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.

12 Mile Run in Tucson AZ at 2,500 Ft Elevation

I know, I know. 2,500 ft elevation – who cares?  Considering I have done almost all my training in zero elevation in Charleston, SC, it was great to get a bit of elevation into the mix without completely failing. I was impressed the added elevation didn’t hurt my performance too much. I stopped a few times for water breaks and I ran through town a bit so I had to stop for cars. That made my time a bit slower overall.

If you visit Tucson, AZ and want to run/bike – I highly recommend visiting “The Loop”.  It’s beautiful, paved, clean, and safe. Pictures below!

The Loop – Tucson AZ
The Loop – Tucson AZ
The Loop – Tucson AZ

2nd in Age Group – Kiawah Triathlon 2019 (Olympic Distance)

This triathlon was hard. It started with a swim against the current in the ocean. I survived the sharks and jellyfish (didn’t see either but thought about them both the entire time). My bike split was a new personal record (PR) with 25 miles at 22.15 mph. However, the run was very hard. My calf was extremely tight and I thought I was going to have to walk the 6.1 miles. It finally loosened up and I finished strong on the last 2.5 miles.

I’m happy with the effort overall and it earned a 2nd place finish in my age group. First time being on the podium after racing this race 3 times prior.

I’m thinking of a half marathon or full marathon in December/January. Stay tuned!

Family Photo – Kiawah Island Triathlon – 2019
2nd Place Finish in my Age Group. The guy who won ran his pants off…



I had the pleasure of running the 2019 Turtle Trek 5K which raised $70,000 for Sea Turtle protection courtesy of the South Carolina Aquarium. What an incredible fundraising success story!

The 5K included a flat beach run in the hard sand and it was a simple out and back course. There was about a 10-15 mile per hour headwind on the way out, but a nice tailwind on the way in. It was hot, but that’s expected this time of year in Charleston, SC.

I hit a new PR! I placed 1st in my age group (out of 29), 8th overall (out of 421) with a time of 20:31.8 which was a 6:37 pace. If you’re a runner, then you might not be impressed. But for me, this was a big deal! This is my fastest time since High School.

The sad part of the story is that I was sore for 4 days following the race. Like, super sore.

I’m still not sure if this has to do with having less muscle mass, or nutrition. I hope to figure that out soon. Success story either way in my opinion.

Turtle Trek 5K Time
Turtle Trek 5K Time

20 Months Post Total Gastrectomy

Things continue to improve. It’s been weeks since I have had a sugar crash and can’t remember the last time I had a bad reflux issue (sometimes I’ll have a small issue where I just have to drink some water in the middle of the night or eat a rice cake but it’s generally manageable within 15 minutes and I’m back to sleep).

My fitness continues to improve also. In fact, I had another record-breaking triathlon season. Breaking my prior personal best, twice. I shaved 2 minutes off my entire time.  I finished 2nd overall in the 30-34 age group series. And I missed 1st place by 9 points of out 30,000 points for the series. It equates to a 3-second miss. Yes – if I was 3 seconds faster I would have gotten 1st. HA! Talk about a close season! I finished 9th out of all age group racers (170 or so).  I’m excited about that and it has me motivated to keep improving.

I’ll do an Olympic Triathlon again in September and hopefully a half/full marathon in Dec/Jan. We’ll see.  Stay tuned!

5 Miles in 112 degree heat

I was recently in Dallas/Fort Worth for work and was able to run 5 miles after a few meetings. Nothing too special as I love going on runs when I travel. However – it was 112 degrees out. Seriously.

I had a camelback type thing (backpack with built in water that holds 50 ounces). I felt that I had plenty of water, even with the heat.

Well – the run was fun. It was indeed hot. And I drank the whole 50 ounces in about 45 minutes. I couldn’t believe it (since I don’t have a stomach, I don’t have the space to chug water). I suspect it was a mixture of how much I was sweating and with a higher heart rate, it’s easier to consume food/drinks.

Anyways – just another cool story that things become pretty normal over time. It’s been 18 months since my TG. If I don’t overeat and I get enough sleep – my energy levels are similar to before. Thanks for reading a feel free to tweet me any questions!

How I Raced IRONMAN Florida 70.3 with No Stomach

If you are reading this, you are probably thinking, “How did you get nutrition during the race”? Great question! I feel like I got lucky. What worked for me, doesn’t mean it will work for you. But – It might!


I treated my days as normal before the race. I did take one GU Hydration Drink Tabs with a G2 Gatorade two days before the race and the day before, I took two GU Hydration Drink Tabs with two G2 Gatorades. I sipped on these between meals.  The evening meal before the race was pad thai – not spicy.  I did spike my sugar a bit (expected with me) and caught it on the way down at 58, and then ate a few gummy packs to bring it back up. But – no major issues.

Pre-race: wake at 4:00 – 3 oz of Espresso

Eat a “One Protein Bar” at around 5am (takes about 45 min)

7am: start sipping on First Endurance EFS: Lemon Lime and water (two separate bottles)

7:55am: last sip of water. Race Time!

On the Bike about 42 min later. I have water up front with one GU Hydration Drink Tab, 4 GU Energy Gel (tri-berry) mixed with water on the frame, and Hammer Perpetuem on the back.

I sipped all these every few minutes, mixing it up as I went. I grabbed water at the water stations and refilled my front water container and dropped one more GU Hydration Drink Tab at around mile 45.  I also had a bag of ruffles that I started eating around mile 30 because sipping sugary drinks becomes boring. Dang – those chips taste amazing.

In transition from the bike to the run (T2), I put an ice filled water bottle (smart water bottle) down the back of my tri-suit – and took a bottle of Hammer Perpetuem on my fanny pack and 2 extra GU Hydration Drink Tab in my pack.  Those were extra should it get hot. Well – it got very hot. 91+ degrees.  The ice melted around mile 5, then I drank that.  And I popped those extra GU Hydration Drink Tabs with water at mile 5 and 9 and got more GU Gels from the volunteers on the race to mix with water when I refilled the water.

I really expected to blow up or cramp or “fail” or something during the run. But – this plan worked very well. I walked the transitions when I needed to refill, but beyond that – I had a great race and didn’t have major issues. It was hard – but it was so rewarding! Thank you, for everyone who cheered me on along the way and tracked me live. I felt like I was getting energized by the support!

Love ya’ll. Would love to do a full IRONMAN soon. But the primary challenge is scheduling the training around family, work, etc.

Tweet me at @GoWithoutYoGut if you want me to blog about specific topics.

Race Pictures

I’m still very sore from the race. Basically – from head-to-toe. Like – my upper neck, all the way to my right big toe. But – it was worth it. I earned the pain! And I did it for you all!

IRONMAN Florida 70.3 Finishing Time: 6:05:05

Swim: 42:09

Bike 2:59:52

Run 2:12:29

Overall, I’m very happy with the race. No major issues. The wind was bad at times (20mph) and it was hot (91) but rained for about 5 minutes at mile 8 which helped for a bit. Thankfully, the IRONMAN staff was fantastic and had ice and water along the run.