In 2005 shad McGaha weighed over three hundred pounds He says he stopped counting after 325. Today Shad sports the physique of a seasoned triathlete, and this past Saturday. He competed in, and finished his first Ironman Triathalon, with two of his close friends, Jeff Li and Todd Davenport. Mcgaha says losing the weight and completing the Ironman were more similar than you might think. "They're incremental. There's little goals you have along the way. When you lose the weight, you take five or ten pounds at a time. When you're running an Ironman you break it down. When you're in the water you wanna make it to the next buoy, i'm gonna make this turn, when you're on the bike you're just trying to make the next rest stop. They're ten miles apart. When you're on the run. It's not a matter of miles, it's a matter of, we have three laps to do. So when you have the first lap, it's just nine miles or nine and a half miles. You're just thinking when i finish this i get to see my family."
Jeff li also had his own personal struggle to overcome. When he started training for the race. Li had to teach himself to swim. And not just to swim in a pool on a hot day. But in a lake. Ear to ear with thousands of other Ironman participants. "i'm not a swimmer so that was the toughest part for me. That was my one fear going into the race. But, that 2.4 miles ended up being the best part of my day."
Of course after the swim there's still the 112 mile bike ride and full marathon to worry about, but Li says it's all worth it for that last stretch."the pain goes away, once you're in that finishing shute you don't feel anything, you don't hear anything and you're just on cloud nine." And Shad McGaha agrees, "once you get there, the pain goes away, you hear the crowd cheering, you hear the music playing. Everybody's lining the fences, wanting to give you a high five. You're running from side to side. The closer you get the faster you want to run but your legs just won't go any faster, you're completely spent. You cross that finish line and you hear them say your name and there are people there to catch you. It's an incredible event. There are volunteers out there all 17 hours, and they care about you and want to know you're alright. They walk with you hand in hand until you get to your loved ones. It was amazing."
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