Fat Man to Ironman
November 31, 2013
by Dan Hyatt
At the moment you realize that you could literally die from your weight problem, you face a crossroads; choose to change your lifestyle or continue down the path that will ultimately lead to your death. On January 13, 2012, I weighed at least 337 pounds. I speculate that it was more like 350, but 337 was the last scale weight I had taken. I had my moment where I could not breathe (as though I were going to die), and it occurred to me that my family would be left without me unless I did something to fix it.
Setting an incredible goal
Instead of setting a weight loss goal, I chose to set a goal that was so insane to everyone around me that they dismissed it as impossible: Run the Ironman in 5 years or less. Determined to prove everyone wrong, I started swimming until I had lost enough weight, about 30 pounds, to start running. In March, I started a Couch to 5K program. In May, I consulted a registered dietitian to help me learn to eat right for what I was doing. In June, I started riding a road bike for the first time in 20 years. By August, I was training for my first half marathon and again contemplating running my first full marathon which was another goal that everyone said I couldn't do in that short of a time period.
Anything is Possible
I chose the Monumental because I love the city of Indianapolis which is the sister city to my hometown of Louisville along with the fact that the timing just worked out. On November 3, 2012, nine months after running my first steps, I completed the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon proving the Ironman mantra that "Anything is possible". Up to that point, this was the single hardest effort I had ever put out. I didn't set any land speed records, but I didn't intend to. Finish; that was all I set out to do, and that's what I did: 5:21:03 officially. At this point, all of the people who said that I couldn't reach my Ironman goal suddenly realized that I was going to do it. I finished my first sprint triathlon in September which was another milestone.
2013 was a year of achievements and a single failure that would actually lead to my completion of the Ironman 70.3 in Racine, Wisconsin. At my first Olympic distance triathlon, (1500m swim, 40km bicycling, 10km run) I experienced wetsuit claustrophobia which ultimately led me to exit the swim and complete the bike/run with a DNF for the race. Instead of letting this get me down, I chose to add a second Olympic distance triathlon and spend the next several weeks training the swim in a wetsuit along with seeking help from Steve Hernan of Open Water Chicago. Crossing the finish line in Racine was both a relief and a reminder that 2014 was going to be one heck of a year. Double everything I just did in order to complete the full Ironman in Louisville. Such a thought is hard to wrap your mind around, but I live by the Ironman mantra that "Anything isPossible."
I returned to Indianapolis for the Monumental in 2013 because I know the course and I really enjoyed the race. It's not so big that you're lost in a crowd, but it's big enough that you have lots of support from both the volunteers as well as the spectators. Having run the Fox Valley Marathon 6 weeks prior to my second IMM, I again did not set a PR, but I beat my 2012 time: 5:01:39.
In 2014, I will race my first Ironman in Louisville on August 24th, and become what I set out to become: An Ironman. Ironman provided me with a free entry into the race in exchange for my assistance in helping fight childhood obesity, which is a cause that I am very close to.
2014 will also see me return for my third trip to the Indianapolis Monumental. They say that your first marathon is the one you always remember, and I'm glad that I did mine at the IMM.