Rudy - My First Full Ironman

Rudy - My First Full Ironman

At 360.5 pounds, I started in the swimming pool. Gradually I was able to do more, lifting weights, sit-ups, push-ups, jumping rope.  I worked harder than ever before, even college, yet weight management was still a struggle. I was still 300 lbs.   At one point in 2005 I responded to a dare and signed up for a triathlon. It was just a sprint triathlon – a 400 meter swim, 14 mile bike and 5K run.  I had this figured out, or so I thought.  I could eat whatever I wanted so long as I worked it off. Someone had warned me to balance out the exercise with the nutrition side of things, but who were they? I after all was a triathlete! Boy should I have listened.

Medical issues hit and I went in a downward spiral that seemed to never end. I gained each week, for months. Still, I went to my TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) meetings. How I don’t know.  I needed to gain knowledge on the nutritional side of things and find a balance.  After being just 6 pounds away from my weight goal, I gained back 78 of the 94 I’d lost. How terrible was that?  

I felt like an athlete trapped inside a fat man’s body with no way to get out. I wrote to a naturopathic doctor explaining how the person I felt like inside did not match my outside body. After she replied back, I went to see her. She found I had a non-functioning thyroid, she made some recommendations, and followed my progress. I was able to start weaning myself off my medications and started feeling better overall.


I continued triathlon training and set my goal to do a full Ironman by age 50.  I saw on TV a Catholic nun, Madonna Buder, complete Ironman Hawaii in Kona that year in 2005. I said that if this little non-athletic Catholic nun could finish, so could I. The only thing holding me back was FAT. I had the ability to do whatever I set my mind to! I began to believe in myself again. 

I assembled a team of doctors that believed in me.  Those without my same vision or that doubted I could accomplish my Ironman goals were off my team.  In 2009 I completed my first 70.3 Ironman race. I did not complete it in the allotted 8 hours but I was allowed to finish, it took me 9 hours I got the medal anyway.  It was an accomplishment yet, in the back of my mind I knew I still had work to do.

That "work" covered a LOT of topics: balance between food and exercise, mental toughness, finishing what I started (something I never had been able to really do on any project), gaining knowledge (learning from those who have done what you are trying to achieve), finding balance between family and self….the list goes on.

After undergoing double carpel tunnel surgery in 2010 I had a lot of time to reflect. During this time I watched my HS friend complete his first 140.6 mile Ironman dream, what an inspiration.  I still had my goal of completing one; but it wasn't going to before my deadline of turning 50. Not meeting the goal I had set was a setback - not a defeat. 

At the 2011 Tempe Ironman, along with my friend and neighbor, I signed up to do a full Ironman on Nov 18th 2012.  Now the pressure was on. 

I followed a training program although there were times I made adjustments by listening to my body.  You can’t do what you are not ready to do no matter what the sheet of paper says. I learned to Listen to my body - there is a difference between soreness pain and injury pain.   

By this time I was feeling better health wise. My kids were getting excited; actually my whole family was! Still as the race gets nearer I start to worry. Have I waited too long? Could I be doing more training? Am I following the right plan? Would I be able to finish before the time limit? On top of all this, I had never ran a full marathon in my life.

Sleepless nights and Ironman training don’t go very well together.  So I gave it away, I said Lord if I am to do this, it’s up to you.  It is no longer in my hands but is in yours.  I am sure Sister Madonna Buder must have made similar statements in her own way.  We hear it all the time: faith and visualization are strong tools!

I cannot say enough on how things changed from that point on.  I was more confident than ever, the doubt left, I had clarity. In my head, I could hear the announcer, Mike Reilly calling out my name…”Rudy Jimenez from Cave Creek Arizona…you are an IRONMAN."  I could see myself finally finishing something.

My wife posted a message on several sticky notes on our bathroom mirror the last week of training saying those same words.  I left it up the entire week.  She asked if I was going to do it?  I could honestly say YES, and believed it with all my heart.

D-day, Nov 18th, 2012. Was I about to accomplish the un-thinkable?  There was no more doubt in my mind.  I had butterflies but a bit of nerves is good right?

My entire life of sports I used to think practice of all things is just so repetitive.  Everyone loves the games but hates the practice field right?  Training for Ironman it suddenly made sense. Our bodies respond as they have been trained to do, simple as that.  I had paid my dues, I believed in my plan and had followed it.  It was time to play this game!

On Nov. 18th 2012 at the age of 51 I officially became an Ironman. I completed the race in under the 17 hours allotted. It took me 15:48:24.  I DID hear Mike Reilly call my name. My family and friends heard it also and were all happy and proud of me. I was proud of myself! I take no credit, but give thanks for life’s blessings for I have received one.