Iron Man MacKenzie
Recommitting to Health and Fitness
WHEN I WAS 16-YEARS-OLD, I was introduced to triathlon at a small local race in Salisbury, VT. I remember watching and thinking, “Wow, these people are amazing!” I’ve been hooked ever since and started to compete in short course races during college. The Ironman distance was always on my bucket list, but during PT school and the first few years of my career, triathlon (and exercise in general) fell off my radar. Life just gets in the way sometimes.
No matter who you are or what your situation is, it can be hard to prioritize exercise and fitness. As a physical therapist, if I don’t take the time for it, then how can I challenge my clients to take time out of their busy lives to do the same? So last year, I recommitted to making my health and fitness a priority. Triathlon was the avenue I chose to accomplish that goal. Over the summer, I started training and did a few shorter distance races and eventually signed up for Ironman Lake Placid.
The Ironman Triathlon is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world, consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile marathon run.
The consistency of training over the course of a yearlong block certainly had its challenges, but I enjoyed the process. It’s fun looking back on it: jumping into the pool at 5:30AM on freezing cold winter mornings, listening to podcasts as I pedaled away endlessly on the trainer, and the long runs on hot, sticky, summer days… Some of the workouts were fun, some were miserable – but they all brought me closer to my ultimate goal.
Working towards a goal? Neil found that working with a coach helped him stay motivated and accountable.
After spending such a long time focusing so internally on heart rate, perceived exertion, and paces, it was refreshing to show up on race day and feel the buzz of the event. I was inspired to see so many people of all different ages, shapes, sizes, and levels of fitness, all working towards the same common goal. As the day went on, it became so much more about the community than it was about my individual experience. The excitement of the other athletes, volunteers, and crowd kept me moving forward. It was so cool to be a part of that and is an experience I won’t forget anytime soon!
I have new respect for these athletes. I still think, “Wow, these people are amazing!” but I have a greater appreciation for how much time and work they’ve put into it, and the sacrifices they’ve had to make behind the scenes. As for me, I’m not sure what’s next, but I’m enjoying being able to casually go out on my mountain bike or go running with my dog. I met my bucket list goal of Ironman Lake Placid, and through that process achieved my underlying goal of re-prioritizing my fitness and health. These are habits and routines that I plan to take with for years to come.
Neil plans to return to Lake Placid next year to support Ironman athletes as a volunteer!
Neil MacKenzie, PT practices and leads Performance PT and Mentorship Programs at Cioffredi & Associates in Lebanon, NH:
”I strive to not just get my clients back up on their feet, but ensure that injury prevention and performance are at the forefront of our thought process and not an afterthought.”
“Iron Man MacKenzie” appeared in the Fall 2022 Cioffredi & Associates newsletter. Read more here: