Friday, September 28, 2012

Racing in First Half Ironman, 240 Pounds Lighter by Ashley Johnston

Just a few short years ago, I weighed over 400lbs.

Exercise and racing became a way for me to turn my life around and lose weight. I have completed several 5ks, 10ks, triathlons, half marathons and even my first full marathon this past March. Now, I am taking on a new goal: to complete a half Ironman.

Having competed in numerous races and events, I had seen the "wave of purple" before but never knew what it was or what it stood for. What I saw though was incredible support, lots of people on the sidelines wearing purple and cheering, and the constant shouts of "Go Team." When I set my sights on training for my first half Ironman, it was then that a close friend recommended that I look into Team In Training. I finally found out what all the purple was about!

It wasn't long before I learned that TNT was about more than just the purple and the cheering. I learned that I would be on a team with other athletes training and raising money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, an organization that really hit home with me. Two of the most important men in my life battle this horrible disease; my uncle Rob has Lymphoma and my grandfather John has Leukemia. It was then that I knew I wasn't doing this for myself anymore. I was doing this one for my uncle and my grandfather and for a cause much larger than me.

Team In Training has honestly been one of the best experiences of my entire life! For the past six months, I've trained with some amazing people, heard amazing stories and raised a lot money to fight cancer. I've also made friendships that I know will last a lifetime. I never thought I could bond so quickly with my teammates, but our team has been just that amazing!

I'm so blessed to have found my way here to the TNT family and, in just a few short days, I will complete a dream with my awesome teammates and coaches by my side. I'll swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, and run 13.1 miles and when it gets tough, I'll think of my heroes! No pain I feel amounts to the pain that they feel by having cancer.

I am now 240lbs smaller since I started on this journey a few years ago to lose weight and get fit. I would have never in my wildest dreams thought that I'd be able to complete such a feat and, in doing so, help so many people. But I can and it feels great!


About the author: Ashley Johnston was born and raised in Atlanta, GA. She is currently a marketing representative for a large insurance company specializing in business, personal and life insurance and is an active member of Team Cadence Bikes & Multisport.