We had the opportunity to interview our Athlete of the Week, Julie Patterson! Keep reading as Julie tells us her story.
How long have you been coached by Endorphin Fitness? About seven years.
What made you decide to join EF? I met Michael when I was at the University of Richmond and started working with him soon thereafter. He is really committed to his athletes and was very supportive of me personally and as a triathlete. A few years later, I transitioned to working with Kyle, who has also been a great fit for me. Overall, then, I’d say the high quality, personalized coaching that focuses on the whole person and making training fit into your life was what drew me to EF.
Tell me a little bit about your fitness / triathlon journey from start to finish. When I was 15, I did my first triathlon on my dad’s 1980 Schwinn road bike. I worked all summer to save up to buy myself a bike, and from there, I started competing as a junior elite. I finished out my junior career ranked fifth and transitioned to collegiate racing while at University of Richmond. I played tennis and swam in high school, but the University of Richmond XC coaches invited me to give cross country and track a try. I ran full-time with the team in the Fall during XC season, and the coaches let me balance track practices with swim and bike practices in the Spring. Not many NCAA Division I coaches are willing to give their athletes that kind of flexibility and support to pursue another sport, so I’m very grateful for that opportunity. I had two podium finishes at collegiate nationals (3rd in 2009, 2nd in 2011) and accepted my pro card after my 2011 finish. Over the last six years, I’ve competed professionally as I pursued a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and a PhD in Pharmacoeconomics. I’ve had opportunities to race in Taiwan, Puerto Rico, Colombia, California, and many other very cool places. Now, I have a real world job, and I’m enjoying training with a more consistent/predictable work schedule. I couldn’t do it without the support of my husband, Tim, and my coach, Kyle.
How has Endorphin Fitness taught you to be more? Kyle has really helped me to mentally “be more” than the circumstances surrounding my training and racing. Life happens. In the last two years, I had some very negative experiences with some sponsorship situations, my dad had a cancer diagnosis, I wrote and defended a dissertation, and I had to face the uncertainty of finishing school for the first time (at age 28!). To really improve, you have to learn how to navigate rising above whatever life throws at you. It’s not easy, and I’m always a work in progress, but I’m better for it.
Which race distances have you done and what is your favorite? I’ve raced sprint, Olympic, and 70.3. I really liked Olympic distance racing, but the professional non-drafting Olympic racing has really dried up. There’s a lot that I like about the 70.3 distance, though, and I think I’ll come to love that distance more as I have more success at it.
What are your main goals this season? Get back into racing, be consistent with training, and be competitive at my professional 70.3 races this Fall.
How has your season gone this far this year? I took some time off (or more accurately, time will less intense training) at the beginning of the year. I needed to make sure that I still wanted to compete at this level in the sport, and I had a lot on my plate with my family and school. My first races back were the Luray triathlons this weekend, and I took home the double victories, so that was a confidence inspiring return to racing!
Tell me about your favorite and least favorite race experience. Favorite: Racing at the Giant Eagle Triathlon in Columbus, OH in 2013. It was my first (and only) professional race in my hometown. We swam in the reservoir where I did raced numerous junior triathlons. We rode down High Street, where I rode the bus down to classes at OSU when I was in high school. I had tons of family spectating. The whole experience was surreal. I was in tears on the bike because I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the places and people in Columbus who made me into the person and triathlete that I am today. A top-three finish was the icing on the cake.
Least Favorite: I got a flat tire at the 2010 Collegiate Nationals, the year after my 3rd place finish. That was really hard to swallow. It was also freezing cold, so when I stopped, I was shivering uncontrollably. A spectator with a pick-up truck let me sit in his truck to call my dad. I remember that call so vividly. I was still shivering, devastated, and had to tell my dad – my #1 fan, who had flown to Lubbock, TX to accompany me – that it was over. Just to add insult to injury, I was one of the many unlucky athletes who caught norovirus from the lake that year.
What is your favorite part about triathlon? The people and the experiences. I met some of my best friends – Lindsay King, Samone Franzese – through triathlon. I meet inspiring people in the sport all the time, and I get to share the experiences of racing with friends, fellow competitors, and my husband. Tim and I road tripped Big Sur after the Wildflower Triathlon one year. I went to Asia for the first time to compete at University Worlds. I’ve had homestays with incredible people in cool places. I’m very thankful for these opportunities and try to never take them for granted.
Greatest advice to beginners? It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you see a bunch of really fit looking people with really nice equipment at training sessions and races, but they all started at the beginning, and they all have stories to tell about how they got to where they are. No matter what your obstacles are – balancing family and a career, fighting injuries, getting back into shape after a long time out of exercising – there’s an entire community of athletes that’s been there and is willing to walk alongside you. Don’t try to do it alone.