd wake up in the middle of the night anxious and if I couldn't sleep, I'd go for a swim or run  just to put myself at ease. One morning I even swam the entire 1.2 miles to see how I would fare on the swim for race.

Well race day was approaching and my anxiety grew as my travel plans had been up in the air. What started out as fear of not completing the event and travel worries, ended up being the best weekend of my life and ultimately the greatest accomplishment in my "One Step At A Time Journey".

I ended up going with a girl I'd met at Rock n Roll San Diego. She was there for the marathon and I was there for a TNT coach's training. We drove out Thursday and made out way to Santa Rosa where we were staying. She was with TNT OCIE Tri team and had planned to meet her team for a swim on the Russian River the following day. She asked me to come along and I did only to feel all my stress relieved by the beauty and calmness of the river and the positive energy from her team. The coaches were amazing and offered great support and even shared a few pointers with me.

The next day we rode the run course and drove the bike course. Again, helping ease my race day jitters. We did the expo thing (sorry Vineman, this part needs MAJOR improvement). I went to their inspiration dinner which reminded me once again why I love TNT and am so proud to be part of it again this season.

Saturday night we didn't sleep at all! We were so excited and nervous, by the time we knew it, it was time to get up. We got to Johnson's Beach and it was actually cold. Water was warm from the previous days but thank goodness, we were allowed our wetsuits.
I had a late wave start which gave me plenty of time to settle in although 8:22 a.m. came around rather fast. "Swim wave 11!" the announcer called. "Oh crap!!! It's time!!!!"

This was it...this was the moment I'd agonized over, dreamt of, feared AND looked forward to for months! This was the day I would test my mental and physical capabilities and put them through the ultimate challenge.

The swim was great! Finished 13 minutes ahead of my estimated time. It was actually the sport I'd trained for the least because I love the water and knew I'd be okay. I'm not fast but I'm comfortable and knew a wetsuit would help not to mention that the swim was known for being easy.

I kept at a steady pace and by the time I knew it, the swim finish was there. I'll never forget that moment I popped my head out of the water and saw the swim finish. I ran to T1 and quickly got ready for my 56 miles on the bike. This is where the race had really begun for me.

I'd trained more on the bike than all three. It was my weakest of the sorts and the one I'd feared the most. With being in such a late wave, I'd had a 5 hours to complete this portion before getting kicked off the course. For most that would be easy. For me it was mentally challenging because it then only gave me so much time on the run. It's all a numbers game when you're out there.

The bike was the worst part for me. Something bad lower back began and stomach began hurting by mile 5. "Shit! How am I going to do 51 more miles with this pain?!" I pushed through it and lost it half way in to the ride. Mile 28, I began to sob uncontrollably. I was sad because no one had come with me. My family had a wedding to attend and it just worked out better with me coming up with a friend. I was sad and starting to feel broken because of the back and stomach pain. I wanted to toss my bike on the side of the road and just quit! At his point people had passed me up and I was alone in the middle of beautiful vineyards.

"GET IT TOGETHER JULIE!!!" I yelled. "Your parents did not raise a quitter!!!" And with that, I wiped the tears off my face and kept pushing through it. Miles 29 through 43 came quick and I knew mile 44 was the infamous Chalk Hill. Right before getting there I got off my bike (by accidentally falling off of it) to stretch, mentally and physically prepare for what was ahead if me. Any other day, I could have done Chalk Hill just fine but this was not a good ride day for me. I pushed and pushed and ultimately had to get off to walk a bit. I made it to the top and knew I was in the clear. It was all downhill from here. 12 miles to go!!! The last 4 miles were the hardest because I was so close yet in so much pain. 52, 53, 54, 55...almost there! I reached the dismount area, clipped out, stepped one foot on the ground.

"DEAR GOD, YOU'RE KIDDING ME!" I thought. I'd been feeling some pain in my heels but only after running. Today, I felt it immediately stepping off the bike! WHY?! I took my time in T2, stretched out a bit and off I went. You can't walk out of the chute; it just doesn't look right. I ended up running till I could no longer see anyone. I could not believe I still had to go 13 miles! I tried to get on my 3:1 intervals since that's what I'd been doing with our marathon team all season but it was tough to stick with them. As the time passed, I just had to keep pushing and not give up. I wasn't fast at all but I did pass people in my determination to get ahead and not get swept.

At this point, I was seeing too many people who looked fatigued. I feared that those I was passing would not make it in time. I patted one woman on the back and said, "Come on hun! We're almost half Ironwomen!" She said she didn't have it in her to run anymore, I yelled, "Well then walk faster!" and kept going. I know it's selfish, but I was mentally broken already and sought for positive energy and this woman was not very positive. By the time I knew it, I was counting down again. "4 miles to go!" I texted my family and friends. I received a ton of encouraging messages which gave me the strength to carry on. 1 mile to go!!! That last mile went by fast and there I was, two turns into the school and to the finish line.

"And we have another Ironman 70.3 finisher, Julie Guevara of Cypress California!!!" They put the tape up, I crossed and all I could think was "I DID IT!" I heard a familiar voice call my name. It was our marathon team campaign manager. She came up to me, hugged me and I lost it again. "It was so hard Jenn!"

She just held me and said, "I know hun but you did it."

I could not have been more happy to see her there. I will never forget that moment.

Thank you Jennifer Martincavage!

And thank you to all who pushed me, inspired me, motivated me and sent me encouraging messages along the way. I did it and I have all of you to thank for the incredible support along the way.

We drove back home the next day and stopped to take some celebratory photos of course!

I'm an Ironman 70.3 finisher!!!

Feel free to check out the album recapping my entire journey here!


  1. You've come such a long way since I met you a few years ago! I'm so proud of you! Go Julie!!!!!

  2. Congratulations on your Vineman finish. Vineman was also my first 70.3 race. I think your story is inspirational. We'd love for you to share it on It's a website for the SoCal endurance community.