Top 14 Lessons from My 14 Ironman Triathlon Journey – Part II

Each Ironman that I do, I learn about myself. I learn how to race an Ironman Triathlon. I learn what I can accomplish not only physically but mentally. There are a lot of highs and lows in these races. But isn’t that life? I just choose to learn about life through the eyes of a triathlete.

Last week, I posted my “Top 14 Life Lessons from My 14 Ironman Triathlon Journey – Part I.” Check them out. Let’s continue the topics and talk about the last 7 Learnings from doing 14 Ironman Triathlons.

8. Over 6,000 feet of climbing on the bike, Learn to Ride Hills – Ironman Mont Tremblant (2015)

  • We did a LOT Of climbing in San Antonio and we had to. We may not have long “mountains” to climb around the area, but we found plenty of climbing to make a total of 6000 feet for most of our MAJOR rides.
  • Pick a race that you will enjoy going to. Mont Tremblant, hands down, was one of the best races I have been to. The community is forever grateful for the IM. There are more volunteers than participants.  Head back to the “7 blog” for lesson #2.
  • Keep your Cycling Shoes on the bike coming into T2. I left mine on my feet and I was “rushing” into the tent, and I slipped and fell SO HARD that I was afraid I wasn’t going to finish. I had to sit into T2 for 6 minutes while they patched my leg up.
  • I didn’t have the best run split but I still crossed that finish line and heard, “Jennifer RULON, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN.”

9. Always prepare yourself that you will not use a wetsuit – Ironman Florida (2015)

  • First time in over 20+ years, it was NOT a wetsuit swim. People freaked out! Why? Not prepared? Rely too much on a wetsuit? Head to the Roka Sport tent and pick up a swim skin. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.
  • Learn to pee on the bike. You should have seen the port-a-potty lines. Figure it out!
  • Watch for cars, cyclists, and other people who really don’t care there is a race going on. I saw a guy pull in front of a cyclist going at least 18 mph and the cyclist almost rammed right into the car. Car didn’t give a shit. He needed to get home. #GRRRRRR
  • I had an AMAZING race. No GI issues on the run. I ran under 4 hours for the marathon and I crossed that finish line and heard, “Jennifer RULON, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN.”


10. Be Careful What you Wish For – Ironman Texas (2016)

  • Third loop of the run. Bloody HOT. It’s Texas in May. What do you expect? I had a little convo with God. I asked him to help me out and take me home, as this would not be my best race. Within 5 minutes, the worst thunderstorm EVER came into The Woodlands. Rain was pelting my face. Shoes were drenched. I started laughing. I told the big man, “I hear ya.” We got stopped at mile 20 (some still on their 2nd lap). Started getting cold. Started back up again after 25 minutes.
  • It’s awesome when your husband is cheering you on and he is YOUR SHERPA. My cup runneth over. 
  • Swim course changed on Friday morning. Bike course was only 95 miles. Run time was taken at mile 19. Everything changed this year. Control what you can control.
  • It was my 10th Ironman Triathlon. It was supposed to be epic, right? It was, and I still crossed that finish line and heard, “Jennifer RULON, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN.”

11. Going Back to My Why – Ironman Florida (2016)

  • After a shit show at IMTX, I had to step away from the Ironman world. I was starting to dislike Ironman Triathlons. My Mom and I traveled to Scotland 2 weeks after IMTX. No computer. No WiFi. I need to explore, journal and enjoy life again.
  • As I was sitting in a castle, drinking tea and eating a cookie, while my Mom was exploring (probably our 8th castle by this time), I realized I was trying to chase a Kona slot down. I realized this was the wrong way to look at racing.
  • I went back to my “Why” of Ironman Triathlon Training and I picked Ironman Florida, as it is my happy place. Ocean. Beach. Reminds me of my Grandpa.
  • It was my 11th Ironman Triathlon. It was that tipping point for me. I placed 4th in my age group. I was on the Ironman podium and I heard those words, “Jennifer Rulon, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN.”


12. Dreams Really Do Come True but YOU MUST Work Your Ass Off! – Ironman Mont Tremblant (2017)

  • After IMFL, I had a spark in my step again. I realized that I do much better in a wetsuit in a lake for my swimming. So we chose Mont Tremblant.
  • Everything I did heading to Mont Tremblant was spot on. My training, my nutrition, my weight drop. Heck, we even cut back on alcohol! Even my mental toughness was there. I mean EVERYTHING came together the day of the race.
  • “Swim Strong. Bike Smart. Run like a Pac-Man” was the motto that I used for Tremblant. My SIL, Vikki and my niece, Taryn and nephew, Jaxson, was watching me for the first time as an athlete. I couldn’t be more inspired seeing them out there.
  • It was my 12th Ironman Triathlon. I could have applied for the Ironman World Championship Legacy Spot but I didn’t have to, I placed 3rd in my age group. I heard those words from Mike Reilly on Monday morning, “Hey Jen, you want to goto Kona?”

13. Dreams Really Do Come True – Ironman World Championship 2017

  • Eight weeks later, we were at the Ironman World Championship and holy SHIT, I fucking made a 28 year old dream come true!
  • I did everything I could to make it memorable. I was interviewed by Training Peaks, Cervelo, and The Whoop. I did the Underpant Run and road on the Queen K. It was bloody perfect.
  • My Mom and her best friend was there. My best friend was there with her friend. My husband qualified as well. Even in the swim, I stopped to look up and just screamed. The lifeguard asked if I was OK. I told him, “Yes, I was fucking happy to be here!”
  • By mile 15 on the run,  I truly hit the wall but I knew I just needed to finish. This was my 13th Ironman Triathlon and I heard those words from my friend, Mike Reilly, “Jennifer Rulon, You are an Ironman!”

14. Things Don’t Always Work Out – Ironman Florida 2018

  • After an epic 2017, I knew it would be to top it. I went into 2018 with terrible back pain and come to find out, I pissed off my three bulging discs. I didn’t think I could ride again.
  • After April, training started coming around. Something else I needed to do was to drop the weight. I did. I dropped 10 lbs and realized once again, I was in the best shape of my life.
  • Hurricane Michael hit Panama City Beach, 3 weeks out from race day and was so impressed by Ironman Triathlon, that we had a race in Haines City, FL.
  • It wasn’t my day at all. Had a stellar swim and within 2 minutes on the bike, I flatted. Took 25 minutes to fix that flat. I wanted to quit SO MANY TIMES that my goal was to truly finish that race. It was my 14th Ironman Triathlon and I still heard those words from my friend, Mike Reilly, “Jen Rulon, You Are An IRONMAN!”

I know that I will have many more learnings or life lessons when I do more Ironman Triathlons and 70.3 Ironman races. For now, I will enjoy the 14 that I have done, and keep on training and racing for 2019. I do know what I plan on doing for next year but for now, I need to keep this quite as I truly want to enjoy the next few months focusing on myself, my family and my business.

Each Ironman that I do, I learn about the race, I learn about myself and I realize what I have in my heart and in my mind. There are a lot of highs and lows in these races. But isn’t that life? I just choose to learn about life through the eyes of a triathlete…