An Ironman Among Us

April 26, 2013 / Meridith Jones

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What were you doing at 5:00am this morning? Sleeping? For one Molina employee, the cold and dark of the early morning hours are familiar and you may find him miles from home zipping through brisk air. “Crazy,” you say? Not for Todd Pilger, vice president of finance and analytics for Molina Healthcare of New Mexico. Todd is an accomplished triathlete, even completing an Ironman Triathlon in Canada last summer, which consists of an astonishing 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a marathon-distance, 26.2 mile run.

Todd was introduced to the sport through his wife ten years ago. “Initially, I was hesitant to give up other sports I loved, like tournament paintball.” However, many runs, bikes and swims later, it is safe to say Todd is enjoying the sport as well as the benefits it offers. “I feel healthier now than I did in my mid-20s and am down 20 pounds,” accounts Todd. “Training in the three different sports helps your overall health in a way that just doing one of the three would not.” 

One of Todd’s favorite races was the Ironman. Not only were the location and weather beautiful, coincidentally, he and his wife completed the 12+ hour race within two minutes of each other. Also, after training for up to 20 hours per week, completing the race provided an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and sharing that experience with her made it even better.

While achieving such a feat may seem nearly impossible, Todd assures us that with hard work and dedication nearly anyone can get involved and reap the benefits of the sport. “People will tell me ‘You’re so lucky, you can eat whatever you want,’” he says, “but the truth is that while training makes weight control easier, I don’t eat everything I want. It’s a lot of hard work and discipline.” He adds, “I also know that clean, healthy foods fuel my performance.”

The most difficult part of training seems to be balancing time between various commitments. “I’m lucky because so many wives resent the time spent in the sport by their husbands, but since she tried it on her own first, we really were able to enjoy it equally without it being one-sided.” Fortunately, Todd and his wife are able to spend time together while they train, whether it is out on the open road or at Albuquerque Academy where they participate in a Masters swim program with a number of friends.

His advice? “You don’t have to be a fantastic athlete to participate in the sport. Go and enjoy. You don’t have to try and win.” Do you like the idea of a triathlon but the Ironman sounds a bit too intense? There are plenty of triathlons designed for the beginner, as well. Or, explore other activities that you enjoy! There are plenty of ways to move and enjoy the health benefits of exercise.

For a list of triathlons of all levels in your area, visit www.trifind.com.