75 Hard: A Gift That Changed My Life

Every Christmas, I cherish the time spent with my family, knowing these moments are becoming rarer as life moves forward. Last Christmas, amidst the cold and rain, I received an unexpected gift from my sister—a gift that has truly transformed my life.

She introduced me to 75 Hard, a challenge she had undertaken with a community of people committed to personal growth. She described it as tough yet immensely rewarding, and I was immediately intrigued.

75 Hard is straightforward: stick to a diet, drink a gallon of water daily, no cheat meals or alcohol for 75 days, exercise twice daily (one session outside), read daily, and take progress photos. Simple rules, but challenging commitments.

However, Listening to podcasts and exploring content from its founder, Andy Frisella, I learned about his intense approach to accountability and his emphasis on uncompromising commitment. His mantra of “don’t cheat, don’t modify” resonated deeply.

(Warning – lots of cussing. So if that bothers you, you can skip the podcast.)

Back to the Gift.

When my sister told me about this and how it had impacted her, I was in! I committed to this program and my wife and were aligned and stared Jan 1, 2024.

It was hard. In fact, the water was more annoying than I thought (harder for a stomachless person) but I figured it out (add electrolytes). Working out outside was annoying sometimes. I started rucking with 35 lbs. That helped. But when it was cold and raining, it just sucked. Working out everyday included days that sucked as well. Not eating ice cream and candy wasn’t hard for me. Not drinking wasn’t hard either.  Andy has created the 75 Hard app and that helped keep me on track.  It was like $7 but worth it.

Here’s what I learned along the way:

  1. It’s not for everyone: 75 Hard demands discipline and resilience.
  2. Support is crucial: Having my wife’s backing made a significant difference.
  3. Do it with friends: Shared suffering makes the journey easier.
  4. Plan meticulously: Preparation is key to staying on course.
  5. Have a clear ‘Why’: Knowing my reasons kept me motivated through tough times.
  6. Prioritize recovery: Protein and sleep are essential for sustaining energy.

My personal ‘Why’ was twofold: to maintain fitness without race pressure and to break my habit of daily drinking. These goals kept me focused and driven.

In conclusion, 75 Hard isn’t just a fitness challenge; it’s a transformative experience. It pushed me to new limits physically and mentally, fostering habits that have enhanced my role as a husband and father. While not without its challenges, the rewards of improved mental toughness, confidence, and self-discipline are invaluable.

If you’re considering 75 Hard, approach it with commitment and a strong support system. It may just be the gift that changes your life, as it did mine.

After 75 Hard was finished, I committed to keep my “no drinking streak” going and also workout at least 30 minutes a day.

IRONMAN Recap: A Journey of Endurance and Growth

We did it! Mission accomplished and over $20,000 raised for CDH1 Gene Mutation Stomach Cancer Research!

Hey there, fellow adventurers! It’s been a while since I last checked in, but I couldn’t let this milestone slip by without sharing the nitty-gritty details of my recent IRONMAN experience. Strap in, because we’re diving deep into the highs, lows, and everything in between. I’ll give a blog friendly overview, then some of the nerdy details at the end.

Training: Let’s kick things off with the backbone of this entire journey: the training. From November 2022 to March 2023, I was knee-deep in base training, focusing on keeping my heart rate in check while clocking in those biking and running miles. But just when I thought I had it all figured out, my doctor threw a curveball. Turns out, my original plan wasn’t cutting it.

After a heart-to-heart with my amazing wife, I decided to bring in the big guns and enlisted the help of Purple Patch Training. Let me tell you, that decision was a game-changer. With their guidance, I crafted a training plan that not only aligned with my goals but also kept my family front and center. A few key takeaways? Listen to your body, fuel up on protein like it’s your job, and never underestimate the power of an ice bath.

Support: Next up, let’s talk about the real MVPs of this journey: my support system. From day one, my wife has been my rock, helping me navigate the ups and downs of training while keeping our family ship afloat. And let’s not forget about my buddy Joe, who went above and beyond to bike alongside me and keep me accountable. Seriously, I couldn’t have done it without these amazing folks by my side.

