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Surgeon TestimonialDavid KimI first met Dr. Kim at a Symposium he was hosting, to discuss amongst a group of people considering Bariatric Surgery, the options that were available. He immediately struck me as a doctor who truly cared about his patients, and was not like others I have met or heard about that run a \"Chop Shop\" for Weight Loss Surgery. Throughout the process of getting approved by insurance, pre-op education, operative care, and post-op follow-up, I could not imagine being better looked after or taken care of. I know that Dr. Kim cares for his patients, and will be the only surgeon I will recommend for those folks who are considering Bariatric Surgery as a way to change their lives for good.
- Bicycling - Triathlon!!!!
- Running & Jogging - Triathlon!!!!
- Mormonism - Born and raised in the church
- 4-Wheelers - YEE HAW!!!
- Married - Been with my wife since we were 16, married for 9 years now
- Baton Twirling - Not Really An Interest - Just Funny They Have This As An Option & Not Swimming!!
- Golf - Don't get out as much as I would like anymore!
100 Mile Run - 28.5 Hours Straight!!! on February 10, 2012 2:00 pm
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It has been one week since I completed this epic race and I feel like I have recounted all the details sufficiently in my head so I can help you get a glimpse of how awesome this journey was! So, I ask for your patience with my VERY winded report of one of the most gratifying but by far, the most dificult thing I have ever done in my life.
Without going in to too much detail about this race last year, I will just say that I got through just about 75 miles in 19 hours, and since that day, I have wanted to get my vengance on this course! This would be my 4th attempt at the 100 mile distance. 2 times I got to about the 75 mile mark and could not continue. My 3rd attempt earlier this year got called short when I rolled my ankle twice at mile 25 on some roots, and could not continue. Go in to this race, I KNEW I was going to finish it! I have found that when you go into a race with full confidence in your training, your ability, and your motivation to get through some serious pain, there is a great chance you will complete your goal, and probably BETTER than you expected to. This was the very feeling I had when I registered for this race many months ago.
My training for this race was far more effective than past attempts at the distance. A lot of that is due to the fact that my base was uber strong, and I just needed to maintain it while increasing my strength, which I did, and proved to be spot-on. My longest run leading up to this race was an 8 hour ULTRA which I got in 37 miles, and was really pleased with. My preperations included lots of cross-training and more intense, shorter workouts, which enabled me to avoid injury and toe the line without injury and at 100%! I really tried to listen to my body, and most importantly, I found a WONDERFUL balance between work, family, training, church, etc, which as a whole, made me a very happy man when race time came around.
One of the biggest bummers for me was going in to the race knowing that my sweetheart and children were not going to be there with me, but I knew they would be there in spirit. As the race drew closer and closer I found a general sense of peace, confidence, and assurance come over me, that let me know this was going to be MY victory. Last year in my race report, I stated "Perhaps this distance is bigger than me, RIGHT NOW, but it is my Mt. Everest, and I WILL conquer it". Those very words were my own motivation throughout this past year, and when race day came, I knew my motivation and ability was far bigger than the Mt Everest that stood in front of me.
On to the race... I had asked my buddy, Andy Meadows, several months ago if he would be interested in crewing for me at this event, and he said yes. I also asked my best friend of 18 years, Aric Hill, if he would crew for me as well, to which he of course said yes. So these guys were my support throughout the ENTIRE race, and I owe much of this milestone to these guys...
Andy and I flew in to So Cal from Fort Worth on Thursday morning and the race started on Saturday. Thursday we all went out for a little round of golf and dinner and got some solid sleep. Friday we spent the day getting the rest of our supplies dialed in and went over our strategy and game plan for the race. Aric also had some friends come over Friday night for a friendly game of cards, at which, Aric made a bet with one of his sceptic friends. No, the bet was not about me, it was about Aric's ability to ride a bike for 15 miles along side of me, which could take 3-4 hours depending on what stage of the race we were in, and he had not been on a bike for about as long as we have been friends! He gladly accepted the bet, I internally prayed for him, and we went on with the game. More on this later... Andy is a very strong cyclist and I knew he would be able to handle pacing me on the bike for the duration without a problem. He is just starting to get in to triathlon and his longest run to date was about 6 miles. More on that later...
As race morning was upon us, I got up at 4am and started the rituals. After checking everything and ensuring we had everything we needed, we headed to the race start. The atmosphere was lively and cheery, and it was great to see so many familiar faces! My mom came to the race start which was a nice treat. After the race director and founder of The 100 Mile Club, Kara Lubin, made some general announcements, gave some recognition, and laid out some particulars about the course, it was time to line up and get ready to head out. As the horn blew, and the beeping of all the GPS watched commenced, the adrenaline kicked in, the crowd was cheering, spirits were soaring, and that calm peace I spoke of earlier came over me, and with a confident nod-n-a wink to my mom, I was off.
I told Andy that my goal for the first 25 miles was to maintain a 10 - 11 minute per mile pace. My nutrition plan was simple... One can of Chicken broth (1890mg of Sodium) every 2 hours (broken up by sips of it in my handheld every 20 minutes), a gel every 30 minutes, a 100 calorie snack at the top of each hour, and every 3 hours a mini meal. I also used straight Gatorade in my Camelbak and would alternate that with water every few sips. My mini meals typically consisted of peanut butter sandwiches, pizza, french fries, soup, and milkshakes. My snacks at the top of the hours typically consisted of Bananas, chips, candy, and whatever else sounded good along the way. Throughout the whiole race, my nutrition was absolutely spot-on and could not have worked out better. The night before the race, as Andy and I were going over strategy, we made maticulous notes, being sure to put down what time and what item I needed to eat or drink and out on the course, pretty much kept that schedule to a "T". On the first section, my pace was perfect, not too fast, not too slow and finished the first 25 miles in 4:29:-- (They did not record the seconds).
At the first aid station, it had warmed up pretty good and I decided I wanted to change. So, I threw on some new digs, taped up my feet where I was starting to feel some "Hot Spots" where blisters were starting to form, refueled, and was off again. This stretch leads right down the Santa Ana River Trail, which basically runs next to Angel Stadium all the way down to the ocean shore. At this point, Aric, decided to switch off pacing duties with Andy and took reigns over the bike and trailer and to fulfill the bet he made with his friend at the card game the night prior. Andy would speed ahead in the car and meet up with us every 6 miles or so to make sure we were all set. This point in the race is where I would typically blow it! I would try to keep running fast, using all my energy, and subsequently, pay for it down the road. I knew I had to stick to my game plan and start walking a bit. I have to admit that it took me swallowing a lot of pride to watch people run past me at mile 25-50, but I knew I was doing the right thing. This section was pretty uneventful. Just kept the head down, pounded out the miles, stuck to the nutrition plan, and enjoyed some time with my bro Aric. As we finally hit the ocean, we ran along the bike trail where many RV's were parked to camp out. We got glimpses, on the big screen TVs that adorned these RVs, of the USC game score, and other interesting things as well. Random people would ask us how far we were running, we would tell thim, they would proceed to use explatives to describe their feelings about running that far, and we would carry on. As we made our way down Bolsa Chica Beach, I told Aric that some hot Curly Fries from Jack In The Box sounded pretty good. He phoned ahead to Andy who was waiting there and had them for me when I arrived. At this point it was dark and I had about 4.5 miles to go until the 50 mile Aid Station. I told Aric to call ahead and have my mom, and mother-in-law, Grace, to have a warm Cheese Pizza waiting for me when I got there in about an hour. I finally got to the station on 2nd Street & PCH by Belmont Shore and found many runers hanging out and refueling. I also found that my Mom & MIL decided to WALK to get my pizza... Those of you who have ever walked with my mom KNOW that it is not exactly as "BRISK" pace she carries. So, after waiting 20 minutes for my pizza, I chow down, regroup, and head out to the 3rd stage... Mile 50-75. (2nd stage total time 7:18:--)
This is the stage of an ULTRA I had never been passed, but I KNEW I had it today, and still had that confidence and swagger in my step. Now, to digress just a moment... Aric ended up riding the ENTIRE 2nd stretch on the bike. My prayers turned from hoping he could do it, to praying that his underparts didn't look like chop meat as he opted to NOT wear cycling shorts for a 6 hour trek in the saddle!!! So, needless to say, Andy picked the bike back up at 50 and as we ran off in to the mist and fog, I think I got a faint glimpse of Aric "Flipping Off" the bike & trailer! We made it down to the shore and again began running on the bike trail. The fog was so thick you could barely see 4-5 feet in front of you in the darkness. After several miles, I knew we were in a place that was pretty hallowed for me and Christie. On March 12th, 1992, I asked Christie to be my girl on the very steps we were running past. I asked Andy to take a picture of the steps as I reached into my pack to grab the laminated picture of my family I brought with me, kissed my sweet Christie's face on the picture, and we set off again. I knew Christie and the family couldn't be there with me, but they were in spirit, and with the picture of them I carried with me, they actually ran the whole way with me!
This section wound through Shoreline Village in Long Beach, down the marina breezeway and then paralleled the Los Angeles River along the 710 Freeway. This part had a couple VERY big areas that were full of Vagrants / tranziants and would have been very "Hairy" at the midnight hour without Andy along my side. We made it out of dodge unscathed and continued on until we hit PCH again. Once we were back on the road, we ran along the refineries, which smelled heavenly, and then down towards Wilmington. I asked for Andy to have Aric hook me up with a Vanilla shake, which he did. After chugging that, we finally arrived at the 62.5 mile sub station. This was probably the only "Dark Spot" I had in the whole race. Doubts were starting to creep into my head, the air had turned bitterly cold, the fog was thick and soupy, my legs were throbbing, and morale was pretty low. It took a lot of convincing to get myself up again and started to make my way out of the station back onto the course. As I began to move, I started feeling better. I took in a lot of calories, chugged fluids, took a pain reliever, and soon found myself putting together some good runs here and there and began to feel good. I also noticed that we were heading directly south through San Pedro Harbor, where I had fished many a time, and enjoyed the familiar surroundings. When we finally made our way all the way to the coast, we were supposed to follow this bike trail as we began our ascent up to Rancho Palos Verdes Estates. The fog was as thick as soup now, and Andy and I did not know where we were to go. Andy gave the bike back to Aric before we got to this point, and was walking / running along with me. We later found out that the road we were supposed to take was CLOSED, but we did not now that, nor did we have any clue how to navigate around it. THANK GOODNESS FOR OUR GPS WATCHES!!! We ended up turning UPHILL which led us in to the hills and soon found ourselves on a mountain trail! There was no way this was right! We continued on and began to see a street below us that our Garmin said we needed to get to, the only problem was the 100 foot drop off to get down to it. We continued on until we found a resonable enough path to get to it and as we descended, found some headlights coming at us. It was a member of the crew of another runer, basically asking us what the hell we were doing in the sticks! He pointed us in the right direction and we soon discovered that we added almost 3 miles to our journey and 1200 feet of elevation climb on that trail!!! My legs were trashed!
