Athletes’ Testimony

Annie Elmendorf, Ironman Triathlete, Wife, Mother of 2

“Journey to IMCDA!”

In late 2013, Jen helped me bridge the gap from Olympic distance triathlon to wrapping my head around and training for 70.3. I completed my first in Galveston in April 2014 and my second in Austin in October 2014. I remember watching the Ironman World Championship in Kona coverage two weeks before my race in Austin and hoping to head off any post-race funk, I decided I was ready to commit to Ironman. IMCDA seemed like the perfect race for a number of reasons. #1 It is known to be a challenging and scenic course, near my family in the Pacific Northwest #2 It is an early season race, which meant that I could get the majority of my training done before my kids were out of school for the summer and before it got to be full-on hot summer in San Antonio #3 Jen did this race last year and could offer me personal insight to the course.

Since I was no stranger to the 70.3 distance, I started training in earnest (build phase) in early March. I wasn’t able to complete a 70.3 in preparation for this race, but that was ok! I did get in a GREAT race day simulation at the Real Ale Ride in Blanco, TX (80 HILLY miles, followed by a 90-minute run in gnarly heat), a 115-mile ride (during which I sustained two flats), and CapTex (an Olympic-distance tri, minus the swim that day due to flooding!). At CapTex, Jen and I actually roomed together and I learned so much from getting to see how such a seasoned triathlete preps all of her gear the night before and in the transition area that morning AND get to see her out on the course!

Jen doesn’t believe in doing the long bike and long run training days back-to-back, but I felt it was necessary for me to do it once during the course of my training so that I could experience how most other people seem to train and get a feeling of how it would feel to run, being physically depleted from the bike ride the day before, and she supported me in that. I’m glad I only did it once though because I was shot on that run!!!

I was as prepared as I could possibly be going into IMCDA, Jen definitely made sure of that. In the final weeks leading up to it, she was my sounding board almost daily when driving down the road and something like “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” would come on the radio and make me start crying.

The week before I left for Coeur D’Alene, Jen and I sat down for two hours over breakfast and talked through every detail of my transition and special needs bags, pre-race tips, transition tips. And with race day drawing closer, it was getting harder to ignore the fact that the race day temperature in CDA was forecasted to be 107 degrees. I hadn’t planned on walk-running my marathon, but in the days leading up to the race, I decided that this would be my strategy. As this was my first Ironman, I tried not to be too wedded to time goals, but I did have some expectations… and they had to be adjusted.

It was a tough day, but in the end, I was able to dig deep and get it done. Thanks in large part to Jen’s amazing coaching and support, being able to train in the south Texas heat, and to BASE Electrolyte salts. :-) There were times when I doubted my abilities, but I always came back to that Jen wouldn’t have let me go and do this if I wasn’t ready and even if I didn’t know I was ready, she knew I was.

When training for an Ironman, most days consist of two workouts, totaling 3 hours or more, and as a full-time mom and manager of our household, there were plenty of days that made it incredibly difficult to get both of those workouts in. Several days I would drive to the gym, after dinner and after my kids were in bed to do a swim or a spin that I hadn’t gotten to that day for some reason or another. And many of those times I would question the necessity of that particular workout and think how much more I would enjoy spending that particular evening cuddling up with my husband and a movie and would missing this one workout really detract from my training or race day? And I would always come back with an answer of “Probably not, but that’s not what it is to be an Ironman.” :-)

Jen has taught me so much and given me so much knowledge and confidence in myself as an athlete and person! She coaches the way she lives her life, which is beautifully and by example.”

Joe de la Cruz, 2 x 70.3 Ironman Finisher and CrossFit athlete

I was first introduced to triathlons when I saw it televised years ago. I remember telling myself, “I would never ever want to do that or put my body through that.” Although I often tell people “Never say Never”… I ate my own words.

In the summer of 2013 I did my first sprint triathlon. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. In fact, I didn’t know how to swim; I didn’t have a bike, and haven’t run more than 5 miles since middle school. I pretty much didn’t know what I was up against. Boy was it intimidating, but I knew it wasn’t impossible.

After my first race I was hooked. I signed up for a second sprint and felt great after the race, but I still didn’t know what I was doing.

