full ironman: a family affair
By Charla Hamilton firstname.lastname@example.org
(Special Thank You to Paul C. Johnson for Providing Information)
In November of 2016, Chelsea resident Paul Johnson, set out to accomplish a serious set of goals. He stated to friends on his Facebook page that he was determined to “run a ¼ Ironman Triathlon in 2017, a ½ Ironman Triathlon in 2018, and a Full Ironman Triathlon in 2019 before his 60th birthday.” He shared in 2016 that he was determined to lose weight and learn how to swim (stating he was not a good swimmer and had joined Chelsea Wellness Center to learn) and was on the road to complete his goals. Paul remembers how the idea to complete all these goals came about. He states: “Three years ago at age 57, I went to cheer for my son Travis Johnson, as he was competing in his first Full Ironman in Louisville Kentucky. I was so motivated by him (he completed the triathlon in 11 hours 21 minutes at age 25), and by other athletes that were my age, that I came home and posted on my Facebook page that even though I had never biked, ran, and couldn’t hardly swim across the pool, that before I turned 60 I would come back here and do this Full Ironman with my son!”
Throughout 2017 and 2018 Paul, along with Travis, completed his first two goals of the ¼ Ironman and the ½ Ironman. Paul documented his journey along the way publicly on Facebook and drew quite a following.
On October 12 of 2019, the night before Paul and his son Travis competed in the Full Ironman Paul reminisced on his Facebook page about his journey of getting in shape and some obstacles that he had to overcome: the flu and a torn meniscus in his left knee. Despite these challenges he pushed through and was able to compete.
Paul shares the incredible timeline of events during competing in the first two triathlons and then finally completing his goal of the Full Ironman Triathlon before his 60th birthday:
June 4, 2017: Paul and his son Travis competed in his first Triathlon in Lansing Michigan. This triathlon as Paul states is called the “Hawk Island Triathlon” and says they did the sprint distance. They swam 550 yards, biked 10 miles and ran a 5K. He said this is basically an 1/8 of a Full Ironman.
August 20, 2017: Competed in the Grand Rapids Triathlon called the “Michigan Titanium”. Paul states they did the Olympic distance in this triathlon, which is a .93 mile swim, 28 miles of biking, and a lot of running. It is basically a ¼ of a Full Ironman.
Paul then stopped training for 4 months due to injuring his knee in the Grand Rapids Triathlon.
January 2018: Paul slowly got back to training, as he didn’t want to re-injure his knee.
May-August 2018: Paul said he got back to his normal full training schedule of 6 days a week, plus added in one evening of strength training per week with a trainer from Chelsea Wellness Center (Pat Richardson) who had completed Full Ironmans.
August 19, 2018: Competed in the “Michigan Titanium” with the distance of Half Ironman. He states that he and Travis swam 1.2 miles, biked 56 miles, and then ran 13.1 miles. Paul finished with a time of 7 hours and 2 minutes.
August 18, 2019: Competed in the half distance dualthlon at the Michgian Titanium, which was a 1.2 mile swim, and a 56 mile bike ride.
October 13, 2019: Paul and Travis completed the Full Ironman in Louisville, Kentucky. They finished with a time of 14 hours and 33 minutes.
Paul said that this was a life changing event for him and states: “If there is one thing I want people to take away from this is, your body is an amazing thing and you only get one of them in this life. Take care of it. I was 193 pounds 3 years ago (the most I had ever weighed) and made three simple decisions that I stuck by: 1.) Cut out fast food, 2.) Cut out all pop/soda from my diet. 3.) Exercise six days a week. When I competed in the Full Ironman I weighed 163 pounds which is what I weighed in high school! The best thing that has come out of this challenge is my health. I want to give a big shout out to my wife Lela Diane Johnson (we just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary), for encouraging me and supporting me. She is awesome and has always stood by me no matter what crazy goals/dreams that I have, besides helping me start two businesses. I couldn’t have done this without her by my side. Also, a special thank you to all of my family and friends, who encouraged and supported me through this journey. We have lived by the motto to “never quite dreaming and setting new goals”. I hope this helps other people change their lives. It has definitely changed ours.”
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