After we got through that, we had another 5 miles to get to the 75 mile aid station. We could not see anything except occasional headlights. We passed The Donald Trump Golf Course, which we obviously could not see, and this section was literally uphill the whole way. 5 miles up into the aid station. I had finally made it, and found Aric, Grace, and my mom waiting for me there! HALELUJAH!!! (Total time for 3rd section 8:37:--) I put my jacket on, posted up next to the fire, drank a couple cups of soup, and was pleased to discover that there was a gentleman there performing ART for athletes who needed it. SIGN ME UP I said. He loosened my quads and calves and I felt much better! This is it, unchartered waters for me... These are the championship miles, but I was in it to win it and there was not going to be anything that would keep me from finishing at this point! I called Christie, told her I was good to go, and Andy and I headed back out in to the dark fog. 2 more hours until the sun would come back up!
The words that kept popping into my head in this first part of the last section were... "Does this hill EVER end???" It seemed like we were literally going uphill for the better part of 10 miles. So, we just kept slogging out the miles until the sun lightened up the sky. I finally was able to take off my jacket and my beenie, and was ready to hit the beach again that would lead me to the finish. We finally crested the hill, and I got back on the bike trail at Redondo Beach. At this point I was really hungry, and REALLY tired of Gatorade, gels, snacks, and all the other stuff I had been eating for a day straight. I told Andy to call Aric and have him get me some breakfast from McDonald's. A bit later, Aric met up with Andy to deliver the greasy Mana, and mana it was! I probably would have gladly eaten anything that was half warm at this point. I chow down, and realized I was less than 10 miles away!!! I kept running along the beach, walking when I had to, and struggled to stay awake! That was nothing a 5 Hour Energy shot didn't fix! There was a group of about 4 runners that were playing cat and mouse back and forth with me. They were walking VERY fast, and I do not walk that fast, so I had to jog/walk to stay with or ahead of them. As we came in to the home stretch down the madness that is Venice Beach, I knew I had this thing. I plug away and keep grinding it out. When I saw the chase pack get close, I would run and then walk when I had to. Less than 2 miles to go now!!! I had Andy call Christie and tell her I was almost done and to have her phone next to her. As we get near the finish, I see the FINISH banner!!! I got my phone out and called Christie. I asked her to round up all the children and get them on the phone. As they all cheered for me over the phone, I crossed the finish line with them! I cried a little, told them I loved them, hung up, and collapsed on the ground. Colapsed in exhaustion, exhileration, in astonishment, and in humility...
(4th Section total time 8:06:--)
Overall Total Time 28:30:00
After getting hugs and my shiny finisher's belt buckle, I just sat on the ground, burried my head between my legs and sobbed for a bit. I am not sure if it was the foul stench that I emminated or the sheer hunger and desire to get a greasy burger that compelled me up from my prone position, but either way, it was a long way up, even with the help of Aric and Kara Lubin! There were several folks who requested that I dedicate 1 mile of the race to them... Andrew Miceli, Mile 69, this mile was yours because at mile 62.5 I almost gave up on myself, but I knew you were pulling for me and I ran that whole mile for you brother, because you did not give up at Ironman in August! Katrina Mumaw, she didnt request a specific mile, but I gave her mile 89. I was so tired, so exhausted, falling asleep while walking, I thought about her and her service to our country overseas in the military, and remembered it is because of her and all the others that have, are, and ever will serve our country in the Armed Forces, and protect our freedoms and my dream of running 100 miles. To all the others who contributed to this run and cause I thank you sincerely, I kept moving because I knew you ALL were pulling for me.
In retrospect, I think about the enormity of what I did, and here are the things that stick out in my mind, and are really the true challenges that are associated with this challenge.
1) Have you ever stayed awake for 30 hours?
2) Have you ever stood on your feet for 30 hours?
3) Have you ever continuously moved for 30 hours?
4) (If you have ever ran 100 miles) Ever done it on concrete?
5) What is your motivation to finish?
6) How much pain are you willing to endure?
7) How prepared are you?
8) Do you believe in yourself?
9) Are you affraid to punch through the darkness to see what's on the other side?
10) Do you believe there is a strength within you that lies deep in your soul, that is yet to be unveiled?
My feet were basically entirely covered in blisters, my legs were so sore, but all of it was worth it. 6 days later and I am RECOVERED! I am racing in a triathlon tomorrow and the only thing that I can say to those who say that I am crazy is...
"I am not crazy, I am just not affraid"
Thank you all for your continued love, support, encouragement, and care... I did NOT run this race alone, you all were there with me. A special thanks to the best crew a man could ever ask for... Aric "Sorenuts" Hill, and Andy "howdidienduprunning30mileswithDan" Meadows. Most importantly, I want to express my love and appreciation to my wonderful wife Christie. She is my strength, my support, my everything, and truly without her, I am nothing. The truest quote I ever read was... "Behind every good man is an even better woman". THAT IS THE TRUTH!!!
So that's it, 104 miles in the books, and on to the next challenge! "The greatest reward for success, is the opportunity to do MORE". BRING IT ON!!!
IRONMAN ARIZONA 2010 on December 4, 2010 5:52 am
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IRONMAN ARIZONA 2010
It has been exactly one week since I raced at Ironman Arizona, and have had ample time to digest and contemplate how my day unfolded out there on the course. Since this Ironman involved so much more than just racing, I will start from the beginning and hope you will enjoy my recount of Ironman Arizona 2010.
My journey started off packing up the bike and gear, my wife, and our three kids in the car on Wednesday evening to make the 1000 mile drive westward to Tempe. We drove through the night and finally arrived at my brother, Jeff’s house, in Gilbert, AZ (About 20 minutes from the race) in the early afternoon on Thursday. We lay low Thursday evening and then headed to the Ironman Village and Athlete Check-In on Friday Morning. As I stand in the long line for check-in, a volunteer came around asking for Bib #s. I told him I was bib #98, and then he says “What the heck are you doing standing in line???” I said, “Isn’t this athlete check-in?” He says, “Yeah, for Age Groupers… You need to go check in with the pros”! AWESOME, but, I think you got the wrong dude, bro… So he directed me to the tent where I needed to go, which was chalked full of volunteers waiting to help me, and within about 3 minutes my check-in was done. I was also finally able to meet Erin Baker, maker of THE BEST BREAKFAST COOKIE IN THE WORLD!!! She hooked me up with some granola and a bunch of my favorite Caramel Apple Breakfast Cookies and snapped a couple pictures. I then went over to transition to check out the “Lay of the land”. When I got there, my rack said “BIB #95-98 MEDIA” and I was the second row away from transition in and out! AWESOME!!!
While I was there, an Ironman ICON was there, and I learned she would be on my rack 2 bikes down… Sister Madonna Buter! She is 80 years old and has finished countless Ironman events, and has the biggest heart of any woman! Here is a picture of us…
After I am all checked in and goofed around at the Ironman store and expo, my buddy Anthony, my brother Jeff, and Anthony’s girlfriend and I drove the bike course. As I was driving it, I could not get over how smooth and flat the roads were. As we head up Beeline Highway, I saw “The Hill” that everyone was talking about… Hill??? It looked like the elevation gain in my driveway, so I was VERY excited to see that it should be pretty smooth sailing. I will briefly mention that there was a slight breeze as we drove the course, but the sun was shining (which was a far cry from how it was on race day) and Anthony and I were VERY excited about the race now that we had seen the course. After that, we went back to Jeff’s house, went out for some killer BBQ at Famous Dave’s, and then hung out until the Welcome Dinner. At the dinner we sat next to a BUNCH of folks from www.IAMTRI.com , which is Ironman’s online Social Network for Triathletes. We sat next to a couple gentlemen from the UK, one of which was a Royal Marine, the other was hoping for a 9:20 finish!!! WOW! It was a great evening, got to hear a few guest speakers, and watched my friend Marie Hughes win “The Erin Baker Lifestyle Fitness Award” for losing more weight than any other athlete in preparation for this race (120 pounds)! Afterwards, we all go grab some frozen yogurt, and then we call it an evening and enjoy a good night’s sleep.
As Saturday morning comes, Jeff and I head down to the swim practice at The Tempe Town Lake. After I jump in, the 61 degree water slaps me in the face, and ensures that I am now awake! After I was in the water for a couple minutes and started swimming, the coldness went away and I enjoyed a smooth 1000M swim. Afterwards, I met up with Carrie, who is a writer for LAVA Magazine, and we had a 20-30 minute interview which went very well, and is now posted on their website at http://lavamagazine.com/features/lava-talks-dan-benintendi#a xzz16hSpHij4
We then headed back to the house to pick up my family and my gear to be checked in to transition. We arrive back at Ironman Village, and again, I get the awesome opportunity to bypass the lines and head straight to my rack to place my bike in position. After checking all the gears, and doing another “Glance-over” of the bike, all is well and there is nothing left to do but prepare for the big day tomorrow! When we got back to Jeff’s house, he informs me that his friend “Christine” who is an incredible Massage Therapist, was coming over to hook me up with a massage, WHICH WAS AWESOME!!! Later that evening, Anthony and Jill came over to Jeff’s and we had quite a carb load, which consisted of Pizza, Pasta, Lasagna, Salad, and Garlic Bread! YESSSSSSSSS!!! After that, a few friends came over, we watched the UFC Fights and then turned in for the evening.
My alarm rang on Sunday, RACE MORNING, at 3:30am and the rituals began. After bathing, applying PLENTY of Body Glide on various parts of the body, I begin fueling with a Banana, a waffle with peanut butter, some Gatorade G2, and of course, an Erin Baker Breakfast Cookie! I ensure I have all of my race gear and we head on down to the start. Jeff and I went together and got decent parking because he was volunteering at the Finish Line later in the day. When I get to transition, it really is awe inspiring to see the sea of AWESOME bikes! 2500 of the fastest and sweetest machines money can buy!
I double check all my gear, make sure my tires had enough pressure, exchange some warm thoughts with neighbors, and then finally it hits me… THE WIND IS HOWLING!!!! Before we started swimming, the winds were at a steady 10mph. As the minutes creep away, and we get closer to the start, I put on my wetsuit, grab my goggles, and start making my way to the swim start. We watch the cannon go off for the pros and the energy in the air was ABSOLUTELY electric! I was so excited to jump in the water and get the race going. However, I waited until the last moment to jump in the water. As they announce we are 5 minutes from race start, I jump in, and make my way to the start line. I positioned myself in the middle of the crowd, and was about 4 rows back from the front of the pack. After the cannon blows, I find a pocket and start stroking! I took a few knuckles to the head and a few random kicks, but nothing too crazy. Honestly, the swim was VERY enjoyable… My sighting was spot on, my pace was comfortable (maybe a little slower than I would have liked) and the time flew by VERY fast! My total swim time was 1:11:06 which put me in 642 place for overall swim time out of 2500ish athletes.
I come out of the water and am feeling pretty fresh. It was a pretty good jaunt to the transition tent, I got my wetsuit peeled off me, headed over to get my Transition Bag, begin drying off, wipe the grass, gravel, and funk from my feet, put on my socks and shoes, helmet and sunglasses, and I then headed to the far end of transition to grab my bike.
