2019 Member Spotlight – Jules BilowichNovember, 2019
What made you decide to join the New Triathlete Program (NTP)?
Last year, I signed up for two “adventure races” on a whim – multisport races where the fourth discipline is orienteering through the woods to find the optimal route. I already loved being outside, getting muddy, and running aimlessly through the forest…why not add a potential medal to the mix? Joining the triathlon club helped me focus my outdoor adventure excitement and find a structured way to improve my physical health (and balance out the beer-drinking and taco-eating).
How was NTP?
NTP was fantastic! I certainly felt empowered to “become” a triathlete and learned so much (CO2? “GU?” Transitions? “Sherpa?” Clipless? Wetsuits??). I owe a great deal to the coordinators/trainers who pushed me to sometimes find, sometimes surpass my limits this season: Michael Shipp, Kate Ayoub, Kyoko Kawai, and Ron from the Wheelnuts bike shop in Alexandria.
Did you have any background in any of the disciplines before joining?
Does bike commuting to work count?
What was the best part of the season?
The most valuable part of NTP was the community: We had a great NTP cohort, and we all pushed each other to be the best versions of ourselves. The camping/group house weekends were the highlights – there was stand-up paddle boarding, Ferris wheel rides at the county fair, and impromptu (semi-naked) river swimming. What more could an NTPer ask for?
What races did you do this year?
Because I got a late start with the program, my only two races this season were Peasantman (Supersprint!) and Watermans Triathlon in Rock Hall, MD (Olympic!). After the Peasantman “Supersprint,” I remember thinking there was NO WAY an Olympic distance race would ever be within reach for me. Making the decision to lean into the training and push myself beyond my made-up limits was the most inspiring part of the season.
Did you make any mistakes or run into any challenges?
One of my more questionable decisions this year was to buy bike shoes, borrow clipless pedals from one my best NTP buddies, install them with a makeshift pedal wrench, practice clipping in and out in my apartment hallway, and then embarking on the Savageman bike course without any further training…Miraculously, nothing bad happened. Kudos to my training buddies who patiently listened to me freak out about it for what felt like endless miles of hills.
My biggest personal challenge has been to allow myself to focus on my own needs. Turns out, triathlon is great for that: After a difficult year of navigating a separation and prioritizing the needs of my family over my own, it felt like a luxury to prioritize my nutrition, my sleep, my schedule, and my goals. Also, as a vegan athlete, I learned a lot about my body and where to find the best impossible burger (hint: it’s not at Burger King).
Do you plan to do more triathlons in the future?
If this pesky ACL injury heals during the off-season, I look forward to doing more triathlons and also adventure races – join me, folks! Unless you’re in my age group and really fast, in which case, feel free to Sherpa.
What do you enjoy outside of triathlon?
Outside of triathlon, I enjoy hosting board game nights and cheering on DC’s WBNA champions, the Mystics. I also travel regularly to visit my family overseas and speak around the country about affordable housing policy.
Any fun facts about yourself that you’d like to share?
Froyo is my favorite post-race reward, and my poofy three-legged cat is my biggest fan.