Race: Fast forward to race day: Chattanooga 144.6, here we come! The swim was a breeze thanks to a strong river current, while the bike leg treated us to scenic views and a few unexpected hills. But it was the run that truly put me to the test. Despite a strong start, I hit a wall around mile 20, battling exhaustion and a pounding headache. But with sheer determination (and a little help from my mom), I powered through to the finish line.

Nutrition Plan: Now, let’s talk fuel. I’ll be the first to admit, nailing down the perfect nutrition plan was no easy feat. But after some trial and error, I found a routine that worked for me (for the most part). Pre-race energy bars, carb gels on the bike, and plenty of electrolytes along the way kept me fueled and focused. (details at the end)

Will I do it again? In the immediate aftermath of the race, I swore up and down that I’d never put myself through that again. But with a little hindsight and a lot of reflection, I’m already eyeing my next challenge. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next year, but someday, another IRONMAN is definitely on the horizon.

What’s next: I’m already setting my sights on the next big adventure. Whether it’s another endurance race or a completely different challenge, one thing’s for sure: I’m just getting started.

Final Thoughts: To anyone out there chasing their own IRONMAN dreams (or any dreams, for that matter), I leave you with this: surround yourself with love, stay true to your goals, and never underestimate the power of a detailed plan. And remember, the journey is just as important as the destination.

Onward and upward, my friends!

The Details for the Nerds:


As I mentioned, based on my goals – I landed on Purple Patch training.  They were fantastic and I’m not sure this would have worked out without them helping me ensure my training was thoughtful and allowed me to still be family first.  I’m not sure if everyone needs a coach, but I did. A few key lessons learned from having a coach:

  • If you’re sick or too sore, take some time off. Maybe do a walk if you can.
  • Everyday, goal needs to be 1g of protein per lb body weight. So if I weight 170 lbs, I need 170 grams of protein. This was not easy at first but I figured it out with 3 protein shakes a day plus eating more protein than carbs/fat.
  • Swim and Bike a lot. I would only run 1-2 hours per week. TOTAL. 
  • I spent 6 weeks going fast and short (mostly swimming and bike). This increased my fitness pretty quick but no workouts were over an hour.
  • Then, I switched to building the distance, with swimming stilling having a lot of speed work, and the bike would have speed inside most workouts.
  • I think this approach was key to keep me healthy and avoid injury 
  • Sleep – I needed at least 7 hours, ideally 7.5 hours of sleep a day to feel rested.
  • Ice bath – this truly was a game changer. I would try and get in everyday post workout and was incredibly helpful. Especially after a hard run session later in the training.

Support system (more details):

The full distance IRONMAN was on my radar for many years.  I wanted to do one before I had stomach cancer. After surgery and recovery, I wanted to just do a 70.3. But, goals change and people grow. Following the 70.3, I had my eyes on the full distance but knew it would be something that would require full support from the family and timing was key.  After the Charleston Marathon in Jan 2020, I had plans to roll directly into IRONMAN training but COVID killed that plan.

During COVID, I largely stopped working out because there were no races. Pools were closed. I would run from time to time but remember feeling out of shape.  Victim mentality started to creep in my life.  

After some reflection in 2022, my wife and I agreed that I needed to get back to working out and racing.  When I’m working out consistently, I’m a better person. I set better goals. I drink less. I eat healthier. Thus, we targeted 2023 as the year of the IRONMAN.

Being aligned with my wife was critical. She supported me 100%. We went through the boring and sometime difficult conversation every Sunday going through the training plan and how it could fit with the family.  It wasn’t easy. However, she supported me and it fueled my training knowing the house was in order.  It also grew us closer because we communicated much better than the past and my love for her grew because she was so selfless in her support.