As I jump on the bike, I sense that the wind had picked up a bit and the sun was beginning to peek out. I start spinning and I was feeling REALLY good heading down Rio Solado Dr. Once we got past downtown and away from the big buildings, the wind let me know it was there!!! It had now turned to 15mph winds and was a cross wind for the first quarter of the loop leading out to Beeline. Once we hit beeline and started ascending “The Hill”, the wind was directly at our back, and I was climbing at 24mph. When I hit the turn-around at the top of the hill, I looked down to see I was averaging 21mph! AWESOME!!! THEN, I turned around and WHAMM!!!!!! The wind slapped me in the face. It was brutal! I was doing 17mph going DOWNHILL… What the heck? Anyways, it wasn’t so bad as long as I stayed Aero, and the first loop went by pretty quick. When I was getting close to starting the second loop, there were thousands of people there at the turnaround and it was an amazing spectacle to come in to!
I make the turnaround, hop out of the saddle and head out for the second loop. By this time, the clouds had moved in, and the wind had INCREASED to 20+mph. I am a big dude at 220 pounds, and I was getting blown all over the place. I hit Beeline again and am flying up the hill at 24-25mph again. I knew I was in for some pain on the way back down… Well, I make it to the top, hit the turn-around, and yup, BRUTALITY! This was the most brutal loop for sure… About 5 minutes into my descent, it started to rain, but then it started to hail! WHAT???? Where was the sunshine and slight breeze we had hoped for? All there was to do was keep pedaling, stay aero as much as possible, and keep on keeping on. I come in to the turn-around again, and got a much needed pick-me-up and headed out for the third loop. About 8 miles into this loop, I had to pee. So, I hopped off the bike, went to the port-o-joy, took care of business, did a little stretching, and hopped back on. I tried to stay on top of my nutrition and hydration, and thought I was doing a pretty good job (this would prove to be the contrary when I hit the run) so I kept plugging away and as I got to the top of Beeline, I had to pee again. So, I hopped off again, peed again, took in more fluids and nutrition, and made the final 16 miles back to the bike finish. About 5 miles from my finish I saw Marie on the bike. I asked how she was doing. She was coming in for her second loop and was concerned about cut off times. I told her to keep on pedaling and I would see her at the finish (She finished in 16:52:-- AWESOME… I knew she would do it).
As I head in to the Bike Finish, the crowds were amazing! However, I was not feeling so hot. I grab my transition bag and head into the tent. I was VERY cold and was fading due to poor hydration and nutrition. The guy helping me asked how I was feeling, he grabbed me some water, I took in a gel, and he hooked me up with some ART to help loosen me up, which was great. I put on my jacket and headed out to the run. When I am dehydrated, it taxes my respiratory system and if my heart rate goes up I have a very hard time breathing. So, I spent the first mile or so walking to get hydration and nutrition back. At the first aid station I took in a Power Bar, cookies, pretzels, Powerade, water, and salt tabs and once that hit my system, I felt better. When I would finally get on top of my nutrition, I would find it start slipping away again and I would find myself chasing my tail like this for the whole marathon. I was hoping for at least a 4:00 marathon, but because of nutrition issues, I was stuck with a 5:44. My running base is super strong right now, especially after coming off my 100 Mile Run 5 weeks ago, I just wish the nutrition would have been dialed in a bit more so I could race to my potential.
The loops went by fairly quickly, and there were a lot of spectators and some really funny / cool aid stations to help break things up. As I came off the bridge on my last loop, I remove my jacket and give it everything I had to the finish. I turned the corner, saw the lights, heard the music, and then it hits me, I did it! I run down the chute to the cheers and screams of everyone there, and get the honor of becoming an Ironman for a 2nd time! This proved to be a VERY tough day, but that is why they call it Ironman! As I ran through the finish line, my brother was there waiting for me to “Catch” me, and that was awesome to see him. He made sure I got my medal, finisher’s shirt, pizza, pictures, and most importantly, he led me to my family that was waiting for at the finish. MAN it was good to see them!
I had hoped for a 12 hour finish going in to the race, but I did not expect the weather conditions, nor did I expect the nutrition issues. All-in-all, I still improved my time over Ironman Louisville by almost an hour and I am VERY happy with that and my final TOTAL time was 13:16:24. It is easy for me to forget that I have only been doing Triathlon for 2 years, and I have come a long way in a short time. If I could shave off an hour each Ironman, I will definitely be Kona-bound by the time I am 60! Maybe someday, but I am A LONG WAYS away from that now. So, that’s it; 400 pounds 2.5 years ago to 2-time Ironman Finisher and a very satisfied soul! There are far too many people to thank individually for love and support given to me over the past couple of years, so please accept my heart-felt thank you for everything! It is time to recover and move on to my next challenge. I know the coming year will present some challenges as I will be going in for my 2nd round of surgery to remove the tremendous amount of excess skin from the weight loss. I will continue to cross each bridge as I get to them, and again, can’t thank each and every one of you enough for all you do to keep me going!
Your Friend In Health & Sport,
Dan Benintendi - OH Support Group Leader
The Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Run... on March 12, 2010 10:29 pm
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Having a full day to recount all of the experiences, emotions, and pain experienced in my 1st attempt to complete any foot race over the marathon distance of 26.2 miles, I have decided to give a VERY extensive account of my journey to complete the 100 mile Rocky Raccoon Trail Run. I want to be extremely detailed in this race report for a couple of reasons... 1) Because this is, BY FAR, the most challenging thing I have EVER set out to do, and 2) Because I never want to forget the extreme highs, and extreme lows and everything in between. With that being said, I hope you will be able to visualize this epic day through my eyes.
Before I dive into the day's events, let me put the "Givens" out on the table. We were to complete 5 x 20 mile loops on this course that wound through the beautiful forest in Huntsville, TX. What there were plenty of, were these:
ROOTS!!!! Miles and Miles and Miles of ROOTS!!! Aside from the roots, we were starting in 40 degree weather, would warm to low 50's during the daylight, and drop to below freezing on Saturday night! We were praying that the rain would hold off for the race, which it did, however, the days leading up to the race were a different story. It pounded down rain for several days prior to the race start and in spots along the trail left big pools of mud that could not be navigated around. Let's dive into the day...
My brother Jeff, and nephew Tristan flew in from Gilbert, AZ to be there to help support me during the race, along with my wonderful wife Christie. We headed down to Huntsville on Friday afternoon and arrived there in enough time to pick up my race packet, go to the last few minutes of the race briefing, check into our hotel, and grab some pizza and pasta for dinner. After returning back to the hotel, nerves began setting in, more like excitement, but we will call them nerves because it is still up for debate. I began going over my race plan over and over in my head, and probably only slept about 2 hours worth, which is nowhere near enough. At 2am, the alarm rings, and the rituals begin. 2 peanut butter sandwiches with banana chips were on the menu for breakfast, along with a Cliff Bar and plenty of fluids, which included a couple of FRS's. Everything is checked, and rechecked, and we head down to the race site at 4:15am. Once we arrive, we stand in line to get checked in, and after I was checked in, I see my buddy Derek in line...
As the Race Director yells out "5 Minutes 'Til Race Start"... The excitement is overwhelming and everyone starts making their way to the start line. There were roughly 350 people who were setting out to run the 100 mile race, and about 275 to attempt the 50 miler. As the minutes go by, I tell my wife how much I love her, how much she means to me, and we exchange some "Warm Thoughts" and a tight hug and kiss and she says, "You Can Do This".
As time eeks down to the wire, I hear people at the front of the pack start howling like wolves, and there was a primitive, yet incredibly awesome spirit in the air... The type of spirit that can only be felt by the few people who would dare to embark on such a daunting task. All the emotions are on the table now, the race starts... PEOPLE ARE GOING NUTS, the line starts moving, and there we were, an army of fools running down a single track into the dark cold forest with headlamps and flashlights in tow...
The first loop started off a little slow. Since we were all on a single track, we were kind of forced to do what the people in front of us were doing, which is fine, because everyone has 30 hours to finish the race. I learned quickly that my pre race plan of running 30 minutes and walking for 5 would not do the trick here on this course, mainly for a few reasons. 1) The uphills would absolutely shatter your legs 2) the uphills came pretty quickly 3) The roots made it very challenging to descend the hills without putting a VERY big injury risk factor into play. So I went with the flow. The first aid station is at mile 3.1 at The Nature Center. I stop VERY briefly to drink a few cups of water, grab a couple slices of oranges, and hit the road again. The next aid station at Dam Road, would come at 6.19 miles into the loop (3.09 mile from the previous station). It was going great, the sun had risen by this time and the beauty that surrounded me was awe inspiring. From that point, there is a 6.01 mile loop around the far side of the park, that can be pretty lonely, as the 50 milers peel off from this portion and cut it short. 6 miles is a long way to go without support, and in the darkness later on in the evening, would prove to be brutal! In this 6 mile stretch, you run for a good bit along side the lake, which was absolutely gorgeous, especially with the sun rising up through the trees on the first loop. I make my way back around to the Dam Road aid station at mile 12.20 and refuel, top off the Camelbak and hit it again. 3.41 miles down the road would be Park Road aid station, and from there another 4.39 miles back to "Home Base" at the Dog Wood Aid Station. I finished the first loop in a little over 4 hours, which was awesome! I felt great, took about 20 minutes changing into dry clothes, taking off my little jacket, drink some Cliff Recovery drink, another FRS and refuel with some salty and sweet snacks at the aid station, along with a pocketful of Banana chips! One sidenote I will mention is that 5 weeks prior to this race, I got slapped with Plantar Faciatis, and boy did it hurt. My massage Therapist, Tim Tarpley, did the best he could with it, but I was doomed to have pain, and exactly 2 miles into the race, the pain reared its ugly head and would plague me for the rest of the day! Also, the mud previously mentioned, found its way into my shoe and began the pleasant start to what would lead to some pretty good blisters later.
I headed back out onto the course feeling AMAZING!!! I was so full of life, so happy to be doing what I was doing, was well nourished, well hydrated, and enjoying the warm glow of the gorgeous sun on my face. A couple interesting things happened on this loop. 1) I saw a man in front of me trip on a root and crack a rib as he landed sideways on another root. He was probably in his 50s and as I approached him and asked if he was ok... He looks at me and says, it's no big deal, the pain is getting better, I asked if I could help him up or run ahead to send back help, he grabbed my arm, I helped him up, and said the he felt fine... That right there is what ULTRA's are all about... Gutting it out and always moving forward. I am not sure what happened with him, but he earned a silver star in my book. 2) I found that walking up the inclines would be the smart thing to do, and payed very close attention to save my legs for later in the day. I came into the Park Road aid station to see my family waiting for me, and I felt incredible, and so alive :
I give my wife a kiss and tell her "I'll see ya in a few miles back at Dog Wood, she said "OK, YOU ARE LOOKING AWESOME" and I was off again...
As I made it back to Dog Wood, sure enough, the whole gang was there to tend to my needs. My feet were so very tender, and a little massage from Christie felt like a little piece of Heaven... I refueled, changed clothes again, knowing that sun would set on me during this loop and made sure to have my headlamp, flashlight, and spare batteries packed. I was feeling great and was back on to the road for loop 3 in around 10 hours!!!
