By Catherine McNamara
The Sag Harbor native, after being obese, sheds 90 pounds in less than a year and is training to compete in the Iron Man triathlon in October.
You weighed 250 pounds a year ago and are now down to 160. What first motivated you to begin losing weight?
I was going through a divorce so I decided to make some changes in my life, but at the same time stay focused. It was that simple; changes in my personal life led to changes in my physical health. These, fortunately, were positive changes. You can go two ways, either constructive or destructive, and I chose constructive.
Did you have the Ironman competition in mind when you first began working out?
Well, I hadn’t raced in about 6 years, since 2002, and I started feeling better and lost some weight. I had a running partner who had just had a baby not too long ago, and we literally just started walking together. A walk became a jog and then we began running on a regular basis. Then soon after that we decided to enter a triathlon with a friend. It was that summer, in about June or July after we had entered the race, that I decided to enter the Half Ironman race in California for March of 2008. By October of last year, I entered the Ironman Lottery. I’ve always had the Ironman competition in the back of my mind, but I never thought I would have made this much progress in such a short period of time. I took it slow and one thing led to the next. One example is the race that we trained and participated in as a relay team, where we ended up coming in first in our division. It was a really nice feeling, and it motivated me to watch my fitness level.
What type of training do you do to prepare yourself for Ironman?
I train six days a week. I always take one day off each week, usually a Saturday, to let my body rest and recuperate. I weight train three times a week. I run about five days a week. I also swim about three to four days a week. I actually train less frequently now, but with a higher volume. I used to run for 6 days a week.
What does the Ironman competition consist of?
It is a 2.4 mile ocean swim, 112 bike ride in the Kona heat and wind, and 26.2 mile marathon. All in one day, all within 17 hours to be an official finisher. It’s one of the toughest athletic events in the world. It’s the world championship for triathlons. It’s the one that all the professionals work towards.
What are the rewards for winners in this competition?
I’m not sure about the prizes, but I know that it is only open to professionals. I honestly am just happy to finish. There are about 150 professionals in the race, male or female, and realistically only about 10 people have an opportunity to win the race. The prize money is not that extensive compared to other sports. Most of the professionals make their money from sponsorships. I’m sponsored by a sports nutrition company, which I work for, that has a sports nutrition subsidiary called the Medical Research Institute. I’ve taken one of their protein supplements religiously over the last year and it has helped me in my training and weight loss. Sponsorships help with the costs of training and traveling. Participating in these events is a time and financial investment. Luckily for me, living in southern California, I don’t have to travel that far to participate in races. I’ve pretty much been doing a race every three weeks since March. Growing up out here, I used to have to travel to New England to just get a couple races in a year. I think it’s gotten much easier to train here.
You are raising funds for the groups Vitamin Angels, a charity that
provides vitamins for malnourished kids and families in impoverished areas
worldwide. How did you become involved with them?
The founder of the company that I work for, Natrol, had been involved with Vitamin Angels by giving them supplements. It’s a very worthy cause, and I became a regular donor just myself. I thought that this would be an organization that I would enjoy giving back to. They were ecstatic about this. It’s great because the Ironman organization makes it so easy to hook up with charities. I did an Ironman distance race about 18 years ago, which at the time was in New Hampshire, the Jimmy Fund was one of the charities that was benefiting from the race. I worked to raise money for them.Â