The Story

Or How I Lost 50 Pounds and Became Just Another Mid-pack Age Grouper

Friends and family members sometimes tell me how they are impressed with my fitness and that they “could never do what you do.” That’s nonsense of course. The world is full of stories of people who lost tons of weight or underwent life-changing transformations to become world champions.

This is not one of those stories. Instead, this is a story of how one average dude with a job and kids struggled and failed and tried again to get to a pretty good place. I’m not a lifelong athlete; my high school athletic career was limited to playing on the golf team my freshman year. (I qualified 12/13 on the team, played in one match, and lost.)

In early 1993 I realized that I was a little out of shape and needed to do better. So I bought a pair of running shoes and began jogging laps around my apartment complex at 5:30 a.m. At first, I could only run one loop, or about 400 meters.

But I kept at it, and a few months later ran my first 5K. I have no idea how I did and results back then were not posted online so the world will probably never know.

I ran more 5Ks and eventually raced a few 10Ks, including the 1997 Cowtown where I ran 53:18 for 1125th overall. I had also become interested in the growing sport of triathlon so I picked up a bike and rode some.

But then life punched me in the face and I had to take a couple years off. By 1999 things were improving, so I got back on the bike and promptly broke my hip in a freak low-speed crash.

Photo of me in 2010 and me running a race in 2021
Me in 2010 vs 2021

Twelve years later, I weighed a whopping 100 kg – or right around 220 pounds. I was recently divorced and realized that I should probably consider losing some weight. So I signed up for the gym and started going a few nights a week. I even paid for a few personal training sessions and eventually began to see some progress.

I bought a mountain bike and started riding again, then decided to give running a try. In early 2013 I bought some trail shoes and on the coldest day of the year ran my first trail at Austin’s Mary Moore Searight park.

I still weighed too much, but I was out there doing something. And it paid off – I had lost 15 pounds and kept it off. In 2014 I finally completed a duathlon and the next year ran my first 25K trail race.

Two years after that I finished the Palo Duro Canyon 20K in just over two hours, which was good for 11th in my age group. On race day I weighed a little less than 80 kg – I had lost 45 pounds!

There have been setbacks – I’ve been injured, including a shoulder fracture in a 2017 trail race, some life events, and general calamity. But the main thing is that I’ve set goals and have kept going back to it, even after a few months off.

Today I’ve kept all that weight off and with the help of my new coach am stronger and fitter than I have ever been. I’ve found that my interests and goals have changed; these days I’m more focused on road events than trail ones and am going all in on duathlon for the ‘22 season.

It’s taken me 10 years of fits and starts to get here, and some days I still don’t want to go out and run or ride my bike. But even the pros have those days – it’s natural for everyone to lose a little motivation. But the most important thing is to set achievable goals that you are interested in doing. If you hate running, then don’t sign up for a 5K!

And you don’t need a ton of expensive equipment or gym memberships. Remember, I started with a pair of shoes back in ’93. There are tons of exercise routines you can do without any equipment at all. Just take it slow, and it’s always a good idea to check in with your doc before getting started.

I have no world-beating aspirations. I like running and riding my bike and the excitement of an occasional race. If I do well, great! If not, then no big deal (though doing well is always the better option.) My income doesn’t depend on my winning races and yours probably doesn’t either.

As the saying goes, “you do you.” Fitness isn’t that hard: find something you like and keep at it a little at a time. Little goals lead to big success, so get out there and try something new!