If I were to assign a title to this section of my report, it would be titled: "The story of a Trash Bag and Chicken Noodle Soup". As I head out for the 3rd loop, there was no doubt in my mind that I had things under control. Perhaps the course had a few lessons in store to humble me... I keep to the plan, hydration was ok, nutrition ok, sun was beginning to set, and it was starting to get cold. In the picture above this paragraph, I was wearing nothing more than some compression and that dry fit Addidas top, that really isn't that warm. My feet were really hurting at this point, I was certain I had a good blister on the outside of my right ankle, and fatigue was setting in. I hit the Dam Road aid station to top off the fuel and Camelbak and then embark on that dreary 6 mile trek. In the first 4.5 miles of this stretch, the sun had set, and there was not a single headlamp behind me or in front of me... It was a bit creepy as I had not ran this section in the dark until now. This section has some pretty steep downhills with LARGE gnarly roots and is very technical. I decided to walk a lot of it as I did not want to hurt myself. I felt myself starting to fade, and did not have my iPOD on me to keep my mind busy. Thoughts started running rampidly in my head... Doubt, fear, uncertainty, and a feeling like what in the world was I thinking doing this race!!! As I turned onto the road that would lead to the Dam Road aid station at mile 52, I was in so much pain, I was light-headed, was absolutely freezing as the temps dropped into the low 40s and had resigned myself to the reality that I may not finish. I arrive at the aid station to find chairs in a circle around a heater in the tent... These were folks who dropped out of the race. I thought about how nice it would be to sit in a chair and huddle around the fire! As I got into the tent to where the food is, I felt like I was going to pass out! I was shivering so bad to the point of almost convulsing and my teeth were chattering so hard, I do not know how I did not chip a tooth.
An aid station worker came up to me and said can I get you anything. I said yes please... Whatever you think will do the trick. He brought me some homemade chicken noodle soup. Man was that good! I pounded the cup and then saw them set out a fresh batch of Mac and cheese... YES!!!! I took a cup of that too. As I sat there enjoying my food, I realized that I was beginning to get delirious and found that I was drooling on myself. My spirit was absolutely shattered. I asked the same guy who gave me the soup, with my slurred speach, "If I drop out of the race, can I get a ride back to the start?"... He said, "See that group of folks over by the heater?" I said "Yeah", he said "They have been waiting for that same ride for 2 hours+. So, you can wait like them, or you can try to walk to the aid station at Park Road 3 ish miles up the road". I had to think long and hard about that decision. In doing so, I made my way over to a seperate group of workers from the station who had a small fire going in a hibachi type contraption, it felt like Heaven! I sat there shivering and all-in-all, I believe I had been in the aid station for 40 minutes or so. It did not look good. I kept hearing over and over about the incredible healing power and magic "JUJU" that was in that soup, so after listening to the giberish for a while I yelled, can I get some of that Damn soup! The guy brought me a cup, I said I need 3 more please. He laughed and said, "you betcha!" I then began feeling my "Whitts" coming back to me, amidst the encircling freezing temps, trying to figure out how I was even going to be able to stand up from this chair, let alone walk 3 miles while freezing, literally. I looked next to me in the chair along the fenceline and saw trashbags full of rubbish. A thought came to me; "Hey bro", I yelled to Linn (Spelling??) who was running the aid station manned by North Texas Trail Runners (NTTR) Do you have an extra trash bag? He informs me that they had put a call into the race director that they needed more because they were all out and trash was starting to pile up, and they had not been delivered. Then from another worker, I hear the words, "No, I think we have one more under some boxes, I saw it a few minutes ago". Out comes Linn with a trash bag!!!! YES!!!! I said listen, if I can, I will bring it back to you, he said that sounds good, we will just tie the hole in a knot to make it work. I ripped a hole in the bag, poked my head through, began to warm up, and quietly headed down the long dark road to the Park Road aid station.
As I pass people, they kind of chuckle at me because of the loudness of my bag, and I got many comments on my interesting appearel! I caught up to my buddy Monty, who also heard me coming, and said, "Nice Jacket". I proceeded to tell him I did not have a jacket at the Dam Road aid station, and this was a last resort. We chatted for a bit, then I began running again. About 1.5 miles from the Aid Station, I see a couple lights running towards me, and I'll be darned if it isn't my brother, Jeff. He tells me how worried He and Christie were about me, since this loop took almost double the time of my previous laps, and he walks to the Park Road station with me, trying to keep me talking and coherent. When I arrived at the station, I could see the worry in my wife's eyes, and I knew I was in a bad way. I don't remember what I said, but I do know I was slurring really bad, and was not in a very good place. I began eating a ton of food at the aid station, taking in a bunch of fluids and electrolytes, and began feeling better. My goal was to get to this station so I could drop out of the race and go home! But, I felt OK, and decided that Dog Wood was only 4 miles away, so I kept on plugging away. I struggled really bad here, was in a very dark and lonely place, but my Chicken Noodle Soup, and trash bag saved me on this loop! I Finally reached Dog Wood. HALLELUJAH!!!
Once I get to the Aid Station, my family starts working on me like Rocky Balboa's corner does when he has been taking abuse for 11 rounds. My brother starts rubbing my shoulders, Christie is dressed in warm running gear with a headlamp on and tells me she is running this loop with me, my nephew Tristan is bringing me cups of warm soup and hot cocoa and I was literally getting "New LIfe" breathed back into me. I took an hour at this stop, I got my legs rubbed, refueled, spirits lifted, and was deeply moved with my wife's willingness to take on a piece of this journey with me. They allow pacers after 60 miles, so it was all good... She signed her waiver and met me at the tent to help me re Body-Glide myself, change in to fresh warm clothes, and tend to whatever I needed. Before we headed out, I sent my brother to ask the folkks at the Dog Wood aid station for a bunch of trash bags. He brought a handful back, and I tucked them into my Camelbak.
So, we snap a quick picture and head out into the deep dark abyss together...
The 4th loop starts off with my wife getting acclamated to running in the dark with a headlamp, and then learns quickly that she needs to pick her feet up off the ground higher than normal because the roots will reach up and grab you out of nowhere. We stick to the plan of walking up the inclines and running on the downhills and flats. She, in a loving way, asks me if it was easier for me to be doing a quick little shuffle, or if it would be easier to do a faster-type walk, LIKE WHAT SHE WAS DOING!!! It was funny to me, but I just kept doing my thing. I was moving pretty good, but my feet were complete hamburger, and my legs were spent. I knew when I would stop to walk, I would get tight and cold, so I tried to keep running as much as possible. I was peeing every 20 minutes or so, so I knew I was hydrated, and suprisingly, I was feeling pretty good. We get to the first aid station, get some goodies, and head out. A few miles up the road, I see the lights for the Dam Road aid station, and ask Christie to get the trash bags out of my bag. I carry them in my hand, and make it a point to find in the crowd of freezing runners, aid station workers, and those same folks who dropped and were still waiting for a ride to the race start, Lin, who gave me his last trash bag. As I approached him, he looked at me not really remembering who I was, but I certainly remembered who was, and I held out my hand and handed him the bags and said "We're even my friend". He then said something like "I love this guy", and I grabbed some food, topped off the pack, and headed out for the dreaded 6 mile loop around the far side of the park. This is where things got as bad as things could get!
It seemed like the whole section was uphill, more rooty than I remembered, and had mud soaked into my freshly changed out shoes, exacerbating my blister and feet problems! we got 3 miles into the loop and I began halucinating. As we were walking / running through the trail, I saw three black cats jump at me and run down the trail! Unfortunately, my wife who was running right behind me, saw no such thing. A few moments later, along the same stretch, I saw a Venus Fly Trap pop out of the bushes and try to bite me!!! Christie didn't see this either, and I was really beginning to worry. I slowed to a walk, and thought it was a nutrition or electrolyte problem. Certainly not hydration because I was peeing clear liquid very often, which is a good sign of hydration. I pop some Enduralytes, and eat a Cliff Bar... I feel a little better, but still not good. We finally hit the road that leads back up to the Dam Road aid station. I told Christie that the only thing I can attribute this condition to is severe exhaustion. I only had 2 hours of sleep the night before, and since everything else was in check that is all it could be. I asked her to run ahead to see if the had a cot they could set up for me to take a 20 minute power nap in. She said there was no way she was leaving me alone on this road and assured me they would take care of me once I got there. Completely shattered, in pain, freezing cold, and extremely exhausted, I told Christie I was done, I was going to drop out of the race at the Dam Road aid station. She told me I needed to do whatever I thought was the right thing to do, and encouraged me to do whatever I could and assured me I had done an incredible job. We finally made it back to the aid station and I collapsed in a chair... The same chair I sat in, next to the same fire I sat next to, many hours before, when I was ready to drop out on the 3rd loop.
I asked Christie to bring me a little food, and I fell asleep for about 1 minute when she got back to me with some Ramen noodles and a slice of quesadilla. It tasted good, but I was shivering and convulsing again, and was completely done. I asked an aid station worker, who I am sure was a seasoned trail runner, when I could get a ride back to the start, he said it might be a couple hours, he told me the best thing to do would be to try to walk up the road to the next aid station 3 miles away. Hmmmmmmmm, this sounds familiar! I told him there was no way! He asked, "Are you hydrated?", I said yes, he asked,"Did you eat?", I said yeah. Then I said, I have done everything I can, what should I do. He said you should get up and start walking! I told Christie to get me more food. She brings back some quesadilla pieces, I said no, get me a BUNCH of food!!! She brings back a handful of quesadillas and I eat them all... I stand up, and could barely put one foot in front of the other, and was shivering uncontrolably. The most amazing experience of my life occured here... Christie put my arm between her arms, and began pulling me, like a pack mule, up the hill that leads back onto the trail, I tried to choke back my tears, and I don't think Christie even knew I was crying, but pulses of love passed through my body that I have never experienced before, and my life was literally changed in an instant. As soon as we hit the trail, I BEGAN TO RUN! I felt INCREDIBLE!!! Better than I had felt in 13 hours! I stopped to pee and looked my wife in the eye, and began putting time into perspective. Time not until we got to that aid station, but time I would have to FINISH the race!!! We walked a few ver steep uphills, but we ran that entire section in 44 minutes and we reached the Park Road Station at 5:24am Sunday morning. I had a little over 4 miles to go to get back to Dog Wood, and the rules state that you have to start your last loop by 6am... There is no way I can run 4 miles on this trail in 35 minutes, so I have the aid station worker call the race director and ask if it was a firm 6am "Hard Stop" or if he would let me keep going! There was an 8am cut-off to be at Dam Road, which is 6.2 miles in. That would give me 2 hours to run 9 miles, which I believed I could do...