Another key element to the support team was my friend Joe.  He skipped work and family time to bike with me every week.  It was a huge benefit and blessing.  We would bike 100 miles, then I’d run six, then hit the ice bath at his house. Truly was incredible having such a selfless training partner.  I’m not confident I would have been able to complete the training without him.  He even sponsored some of the training gear.  Thank you Joe! You were crucial in the success!

Race: Chattanooga 144.6 – Sept 24, 2023

Swim: 2.4 miles

Bike: 116 miles

Run: 26.2 Miles

Official Time: 13:00:23

The race was really an incredible adventure.  The weather was perfect. The river current was ripping. The Bike was safe. The run was hilly and was really hard. But all in all, a great race.

The IRONMAN team did such a fantastic job at making this as great as possible. Volunteers are 3:1 or 4:1, so you have amazing support.  Truly, I can’t say enough about how awesome the staff and volunteers were.

Here is a quick review of the Race but there are also plenty on YouTube:

Swim – fast point to point swim. Current was ripping and the swim was down river from a dam so the current helped a lot

Bike – beautiful country outside of Chattanooga and intro Georgia with rolling hills.  I couldn’t stop praying and being grateful because I was so thankful to be racing, healthy, without a stomach.  The last 30 miles were not easy.  Especially the last big hill around mile 90. Multiple people were walking their bikes and even pulled over for breaks.  I’m glad I went easy(ish) the first lap and has plenty in the tank for the second lap.

Run – I was shocked how good I felt in the first of the run. I was on pace for a 11:30:00 race which was well below my 13 hr goal and 12hr stretch goal.  I ran the flats, walked the hills and aid stations. Legs started to feel tired around mile 13 after several big hills. Really stated to feel tired at mile 16.  At mile 20, I had a pounding headache and was rather disoriented. My body refused water and energy gels at that point. I would gag with a gel. So – my plan was to run walk the last 6 and tough it out. This wasn’t a great plan.  I was able to finish and the last mile was largely downhill and so I ran it pretty quick.

When I crossed the finish line, I was really dizzy and disoriented. I assumed I was dehydrated but was rushed through the chute without being able to really explain I have no stomach and something was wrong. I asked a volunteer for an IV and he said they don’t have them. I should have pushed back and explained my situation but just walked to a curb and sat down.  I couldn’t find my family and felt like I didn’t have energy to move.  I was fading. 

Thankfully, my mom was watching through the crowd and found a medical person from the med-tent and within 5 minutes, I had an IV in my arm and started to feel like a human again. Shout out to Mom! 🙂

That night, I felt really bad. Just tired at a degree that’s hard to put words to. Surprising, the next day I didn’t feel horrible. I was tired, and my legs were a bit sore. But I expected I couldn’t walk. Interesting find because I would walk with a very tiny limp due to tightness.

Nutrition Plan:

I dialed this approach in during training. This is different for everyone and it’s trial and error. It worked about 90% for me. The only change I would have made would be use something different than gels and tabs. I needed some type of real food halfway through the bike and before the run to keep me from having to”gel fatigue” which hit me about mile 18-20 on the run.

Rough plan:

Pre-race: Energy Bar (10gr protein, 18 carbs, 100 mg caffeine). Wait 30 min then an electrolyte drink.

Swim: Nothing

Bike: 32 oz of water with electrolytes and 1 25/30gr carb gel every 30 min or so.

Run: 20-30 oz of water with electrolytes and 1 25/30gr carb gel every 20-30 min or so.

I liked the gel option because they worked well for me, they were small, and easy.  But – it wasn’t perfect.


Precision fuel: Gels and 500-1500 strength electrolyte tabs depending on needs.  The 1500 tab made me feel like a new person off the bike, before the run. I wish I had another one at mile 10 or so on the run.

Gu-Gel – Tri-berry (caffeine) and Raspberry (non-caffeine)

Gu-Electrolytes tabs

What’s next:

The IRONMAN was a mountain. But only one mountain in a mountain chain. Onward and upward.  I enjoy setting big goals and continue to show the stomachless community that we can do more than the doctors say, or more than we think.  It’s not easy. We are all fighting different battles. But I believe that if we don’t stay vigilant and focus on our health and relationships, one can find themselves in a dark place.  I have more big goals and I hope to share them soon.

