- Mark Rucker lost more than 100 pounds by changing his diet and racing
- Rucker will compete in his first Ironman competition on August 26
- He used DailyMile.com and the iPhone app to track his workout progress
His friends used to call him "Hoss," as in Hoss Cartwright from the TV show "Bonanza." At 6'2" and roughly 380 pounds, Mark Rucker once resembled the big, friendly character.
Now, they call him "The Beast."
The nickname is apt. Since February 2011, Rucker has run his first 5K, his first 10K, his first half-marathon and his first marathon. He's completed an Olympic-distance triathlon and lost more than 100 pounds. And on August 26, he'll participate in his first full-length Ironman competition in Louisville, Kentucky.
Like they say, he's a beast.
"What he does after this Ironman, I don't know," his wife, Annita Rucker, said with a laugh. "I hope he can find something to focus all this energy on."
From Rucker's DailyMile blog: April 18, 2011 -- "First day of the Couch to 5K program. That was not good. But at least I did the whole workout" (1.98 miles/ 32 minutes/ 16:10 pace)
Change is a funny thing, Rucker says. Often, the desire to change grows over time. A series of events leads to an "a ha moment," when desire must meet with the proper tools and the right inspiration.
In the summer of 2010, Rucker, of Lexington, Kentucky, and his family went to Dollywood in Tennessee. His daughter was 11 at the time, a "little daredevil," and wanted to ride all the roller coasters. Unfortunately, Rucker couldn't fit on any of them with her.
"She was devastated; I was crushed," Rucker said. "But even that wasn't enough to get me started on the journey. I guess I just didn't know how to do it."
In January 2011, he reconnected with an old elementary school friend, Anita Mills, and the two began talking on Facebook, discussing Mills' 240-pound weight loss.
Her transformation was his inspiration. But he still wasn't ready to change.
After weighing in at about 365 pounds, he stopped stepping on the scale. He was diagnosed with sleep apnea and put on medication for high blood pressure. He feared that he was diabetic but wouldn't visit his doctor.
The day after the 2011 Super Bowl, Rucker woke up in pain. Once again, he had overindulged the night before, and his digestive system revolted. He was tired, sick and unhappy.
"Something clicked," he said. "I realized that if I kept doing it, I would significantly shorten my life."
Rucker took Mills' dieting hints to heart and cut out sugary drinks. He dropped his two-liter-a-day soda habit and picked up water. He stopped ordering McDonald's McGriddles for breakfast and eating peanut M&Ms by the pound. He threw away his Cheez-Its.
"It's hard to say what my daily (calorie) intake was," he said, looking back. "I did it to myself. I was really unhappy with the way my life was, and I think food was that comfort for me."
June 19, 2011 -- "Last day of Couch 2 5K. I think I'll call it The Father's Day Beastly 5K. I was the only competitor and I finished in 1st place. I can't even begin to explain how I feel right now. And no one or no thing can ever take this away from me. I AM a runner. I AM an achiever. I AM a Beast. On to Bridge 2 10K!!!"
Rucker's job as a real estate attorney kept him sedentary. So he start