I was jogging down a street with some other people in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, when a man sitting in a front yard partying with friends saw me. His eyes about popped out of his socket and I’m guessing he spilled some of his beer as he started cheering for me.
You know how sports fans go bonkers when one of the heavy-duty linemen gets the rare opportunity to carry the football into the end zone on a running play or on a great defensive play?
On this day, I was playing the role of the fat lineman and this cheerful guy who looked like he belonged in a motorcycle gang was the rowdy and jubilant football crowd.
A few hours later — after swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and walking and jogging 26.2 miles — I triumphantly raised my arms and crossed the finish line of an Ironman triathlon.
It’s interesting the emotions that are evoked when I recall my Ironman adventure.
Part of me remains inspired, wowed and proud that I accomplished something of that scale. For about 16 hours and 36 minutes, I somehow kept my chubby, 230-pound body moving forward in a very frigid lake, on the pavement while spinning my legs and sitting on a tiny bike seat for a ghastly amount of time, and then through the streets of this quaint Gem State town while plodding along with huge blisters on the bottom of my feet in a marathon grand finale.
“A year ago, I challenged myself to accomplish a lofty goal that admittedly seemed somewhere between impossible and insane for a lazy guy who packed around an extra hundred pounds and used to tip the scales at 371,” I wrote at the time.
“But hoping for a midlife reboot, I willingly signed up (and paid money!) to tackle a triathlon that included a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile marathon. Back-to-back-to-back. In one day.
“Late Sunday night, I lived that sweet dream.
“Move over, Ozzy Osbourne. And excuse me, Robert Downey Jr.
“I AM IRONMAN.”
Part of me remains disappointed, not because of that awesome achievement but because of what happened in the months and years following that unforgettable moment. I remember repeating the phrase, “I don’t want an Ironman to be something I did; I want it to be who I am.”
Unfortunately, it’s now just a fun part of my past. My Ironman sequel was not as fun. I ended up gaining about 144 pounds in the 4-1/2 years after I crossed that finish line. While I certainly don’t regret doing that arduous triathlon, I definitely have regrets about turning my back on a lifestyle that I enjoyed and that helped me get in pretty dang good shape for a fat dude. I also had wanted to be a great example for my kids and the opposite turned out to be the case.
Now that I’ve finally grasped control of my life after a rough stretch, I’m reminded of some of the valuable lessons I learned from that Ironman experience as I’m in the midst of trying to lose 215 pounds.
• Dream big.
• Embrace invaluable support.
• Focus on small goals (one mile or pound at a time).
• Pick a solid plan and stick to it.
• Get your butt in gear.
• Keep moving forward.
• I can do hard things.
• Once an Ironman, always an Ironman!
• Don’t give up, even if you’re being chased by a superhero.
- Starting weight (March 6): 373.7 pounds
- Last week’s weight (June 24): 308.1 pounds
- This week’s weight (July 1): 304.2 pounds
- This week’s loss: 3.9 pounds
- Total loss: 69.5 pounds