Growing up in Indiana, Caroline Billon was always physically active.
Going out west for the summer, she put it all together for her first triathlon.
Billon, an IUP student and a 2011 graduate of Indiana High School, recently completed a Half Ironman triathlon in Boise, Idaho.
A Half Ironman consists of a 1.2-mile open-water swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run, each event half the distance of that in a regular Ironman Triathlon.
Billon completed the event in 6 hours, 2 minutes and 14 seconds on June 7. She finished ninth out of 20 in her age group and 120th out of 388 females.
“I swam for eight years and have biked since ninth grade and have always been a runner,” she said. “This allowed me to put all three sports together with training.
“Through high school athletics, I’ve had a broad exposure to both swimming and running. I became involved in the cycling community through sharing the hobby with my father and with the guidance of Matt and Bob Reininger at the Schwinn shop.”
Billon, who is doing a summer internship in Salt Lake City, became interested in the Half Ironman competition last summer and ramped up her training in February, doing weightlifting in addition to the running, swimming and biking.
She felt strong in all three areas, but was most leery of the swimming, given that it was on open water, where Billon had no competitive experience.
“I was worried the most about the swim,” Billon said. “I felt best about the cycling part. I could see how much better I was performing than some of the competitors, and that was an ego boost.”
Once she got out there, she realized she did, in fact, belong.
“Doing each leg of the race consecutively wasn’t as difficult as I imagined it to be,” Billon said. “My training regimen prepared my body for the race-day transitions. … I struggled the most on the last three miles of the run simply because I over-consumed the nutrition at the aid stations.”
Now that she’s gotten her first triathlon out of the way, Billon hopes to run a full marathon and compete in some more Half Ironman events and, eventually, a full Ironman.
“Hopefully I’ll be competing in Ironman events the rest of my life,” she said. “I was happy to know that my level of athleticism had reached a point where I could compete with these elite endurance athletes.”