Moments of Glory: Success Stories From Everyday Athletes
Janay – An Accidental 10K
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I am proud that the Couch to 5K training plan helped me run my first 5K. I hated running before that and now I love it.
The best part is that I accidentally ran the 10K during my first 5K and I've been running 10Ks ever since. I never would have discovered my love for running if it weren't for the inspiration from my peers.
Bridget – My Dad's Fighting Spirit
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This past year my dad dedicated his life to training for an Ironman in spite of being diagnosed with arthritis. This was a very difficult diagnosis for him as he is the most active person I know, but he wouldn't let a little pain set him back. He did a 70.3 this summer and did incredible.
He recently attempted his first Ironman. Unfortunately within the first hour he became incredibly sick with what we think was the flu. In spite of it, he still tried to carry on with the race with hip pain and extreme stomach problems. He's a person that once he starts something he always follows through. He got to mile 11 on the run and just could not go on anymore. He fought for about 11 hours through the sickness.
Unfortunately, serious health consequences were at stake and he had to withdraw from the race. I am still so proud of him and how he kept his head held high even in pain and did the best he possibly could (and I'm happy he listened to his body and stopped). I know he will do another one one day, and complete it.
But hey, at 53 years old, finishing 125 miles out of 140 isn't so bad. He's an Ironman in my book. Go dad!
Burt – Climbing High
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One of my proudest moments was successfully summiting the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere, Mt. Aconcagua. Aconcagua is in the Argentinian Andes and sits at 22,837 feet above sea level. It's something that I'd never done before and I had no idea what to expect or how my body would respond to the altitude. It all turned out well; I was one of three people from our party of seven to reach the summit.
All totaled I spent 13 days on the mountain, by far my longest "camping" trip to date.
Mark - My first Ironman
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I completed my first Ironman in St. George, Utah, on my 30th Birthday. I decided the year prior that I wanted to celebrate my life, turning 30, and my fondness of triathlons by participating in an IM event. When it was announced that a new IM event was taking place on my actual birthday, I knew it was fate.
I got through the swim faster than I expected, even though the water was a chilling 58 degrees. I was mostly concerned with finishing the bike portion before hitting the cut-off time. Once I reached the final descent on the second bike loop and realized I was going to finish before the cut-off, leaving more than six hours for the run portion, that was the first moment it hit me...I'm going to do this! The run was no less challenging than the bike or swim. But with the tremendous support of volunteers: It's amazing how a stranger shouting, "Keep it up," "You're doing great," and "I'm so proud of you," will give you that extra bit of energy to take another step closer to the finish.
Hearing Mike Reilly say, "Mark Warble, You. Are. An Ironman" and having my parents there to hug me at the finish was simply priceless.
Jessica – A True Glory Moment
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My first open water race was an aquathon on the Chesapeake Bay. I was really nervous. About five minutes into the swim I noticed a woman in distress so I let her hang onto me. She wasn't wearing a wetsuit and was having trouble staying afloat. Luckily I was wearing a wetsuit so I was able to keep the two of us above water. I kept waiting for a kayak to come and rescue her but it took a really long time.
Eventually I was free to continue my swim. I swam and I swam but could not catch up to the buoy. Eventually I realized that the buoy had come unhinged and was floating out to sea. Looking back to shore I saw folks waving for me to come back in. A kayak finally caught up to me and told me what had happened. I finished the race but was sad to be in almost last place.
Later on that year I was awarded the lifesaver award by the Washington, D.C. area triathlon club. That was my glory moment.
Gale – Falling in Love With Endurance
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One of the earliest moments I recall recognizing that I loved endurance sport was my first trek up Colorado's Longs Peak (14,259 feet) sometime in the mid-1980s. I was ill prepared for the 13-hour hike and it took days to recover; but the feeling of standing on top of the world made me feel alive. I loved accomplishing something with my own body that couldn't be bought; it had to be earned. All of endurance sport is like that for me—earned accomplishment.
The photo is me in the Trough section from a trek up Longs in 2009. Hikers follow the painted "eggs" on the rocks in order to keep from getting lost. I've climbed the mountain around 6 or 8 times and it never gets old.
Levi – Digging Deep
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My proudest active moment was completing the 2009 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.
It was an incredible journey that started off by being accepted to the "Who Wants to be Active" campaign and was 20 weeks of training that included blogging about my experience. It was so much fun competing with other teams and sharing my experiences with friends and family.
About half way through my training I injured my hip flexor muscle and my right hamstring. For the last 10 weeks I wasn't sure if I'd be able to compete at all. I had yoga physical therapy along with acupuncture twice a week. When it came time for race day, I still wasn't sure I'd be able to race but thought that I would show up and support my teammates anyway.
I decided to start off by running a couple of miles and if I started to feel any pain, I would stop. I made it halfway through the marathon in 2.5 hours and felt great so I continued on. At about mile 16, however, I hit the wall and couldn't run anymore. I started to walk through the pain but still had 10.2 miles to go (that .2 miles is very noticeable at the end of the race). At about mile 23 I could hardly walk and had my head down and was flooding tears down my face. I wanted to give up so bad and then I heard someone yell my name: "Come on Levi, you can do it!" I looked up and saw a random stranger who noticed my name on my bib and offered those words of encouragement. It was exactly what I needed!
I had a great teammate that also trained the 20 weeks and was in peak physical shape for the race. When I couldn't run anymore I told him to go ahead so that he could get a good finishing time. Instead, he stayed behind to walk with me. I never would have finished the race without him. Thanks Jim De La Cruz!
The proudest moment came when I finally crossed the finish line after six hours of racing and I heard Mike Reilly call my name. I instantly started to cry; I had just accomplished one of the hardest goals I had ever set for myself.
Nicole – Rediscovering the Magic
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I did my first Ironman in Louisville in 2009 and it was the best day of my life. It was so much fun and I really enjoyed everything about the event.?I caught the Ironman bug and was excited to get faster.
My second Ironman was in Florida in 2011.?I set a 45-minute PR but had some of the darkest moments of my athletic career in that race.?While I was proud to set such a huge PR, I was miserable in the race. After training and sacrificing for eight months, not being able to enjoy the race seemed so wrong.?I vowed I would find the Ironman magic again, so I signed up for my third Ironman in Mont Tremblant in 2013 (Mont Tremblant is a fantastic venue!).?
While the course was quite difficult, l managed to truly take in every moment and appreciate the day.?I was so thankful my family came to cheer me on—matching T-shirts, hats, cowbells and professionally made banners in tow—and I loved how warm and friendly the volunteers and spectators were. Shouts of "Bravo!" and "You are a champion!" were so endearing.?While I did not have the race I had hoped for (partially due to terrible stomach pains related to a tasty Canadian dessert I should not have eaten the night before the race), I can say I found the Ironman magic again and am already planning my next Ironman adventure.
Mark – Inspiring Others
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Helping others achieve different fitness goals through my ActiveX workouts is something that gives me great joy. Even when the workout is tough, seeing smiles on my co-workers faces and the camaraderie of working out as a group is a wonderful thing.
This picture is from a workout I lead this year, which happened to be on my birthday. We had a great turnout and although the group was unaware, my co-workers gave me the perfect birthday gift: sweating and smiling together. It made me proud, not only knowing that I help to facilitate what we do as a group, but more-so knowing that collectively we were all supporting each other to finish stronger than when we started.