Sometimes a personal story is just so inspiring and amazing that words alone can not do it justice.
This is certainly the case for today's raceAthlete.com featured teammate.
Before you watch the video below (just click on the play tab or download the file), please read Duane's and Jess's story.
In many of ways it embodies the struggle that we all face when we set our sights on achieving that which is well beyond normal limits. Duane with the help of Jess has taken a huge first step toward his Ironman dream and we're proud to chronicle their journey.
At the beginning of the year I weighed 471 pounds and I was close to being dead and I was basically an invalid. I couldn't walk out my front to to my car in the driveway without being out of breath and my back hurting. Walking up a small flight of stairs was very hard.
How did I get this way? Lifestyle! Eating over stress, being bound to a desk 8-10 hours a day, and not exercising. My weight started to go up in my early 20's (I was a little chunky in my youth and loved to eat).
It just kind of sprialed out of control, slowy, yet steadily. You start settling for being out of shape a little, then wham, you're too tired or fat to work out. The you settle for a little less, on and on it went. I associated exercise with pain, when the reality is, not exercising equals pain! As I approched my 49th birthday which was in April, I realized I may not be around to see my daughters grow up.
I sought a trainer and found one I conected with, Jess Hogue of Shapeplus.com. He has a main message of "no excuses". One of the first things he has me do was write down all the things I wanted in life and wanted from working out. He noticed I wrote down that I wanted to be an Ironman (long time dream). He said we needed to start small and challenged me to commit to doing a sprint tri in September, the TriGlenwood race (www.triglenwood.com). So I made a public committment to my friends, family, and co-workers that I was going to do it! I had 7 1/2 months to get ready. I was 471 in January and when I started traiing with Jess I was 461.
I started with 35 days of cardio in a row to get things going. I did 45 minutes a day. I had to work up from 15 minutes 3 times a day to where I could do 45 minutes straight. I was also doing one hour of
weight training 3 nights a week with Jess. Then in March, Jess told me to get a pair of swim trunks and
start swimming. I thought he was insane, I wanted to lose a bunch of weight first as I did not want to be
seen in a swimsuit in public! I went to the gym and swam, did two laps and was exhaisted and seasick! As a kid I never could swim without nose plugs and I realized I needed swim lessons asap! I had 9 swim
lessons over the spring and summer and improved greatly. Now I like to swim.
My real fear at this point was the bike, I could just see me bending or breaking the frame or popping the tires! I worked on the statinary bike at the gym in July and in August found a sturdy mountain bike and
started riding. Man did my butt and arms get sore! The work on the exercise bike did not transfer over to a real bike very well. I started with 3 miles and worked my way up to 15 miles, but it was slow.
Finally, the date approached and I couldn't believe it was finally here but at the same time I couldn't believe that the race was already here! I was at 389 pounds, a loss of 82 pounds.
I worried about this race as I trained for it. Depending on what day it was, I worried about the swim, or the bike, or the run (walk for me). I started thinking I should worry about the transitions so I wouldn't miss out on anything! Silly, I know!
I got a decent nights sleep the night before the race and I was pumped up to say the least. The swim wave started and I took off and ended up swimming like a barge and did not swim like I had the last month of training. I did finish but took a 5 minute penalty.
I took my time in the transition and headed out on the bike. The first half was great as it was slightly down hill and I flew! Gravity was in my favor and I rode faster than I had since I was a teenager!
But of course the return trip was uphill and I moved at a snails pace. I had to laugh as a chubby woman about 60 blew by me on her bike! One of the things I have really come to love about this tri thing is that almost every person who sped by me had encouraging words! I finally came into the transition area and
headed out for my five mile walk.
I was feeling pretty good at this point and knew I would probably make it. I had started in the second wave of swimmers and by the time I was a mile into the walk most of the runners had passed me by. I was at the 3.3 mile point when the truck that picks up the signs was closing in opn me. But they stayed behind me and let me go on. They must have had a radio as they kept yelling my name and encouraging me to finish. My calves started to cramp up and I had to do a little stretching at mile 4, but I knew then that I was going to make it!
Finally the finish line appeared. Most people had gone, but my family, Jess, a few particpants, and the
race volunteers were still there waiting for me to finish. The last people to finish ahead of me had crossed the finish line about 15 minutes before me. I crossed the finish line and raised my hands in victory and let out a load whoop! I was a triathlete at last! My wife came over and we hugged and then I lost it, as you can see in the video.
I was totally overcome with emotion - elation, pride, excitement, and a whole lot of gratitiude. My wife, daughters, Jess, friends,co-workers,fellow bloggers, race volunteers, and the other athletes had been so supportive and encouraging during this journey. I love this sport and community and I am sitting here tearing up all over again.
Tomorrow I am going in to get fitted for a road bike and on the 20th, I am going in for a video swim analysis and lesson. I am starting my training for next summer when I will do a 1/2 ironman triathlon!
Man, I love this thing!
I plan on doing a couple Sprint tris in the spring and summer and for the 1/2 ironman I am looking at Soma AZ in late October but I may do the Longhorn Tri in late September.
Would you like to hear more from Duane? You can find him HERE.
Please let Duane and Jess know what you think about their story by commenting below. We will certainly pass along any kind words of encouragement to help them to their Ironman dream.