After waiting a couple of long minutes, the aid station worker looks at me and says, unfortunately, it is a 6am hard stop. As I began to process that I was not going to finish, many thoughts went through my mind, but here is a picture os me as I recieved my news:
I must state that I am NOT dissapointed with my result. I am PROUD of what I accomplished. To run 75.5 miles in 23.5 hours, is no small task or feat. The main reason why I am walking away from this DNF (Did Not Finish) with my head held high, is because of the FACT that I RAN the entire last 3+ miles with the determination to continue on! Yes, there was not enough time to do so, but I hit the absolute pinnacle of endurance sports. The point in which your body is telling you it is time to quit, but your fighting spirit overcomes that pain, and compels you to push farther, faster, longer than you ever have, or ever thought was possible. I experienced it, I lived it, and I WILL have my vengence in 1 year and counting on this course. Of all the life lessons I have learned in this amazing experience, it is the fact that life is about LOVE! I loved being out there pushing myself, I did not love the pain, but the love I have for excelling out-weighed that pain. The love that my brother and nephew showed to me in tending to my every need, especially to have Jeff come running after me on my 3rd loop out of sheer concern for his brother, made me want to push on without quiting. Most of all, the love of my sweet wife Christie. When she took me by the hand and led me down that dark road that would lead to more pain, but indefinite victory opened the windows of Heaven and showed me how truly blessed I am to have her as my Eternal Companion! I am a happy man. I am so richly blessed, and going into this race, I knew that this experience would change my life forever, and it certainly has, in so many more ways than I ever could have imagined. 2 years ago when I was sitting on an operating table to have Gastric Bypass Surgery weighing in at 400 pounds, I remember clasping my wife's hand praying that what I was about to do for my health, would prolong my life with her and would allow me to be around to see my kids grow up. As I consider the past weekend's transpirings, I have come to the realization that I may have added more years to my life, but what I really have done is added life to my years, and I am incredibly grateful to have you all around to help share and participate in that with me. My feet are pretty blistered, I am finding it hard to walk, and I wish my feet would fit into my shoes, but I have NEVER felt more alive, and have never felt like such a winner. Winning IS an attitude, and does not always come in the form of a medal. In closing, I will say the best part of this past week, was coming home and seeing the warm smiles of my angel children. Ayden, Ava, Austin, and Christie, Daddy gave his best for you!!!
IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2009 RACE REPORT... I AM... on September 1, 2009 8:03 pm
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I have been sitting here for what seems like hours trying to figure out how I am going to put all my experiences, emotions, highs, lows, and everything in between into a somewhat condenced version to give you a full scope of how incredible this past weekend has been for me. So here is my official race report for my first 140.6 mile Ironman triathlon in Louisville Kentucky on August 30, 2009...
My preperations to leave for Louiseville were somewhat bitter-sweet because I knew I was going to become an Ironman in the coming weekend, but also was somewhat sad because my family would not be there with me. Our daughter Ava was starting school the day after Ironman and my wife, Christie and I agreed that it was more important for Ava to have her mommy there for her 1st day of school rather than her being at a race for daddy! So, after some thought, I told my wife, why don't we just not send Ava on Monday, and send her Wednesday for her 1st day instead.... After all, it is just pre-school and 1 day won't matter. A light went off in her head and she made the decision to go with me to Louiseville with our youngest boy Austin at the final hour, and I was on cloud 9!!! So we pack up the car and set out at 2am on Thursday morning to conquer this 875 mile drive. Everything went well on the drive except the time it took, and we finally made it to Louisville late afternoon on Thursday. Our friends Anthony and his wife Lori met us at the hotel, we got some groceries and called it a night!
Friday morning I wake after a solid night's sleep, Anthony and I head down to the river to get some practice swimming in on the Ohio River during the official Gatorade Practice Swim. The water was 80+ degrees and it felt amazing!!! The swim went well, we got in about a mile, then we headed out of the water and I went back to the hotel to pick up the family. After I picked up the family, we head down to the host hotel so I could pick up my packet. On the way I get a call from my buddy Ryan, who says "Hey bro, did you know you are a "Featured Athlete" in Louisville on www.ironman.com ???" I say no, and I head to the website and found this in the Louisville Ironman Preview...(Scroll 3/4 of the way down the screen)
Ford Ironman Louisville Preview
Record sized field set to compete in third annual event
Published Thursday, August 27, 2009
Sunday's Ford Ironman Louisville event could feature the largest field in Ironman history with almost 3,000 athletes registered from 20 countries for the third annual event here in Kentucky. In addition to the huge age group field, a competitive pro field is also set to take part, headed by defending champions Max Longree and Mariska Kramer-Postma, but both will face competitive fields including a number of Ironman champions.
Australian Luke McKenzie, a two-time Ironman champion already in 2009 (Malaysia and Japan), arrives here in Louisville as the man most likely to take the crown away from Longree, but South Africa's Raynard Tissink with five Ironman titles on his resume, also arrives as another favorite. Added to the competitive list of male pros is two-time Ford Ironman Wisconsin Dave Harju.
Kramer-Postma will face multiple-Ironman champions Nina Kraft, Fernanda Keller and Lisbeth Kristensen as she tries to defend her title. Kraft was a runner-up here in Louisville two years ago, while Kristensen finished third here last year, just eight months after the birth of her daughter, Astrid. Keller is trying to continue a 21-year streak of qualifying for the Ford Ironman World Championship in Kona.
The 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run course will utilize a variety of Louisville’s scenic areas, including Waterfront Park, Oldham and Henry Counties and the city of LaGrange. Athletes will end their journey with a finish line celebration at Fourth Street Live!.
Approximately 150 Louisville residents are scheduled to participate in this event that serves as an official qualifier for the Ford Ironman World Championship, taking place on Saturday, Oct. 10, in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
Some of the interesting age group stories we'll be following include:
Zach Hadfield, 28, Muldraugh, Ky. – Zach is an active military member and has been deployed twice to Iraq.
Andy Holder, 41, Collegeville, Penn. – Andy, who lives with Type I diabetes, is the national spokesperson for Good Neighbor Pharmacy. He created the Iron Andy Foundation, which aims to help children, young adults and their families dealing with diabetes and other chronic illness by providing inspiration, resources and assistance to help them achieve their life goals.
Dan Benintendi, 34, Fort Worth, Texas – Dan has lost almost 200 pounds since the beginning of 2008 and is participating in his first Ironman.
Debi Hatton, 43, Louisville, Ky. – Debi is a mother of five children. This will be her second time participating in Ford Ironman Louisville.
Charles Plaskon, 65, Punta Gorda, Fla. – Charles is a legally blind athlete who races for the C Different Foundation. This will be Charles’ fourth Ironman, as he previously competed at Ford Ironman Coeur d’Alene, Ford Ironman Florida and the renowned Ford Ironman World Championship.
We'll have live coverage of this year's race including video, text updates, live athlete tracking and photos from Action Sports International. Our coverage is set to start on Friday afternoon.
After registering and getting acclamated with our surroundings, we head back to the room to relax for a bit and then head back to downtown for the welcome dinner. When we arrive at the Convention Center, where the $30 run-of-the-mill mediocre pasta dinner was served, there were thousands of people there already. Dinner is served, Anthony, his wife and my family sit down at a table of nice folks from Cincinatti, OH and we enjoyed each others company. After dinner it is announced that Mike Reilly "The Voice Of Ironman" was going to be the MC and everyone was going nuts! So he presents a few guest speakers, shows a couple of VERY inspiring and motivational videos, and then begins calling people to the stage. Some interesting folks were the youngest competitor who turned 18 the day before the race and got his mom and dad to race with him!!! Another was a 72 year old man who has completed 35 Ironmans!!! At this point MIke Reilly starts talking about the changes one makes in their life in preparing for Ironman and talked about health. He then proceeds to ask everyone in the audience who has lost 30 pounds training for this race to stand. A lot of people, including myself stand up. He then says if you have lost 40 pounds, stay standing, quite a few sit down. Then 50 pounds, most people were then sitting. Then he asks 60 pounds to stay standing and there were just 3 of us in this sea of people still standing. He asks the three of us to come all the way up to the stage. Next to me on the stage was a man who lost a whopping 65 pounds and the crowd went wild...
Next to him was this gal who was asked by Mike... "If I would have said 70 pounds would you still be standing?" "Yup, she said... "80?", "Yup, "90?", "Yup"... "100???!!!) "Yup" HOW MUCH HAVE YOU LOST??? She stated she had lost an amazing 120+ pounds, which is incredible!!! The crowd went nuts...
Then he comes to me and asks "130??" Yup... 140??? YUP... 150?????? YUP.....175????????????????? YUP... HOLY CRAP>>> How Much Have You Lost??? 200 pounds my friend... The crowd went absolutely bonkers and the amazing reception I recieved was so emotional and incredible it took all my strength not to start crying like a baby! So after everything calms down, MIke says, you know what we give the Biggest Loser? I say no, he says an INCREDIBLE Body Scan scale by Tanita (Which I have to say IS THE BOMB), and a year supply of Erin Baker's Cookies and Granola which I am soooo stoked about, I love that stuff!
So after I exit stage left, I am immediately approached by sooo many people congratulating me on my journey and just really made me feel like a king. One of the amazing people who came to greet me was this incredible Ironman Champion Amanda Stevens...
This was an incredible way to start the weekend and after the event I get another call from my brother saying that there was some mention of me again on www.ironman.com and this is what was posted there....
The biggest loser ...
Anyone who has done what Dan Benintendi (pictured here left with Mike Reilly) has done over the last few years could hardly be described as a "loser," but he did win himself a Tanita Body Composition Monitor and a year's supply of Erin Baker's cookies last night.
Benintendi has lost 201 pounds during his journey to becoming an Ironman. It was when he reached 400 pounds that Benintendi's wife told him she was sick of living life as a single mom with a husband who was always too tired to help out.
"I decided to make the choice of health over food," he said.
Health has led him to competing in his first Ironman tomorrow. Good luck, Dan!
OK, so we head back to the room and get some rest... We decide to sleep in Saturday morning and go for a brief 10 minute run and a 25 minute ride to make sure everything was in order. Everything was well, race prep went great, I finished packing up transition bags and special needs bags, loaded up the bike and headed down to transition to check my gear in. It was so awesome! You are treated much differently at an Ironman versus a 70.3 for sure. You have a volunteer that carries your gear, shows where your bike is to be racked, and checks in your bags for you... White glove treatment for sure. I place everything in order for the morning and head out of transition. We then met up with a couple other friends, Duane and his wife at the Spaghetti Factory, enjoy a nice lunch and then head out to drive the bike course. OH BOY... This course is no joke... Hill after hill after hill, this was going to be a challenge but I was up for it!!! No matter how hard, I was going to finish, period! Get back to the room and toss and turn all night in anticipation, of course, and begin the rituals at 2am.
Leading up to the race, I had been battling a cold, and I was really hoping it would just go away for the race, but unfortunately, it didn't... This would come in to play later in the race. So, I begin the morning trying to get in 1000 calories for breakfast, begin hydrating, and my hydration level was over 60% so I was good to go. I get all my last minute items together, snap a few shots of my son and I and head out. I have to say I look rather "Dapper" with my nasal Breathe Right strips on my nose...
