A Half Ironman in Provence, Part III

And now the triumphant final chapter of Julia’s Provence Half Ironman adventure. Check out the swim and bike legs if you missed ’em!

The description of the run was that it was in the “city center” of Aix. In my head a city center is flat, but what I didn’t realize was that Aix was a hilly city. I got that memo in the first meters of the run as I went downhill. “There’s going to be an uphill somewhere…”

This 5.22k course needed to be done FOUR times

That green area in the park went up up up a hill and then dooowwwwn, then up up again out back on the street, up up up again and then into the city streets.

There weren’t a lot of spectators along the course but, once again, the volunteers were awesome. “Courage Madame” rung in my ears as I went past the aid stations and then back to the main turnaround-finish area.

I have to say that I really need to find a way to improve on my half marathon performance. I don’t know if it’s mental or physical but I always need to walk at some point. In this half marathon I had to use all my tricks to keep myself going forward. I counted my steps. I ran from street corner to street corner and from tree to tree. I promised myself that I could walk up the hills but I had to run down.

The most difficult lap was the last because most of the triathletes were finished. At one point I looked behind and ahead of me and saw no one.

“What the **** does it matter if I finish 5 minutes later??!!” I thought. But then I got it together to give that last push. I thanked all the volunteers (you guys were awesome!) in my last lap; they must have thought I was delirious at that point.

Huge, huge smile... inside and out.

I looked up my times today and just realized I came in third in my age group… darn! I didn’t go to the awards ceremony because I was sure that I was last! I wonder if they’ll send me my little trophy?

Good thing they gave us more time to finish!

So picture this: I’ve been moving for 7 and a half hours on super tough course. I cross the finish line and see my husband on the other side of the fence. I touch his hand and start crying in that feminine get-those-emotions-out way. He asks me, “What are you crying for?”.

I’m leaving him home next time. Kidding. But kinda not…

Sometimes I wanna hit him on the head...

A super thanks to Alvise and Luca who were on that course all day cheering me on every step of the way. I just hope you guys actually train for this next year! And a kiss to Evan who always showers me with enthusiasm in anything I do.

Surrounded by my posse!
  1. Anne
    I love these race reports Julia. You look super fabulous in the photos. Mont Sainte Victoire brings back lots of memories of Art History 1 for me! I may adopt 'courage madame' as a mantra!! Hope your trophy turns up in the post. Anne x
  2. Lynda Milne
    Hi, I enjoyed reading your race report. I am racing Aix en Provence 70.3 this year. I am not particularly fast and am a bit scared by the bike course. I live in France and am used to hills. Really don't want to get disqualified for being too slow, Any advice?
  3. Julia
    Hi Lynda! With some internet sleuthing I can see that you're young...younger than me at least so there is no way that you'll be disqualified for going slow! I found the bike course hard because of the hills but I LOVED IT -- I think that people get intimidated because they're always looking at the clock, but here just try and get through it and enjoy it as much as possible. I don't know if this is your first 70.3, but just remember to eat at regular intervals on the bike (I do every 30 minutes) no matter what. That way you'll have energy for the run. Good luck, but most of all have fun! j
  4. Matt
    This has become my favourite race in the calendar, despite the bike course being difficult and I am not a good climber. I completed the IM 70.3 Aix last year (2014) and am signed up again for 2015. Reading this report brought it all flooding back. Thank you so much. It is a fantastic race. The support is overwhelming and the course amazing. From your photos it seems the noteriety has grown since the year you did it. Every village you pass through, every step of the run is superb. I love this race. Roll on May 3rd....can't wait.
  5. Julia
    Hey Matt, thanks for stopping by! I have such great memories of that race, from the warm lake to the most beautiful bike course on the IM circuit. I'm sure I'll go back in either '16 or '17!
  6. Mark B
    I signed up for Aix and was looking for a good description of this event. I am comming from the US. My daughter is studying in Europe and the thought of a vigorous tri followed by a few weeks of culture, food and wine sounded pretty good. I have only done two of these buy took one hour off my second. I am hopeful to put on a good show May 1. I wanted you to know this was very helpful. Also I also cry at the end of every event. It is a combination of relief but also complete unadultrated joy to be in my 50's and be able to compete at a high level. God bless you and the Tri community you communicate so well with. I look forward to meeting many of you this spring. I will be running on the Hills of Cleveland, OH and working on standing in spin classes this winter.
    • Julia
      Hi Mark! Thanks for reading through and I'm happy it was useful for your upcoming race. Good luck on training in Ohio. Remember hills, hills, hills!