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Story #11: Andric Bowen

Posted by Hugo Mendez on

As long as I can remember I was a heavy set kid.  I was bigger than my cousins and other kids around me.  I hate being picked on, and sometimes made fun of because I was big. As recent as 2012, I was pushing ~200 lbs & 38" waist size. I was unable to run at all and walking fast was a pain (literally). My nutrition was bad and working out... non-existent.

With support from loved ones, I took that meanness and used it as an inspiration / motivation and started a journey.  I did my research and found a privately owned club “FocusFitness” in NYC.  We had several meetings as to what my goals were and what I wanted to do.  Well, my goal was a very modest one. I wanted to jog around Central Park (6.2 miles) without shin splints and without being out of breath.

The club put me on a 5-day workout program (including 1 yoga class).  After 2 weeks of working out with 3 different trainers, I met with the nutritionist. I knew that this was a long process.  But, I had to DIG DEEP within me to get started.  

When I didn’t see any results after 3 weeks, I was discouraged and disheartened.  One of my trainers said something to me that still sticks…. “Up until now you have had no exercise and no healthy nutrition. You cannot expect to erase that in 3 weeks.  Stick with this and I PROMISE you; you will see results”.  He was so, so right.  After a month and a half it clicked.  I started dropping the weight, eating the right food and started slow jogs in my neighborhood.

I remember the first time I had to figure out what to eat (ie, healthy); I didn’t know.  I cried!  But, I didn’t give up. Again, I had to DIG DEEP and keep with it.

Transformation didn't happen overnight. It took a long time. There were a lot of ups and downs filled with tears and doubts. It was a long learning process.  But in the end, it was, and is, worth every sacrifice. I am running races, various distances; from tons of short distances to several half and 7 full marathons.   So now what…

…I had to add something else to it.  What can that be?  Let’s Tri.

Before I could do that, I had to learn how to swim.  As a child I had a near-drowning experience in the ocean.  That has never left me – it still creeps in the back of my mind.

I also had to learn how to ride a road bike with clipping in and out.  It is so hard to learn how to swim as an adult.  And, it is equally hard to learn how to ride a bike with clips.

First, Riding bikes; I have scars to prove it. I fell so many times, I can’t even count.   In NYC there are no empty roads – so, I would ride my bike in the park and fall in front of people.  I was embarrassed but, I was not about to give in.  I kept at it.  I am not a pro, but I can ride!

Second, Learning how to swim; as I mentioned, it is the most difficult thing I have done as an adult. I had several swim instructors but, nothing clicked.  I finally found someone who I trust.  This person has shown me technique and is sticking with me.  Again, I’m not a pro by any means, but, I can swim damn it!

I had to DIG DEEP for all 3 disciplines; especially, swimming. I am still baffled that I can actually swim.

If someone had approached me 10 years ago and said that I would be doing Tri’s and running marathons. I would have looked at them and said, “Have you met me?”.  Tri’s, heck, running was not even on my trajectory.  But, here I am.  I’M POSSIBLE!

I have done one Tri sprint in 2016 (I almost drowned because I thought I knew how to swim).  Not even close.  But, I finished it kicking on my back.  That was a moment where I really had to DIG DEEP and swim the darn course. I came out of the water after 50 min and the crowd cheered.  I felt embarrassed but, excited at the same time. Now I am hooked and ready for more.

I am in training for my first 70.3 Ironman in Maine.  I will do other races before Maine but, I am excited and looking forward to this journey.

Personally, what I have learned from this experience is that you are your only limit.  Keep learning, keep growing and keep at it.  DIG DEEP people. The depth of human spirit and endurance is endless.

Have A Dig Deep Story To Share? All you have to do is think of a particular time in your life when you had to dig deep (it doesn't necessarily have to be about racing or training, it can be about anything). Make your story as long as you want and send it to digdeepboco@gmail.com (subject : Your Instagram name if you have one). Don't forget to include a picture :) . I look forward to featuring your story! Cheers, Hugo

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