The morning was gorgeous... A brisk 60 degrees with a little wind and clear skies and relatively low humidity... Does it get any better than this? We arrive at the race site Sunday morning and tend to our morning rituals there. Then it is a .75 mile walk from transition to the swim start, which was no biggie.... That is until I got to the swim start. Louisville is different than any other Ironman in that it is a time trial start, meaning people enter the water one by one in a line, similar to what is typical of a Sprint Triathlon and by the time I got to the start I had to walk another 1+ mile to get to the end point in the line where I could take a place in the "First come, first serve" set up that Louisville has. Dang, over 2.5 miles walked and the race has not even started yet! Anyways, it was no biggie, I took the time to reflect a bit on my journey, on the task at hand, and to just take in all the surroundings, which were amazing. I finally hear the cannon go off for the pros... 15 minutes later, the age grouper cannon blows and the race is under way. The line begins moving quick and I am anxious to get in the water. After a 35 minute wait to get started, I start running down the boat ramp to the water entry point, jump in feet first and start the 1200 Meter (Approx) swim UPSTREAM to get through the channel. My stroke was feeling solid and everything was groovy! We hit the turn buoy and begin to swim downstream to complete the swim. My cadence was solid and consistant the whole way and I felt like a million bucks after the 2.4 mile swim. I hit transition, get my bags, head to the tent, put my cycling socks and BIB on and head out to the bike. Once I get to my bike, I realize I put my sunglasses in my running gear bag, oh well, I will just ride without shades, there are worse things that can happen. So, I strap up my helmet, Camelbak, and double check everything and then head out onto the course... TOTAL SWIM TIME 1:18:09
I mount my bike and start pedaling away, trying to spin in a smaller gear with a higher cadence, waiting about 15 minutes to start taking in nutrition. Things were going well, I was feeling awesome and was gearing up for the hills that were awaiting me beginning at about mile 14 and would continue throughout the remainder of the ride. This course was TOUGH!!! I was going at a good pace, keeping my heart rate low and not pushing it as I knew my cold was still present and could feel it zapping me a little on the longer climbs, so I decided not to push or tempt fate. At about mile 65 I felt my back starting to get a little tight and was feeling a little light-headed and was probably somewhat dehydrated and had a bit of an electrolyte embalance. So I stop at the aid station, drink 3 bottles of water, a gatorade, a Cliff Brownie Bar, and a couple Bananas. I then did some lower back stretches that felt amazing and I was good to go... I figured I took about 8-10 minutes on this rest and was the best 10 minutes I spent all day!!! I felt great getting back on the bike and for the last 50 miles or so averaged above a 19 MPH pace, which I was very pleased with. Other than the constant ups and downs of this course, everything went VERY well and was ready to get on to the run. I hit transition, take my time getting my running gear in order, do more stretching and head out for the last leg of this challenge. It was stated that the total approximate elevation climb on this course was well over 5000 feet. TOTAL 112 MILE BIKE TIME 6:19:13
I get out of the transition area and ran down the stretch that leads to the marathon course and the whole place was filled with spectators and well-wishers which was awesome! We headed out and begin running down a bridge that crosses the very river we swam in and then turned backaround and headed through the downtown and residential parts of Louisville. The run had a few rollers in it, but nothing crazy. I had decided in transition that my game plan was going to be to walk each aid station and run to each station. This worked great for the 1st 9 miles or so, and I was feeling good, UNTIL my cold decided to show it's ugly head and slap me in the face! Suddenly out of nowhere, I began to feel like I had a bag of rocks on my chest because of all this congestion, and felt light-headed and not well! I stopped at the 10 mile aid station and drank about a gallon of water, a little gatorade, 2 lava salt tabs (Thanks Eugene) eat a power bar, 2 bananas, went pee, and felt better! So I was reduced to a walk/ shuffle for the rest of the marathon, and that's ok. I got to run / walk with some amazing people, shared some incredible stories of life struggles and joys, and felt such a true "Ironman Spirit" throughout the entire day, there is no way to describe it. As the day and night tarried on, I kept moving forward, knowing that I was going to be close to my 14 hour goal. at mile 22, I was able to run for 2.5 miles straight and that was encouraging. I got through the motivational mile, got some encouragement, and headed towards the finish line. It was starting to get cold, but everytime I tried to run, my chest was burning from this cruddy congestion and my throat began to get really sore. Anyways, I get close to the end, and remember the goal I had for this race, to finish strong. I ran the entire last mile and as I turned the corner to run down 4th street, it felt like I was running to the white lights at the "Pearly Gates". Music was blarring, the streets were packed, people were screaming, and when I hit the home stretch I hear Mike Reilly yell out, "Here comes Dan Benintendi... This guy has lost 200 pounds to get here and Dan Benintendi from Fort Worth, TX... YOU ARE AN IRONMAN" As I hear these words, I raise my hand in triumph over my battle from Obesity, I swerve down the final stretch high fiving all the incredible spectators, see my wife and my boy Austin, and it finally hits me that I did it.... TOTAL 26.2 MILE MARATHON TIME 6:16:45
It is hard for me to put into words the elation, sense of accomplishment, pride, and grattitude I feel as a result of becoming an Ironman. It has been a looooong road. A road filled with dedication to training, dedication to changing everything about my life, dedication from my family who has supported me soooo much in this journey, and a road dedicated to pushing myself to do what so many people who thought and still think that this achievement is way out of grasp for an Obese person. In closing I want my wonderful wife to know how much I love her and could not have asked for a better woman. She has stood by me since we were 16 years old and I am so lucky to have her as my sweetheart. The time that training has had me sacrifice away from my children is not something I am prepared to continue doing to this extent, but I want my family to know that THEY ARE my #1 priority, and I dedicate this monumental milestone to them. There is no medal that could replace the hugs, kisses, and words "I love you Daddy" uttered by my angel children, and I hope to hear a lot more of those as I will be spending a little more time with them now. I love all of you who have supported me through everything I have undertaken, I cannot possibly name you all one by one, there isn't enough words or time, but I want you all to know that your words of encouragement, support, love, and hope have allowed me to push myself beyond what I thought was possible for me and I truly am a blessed man to have each of you as part of my life. May God bless us all in our journey to discover who we are, why we are here, where we are going, and what we can do each and every day to make the pathway a little brighter and filled more with True Happiness. The tears I shed in this final picture, were not shed when I crossed the finished line, they were shed when I finally found my wife and son and were able to hold and hug them. THAT is what this life is all about. Again thank you all for your love and support and thank you for reading this very long account of one of the most amazing experiences of my life...I DID IT!!!
Ironman Orlando, Florida 70.3 Race Report on May 29, 2009 7:24 pm
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Hey There Everyone,
I am sitting on a plane flying home from Orlando, and have had a full day to recall and replay one of the most gratifying and exciting days of my life. On all of my race reports in the last year, I have made mention of my battle from Obesity. I typically reference where I came from, the trials I overcame with losing my weight, and then would reference my results. This race report will be the last I do that with. I have thought about this a lot over the past 24 hours, and I have come to the conclusion that completing my 70.3 Ironman in Florida is the moment in my life I hammered the final nail in the coffin of Obesity in the life of Dan Benintendi. I will now be the Triathlete that improved upon his results, not just the obese guy turned Triathlete. With that in mind, let me take you through race day through my eyes.
Saturday evening was a time filled with much anxiety! My brother Jeff from Arizona raced along with me, and my sister, Shawnah, flew in from Utah to hang out with us and get some good photos of our day out on the course. I went through my game plan over and over in my head, and had 100% confidence in my nutrition, strategy, and positive reinforcing thoughts. I ended up falling asleep at about 1:30am Sunday morning, and awoke at 2:45am to begin getting ready. That was the most solid sleep I have ever had, no joke, I felt like I had slept for a week when I got up! So, I double and triple check everything to be sure I didn’t forget anything and I was set. I started off with a big bottle of Cliff Shot Lemonade (My Electrolyte drink of choice). I then had a whole wheat baggle with crunchy peanut butter on it and then a Vanilla Boost drink to get the day going. My brother’s stuff is ready, my stuff is ready, let’s roll!!!
We head over to The Magic Kingdom parking lot to catch the shuttle that would take us to the race start. We were among the first there so we got good parking and had plenty of space to set up transition and be comfortable. By this time it was about 5:00 am and the temperature was only in the high 70’s, however, humidity at a staggering 90%! I knew it was going to be a scorcher! I go down to the water’s edge, survey again the swim course, again check my points of reference for sighting, go pee, meet up with my buddy Brent Paulsen who is a pro and took 7th at the race last year, wish each other well, and head to the start for the singing of the national anthem and the pro start. I cannot tell you how “Electric” the atmosphere was. Once the DJ turned on the famous “Sandstorm” techno song by Darude, there was not a person in the crowd that could not feel the adrenaline as the clock clicked down from 3 minutes, two minutes, 10 seconds, BANG!!! The cannon blows and the race has officially started on time to the second at 6:20am. There were a total of 22 waves that were determined by age group. Guess what wave I was in… YUP, dead last. I got to see my brother head out and do his thing, which was really cool. 4 waves later it was my turn to go, I am so excited. I am at the front far right of the beach to get out of the way of the “Washing Machine”. There were 3 waves starts that were for my age group alone, each having a little over 120. My game plan for the swim… Take it nice and easy, relax, enjoy the swim, and conserve my energy for the bike and run. It worked out to a “T”. The swim went by quickly, pretty uneventful and very relaxing. Sighting was not a problem. I was weaving in and out of people without incident, and only had one “Issue” on the last 400 meters. I caught up to people that were in my brother’s wave and as a dude swam back onto the course from going outside the buoy, he decided he wanted to do a random breast stroke and ends up “Scissor-Kicking” me dead in the middle of my thigh! The pain went away in a few seconds, I kind of laughed about it, and a few moments later, touched down on sandy ground and began the 400 yard run into transition, it seemed like it was longer, WAAAAYYYY far away from the swim exit, which is probably why swim times were a bit higher than normal, but it was all good, my heart rate never got above 110, and I felt as fresh as a cucumber going into transition...
