Wake up. Work out. Work. Sounds like a typical day in most anyone’s life, except for one minor detail: the spud stops here. Not your typical post-five couch potatoes, Jean O’Leary and Bobby Bonds spent the better part of this year preparing for the recent Korean Ironman triathlon.

 

            Their training began in March and consisted of swimming about seven miles a week, biking 230 miles and running 30. Usually, Saturdays were also spent training.

 

In addition to training, they’ve been competing everywhere from Ohio to Illinois to Louisiana to right here at home in Texas, in order to better prepare for the World Championship Ironman in Hawaii .  Known as the “big one,” this is a long-distance competition that includes a 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile biking segment and a 26.2 mile running heat that take up the better part of a day — usually about 12 hours for amateurs.

 

            So why work toward going through 12 hours of physical labor? Because of the thrill, they say.

 

            “You do a little one and get excited,” O’Leary says. “The pinnacle of a triathlon is to do an Ironman. There’s always something bigger or more exciting. There’s always a goal out there that’s fun to try and reach.” 

 

In , which was a qualifying meet for the Hawaii event, their goals were slightly offset because of formidable weather conditions, including high temperatures and strong winds. The swimming portion was cancelled, which threw off Bonds’ strategy, for he had planned on saving some energy for the swimming portion of the competition.

 

            “I haven’t learned how to be a good jockey,” he says of his racing tempo. “The horse is there, but you have to learn how to pace yourself.”

 

            Still, the couple did well, returning with competitor’s medals. Bonds finished 20th in his age division, O’Leary 6th.

 

            “Not finishing is not an option, whether we placed first or not. She still had a good chance [of placing fifth] but missed it by 4.5 [minutes],” Bonds says.

 

            "I don’t know when I’ll do the next one,” he says. “It takes up so much time, you miss out on your relationships with God, your family and friends.

 

“Like Jean, I don’t know how she found time to do it with a full time job, or how people with real jobs and kids find time to compete," adds Bonds, who is a self-employed property manager. "It’s hard to fit things in."

 

            Ask O’Leary how she found the strength to train and do so well, and she gives credit to Bonds, whom she has been dating for more than a year.

 

            “If it hadn’t been for him, I never would have done this. We got everything going at once — he coached me and was always very encouraging about it. He was always there for me at the finish line,” she says.

 

            Now that they’re back home, they encourage others to remain active.

 

            Dallas has a great triathlon community and even if you choose to volunteer, there are great things to support. You get excited about it, once you get into meeting all of the new people,” O’Leary says. “There’s something for everyone.”

 


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