The Biggest Test Yet

Life is a crazy thing. Just a few years ago I would have never thought in a billion years I’d enjoy running. Ever since the good old days of playing hockey as a youngster I never really enjoyed physical activity. At one point this had gotten so bad that I would take the elevator up to the second floor to my apartment. Climb up those stairs? Let’s be real here! 

Today as I sit here I look back at the journey and struggle that it took to get here. It has been one the toughest and most importantly one of the greatest life changing events. With each obstacle that had to be overcome came rewards that only grew in meaning. I can’t think about how lucky I’ve been. With each goal has been accomplishment which has set me up for success time after time again. I’ve always wondered what would have happened if it all didn’t click. If I wasn’t able to accomplish that first goal, would I be here today about to take on the greatest challenge? The thing is no one will ever know, I will never know.

It all started in 2010 when I moved back from New York. I had yet to understand or even acknowledge what I wanted to change and how. In December of that year I moved into an apartment complex with a pool, hot tube and gym included with the rent in a shared club house. This gym with three treadmills, some free weights and a handful of other pieces of equipment. This would be the place were my biggest change would take place.

For some reason that I can’t explain and I honestly have no idea why, I looked in the mirror a month after I moved in and saw it. I wasn’t happy with myself. As I looked into that mirror I saw someone who in his eyes was overweight. I didn’t like it but my first thought was that it was too late.

The next day I went to the gym but this first time it was late at night so I wouldn’t run into other people. Luckily I didn’t. I started up the treadmill and set the pace low just bearly above jogging pace. This lasted for around a quarter of a mile. The elapsed time couldn’t have been four minutes. I was dead tired and couldn’t continue It must have been three days before I went back. The fact is that I did go back even though I was sore and defeated. This time I made it around three tenths of a mile, an improvement! 

At the same time I also stopped drinking my daily soda allotment which was about a two liter a day. Cold turkey i went! Mainly water and some sports drinks but in order to get sports drinks I had to workout first. The target of the cut off from soda was the sugar. Somehow this approach worked. Still to this day I have no idea how I was able to cut off the soda habit but I did and I honestly believe it had a direct impact in my future goals.

Twice to the gym in the first week and the soda kick ended up netting me a grand total of zero pounds lost. This didn’t really make things easier but it didn’t hurt either. See I didn’t expect to actually lose weight so my low expectations didn’t get hurt. Either way the next week I went back to the gym two more times. A total weight lost of five pounds! How was this possible? Did I workout harder or did I just need an extra week to work the pounds off? This five pounds was the biggest confidence booster of all. 

The next week I went back to the gym three times. Three times at the gym and on the third week had gotten one complete mile. A massive improvement and another confidence booster at that! This week I lost another five pounds. That’s ten pounds in the past two weeks. I was really getting into this. It made me think and for the first time really consider my eating habits. I considered what serving sizes actually might be. I never really thought about eating healthy just the quantities at this point.

So the next week I started paying attention to serving sizes on top of the kicked soda habit and three times at the gym in one week. This week I managed over two miles on the first day and around one and a half on the others. Another massive improvement and confidence builder. The end of the week made it one month in. This week I lost a handful of pounds but not many. Overall it was a one month lose of 13 pounds. Just enough to make me feel good, want to continue and be proud of the accomplishments so far.

At the start of month two I had hope that I could do this. I upped my running and gym time to four days a week. Some days I’d run, some bike and some lift weights. My running was starting to average about two miles per session before feeling like death. Running made me feel good and I thought about it going into the second week of the second month. I ran all four workout days that week and lost another 10 pounds. The following week I upped the distance some more and made it another 10 pounds.

This just kept going. One week I lost a grand total of 24 pounds! This was the greatest week of all time this was the week I made it under 200 pounds! That was over a 50 pound drop in weight. As I like to tell it, a metric shit ton! I was feeling good. I’d already had to purchase an entire new set of clothes. Down from the extra large section and boy did it feel good. I could sense an attitude change and a feeling of energy. I wasn’t constantly wanting a nap feeling exhausted after walking up a set of stairs. For the first time in half a decade I was excited.

This in itself was an incredible journey. 50 pounds alone was already beyond my wildest dreams but what happened next blew me away. See the first  pounds that I lost put such a smile on my face and such a feeling of self accomplishment that I just had to keep going. I continued to run and run and run. Every day I ran, without taking a break. Unlike many people who start out running I didn’t experience any aches and pains, in fact I couldn’t have felt better. My handful of mile runs turned into runs around the lake in the morning, a whopping 13 miles. 

When I look back I can’t help but think about how lucky I was. Lucky I lost those pounds right away and lucky I kept at it. 

So here I am. Not with months ahead of me before the biggest challenge of my life but with days. Days of waiting, days of being nervous and days of self doubt. Self doubt that I didn’t train enough, self doubt that the heat in Louisville will basically kill me. All of these thoughts are on par with what any other first time Ironman participant will go over in their mind, time after time again. All you can do is trust your training and your mental preparedness. 

August 24th is the day! All those 3am wake ups, all those after work runs. The past 8 months of dedication, it all comes around in a single day totaling 140.6 miles The journey will be completely worth it.

*On race day I’ll have a GPS tracker just like I tested in the Door County Half. Final instructions will be posted closer to race day. Until that time, check out these instructions to prepare.