For most people – even top athletes – swimming 2.4 miles in one stretch is daunting. Peddling 112 miles on a bicycle would be a grueling task. The 26.2 miles involved in running a marathon isn’t for the faint of heart either.
But on Nov. 3, Lebanon native Chris Bain plans to combine all that into one race when he will take on the Ironman Triathlon in Panama City, Fla. And his goal is to do it in fewer than 12 hours.
“Finishing it alone is going to be the first order of business,” Bain said. “Once I get out there, I will gauge what I can do.”
Bain, 33, is a 1997 graduate of Lebanon High School. At the time, he weighed 230 pounds. During the next few years, Bain gradually added more weight until he was 260 pounds at his heaviest. It was in his early 20s when he decided to do something about it.
“I started running a little bit,” Bain said. “A mile back then was a big deal to me. Running really became my thing. I started losing weight and really got into it.”
At 6-feet tall and now a sleek 177 pounds, Bain admits there were times when he would take hiatuses from running. When the running slowed, the weight returned.
“My life wasn’t really headed in any direction with all the idle time I had, and running was the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” Bain said. “It’s not just a sport; it’s a lifestyle.”
That life-changing decision came about four years ago, and Bain hasn’t looked back since.
“I did a local 5K race here locally,” Bain said. “I got the bug then. I was going to the Jimmy Floyd Center and working out and decided to do a half marathon. Then, I saw a triathlon on television. I told my grandfather that was what I wanted to look like.
“I told myself, if I can do a half marathon, I can do an entire marathon.”
And so came the Nashville Marathon, Bain’s first big race. He admits it was the wrong decision in the condition he was in, but he continued the pace.
Bain has competed in seven marathons since then, including a 50K – 31-mile – race. But his ever-present goal of competing in an Ironman Triathlon remained lurking in the back of his head.
Bain said entering an Ironman is nearly as difficult as the race itself. So he decided to volunteer to work one in November, which gave him an advantage in registering for a bid.
In January, Bain said he started training for the Ironman. When he’s not working at Gibson Guitar as a machinist and carver, he’s either training or helping take care of his 5-year-old son, Keaton – or both. Bain said Keaton is developing a love for running by watching his dad and has even competed in some small triathlons and races of his own.
“Seeing him get involved and staying healthy is a really great thing,” Bain said.
In fact, Bain said his journey has been a family affair, and many family members plan to be in Panama City when he crosses the finish line in November.
“It really means a lot to have all the family support,” Bain said. “They have really supported me. It’s a team effort.
“Once you train like you do and put all the time into it, when you cross the finish line, it’s really rewarding.”
In fact, Bain said he’s also garnering community support as he prepares for his first Ironman Triathlon.
“The whole networking and support is amazing,” Bain said. “I’ve had several people who have heard about it come up and give me support. It’s been very inspiring. I don’t want it to go to my head because I don’t want it to go to my head. But I’m confident.”
Until then, Bain said he will continue his 20-hour-a-week training regimen and plans to pick up a few races along the way, including a bicycle race this weekend in Guntersville, Ala.
“They say if the training doesn’t kill you, you will be all right,” Bain said. “It’s mentally and physically exhausting. It’s amazing what we put ourselves through for these things.”
And he even has some advice for anyone considering competing in a triathlon.
“As far as getting into triathlons, the first thing to do is to find a race that’s good for you,” Bain said. “Also, find a good training program. It’s always good to have a good road bike.”