The good news is, my bike was on the very first rack inside transition, the bad news is I had another 400-500 yards to run with my bike to get to the “mount line”. No biggie, I did my thing, kept my heart rate down, hopped on the bike, and was fully prepared to attack this bike course like no other. The ride was described as flat, which is partly-true, but it did have a few unexpected hills that were no big deal. I am feeling great on the bike. I decided the week before the event that I would wear my Camelback and use my own hydration, rather than the ones provided to avoid the clusters at the aid stations that are notorious for being home to many gnarly accidents. I could not have made a better choice. I was taking my salt tabs every 30 minutes, sports beans every 20 minutes, and sticks of honey every 30 minutes. I am flying by people on the bike! I have never ridden on such smooth surfaces, such flat roads, and without much wind, advantage me! I especially love flying by the guys who are riding P4’s, DA’s, P3 C’s, and Plasma’s with 808’s and full disc carbon wheels. I hit mile 30 and look down at my computer for the first time, just to discover that I have been averaging 23.4 mph!!! Holy cow, I knew I was grooving but “Dang Gina!!!” Anyways, the last half of the course, a lot more hills and we were into a head wind for about the last 15-20 miles. No harm done, I still averaged 20.5mph and I will take it! Hopping off the bike back into transition, my legs felt GREAT! I felt so fresh and was ready to get into a groove on the run. (If you are wondering, I patted my brothers rear end as I passed him at mile 6 on the bike J )
As I make the long run from the dismount line back over to my rack, I couldn’t imagine things going any better. I really take my time in transition, I made a last minute decision to put my BLACK compression socks on for the run, that took a little bit of time, I visit the port-o-joy in transition, put on the fuel belt, turn my race bib around and head out to the run. Boy was it hot, reached 88 degrees by this point, and I couldn’t understand why my head was so dang hot until I hit the first aid station and go to take off my hat to put ice on my head, only to then realize, I FORGOT MY DANG HAT IN TRANSITION! That explains that, and the bright tomato that is sitting on my neck now. I decided that because of the heat, I would do 9:30 – 10:00 miles and would walk each aid station. Get plenty of Gatorade, plenty of water, plenty of ice cold sponges, and plenty of ice to stuff in my shirt. It was going great. I hit mile 5 and uh oh… Knee pain! Dang-it! Oh well, got to keep going. It was a 3 loop run course and as I complete my first loop, on to my second loop I caught up to my brother who was hanging his head a bit and was on his first loop. He was a little discouraged, and was concerned he was not going to finish in time for the cut-off. I walked with him for a while, talked to him about the fact that he was 415 pounds a few years ago, and here he is 250 competing in an Ironman. I told him to not give up, and assured him that he belonged here and had every bit as much right to be here as any other person on the course. One foot in front of the other bro, and I will be there for you at the finish line. The moment I caught up to my brother, I realized just being there and supporting him in his journey was way more important than finishing a few minutes ahead of schedule, and it was the best decision I had made all day. To put my arm around my brother and realize a couple years ago we weighed almost 825 pounds collectively, and now weigh 450 collectively brought tears to both of our eyes. I told my brother, when we reach that next fence, I am going to get running again and will see you at the finish line. I smacked his butt and headed off. I felt like I could have ran all day at the pace I was running, I really felt great, except the knee. Just before the mile 12 marker was the final aid station. I stop and pour ice all over me and am ready to hit it with everything I got this last mile. I start to run and my knee was completely done. I had Biofreeze, and lathered a whole packet onto my knee, no help, I kept trying to start and run, no good, I stopped to stretch, no good, oh well, I will walk until I can make the left that says “To finish line”. I did just that, I managed to put a light shuffle together to cross the finish line, spotted my sister in the crowd who snapped a photo, and was so proud to cross the line a “Finisher”. Tears did not flow, in it’s place was the same smile I had been wearing all day. I am sure that when this plane lands and my wife and children meet me at the airport that they will flow then, but the joy in my heart is indescribable. I think the only thing that could have made this day better was if my wife and children were there to hug me at the end.
What a great day! What a great journey! What a great challenge! What an amazing life this is! Everyday we all make decisions that will impact our lives forever, and I am so thankful I made the decision to get my life and health back and begin living again. The pain in my knee is pretty bad right now, but the happiness, joy, and sense of accomplishment I now feel in my heart makes the pain subside. I am Half of an Ironman now! I have another VERY challenging half Ironman next month in Lubbock, TX, then it will be onto the BIG DADDY in Louiseville, KY in August for the FULL 140.6 Ironman. Thank you to all my friends, family, sponsors, surgeon, and strangers alike who have done nothing but encourage, uplift, and inspire me each and every day. I will never forget this day, the feelings I felt that are too great to try to put into words, and the unavoidable desire I have to do Ironman again, just not tomorrow. Thanks for reading the very long account of my race, but believe it or not, this is the condensed version. Thanks for reading and being a part of this journey with me…..
My Article In The March / April OH Magazine on April 11, 2009 3:53 pm
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When we consider all the roads we walk through in life, how do we determine which roads are the most important to travel down? Also, are we always able to choose the roads we traverse? There are roads that lead to successful careers, families, and health, and there are roads that lead to trials, pain, and failure. At any given time we can make choices to experience any and all of these; at other times, events or situations occur that force us down paths that we may or may not want to encounter. How we survive or conquer these triumphs and failures can be summed up in a single word… character! I will relate a short story that sums up this truth.
A N Y T H I N G I S P O S S I B L E
| P E O P L E
MAR/APR 2009 45
OH MAGAZINE MAR/APR 2009
There once was a wise Indian chief who had a young, inquisitive daughter. The young daughtersat down with her father and recounted a repetitive dream she had been having. In the dream, there were always two wild wolves that fought. In the young girl’s dream, the fighting was so bitter that she never stayed asleep long enough to see who won. She also stated that one wolf was good and the other was bad. This is how the wise chief interpreted her dream: “Within each of us there lives two wolves. One represents peace, joy, happiness, and love; the other represents doubt, fear, hate, misery and selfishness. Each day these wolves fight within us.” Then the young girl asked a simple, yet poignant question. She asked, “Which wolf will win the fight?” The wise chief’s answer was short and simple. The reply was, “Whichever wolf you feed the most.” I preface my thoughts with this story because the road I decided to take that led away from obesity to a healthier, more fulfilling life, was more about the “wolves” that I fed within me, rather than the foodthat I put in my mouth.
When I was in high school, I remember a sign that was displayed in one of my teacher’s classrooms. It read, “Character is what you do when nobody is watching.” As I think about this truism, I digress back to my “character” as a morbidly obese man weighing 400 pounds less than a year ago. As an obese man, here is what I would do when no one was looking:
I would order two meals at a drive-thru and order an extra drink that I didn’t need, just to make it appear that the second meal was for someone else. I would completely shirk all chores and caring for our kids because I had no energy to move. I would be consumed with thoughts that I was a failure and was worthless. In retrospect, the only thing I did when nobody was watching was eat and feel terrible on the inside. Every week I would try to convince myself that Monday was right around the corner and I would start my diet then. Well, between the time I was 17 years old, standing 6’2” tall and weighing 215 pounds, to the day less than a year ago when I weighed 400 pounds at 33 years old, 832 Mondays came and went, and less than 32 of those Mondays were days where I was actually dieting. I believe I ate for comfort, I ate because I absolutely loved food, but most of all, I would eat because that’s what I did best. My daily caloric intake was somewhere between 5000 - 6000 calories with little to no daily exercise or physicalactivity and my 56 inch waist and size 5XL were proof enough.
I honestly believe the mental and emotional anguish that accompanies obesity is far more difficult to deal with than the co-morbidities and physical downsides to being obese. Anyone can take a blood pressure pill, diabetes pill, or cholesterol medication in the privacy of their own home. Also, those who suffer from sleep apnea can wear a CPAP machine without anyone ever knowing about it. But, there is no hiding obesity and this fact continually lowered my self-esteem. A few years back, I went into a colleague’s office to seek his advice on a matter. I was invited to sit down and instantly snapped his chair in two, then fell to the floor. I work with the youth at church and accompanied 40 kids, along with other adult leaders, to an amusement park as an outing, where I was kicked off every ride because I did not fit. I remember going to a clothing store to buy a suit, and when they told me they no longer carried a size that would fit me, and that a size 22 dress shirt no longer fit, I hit an emotional low. Having to deal with the fact that I had to buy a bigger, more expensive car than I wanted and could afford because I did not fit into “regular” size cars weighed heavily on me. Beyond all of these things, the day my wife told me she felt like a single mom because I had no energy and ambition to help out with the kids, is the day I really had to question what road I was taking in my life. If I wanted to eat myself into a grave, that’s fine, but when I have a wife and two wonderful kids depending on me, I needed to choose a better road. As much as I loved food, the reality was that I loved my family so much more, and I needed to prove it.
Realizing that I had failed at every diet attempt I ever undertook, I needed a more permanent solution than just a “fad.” My older brother, Jeff, enjoyed great success with gastric bypass surgery a couple of years ago - an option I really hadn’t considered until I was hit between my eyes with reality. I did some research on the surgery and different surgeons in my area, and out of curiosity, attended a Bariatric Surgery Symposium, conducted by Dr. David Kim. His approach to weight loss surgery was so positive and reassuring; I immediately made the decision that he was the doctor I would entrust my life with. His pre-op and post-op protocol far surpasses what I have heard is the “norm” in the world of bariatric surgery, and I really appreciated the fact that he did not pressure me or persuade me into having one particular surgery over another. I made the decision to have laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery after also considering vertical sleeve gastrectomy, lapband, and duodenal switch, and on January 14, 2008, had my surgery completed.
I consider January 14th the day I was given a second shot at living life again. This has been the best decision I have ever made for my health, and I would do it over in a heartbeat, if the hands of time were turned back. Speaking of time, we will never be able to regain or relive the things we have missed out on, but we can make the decision, right now, to live life and do all those things that perhaps some people, including ourselves, never thought we would be able to do.
Now, over 1 year post-op, I have lost 195 pounds. A lot of people lose a tremendous amount of weight in a very short period of time with gastric bypass, but I guess just losing weight was not enough for me. At eight months post-op, I competed in my first Sprint Triathlon, which consisted of a 300 meter swim, 16 mile bike ride, and 3.1 mile run. A month later, I competed in another triathlon and improved my time by more than 20 minutes. I ran a 5K and 10K on Thanksgiving morning, and on my exact 11 month surgery anniversary, completed a 26.2 mile Marathon in well under 5 hours. I work out six days a week and swim 8-10 miles, cycle 125-150 miles, and run 40-50 miles each week. I am currently registered for another 26.2 mile marathon, 4 x 70.3 mile Half Iron man Triathlons, and a full 140.6 mile Iron man in August 2009. An Iron man consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile ride, followed by a 26.2 mile run… Finish in under 17 hours, and you earn the right to be called an Iron man. A full day of pain and struggle, leads to a lifetime of pride and sense of accomplishment. With all of my training and hours spent away from my family in the early hours of the mornings and weekends, many people, including my wife, have asked me why I do all of this. To her, my friends, and to you, I give you the answer. BECAUSE I CAN! I would never have had gastric bypass surgery unless I believed I could successfully lose weight. I would never register for a marathon or triathlon unless I believed I could finish. I will never doubt myself again! The most liberating thing that I have experienced as a result of weight loss surgery is a sense of empowerment and a firm belief that I, and anyone, CAN accomplish anything we set our minds to, so long as we put in the effort and make the conscious decision to change our lifestyles forever!
A wise man once told me that whether I believe I could or could not do something, I was right. My message to you, my friends, my family, and all those considering weight loss surgery, is to truly believe that anything is possible. I am living proof that someone can go from 400 pounds to what is considered an elite athlete in less than a year. Always remember, character IS what you do when no one is watching. In life there are three types of people… There are people who make things happen, there are those who watch things happen, and finally, there are those who say, “what happened?” May this be the day we all make things happen and take the necessary steps to feed the “Good Wolves“ inside of us that will eventually lead to our own success, happiness, fulfillment, peace, and a renewed sense of incredible selfworth.
