During the past 10 years as I participated in various running events and triathlons, I got to meet a lot of inspirational people and I am honored to share this story of a dear friend I met by way of the Triathlon Community. I have to admit I didn’t know much about him outside of brief conversations on what event we were participating in next or what organization needed help setting up events, but I can now say learning more about him taught me a great lesson on persistence.
Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.
Meet Beau Bearden — I jumped right into my first question with Beau as I wanted to learn why he got involved in endurance sports, Beau said ‘I grew up athletic and stayed very active in College. After college I got wrapped up in work and I gained a lot of weight in my 20s and 30s. Then one day I decided to go see a doctor about this issue and he put me on medication for high blood pressure.’
‘I was also wearing a size 42 but the day finally came where I couldn’t get them on, so I bought a size 44, it was at that moment I said to myself – no more, that is it! I needed to start losing weight! I told myself I was only going to buy one pair. My highest weight was 268lbs. So I decided to target one healthy thing at a time. I was drinking about 10-12 cokes a day, so I started to cut-back.’ Beau replied.
‘The next thing I was going to cut back on was my 2-3 days per week drive thru trips to McDonald’s for breakfast. So I replaced coke with water, McDonald’s with banana and oatmeal or similar healthy choices. It took me 3-4 months to conquer each phase and it took me 4 years to go from 268lbs to under 200lbs, just by eating better. It was creating a new lifestyle – which took a lot of discipline.’ Beau stated.
Beau went on to tell me, ‘When I was at 220lbs I decided to do my first 5k, so I went out for a 1 mile run and I couldn’t even complete a half mile – I wasn’t upset as I always tried to stay positive and realistic about these milestones and my health. So every day I would go out on that very same route and eventually I could start to go further and within 4 months I could finally complete a 5k. So I signed up for my first 5k and I was ‘soo’ emotional when I completed it – it was a big deal for me.’ Beau said.
From not being able to complete a half mile to finally being able to run 3.1 miles is a huge accomplishment and something everyone can relate to, even lifelong runners – we all got started somehow. Beau replied ‘When I got started I didn’t know anything about 5ks.’
‘I learned that running also needed to become a lifestyle so I signed up for another 5k. I was targeting at least one 5K per month in my first year and I actually exceeded it. I then graduated to doing 10ks and I eventually got comfortable with that and advanced to Half-Marathons and then Marathons where I found myself doing 6-7 marathons a year,’ Beau stated.
‘I then got into Triathlons and took the same route starting with sprints and then slowly moving up to a full Iron-Man where I have completed twelve. I also recently completed Race Across America with a team and I entered a 41 mile swim – yet I didn’t finish it,’ Beau replied.
‘ I have learned that not finishing a race for me isn’t a big deal. I would rather go out and push my limits and not finish a race vs. take on a race I know I can accomplish as it pushes me to test my limits and really challenge myself. If I go out and DNF but give it my all I am truly happier than doing a race that I finish and it not challenging me. I have a number of DNF’s on my resume but it’s what allowed me to ultimately get to the next level,’ Beau responded.
I went on to ask Beau what motivated him to push himself to further distances; Beau said ‘As the distance grew with these events the passion grew as I enjoyed being out there. It got harder each time as I am not a good runner or swimmer – its sucks when you are training or doing the event, but the sense of completion is like no other experience – it’s awesome. I feel so much better about myself as it’s a healthier way of living.’
I went on to ask Beau about his favorite events, Beau said ‘Race Across America was the best, everything that goes into it from the crew to being able to see the US by bike, it’s like nothing ever experienced. The next favorite Event(s) are all the Iron-Man races and of course my first 5k that I completed in Brookhaven, ‘ Beau said.
Beau told me that getting to the start line of that first 5K was one of the most difficult things he’s ever done simply because of the lifestyle changes he had to make and the weight he had to lose just to do it. Then Beau went from participating in events to putting them on and I asked him about that.
Beau stated ‘As I reflected back on the positive changes in my life I wanted to help grow the sport and give options to others – to help others and give them different types of events to do. One goal was to put on a series of difficult races as there didn’t seem to be many. I wanted to increase the level and create uniqueness, for example, throwing in a tough 1 mile hill climb in the middle of a 10K or something that significantly raised the difficulty level of that event.’
So I asked Beau what advice he would give someone new to the sport, Beau replied ‘Not to worry about how to do it – don’t wait, get started now– don’t worry about the right shoes, it won’t hurt to run a couple miles, just get out and get started as everything will fall into place,’ Beau responded.
Thank you Beau as this story touched me in many ways and is a great example of the lifestyle changes we all need to make at various points in our life and that it’s never too late to get started.
See you out on the trail or road!