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.


I’m married with three wonderful children. At the age of 32, I found out my Mother was a carrier of a rare gene mutation in her CDH1 Gene.  It was the same gene mutation that caused stomach cancer in three of my mothers family members. Being a carrier of this gene mutation gave me an 80%+ chance of developing stomach cancer.  On top of that, once cancer is formed, it’s extremely hard to detect and almost always fatal.

I was given a choice: 1) monitor the situation and get scans/scopes/biopsies a few times a year to try and “catch” cancer early, or 2) have a prophylactic total gastrectomy (total removal of the stomach).  The end goal: Live a very long life.  I didn’t like either option, to be honest, but option two seemed to have the best chance for me living a long life. It is also the recommendations of doctors familiar with this disease.

I created this blog to document my journey. Others in my situation have done the same, and I found it very encouraging as I tried to learn about my disease.  I’m hopeful I can pass the torch. I’m having surgery January 6, 2018. Wish me luck!