Ironman. Six years ago that was a word Joe Domaleski couldn't relate with. Now he is a two-time Ironman. In 1996, Domaleski's weighed 205 pounds. He didn't eat properly and exercised very little. He participated in the Peachtree Road Race every year, but walked most of the 10K event.
One day, Joe decided to put down the pizza and candy bars and get off the couch. He had finished a triathlon in 1995, but was second to last overall. He decided it was time to take action.
"I started doing some light jogging and felt winded after about 15 minutes of exertion," said Joe.
Joe kept beating the pavement. The weight started coming off and his running improved. He did a few 10K races and even qualified for Time Group A (sub 50 minute) of the Peachtree Road Race. Joe continued to add mileage to his workouts and was eating better. By Thanksgiving 1996 he had lost 25 pounds and finished the Atlanta Marathon in 4 hours, 56 minutes and 18 seconds while fighting a 101-degree fever.
Joe went to Orlando for the Disney Marathon a month later. With a little more training under his belt and without a fever he finished in 3:37:12.
Dedication kept Joe off the couch and on the road training. His times continued to get better, his weight continued to drop. In less than a year, his 10K time had dropped from 49 minutes to 39 minutes. One year after completing his first marathon Joe was back at the Atlanta Marathon. He not only improved his time from last year, he qualified for Boston with a time of 3:08. Joe completed The Boston Marathon in 1998 with a time of 3:08, as well.
"The crowds were great - it was like running in a dream! I left my heart on the Heartbreak Hills. I struggled to the finish line with a 3:08, but with my head held high for it was Boston," said Joe.
During this time, Joe - an IT consultant, began a Web site called "Joe's Running Links." It eventually grew and became runstopshop.com.
"I thought "runstopshop" would be a good play on words, and offered the possibility of e-commerce sales and running stuff. The site quickly got out of control because I couldn't keep up with the links that were always changing and the online merchants who were always going out of business," said Joe.
Joe's fitness level grew so much that he began teaching fitness classes at Gold's Gym in Peachtree City. It was two years ago that he decided to take runstopshop.com in a personal direction. He named it joedom.com. The site tells about Joe's classes, the use of heart rate monitors, his Ironman training repot and race report. According to Joe, the site is more popular than ever.
New Goal: Ironman
With his Boston goal captured and 45 pounds dropped, Joe began to do other training. He began to do spin classes and swimming with a Master's swim team. Joe's attention shifted towards triathlons.
Joe did a few local triathlons in 1998 and continued to train. Just as in the past with running, Joe wanted to get better and do something bigger. He set his sights on Ironman Florida. Training for a marathon is tough enough, but now he has to train for a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile run.
Here is what Joe's weekly training schedule looked like:
* Sun - Off
* Mon - Spinning (45min.), Swim (2,300 yds), Run (10.5 mi)
* Tue - Spinning (2:45), Swim (2,100 yds), Run (8 mi)
* Wed - Spinning (2:40), Swim (2,200 yds), Run (10mi)
* Thu - Spinning (1 hr), Swim (2,400 yds), Run (11mi)
* Fri - Spinning (2 hrs), Run (8 mi)
* Sat - Bike Ride (105 mi.), Run (6 mi)
In November 1999, he dived head first into the Ironman experience in Panama City Beach, Fla. In just over three years he had gone from sitting on the couch eating candy bars to swimming in the Gulf of Mexico on an Ironman journey. He finished in 11 hours, five minutes and seven seconds.
"I started the day early - nervous apprehensive, and overwhelmed. I ended the day as an Ironman."
Training for an Ironman takes commitment, not just from the athlete but also from those around him. Family members learn to be patient and understanding as a husband and a dad may spend several hours a day training.
"I had subjected myself, my friends, and my family to the rigors of extreme endurance training. [In 2000], I tapered down my cycling, swimming and running and refocused on running. I didn't do any triathlons that year," said Joe.
By this time Joe's wife, Mary Catherine, had started running and with Joe by her side, she completed the Country Music Marathon - her first. So what was Joe to do next? He tried some new workouts. He did cardio kickboxing, BODYPUMP and continued to do spin classes. Eventually, Joe became an exercise instructor at Gold's Gym.
"Over the course of the year, I put aside my personal racing aspirations and really focused on becoming the best instructor I could. What good is all of this fitness if I can't share it with others?"
Of course, the Ironman bug continued to bite Joe. In 2002, he decided to tackle Ironman Florida again. This time he had other reasons behind his goal.
"I wanted to set the example not just for myself, but for others. My focus in classes changed from simply doing the training, to challenging people to apply that training and realize the rewards and sense of accomplishment by doing specialty athletic events like road races, multi-sport races, and century rides."
Joe improved his 1999 time with a new personal record of 10:52:00. He placed 236 overall out of 1,890 competitors. Joe was no longer an Ironman, he was a two-time Ironman.
From light jogging to Boston Marathon. From 205 pounds to 155 pounds. From Couch Potato to Ironman.
"You can do whatever you want provided that your heart and mind are in it. Hard, steady work will help you achieve fitness goals."