Total life makeover

author : rjcalhoun
comments : 5

From heavy, stressed business owner to triathlete

Hello, my name is Robert and this is my story of my transformation from being unhealthy and stressed out to being a aspiring plant based athlete. Alright so a little background how my fitness journey began and how I ended up getting hooked on Triathlon.

My journey started in late 2013, I was very overweight, (260lbs, 5'11") and very unhappy with my life. I had a stressful business and living situation and found myself drinking with freinds more often then not. I had a list of health issues I was willfully ignoring that included, high cholesterol, stage II hypertension, and sleep apnea.

In early 2014, I adopted a Plant Based diet and lifestyle, purchased first pair of 'real' running shoes from a real running shop. started power walking, then running, then first 5k, second 5k, third 5k. I closed my business and started seriously de-stressing my life.

Late 2014 I joined a running club (No Meat Athlete) and started running longer distances. After my first 10K race in early 2015 I was still developing as a runner. During first half marathon (2:14) I suffered heavy muscle strain and injury. I started researching injury recovery and read 'born to run'. I realized my 'fancy' running shoes where a big part of the problem and threw them in the trash. I went with a minimal wide toe box shoes (Topo Athletic) and recovered from my running injuries. (been injury free since then) Signed up for first Marathon, moved to desert, trained in intense 100*F + dry heat.

Starting in June 2015, Started swimming at a local 'short' pool (20yrds). At this point have no idea of a Triathlon, but I set my swim goal as one 'full' mile, 1800 yards or about 42 laps in the short pool. Soon after in July 2015, I was gifted my first Bike after 30 years of not riding! You starting to see things coming along here, still have no thought of doing a triathlon, but I notice a couple of my running group friends doing triathlons, intrigued.

August 2015, I find a 'real' road bike and trade in my gifted multi purpose bike for a 1988 Peugeot 'Triathlon' 12 speed! For its time it was top notch with all Shimano 105 components. In retrospect it makes for a great trainer as you really have to work harder, but a modern bike would be so much faster and efficient.

So I get this random email about a local Triathlon at a place called Hansen Dam. I look it over, very intrigued, should I pull the trigger and do it? Hmm, sprint or olympic? I pace around the house for about 30 minutes wondering what kind of stupid move am I going to make.

Sprint sounds too easy, I will do a Olympic, I firm my resolve, sit down and punch in the credit card numbers and Confirm. I have now signed up for my first Triathlon!


August 21, 2015, Hansen Dam. I am setup, ready to go, I am not nervous at all. I line up for the swim, somehow I ended up in the front, oh crap. The horn sounds and its hell or high water, I run and jump in and swim, I am getting my kicked, pummeled, swam over and beat up. 100 yards in, have not even made it to the first buoy, and I am off to the side treading water wondering what the hell am I doing! I am close to panic, hyperventilating and just trying to take in the scene. I see 2 girls getting pulled out of the water, then another guy gets pulled out of the water, I hear the horn blow, the next wave is coming! The life guard is heading my way for the rescue, no way man. I gotta go! I start swimming, struggling, broken arm still not fully recovered, breathing only to the right side, near sighted and swimming side ways into everyone else. Mean time the horn blows and the next wave is in the water. 3rd lap down, I can finally get out of the water! Out of the water I run into transition, blind, dazed and confused I quickly rinse my feet and pull on my shoes, don my helmet and gloves and run out with the bike and off I go!

On the bike I am riding away as fast as I can, I feel like I am leaving the scene of a car wreck. Did I swim 2 laps or 3? I honestly cant remember but it doesn't matter. I ride and ride, getting tired, grab my water bottle and simply just drop it and run it over with my back tire almost throwing me off the bike. Good thing for 2 bottles! The ride is going well, I am passing people and it feels good. Heading in for home, only 3 more people to pass, light the last match and burn hard all the way to transition. Then it hits me....I still have to run 6 MILES!!!! I dismount and try to run into transition, my legs are rubber and I almost fall flat on my face, only my bike holds me up. Holy Hell what am I going to do!

Ok, off with the helmet and gloves, pull on my run bib and visor I am ready to go..but wait I better hydrate and eat something. Half a bottle of water and a whole banana and I am ready to go. The sun is in full force and the temps are climbing. (The water was 79*F at 6:30am) I start out for the 10K run, shouldn't be a problem. I don't even get a half mile into it and I get a nasty side stitch. I can't run, I have to walk. If I try to run I will not recover. After the first mile I am in a walk/run for mile 2, Now its up in the mid 80*s and we are running on dry dusty dirt trail with full sun exposure. By mile 3 I am running at a decent pace, by mile 4 its getting even hotter, I am melting and finish out the last 2.5 half miles doing a running zombie shuffle. I see the finish line! I keep it strong and I throw my hands up and cross the finish line with a official time of 3:29

I am a TRIATHLETE!!!!!

I am currently training through the summer for a Triathlon Triple I have setup for myself in August. I have also recently joined a Triathlon club called 'California Triathlon'. If you live in Southern California I would look them up as they have lots of free training events, volunteer activities, etc..

Listed below are several more of my major athletic accomplishments since my first Triathlon. Sept 2015, I complete a 70 mile road bike race with 4,800ft of elevation gain.

Dec, 2015, I complete my first full marathon, Marine Corp Marathon, Washington DC 5:44 

Feb 2016, I complete my second full marathon, Surf City Marathon, Huntington Beach, CA 5:09

May 15, I complete my first Duathlon 2m/15m/2m 1:29

My "Triathlon Triple" for August 2016: Semper Fi Tri Sprint Aug 6th Hansen Dam Olympic, Aug 21st Santa Barbara Olympic Long Course Aug 29 (1M/35M/10M)

Some additional events through the rest of the year I have planned.

September 2016: Tehachapi Gran Fondo 104M bike, 8,000ft elevation climb

October 2016: Trick or Tri Olympic Oct 29th

I am also very proud to say that all of these accomplishments have been made on a Plant Based Diet. No meat, No diary. My total wieght loss so far has been 90lbs 260 to 170. (I am still at 20% body fat, so I still have room for improvement)

Thanks for reading and I hope you have enjoyed my story. I look forward to seeing everyone on the forums and best wishes with everyones training and succesful future events!

Cheers, Robert, Mojave Desert, California


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date: May 31, 2016


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