After countless hours of hard work, sprint races, sweat and tears, I’ve decided to do my first 70.3 Ironman Vineman. I thought it would be great to cross this off my “bucket list.” Yes, my “bucket list” but I also do it for two reasons:

1. I do it for people who can’t do triathlons due to sickness or any other physical condition. You see, I lost a dear friend to cancer. When she was around, we talked about doing a marathon or a triathlon but I always brushed it off.
2. The feeling I get before, during and after the race. It was an amazing feeling after I finish my first 70.3 Ironman in California.

I have to say it was the best life experience I have ever had. Words can’t or will not describe the feeling I had when I crossed the finish line. I have to say it left me thinking what my life would be like if I had not gone through this experience.

My race was a 70.3 Ironman but I do plan on doing a full Ironman as soon as I learn more about the sport. My good friend and kick ass endurance coach, Jen Rulon prepared me for my first 70.3, and is preparing me for my second 70.3 Ironman.

Not to devalue the feeling I get when I feel Gods presence, because nothing will compare to that experience ever. I’ve never gone through more extreme highs and lows than I thought were possible during the journey and the race. The lows were tough but that’s what made the highs so high.

Although this is the beginning of my triathlons journey…With God on my side, my angels watching over me and my amazing coach Jen, you better look forward to hearing about my amazing future in triathlons.

Ana Voss, 3 x Ironman Finisher, Owner of

“My journey with Coach Jen started 2 years ago when I decided that I was going to become an IRONMAN in 2012, despite having never swam or cycled in my life. From the first day we met at the pool and she saw my poor technique in freestyle Coach Jen never gave up on me. She assured me that if I follow her training program I could reach my goal. She truly believed in me and that inspired me to believe in myself. Coach Jen’s approach to training is more than just swim, bike and run. She makes sure that you follow a carefully designed CrossFit program, “The Strongest Mile,” that she designed specifically for endurance athletes. This program not only helps with correct body alignment but also gives you that mental edge you need to push through the tough moments on race day.”

Tiffany Morey Haspel, 4x Ironman Finisher, Master Hair Stylist and Owner of Tiffany Morey

“Girl!!!! I truly believe that strength training and The Strongest Mile Classes got me thru my run and even helped me PR my marathon!!! My legs felt so damn strong!!! That’s all I kept thinking!!! Wow! My legs took me to the finish line and I thought of you during my marathon. Thanks for what you are trying to achieve with the endurance community in SA. I hope our athletes start getting on board and realize how strength training can benefit them. You’re the best Jen! Thanx again”

Anna Akin, Ironman Florida 2013 Finisher, Anna Tris Blog 

“My love of triathlons started about 6 years ago. I was in college and had gained about 50lbs. I found a beginner triathlon group at my church and since I loved spin classes I thought “Why not!”

I finished my first triathlon in 2009. It was the Windcrest Freshman Triathlon (200m swim, 10mile bike, 2 mile run). I had heard about this triathlon called “Ironman” from being in the group but thought it was unattainable. However, it was always in the back of my mind.

Fast forward to April 2013, I decided to reach out to Coach Jen and talk about doing an Olympic distance triathlon with maybe a Half Ironman at some point. On Oct. 27, 2013 I toed the line at the start of 70.3 Ironman Austin. I finished, felt amazing, and this crazy goal I had, was completed.

I knew there was still something else I needed to do. I talked to Coach Jen and decided that I would try my luck at getting into Ironman Florida 2014. I sit here now and I am an “Ironman Triathlete!” A goal at one time, I thought was far off and not really attainable. Words can’t even begin to express how it feels to cross that finish line.

Triathlon changed my life; it took me from being an inactive, size 14-16, and college student to where I am now…I am strong. I have goals. I am happy!”

Maureen Sheehan, 70.3 Ironman Raleigh Finisher

“Just did my first (but definitely not last) 70.3 yesterday and have to say you and your training program ROCK! In eight short months you took someone with very little endurance capacity to finishing a 70.3. Not only that, but beat my goal times on my swim and bike. I know I am probably one of the if not the most self-doubting athletes you have coached, but you never doubted me and my capabilities. Instead you would take time to explain your methodology and even change up workouts/plans in a way to keep me on track but help me to believe. I know you say I did the hard work, but without your training plan, guidance, and unending positive energy and belief, I never would have succeeded. Thank you for your awesomeness, coach!”