Fort Meade Soldier makes All-Army Triathlon team
May 13, 2009
Fort Meade, Md. - Capt. Julia Bryan likes a challenge.
Bryan, a project officer for the Defense Program Support Activity on Fort Meade, recently was named to the All-Army Triathlon team for the second consecutive year.
She was one of only six female Soldiers selected for the team. Ten male Soldiers were also chosen. The team will represent the Army in the Armed Forces Triathlon on May 30 at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu, Ca.
The ninth annual event will bring together triathlon teams from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines to compete against each other in an Olympic-distance race comprised of a 1,500-meter swim followed by a 40-kilometer bike and 10k run. Bryan finished the event last year in a little over two hours and 19 minutes.
The top six women and 10 men in the competition become part of the U.S. Armed Forces Championship team, which usually competes against military athletes from around the world in the Conseil International du Sport Militaire championship. Held last year in Estonia, this year's CISM event has been scrubbed due to lack of a host country.
Triathlons offer a "mix of having to push hard and have endurance," said Bryan, who has completed a total of about 20 sprint and Olympic-distance races. One of her goals is to make the CISM team at least once, she said. She also hopes someday to complete a half-Ironman distance event.
"I try to set reasonable goals," Bryan said. "But every once in a while it's fun to set an unreasonable goal to see if I can get it. It motivates me."
An Army brat (her father is a retired colonel), Bryan, 29, started her athletic career with Child, Youth & School Service sports such as gymnastics and soccer. During high school, she participated in soccer, diving, gymnastics, swimming, softball and cheerleading. She slowed down while attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as an ROTC student, taking up fencing only in her junior year.
After joining the Army in 2002, Bryan started running. Egged on by a co-worker, Bryan signed up for her first triathlon at Cunningham Falls State Park in Thurmont in 2003.
"It was a disaster," she said, noting that she made every mistake a first-time triathlete could make - from not having the proper-sized bike to not checking out the route beforehand.
Initially, Bryan said, she just wanted to finish. But when she began passing other competitors on the bike leg (her strongest leg) of the race, she thought perhaps she could place. Instead, she crashed her bike, breaking her collar bone and requiring 19 stitches in her leg.
Undeterred, Bryan headed back to the gym while her arm was still in a sling. It was there that she saw a flyer for another triathlon, a sprint distance event scheduled for only a few months away. "I won it," she said, "and I was kind of hooked."
Each week, Bryan, who lives in Elkridge, runs 15 to 20 miles, bikes 50 to 60 miles and swims four to six miles, in addition to weight training. She doesn't have a coach other than her Columbia Association Master's Swim Team coach, and relies instead on a training program taken from Triathlete magazine.
"I read whatever I can and always ask advice from other [competitors] at
races," Bryan said. "Every race under my belt gives me more practice."