Last thoughts:

I hope this will find you with encouragement. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Your support system is important. 
  • Relationships are important.
  • Your health is important.
  • Mental health is important.
  • Doing the hard things are important.
  • Having a detailed plan is important. 
  • Set a goal, and make small progress everyday.

Thank you for reading.

Save our Stomachs Fundraiser Feb 25 2023

This weekend I traveled to the chilly Madison WI to help host a fundraiser for a very important initiate called Save Our Stomachs. Please click on the link to learn more. The short of it – this is an incredible opportunity to create an endowment fund and fund important CDH1 Gene Mutation Related research in perpetuity!

This picture is a group of “stomachless warriors” that are so special to me! We had a blast and raised a lot of money. Totals are still being worked but check the status here: https://saveourstomachs.org/donate/

IRONMAN Chattanooga 2023

I’m thrilled to announce that I have registered for the IRONMAN Chattanooga in September 2023.

You might already know, but an IRONMAN Triathlon is a 2.4 Mile Swim, 116 Mile bike ride, 26.2 Mile Run. Totaling in 144.6 miles. I’m doing this race to keep the focus on doing hard things without a stomach and hopefully inspire others to do the same. A growth mindset is healthy mindset.

This will be my first full IRONMAN and preparation is already underway.

I’ll try and post more here or somewhere. Stay tuned!

Follow along here: https://www.ironman.com/im-chattanooga

Spotlight On Stomach Cancer – Sept 17 2022

No Stomach for Cancer is hosting the first Spotlight since Covid. Details are below and I hope you see you there!



Additionally – I’m looking forward to some exciting initiatives and goals for the future. I’m still planning and working through everything but hope to formally announce something in the next few months and be more active on updating this blog.

Thanks! Keep your head up.

I’m Still Here! 22 Months since last post.

It’s only been 22 Months or so. We survived a pandemic, I have a new job, our family welcomed a new dog, and life seems busier than ever. Sorry for the lack of posting but I guess I’m here to say – things are nearly back to normal. I forget I don’t have a stomach most days. I’m still active and plan on running a half marathon with my wife next month. If you’re reading this – keep fighting. No matter what your battling – Keep Fighting.

Marathon After Total Gastrectomy

It’s been 2 years and six days since my total gastrectomy due to CDH1 gene mutation and Hereditary Diffused Gastric Cancer Syndrome. During the first few months after surgery, I would have thought I would be finishing the Charleston Marathon in 4:11:45 in two years.

It was a warm day (low 70’s) and the race was hard. Knee pain started at mile 4, and only got worse. By mile 20, and after drinking over 115 ounces of liquids to keep from cramping, my legs were extremely sore and tight.  I felt worse when I walked through the aid stations, so I picked up the pace and just suffered through the finish line. My goal was to finish under 4:30:00 so I was thrilled!

I went by a pop-up IV place and got a bag of fluid after the race. It didn’t help too much as I had a headache for around 48 hours following the race. I suspect due to dehydration. My legs are super sore, and the mental fog is intense. Recovering from the marathon is much more involved than I thought. With all the pain and difficulty, it was worth it.

I have no idea if my method will work for others, but I did a lot of things differently:


3 runs a week. Short, internals one day. Tempo runs the other day. Then, lastly, a long and slow run on the weekends.  I choose this unorthodox approach because I would be very sore after my long runs and I needed extra rest to recover. I forget where I found this plan but I had to edit it to 3 days and make some changes. I also didn’t follow it 100%. *Disclosure: I didn’t make it myself.


