IRONODIE ~ Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Texas
North of Houston, Texas; The Woodlands is home to the 2013 Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Texas. A crazy triathlon, athletes begin with a 2.4-mile swim, 112-miles on bicycle and ending with a 26.2-mile marathon. Participants have exactly 17 hours to finish and only 50 qualifiers go on to the IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii. 2,818 competed and I was lucky enough to photograph one of these entrants on his 140.6 mile virgin IRONMAN run. I have never seen anything like this race and it is truly a feat beyond belief. One word-Atmosphere!
Now, meet James Oltman, "Odie" is what everyone knows him as. First time IRONMAN competitor, and 3 years ago he weighed 281 pounds. Odie is my best friends big Brother and I always remember him being bigger, that has all changed however and he is now a slim & forever changed, triathlon competitor. Family & Friends gathered from several states to support him and we even had angels with us on race day, as we were amazingly able to locate our IRONODIE 3 times on the bike course, and create some beautiful images.
Here are his words as he explained his amazing journey to me:
"I had always thought about doing triathlons. For many years when I was living in Nebraska I was always intrigued with the sport. Whenever I would get to the decision of doing one, it was always in mid winter when the weather wasn't conducive for training. By the time the weather got nicer, there never seemed to be a level of urgency to my decision, and it always got pushed to the back burner.My old college roommate Jarod had been doing triathlons for a couple years at this point. He has tried talking me into them before, and once again we were having a conversation about them. Living in Texas at the time I knew weather wouldn't be the issue it once was living in the Midwest. So one day I finally just decided I was going to go for it.
In the winter of 2010 I had ballooned to my highest weight ever 281 pounds. I was never "unhappy" with myself, nor did I ever consider myself "obese". I never had that defining eye opening moment, or health scare or anything along those lines. I had always wanted to get in better shape but had never really had a sense of drive to stick with it once I would try starting.
I signed up for the Austin Triathlon that was going to be held Labor Day weekend in the fall of 2010. At this point it would give me 4 months to train for it and see what I could accomplish. I started running, albeit it very slowly, with one of my coworkers who had also been on a weight loss mission. It started off by running a mile without stopping. Then eventually two. I also joined a masters swimming class to learn how to swim properly for racing.
Thank you Odie, Thank you for letting me travel with your family and capture your amazing day on camera. It was an experience that you, nor I will ever forget!
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