Throughout his life, Jules has seen his mother, Petriece, race countless triathlons. Seeing his mother compete at the sport she loved with members of her triathlon community, Fast Chix, gave him a sense of camaraderie and the power to tackle hard things. Petriece was leading by example, but when Jules and she race at 70.3 IM North Carolina that changed. Together, they were ‘accidentally’ leading by example.
While cheering on his mother, his thoughts about triathlon changed. What started out as a day to celebrate turned negative when Petriece suffered on the run at the 70.3 World Championships at Kona in 2021. At Mile 7 of the run, Petriece collapsed, unconscious, because of dehydration. Her entire family, including Jules, was worried about her health. Fortunately, for Petriece the dehydration was addressed and no lingering issues resulted from the collapse.
From Collapse To Starting To Train Together
What changed was Jules perception of time. He realized that he had wanted to race with his mother but figured that there was plenty of time to do that. Kona 2021 changed that. He asked Petriece to race with him and Mom was more than happy to.
‘It was a proud and emotional moment when Jules asked me race with him,’ Petriece said. The opportunity to do something with your 23 year old son was a blessing and a lifetime opportunity that she was not going to pass up.
Jules and Petriece selected Ironman 70.3 North Carolina. The event takes place in late October with an ocean swim, flat bike course and a hilly run. Jules believed that he could wake up, throw on a race kit and be able to compete without a problem. Mom knew better and got Jules a coach, her coach!!!
Separate Training But Chasing The Same Dream
Having the same coach allowed them to train together at least once per week, but also be on a separate schedule. The problem, for Petriece, was learning to stay out of her son’s training. Petriece said it was difficult since it was her baby going through the training but also because she has years of experience at these training cycles.
Jules, on the other hand, knew that he had to trust his coach and lean on his mom for help. Riding a bike was a new experience for Jules. Learning about gears and changing tires in addition to riding for hours was not something that he was prepared for. Getting tips from Petriece helped make it a bit easier for him.
The help didn’t just flow from mom to son. Jules was a high school swimmer and he had a hard time not saying anything to his mom about her stroke and how she could improve. The relationship that they have is strong and helping one another out is part of that strength. In this case, Petriece was able to take her coaches advice and also ask Jules questions about swimming.
Ready To Head To Wilmington
They both progressed through their separate training plans and were making their way to the race in Wilmington. When race day arrived, they felt that they had done enough and were going to make the most of their time on the course. One decision they made was to separate from Fast Chix so that Jules could have the full experience of the event.
If you know Fast Chix, or have seen them at the start of races then you know they would have shown so much love and help for Jules that it could have been overwhelming. Petriece and Jules separated from the group so that they could have their time together. They would reminisce about the training, discuss the upcoming event and plan on seeing each other when they finished.
I Am Worried. Yes, So Am I
During the race, they were worried about each other but at different times. Jules said, “I didn’t think about my mom during the swim or the bike. When I got to the run I thought about her. I thought about her collapse at Kona and was hoping she was having a great day.”
Petriece on the other hand said, “I worried about him from the start. I saw that his bike wasn’t in transition when I got out of the water. When I returned from my ride, I saw his bike was there which meant he was on the run. I worried about him on the run because he had foot surgery not long before the event. I’m a Mom and I thought about him from start to finish.”
Jules finished in 6:40 while Petriece finished in 7:13 but it wasn’t their finishing times that mattered. What mattered was that Mom and Son got the chance to train and race together.
Accidentally Leading By Example
Petriece was able to be the role model and example that inspired Jules to want to train and race. She had the opportunity to embrace her child’s desire to share time while understanding her role as parent and not coach.
Jules, for his part in this tandem, wanted to be there to support his mother and return the love that she has shown him throughout his life. The Ironman 70.3 North Carolina race was more than swim, bike, run. It was the chance to bond and share memories to last a lifetime.
Petriece and Jules left our conversation with, “We got the opportunity to be an example to others. We had other families approach us and say it was a joy to see an African-American mother and son share this journey together.”
Life is a journey. Endurance sports is a way for us to experience that journey. Sharing these sports with family and friends heightens that journey.