I took a 51 oz water backpack with me on all my long training runs and decided to use it for the race as well.  On top of that, I had two 16 oz bottles on me that had 1.5 scoops of Hammer Nutrition – Perpeturm with a Nuun electrolyte tablet in each bottle. After I drank those, I added another electrolyte tablet in each bottle, with two GU Tri-Berry Gel’s and filled with water.  Finally, after all of those, I had one last Gel with water to finish the race. PLUS, I would sip a cup of water at each aid station.  Perhaps this is way too much, but I didn’t cramp, and it was a hot day so I consider it a victory to me.

The marathon was a big test for me. I’m not sure what I will do next but I think I’ll take a break from the long races for a bit. They are a big commitment and I’m looking forward to relaxing with the family more than racing long races.

Thanks for reading!

Stomachless Marathon

Join me Saturday, January 11th, for the Charleston Marathon. This will be my first marathon without a stomach. Training has been interesting and I’m currently battling a cold. I’m excited to give it my best and encourage you to follow along.

You can follow along via this Facebook Event:

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/536198883597869/

OR via the website/app:

Live Tracking for Charleston Marathon – Saturday 7:10am ET

Live results will be posted online to www.CharlestonMarathon.com/Results OR free live tracking through the Sportshive Live App!

For Android Users: The App is available in the Google Play Store. To download, search by keyword “Sportshive Live.” Once downloaded, search for the “Charleston Marathon 2020.”

For iOS Apple Users: The App is available in the Apple App Store. To download, search by keyword “Sportshive Live.” Once downloaded, search for the “Charleston Marathon 2020.”
Follow Along!

Search “Dylan Davison”

Thanks for your support!

18 Miles Down

Marathon training is going well. It’s been painful, but it’s going well.

I seem to be sorer than last time I trained for a Marathon. But, a lot has changed since last time too.

I ran my first marathon in 2016. My knee became sore during the last month of training and I had no idea how to plan for nutrition on the marathon. I encountered a hamstring cramp at mile 20 of 26.2 and that greatly impacted my time and overall enjoyment. I had to walk/jog for the last six miles. It was a great learning experience and I was thankful I finished.

The marathon I’m going to run on January 11th, in Charleston SC, will be a much different experience. Here is what’s changed:

  • I’m about 25-30 lbs lighter
  • I don’t have a stomach.
  • My nutrition plan is much more involved
  • Carry about 82 ounces of water/Gatorade with me so I can drink as often as I like
  • Mix an electrolyte tablet with every 16 ounces of Gatorade and also mix in a Tri-Berry GU Gel for every 45 minutes of running
  • My legs are extremely sore after every long run. Like, barely can walk sore.
  • I’m only training 3 days a week, rather than 5. (Short run, mid-run, and long-run) -> This is certainly untested, but I created the plan after realizing I couldn’t take the beating of running 5 days a week. I was far too sore and tired.
  • I lose around 3-4 pounds on long runs. I still don’t understand the math on this one. I’m drinking of 90 oz of fluids and I still come back 3-4 lbs lighter.
  • Way more tired after workouts. Might be due to the hydration mentioned above. It’s hard to describe. It’s beyond tired. It’s like mental fog. I counter it with many shots of espresso to survive the remainder of the day.

Now that I have reached 18 miles, I feel great about finishing the race. Only a few more weeks to build, then I’ll taper before race day. Thanks for following along! You can mark yourself interested/going the support event via Facebook where I’ll continue to add content and updates. You can join in posting how much you will run/jog/walk on race day to support No Stomach For Cancer awareness!


My view on Saturday

Do You Want To Do Something Important?

You can make a difference and help me raise money for important Stomach Cancer Research during Stomach Cancer Awareness Month!

A fellow stomach cancer survivor, and stomachless friend, Camden Linstead has challenged me to raise money and race him in the Charleston Marathon on January 11, 2019. Show your support by donating $26.20 (number of miles we will run in the race) or more to one of our campaigns. All donations are tax-deductible and go to No Stomach For Cancer. Stay tuned for training updates as I’m behind schedule.

DONATE HERE: https://www.justgiving.com/team/dylandavison