Photo of Christine Juehne

Christine Juehne '11: An Iron Woman

Photo of Christine Juehne“There are “normal” people, and then there are triathletes-they are crazy! They eat, sleep and breathe Ironman. I started researching it and I became obsessed!” said Christine Juehne ’11. “It is truly amazing what those athletes do, and I aspire to be at that level.”

In 2011, the McKendree health and wellness/marketing graduate embarked on a personal journey to compete as an Ironman in 2012. For over a year, she dedicated her free time to training two hours a day during the week and 4 to 8 hours on the weekends. “I am one of the younger triathletes. There are not many my age. The sport grows as you age though; it is like a lifestyle choice. I just started a little earlier than most people,” she laughed. Christine has been athletic all her life - running a lot for fitness and softball, as well as cycling frequently with her parents. “I started softball in first grade. That is when I discovered my capacity for running really fast!” she said. And that is how she earned her nickname, “Speedy,” which she keeps to this day. She stayed in shape throughout college with softball and weight training, so the transition to triathlete training came relatively easily for her. “My weight training and conditioning for softball at McKendree definitely helped prepare me for Ironman training,” she said. Other than running, swimming and biking Christine did weight training and took classes at Gold’s Gym such as yoga and kickboxing to stay in tip top triathlete shape. Christine also created a website and Facebook page to share her training and progress as she prepared for the competitions.

Photo of Christine JuehneIn the summer of 2012, Christine competed her first two Ironman triathlons. On June 24, she finished in third place in the half Ironman in Lubbock, Texas. On Aug. 26, she completed her first full Ironman competition in Louisville, KY. Overcome with emotion, she did a cartwheel across the finish line to celebrate her time of 13 hours, 14 minutes and 48 seconds. "Ironman is the biggest oxymoron in the world! It was a painful 140.6 miles of swimming, biking and running, but the most emotional, powerful and exhilarating day of my life,” noted Christine. “Ironman and I have a love hate relationship because it was the best worst thing I have ever done!"

It may be an intimidating challenge to compete and become a successful Ironman triathlete, but Christine is passionate about what she does, and has a great support system in place for her endeavors. “My trainer, Sally Drake, is so awesome and encouraging,” Christine said. “She showed me this whole other world of training that I didn’t even know existed.” Christine’s family, fiancé and coworkers at the Hospice of Southern Illinois also are very supportive of her training. Many of them traveled to Louisville to cheer her on in August. While she did not qualify for the World Championship Ironman in Kona (Hawaii) this year, she will continue to keep it on her bucket list.

When she is not training, she stays busy with her work as the Print and Social Media Coordinator at the Hospice of Southern Illinois in Belleville, Ill. Her job deals with the Hospice’s presence in the community, marketing events and public relations, as well as using social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to connect with the community. She has worked with the agency for five years, first starting as an intern during college, then as a community education assistant, and now is the full-time Print and Social Media Coordinator. “Our goal is to improve the quality of people’s lives, and just celebrate life… we try to make a connection with the community through media and marketing events. It is very rewarding to me.” Aside from that, she is the owner and videographer at Lasting Impressions Videography Entertainment.

Christine still keeps the memories of her time at McKendree in her heart. “I look back at college as some of the best times in my life,” she said. “I really do miss it sometimes.” While at McKendree, she was active in Wonders of Wellness, Kappa Sigma Tau sorority, and the softball team. Christine also had the opportunity to share her college experience with her mother, Beth Juehne ’10, who works as the Director of Financial Aid. “I liked being able to have lunch with my mom on campus if I wanted,” said Christine. “McKendree really was like my home away from home.”

When asked if she had any advice for after college for students, Christine smiled. “I was dreading life after college! I wanted to stay at McKendree with all of my friends and sorority. I didn’t want to have to grow up!” she said. “However, after a while I realized that you don’t have to always act like you’re a grown up if you have graduated… Students can still have fun and make time for doing things they love while balancing things like a new job after college. Get excited, go out and do it!”