25 years of running (Part II)

In Part I we established that Spandex was not yet in vogue in the 90s. Today we move into the 21st century!

Evan learns to walk

2004 – In this Olympic year, my husband Piero was head of the Italian Olympic Marathon Team for Athens. We spent most of our summer in St.Moritz, Switzerland and Predazzo, Italy. Evan was learning to walk and used the track along with Daniele Caimmi and Stefano Baldini. Baldini would win the gold marathon in Athens that year. I, on the other hand, stuck to shorter distances enjoying new trails and tracks to train on.

Julia in 2004

2005 – Finally, Spandex! I got a call to travel to Thailand and write an article about the Thailand Temple Marathon. I started training right away. It was my first time to Thailand and it felt great to be traveling again. Once home I felt in great shape and went on to complete three more marathons that year.


2006 – I was invited to the More Marathon in New York, a women’s only race consisting of four laps of Central Park. I brought my friend Linda and we had the most amazing Sunday running in New York. I’d worked with Kathrine Switzer for Avon Running in Milan in 2000 and it was fantastic to have her waiting at the finish line. The photo  above was taken at the party at Tavern on the Green. Kathrine’s on my right and Mary Wittenberg, then President and CEO of the New York Road Runners club. Such inspiring ladies!


2007 – This is a really bad photo but I love it because today, eight years later, every one of those ladies is still a good friend. We’re at the Roma-Ostia half marathon.


2008 – Back in New York for the marathon, this time running with my very good friend Giorgio. We met through running and though he’d run just as many marathons as me (I was at #27) he’d never been to New York. It was the best of times and we ran it together again in 2009.


2009 – My first book Correre al femminile was published, a running book for women. It was also the year I ran one of the most gorgeous, scenic marathons ever, the Amalfi Coast Marathon. We were either running uphill or downhill, there was not an inch of flat road. If you ever get a chance, run this race! You won’t regret it.


2010 – I wanted to do something special to celebrate turning 50. Another marathon? Naw…How about swimming the Messina Straits in Sicily? It’s approximately 3,200 metres and I was scared as s*** to do it, but that was sort of the point. It was one of the richest experiences of my life and made me believe that maybe I could give longer triathlons shot.


2011 – There I was 51 years old and thinking, “You’re not getting any younger, get a move on doing this Ironman business!”. I was about to sign up for a half Ironman in Switzerland when I saw they would be having the inaugural 70.3 in Italy. I signed up in October, procrastinated the preparation and left myself in April with only eight weeks to get it together. I came in 2nd in my age group and was hooked forever.


2012 was a strange year. I didn’t feel quite right physically but kept pushing. I raced Ironman 70.3 Aix en Provence, with one of the most incredible bike courses ever. Here I came in third place in my age group on a super hard course.


2013 – After many tests I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, also known as Hashimoto’s Disease. I’d really wanted to do a full Ironman but knew I couldn’t until my health was under control. I cleaned up my diet (even more) and started taking medication. I finally started to feel like myself again towarda the end of the summer. I raced Ironman 70.3 Zell am See in Austria with a PR. I knew that it was now or never for the full distance.


2014 – My plan for Ironman Zurich was that it would be a crowning on my decade of triathlon activities. I’d do one and be done with it. During training I’d asked my husband, do you think I’ll make it to the end?”. His answer was always yes, no problem. Then a week before the event his answer was different: “The biggest problem is going to be that you’ll love it.”

He was right, of course. Yes, it was hard. Yes, it hurt. But it’s an incredible experience that truly stays with you forever. I couldn’t wait to do another!


2015 – I thought I’d wait two years before racing another Ironman, but then Ironman Barcelona was announced for October 4, my birthday. How could I say no to that?! After my accident I lost a bit of training. But before that I was in the best shape, having placed third place in my age group at Ironman Italy 70.3 on a super hot day.

I’ll never forget 2015. It changed me mentally. It showed me who I really was, and I kinda like that woman. She’s not super fast or particularly talented but she never ever backs down and carries things through to the end.

Last week when I published Part I a few people wrote, “Can’t wait to read Part II!”. But my good friend Serena commented, “I’m waiting for Part III…”

Part III is what excites me the most. Onward!



  1. meena
    Totally gorgeous and inspiring!
  2. Sarah Sweeny
    I loved reading your year-by-year summary! You kept such good track of your accomplishments! Well done -- especially with that accident last year. What a comeback! Looking forward to Part III as well. What's next?
    • Julia
      I don't know what's next, maybe why I'm so excited about it! Thanks for reading, Sarah XXOO
  3. lucia kalogero
    Part III ? I hope to be part of it !!!! ;-)
    • Julia
      Me too!