©2009 ObesityHelp, Inc. All rights reserved. Article
originally printed in OH Magazine. Reprinted with
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MAR/APR 2009 47
An Amazing Ride To Goal... 201 Pounds Lost In 14... on March 18, 2009 5:22 pm
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Pics from triathlon 3/14/09
It has been an amazing journey. As an obese person, there are very few times I could say I attained any real goal, today my journey from Obesity has officially been conquered! After swimming 3500 meters this morning, I got on the scale and for the first time in 18 years, I weighed in at 199 pounds.... 1 pound under Goal. It is hard to believe that I once weighed twice as much as I do today, and that was just 14 months ago!!! For my 14 month anniversary, I ran a triathlon, just a short sprint, ended up taking 4th place in my division out of 61. I have ran 2 x 26.2 mile marathons in the last 3 months along with some 5k & 10k races and I have 5 Ironman Triathlons on the plate for 2009. I am living proof that hard work does pay off, and sticking to the plan, and pushing yourself everyday can and will change your perspective on life. I am no longer "Fat" I am no longer the biggest person in any given room, or at any given place, I am no longer the guy who people stare at and feel sorry for, I am no longer the guy who gets kicked of roller coasters because he doesn't fit, no not that man at all, instead, I AM AN ATHLETE! An athlete that does one of the hardest endurance sports in the world... Ironman. This year I will become an Ironman, and again will accomplish something that not-so-long ago felt impossible. Your outlook is really what turns the impossible to the possible, and there is no doubt in my mind now that if I put my mind to something, I WILL see it through and accomplish it. This is a time of reflection and gratitude for me. A time to think of all the obstacles and challenges that I have overcome, a time to think of everyone who has played a part in my journey, whether big or small, a time to thank my Heavenly Father for the chance I have been given to start living a more healthy, more rewarding life, and a time to especially thank my family, especially my wife, Christie. She is the glue that holds our family together. She is the one that has sacrificed so much in this process as well. There have been countless days that I have worked out 2 & 3 times in a day, gone most of Saturday mornings training, etc... and she has been the one to take care of the little ones. She is so amazing and I love her more than words can express.
In closing, My hope is that I can be a source of inspiration to at least 1 person out there. That one person who feels like there is no hope, that person who is affraid of failure, and feels hopeless, that person who thinks they are not of any worth. To that person or persons, my heart goes out to you, because that was me 14 short months ago. I challenge everyone who reads this to look deep within yourself, realize you are of such great worth, you have the power within you to do anything you put your mind to, and most of all YOU DESERVE TO BE HAPPY! Go out and face your fears, go out and tackle your dreams, push yourself to your limits, and most importantly, hold your head high knowing the whole time that change is coming and as sure as the sun sets this evening it will rise again in the morning. Today IS the first day of the rest of your life, make this and every day count, and may you always recieve the happiness and blessings you so rightfuly deserve. Thank you for reading and for always being sources of inspiration for me...
THE 2009 COWTOWN MARATHON RACE REPORT on February 28, 2009 4:53 pm
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Let me post the results and I will give my report.... (Scroll down, I am BIB #131)
I came in 10th place out of 61 in Clydesdale division with a finishing time of 4:23:01 for 26.2 miles! So let me back up and tell you about the day:
I woke up at 4:45 am, did some lite stretching, pounded a 32 ounce bottle of Gatorade Focus, and followed that with a big bowl of oatmeal. I took a couple big bites of peanut butter, took a shower, got dressed, got my hydration / fuel belt loaded up, and waited for my friend to pick me up to head out to the race. When I walked out to get into his car, I immediately felt like I was getting stabbed by the cold air and 22mph winds that were blowing. I went in to the house, grabbed my jacket and we were off. The race started promptly at 7:30, and we arrived at 6:30. We hung out in the car to keep warm until about 6:50, then we headed to the "John" I chugged another thing of Gatorade, ate a banana and was ready to go. They had a 5k 10k half marathon, full marathon, and Ultra marathon. The half, full, and ultra started together and the start line was packed! Over 17,000 people this year between all events!
I started off strong!! Maybe a little too strong, but I was feeling great, aside from 35 degree weather and 20+mph winds, and a course that had hardly and flat spots, it was all hills... the longest one being 2.5% for over a mile at mile 21 or so!!!
My goal was to finish between 4:00:00 - 4:20:00, knowing that if all the stars aligned and we had optimal conditions, I could probably pull of a sub 4 hour run. The day actually went by pretty fast, and aside from the conditions, it was a great race. Yesterday I drank so much fluid and this morning I drank so much fluid to be completely hydrated, however, I ended up having to stop 5 times on the course to tinkle because I was not sweating out the fluids! (Probably 10 minutes of wasted time!) For nutrition, I took in Gatorade at most stations, I went through 4 bags of sports beans, and went through 1 pack of electrolyte tabs (Salt & loads of potassium). It really helped me to not hit the "Wall" this time around. Leading up to the race... Monday, Tuesday, and half of Wednesday were protein load, the rest of the week was carb load, it worked great!
As for my pace, my splits are below:
Dan Benintendi #131
Saginaw, TX, USA
Age: 33 Gender: M
||447 / 920
||350 / 622
||10 / 61
|1St Half Rank
|1St Half Time
|1St Half Pace
|2Nd Half Rank
|2Nd Half Time
|2Nd Half Pace
If I would have started out a little slower, I probably would have had a stronger 2nd half, but I will not complain with an overall average pace 10:02 p/ mile. It has been 13 months since my surgery and as long since I weighed 400 pounds. I am so grateful to be able to do what I now love to do... Endurance Sports!! My family was there to greet me at the finish line... I rode out with my buddy so they would not have to sit around freezing for 4+ hours waiting for me, so they got there about 45 minutes before I finished, and I was so happy to see them. Well, that's it, a great day, a great event, a great result, and a great start to 2009 that now has 2 sprint triathlons, 4 Half Ironmans, 1 Full Ironman, and another Full Marathon. Here's to marathon #2 under my belt with a 30+ minute improvement from my last one, in much more difficult conditions. Thank you all for your love, support, and encouragement, I could not have done this without you...
A Few Thought Heading In To Marathon #2 on February 26, 2009 6:54 pm
It has been a while since I have posted on my profile. I have been sooo busy training. I post my workouts on the excercise and fitness board here, so look for those threads and check out my workouts if you want. I am so excited.... Saturday is my 2nd marathon! I have trained really hard and know I am ready. My 1st marathon was completed in 4:54: -- and I really want to try to finish in 4 hours or less this time. I have been so busy with work, with family, with training, it's hard to find time to do anything else! Anyways, I will be posting a race report after my event on Saturday . I hope everyone is doing well and will post in a few days. Take care....
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Valentine' Day... on February 14, 2009 3:20 pm
I wanted to add this page to my site because my wife, Christie, means more to me than any accomplishment, goal, or race I could ever do, and without her or my family, nothing I could ever do would amount to anything. As we approach Valentines day, it is hard to believe that this will mark the 17th Valentines day we have been together, the last 9 of which we have been married. I think sometimes Christie feels as though her contributions as a stay-at-home mom are trivial and because she does not have a flourishing social life, she may feel she is not liked or is not important. It is for these reasons I wish to express my love and appreciation for her to the public.
Just a perspective on a day in her life:
Her day begins roughly at about 6am EVERY Day, usually by my 5 year old son Ayden jumping on her, or to Ava poking her in the eye and say "Mommy Sleeping"! On a normal day, I get up at 4am and leave for the gym by 4:45am, so she takes care of them all morning and while I am at work during the day. Everyday she cooks them a warm meal for breakfast, Monday & Thursday she picks up a friend's child who goes to the same school as Ayden, and drops them off. After she takes them to school, she faithfully goes to the gym and works really hard. Did I mention she is 8 months pregnant? On Tuesdays she takes the kids to "Small fry club" at McDonald's and suffers through chaos and horrible food. Wednesdays she usually has to endure the kids driving her nuts ALL day, because she usually has that day at home with them, aside from maybe going to the gym. On Fridays, my wife has organized and runs a kids playgroup and that consumes a lot of her morning. Saturday's are my loooong training days, I usually start at 5 am and am gone until noon or so. She always goes to the gym on Saturday mornings and will usually have the kids dressed and ready to go when I get home from training, Every day she cooks homemade food for dinner, she also bathes the kids, takes so much time making Ava look beautiful, and tending to our kids who are tied to her hip! Also, Christie teaches Sunday School at church, and takes a couple hours each Saturday to prepare her lesson and sometimes some yummy treats for those sweet little children she teaches. My life is easy with just training and work, etc... She is the true provider for our family.
Several years back, when she was pregnant with our oldest child Ayden, we bought our first house. I had just been promoted to management, she had a solid job at a CPA firm as an Account, and we were so excited about life. About 4 months into her pregnancy, as she was beginning to "Show", she came home crying. I was in the shower when she got home, and asked her to come sit down and tell me what was wrong. She proceeded to tell me how she was laid off! We had a $2300 mortgage payment, and after I turned pale and lost my breathe, I thought about this for a minute, and here are some thoughts that ran through my head....
I thought back to when I was a child, and my Dad walked out on my mom, leaving her with 4 children and no support for us. I thought back to the times when I was truly happy, and those times included things like my mom coming into my room at 9pm when she got home from her 2nd job, waking just me up, and it was our "special time" where we would go out to the front yard and hand pick all the leaves off the yard. It wasn't that I loved picking up leaves, it was that I loved spending quality time with my mom, and we never got a lot of it because she worked so hard to provide for us. As I thought about these times as a child, I thought about the life of our unborn child, and other children that would eventually come into my life, and I thought in an instant, that no car, no big house, no 401K, no monetary posetion could even come close in comparison to children who know and spend each day at home with their loving mommy. I hugged my wife, assured her that everything would be ok, and this was our Heavenly Father doing something for us that we never would have done for ourselves. If she had not been laid off, I probably would have expected her to go right back to work several weeks after she delivered Ayden. However, I made a decision then and there that no matter what I had to do as a father and husband to provide for my family, I will do it to ensure that my kids know and grow close to their mother and that she would not have to work while they are growing up.
There have been many times where we were literally living on a prayer, scratching our heads wondering how we were going to make ends meet, how we were going to ever see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, for all the things we have sacrificed and lived without, we have been so richly blessed in the things that matter most. Everyday my wife gives everything she has within her to me and the kids, and although I don't do enough for her, and have a lot of things I need to improve on, she knows that I love her and the kids, and nothing will ever change that. We never go to bed at night without a kiss and the words "I love you" being itterated. We never leave the house without hugging and saying the words I love you. Although we, just like everyone else out there, have our trials and struggles, there will never be a doubt of our deep and abiding love for each other and our beautiful children.
In closing, if my wife ever happens to read this, I hope she will know the following to be true:
Every stride I make while running, every pedal stroke I make while riding, every stroke I take while swimming, my thoughts are always about the beautiful faces of my family, in particular my wife. I think about you, Christie, every minute of the day, I truly am the luckiest man in the world to have you. My wife has never had a good self image of herself so I will close with these words to her....
Since we were 16 you have been my sweetheart. You have been the only woman in my life I have ever had a relationship with, you are everything I could ask for in a mother for our kids, but most of all, in my eyes, you are the most gorgeous woman in the world and the best wife any man could ever have. You may not believe you are, but to me, you are, and that is all that matters. May you always know that you are my girl and may you know that everything I do, including marathons, Ironman, and any other crazy thing I might want to do, I truly do for you and the kids. Yes, I want to have fun and do things that others are affraid to do, but most of all, I want to never go back to being obese, and I want to grow old with you and see our kids grow up. I pray that you will always know I will be here for you, and that one day, I will be able to give you all the things you have sacrificed in order to be a mother to our kids and the best wife that the world has ever known. I love you....
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