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Published Tue, Jan 01, 2013 08:00 PM
Modified Tue, Jan 15, 2013 05:19 PM

Clayton resident keeps New Year’s resolution

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- Correspondent

New Year’s resolutions are easy make. But for most they become forgotten promises a few days later.

Clayton resident Mark Hodges is one who has kept his goal all year long.

His 2012 resolution was to challenge his fitness level by training to compete in a triathlon. It’s an accomplishment Hodges can say he successfully achieved not once, but three times.

Two years ago he took up running as a hobby while living in California. Not long after that, he learned of a friend participating in a local triathlon and a curious Hodges stopped by to check it out. He was surprised to see the sport attracted competitors of all ages and skill levels.

“It was a huge eye opener for me because there were people 80 years old doing it, some who had lost a leg and even kids participating,” he explained. “I thought I was fit and healthy because I used to run after my kids. Seeing these people made me reflect on myself.”

Triathlons are strenuous, consisting of a 300-yard swim, 15-mile bike ride and three mile run. Hodges spent two years researching the sport and learning how to properly train for competition.

“I planned it all out,” Hodges said. “I gradually built up all my fitness and started eating healthy. Triathlon isn’t just a sport – it’s a lifestyle.”

By this year, he knew he was ready to test his skills. Using a Christmas gift from wife Karen, Hodges spent the first 16 weeks of 2012 training at a local gym for his first race. He competed in the Riverwood Golf & Athletic Club Triathlon in April.

“After that race I decided to do more and train on my own,” said Hodges. “I researched online, bought books and wrote my own training plan.”

Since then, Hodges has completed Smithfield’s 3 Little Pigs Triathlon and the Lake Royale race near Louisburg. He said maintaining a four day a week training schedule, full-time job and family responsibilities is no easy task.

“Because I am conscious of the family and work, typically I will go training at 5:30 a.m.,” Hodges said. “I have early mornings or very late nights. My family has been very supportive and also participates in my training.”

His wife and daughter Chloe, 13, run with him while younger daughter, Libby, 9, joins her father in the pool. On race days, they all show up to lend their support.

“We get up early to go out and cheer for Mark,” said Karen Hodges. “The kids make signs that say ‘Go, Daddy, Go.’ I think it’s an amazing achievement for someone who three years ago couldn’t even run a mile. It’s phenomenal and we’re all really proud of him.”

Mark Hodges said 2013 will bring a new resolution to focus on - increasing his race distance to the Olympic category. In triathlon’s, that equates to a 1.5 km swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run.

“What I like most about triathlons is that there’s a real sense of community to it,” said Hodges. “You set personal goals for yourself. I’ve improved my achievements but not necessarily my times. I’m happy to race myself.”

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