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Lovel: My year-long triathlon transformation
December 2nd, 2011
08:54 AM ET

Lovel: My year-long triathlon transformation

It’s one year ago this week that I was reading the news on CNN.com and happened across the CNN FitNation Challenge.

The timing was great for me, because in a moment of insanity I had made an annual check-up appointment for the Monday morning after Thanksgiving. Surprise-surprise: my weight was up.

In an attempt to distract my kind doctor from that issue, I mentioned that I was entering a contest to do the NYC Triathlon, and I asked if she thought I was healthy enough to do it.

I have to hand it to her - if she rolled her eyes, it was so subtle that I didn’t notice it. She allowed that since I had recently completed two uneventful 5K races, I would probably be fine to do a triathlon (not that she really believed I would do it).
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Tri Challenge: Paying it forward
Nina Lovel's first place tile, made a child at the Open Door Home, a beneficiary of the RACE Rome Sprint Triathlon.
October 14th, 2011
11:30 AM ET

Tri Challenge: Paying it forward

These two months since the NYC Tri have gone by as quickly as the six that preceded it, because life is well, just so different now.

First of all, I have never stopped moving. I did rest for a week following NYC, but soon I was back to swimming, biking and running nearly every day, because I felt so good I did not want to lose any of the fitness I had worked so hard to attain. Also, not only my body, but my APPETITE had become accustomed to that high level of activity, so stopping was never an option.

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Tri Challenge: Life as a triathlete
August 18th, 2011
07:30 AM ET

Tri Challenge: Life as a triathlete

I did it, I really did it! I completed the NYC Triathlon, to the very best of my ability, and my homecoming week has been spectacular! The memories and emotions of this life-changing event will generate more than one blog, but right now I want to re-live the technical and physical highlights, starting with the days leading up to the event.

Each of us in the 6-Pack had local trainers, coaches that became friends along the way. The plan that my coach John gave me was simple, practical, and worked perfectly into my lifestyle. Each Sunday he e-mailed me a schedule of swim/bike/run workouts to do for the week. The activities were staggered, and I had freedom to switch them up if needed, but the easiest thing for me was to just do what he prescribed. We trained together at times, and he led me on my first 5-mile run and my first 20-mile bike ride.

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For 6-Pack, a landmark day
August 7th, 2011
04:22 PM ET

For 6-Pack, a landmark day

They did it! CNN's Sixpack,  Joaquin Brignoni, Stasia Cirricione, Kendrick Henley, Nina Lovel, Kas Seerla, and Scott Zahn,  are officially triathletes after successfully completing the Nautica New York City Triathlon on Sunday, as part of the Fit Nation 2011 Triathlon Challenge.

The adventure began bright and early when the group met at 3:40 a.m. to be shuttled over to the race site. It was pouring rain and a little chilly but nothing could dampen the morning's excitement. After a delayed race start, the Sixpack jumped in to the Hudson around 6:40 a.m. All finished the race, with Joaquin Brignoni coming in first for the 6-Pack.

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Tri Challenge/Nina: A thousand changes
Photo by Derek Bell, used with permission of V3 Magazine
August 5th, 2011
01:44 PM ET

Tri Challenge/Nina: A thousand changes

Since January, six iReporters have been training in the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. We’re following along as they prepare to compete alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the August 7 Nautica NYC Triathlon.  During their last week before the race, we asked each of them the following questions: What's the biggest change you've seen in yourself since kick-off weekend? What are your personal goals for the Tri?"

This weekend, "Sanjay Gupta, M.D." will be live from New York at 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday and Sunday. Watch the culmination of our team's training

Well my bags are packed and in the car, ready for an early morning drive to the airport, where my next task will be to conquer NYC! I have saved writing this until the last minute in order to savor the memories the last six months of my life for as long as possible. I have made thousands of precious memories that I will relish till the day I die. Some of the memories are foggy, perhaps because I was slightly hypoxic when they were made. But many are what I call “glass dome moments” – those happy, glowing moments in your life that are so pleasant that you want to cover them with a glass dome to preserve them forever. FULL POST


Tri Challenge: Breathe deeply to conquer wet suit anxiety
July 25th, 2011
03:10 PM ET

Tri Challenge: Breathe deeply to conquer wet suit anxiety

Since January, six iReporters have been training in the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. We’re following along as they prepare to compete alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the August 7 Nautica NYC Triathlon.

Well here we are, staring down less than two weeks until we jump into the Hudson River! Wet suits are allowed for this race as long as the water temp is below 78°F, and because the water temp has not reached this level in the history of the NYC Tri, we 6-Packers have all included wet suit swims in our training.

We swam in them several times while in Hawaii in April, including the mini-tri we did on our last day there. That swim did not go well for me, and I have come to decide that it was due to “wet suit anxiety.” Frankly, I have more anxiety about the swim than I have admitted to myself and others.

The first time I put on my wet suit in Hawaii (actually it was the second time; the first time we all put them on backwards and had to start over), I was comfortable swimming in it in the ocean. But on the day we did our mini-tri, something changed, and I found myself hyperventilating on the swim. I think I had started out swimming too fast, got winded, and then blamed the tight fit of the wet suit for not being able to catch my breath when actually I couldn’t catch it because I was hyperventilating.

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Tri Challenge: I ran my first 10K at 58
July 11th, 2011
04:12 PM ET

Tri Challenge: I ran my first 10K at 58

Since January, six iReporters have been training in the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. We’re following along as they prepare to compete alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the August 7 Nautica NYC Triathlon.

One year ago on July 4, I could not run for 90 seconds without being exhausted. This year on July 4, I ran my first 10K: the 42nd annual Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta. The operative word here is *ran.* I actually ran the entire course without any walking! I was exactly 58 1/2.

It had been my goal to do that, but knowing that the course was hilly (one section is affectionately billed as “Cardiac Hill”), I was not at all sure that it would happen. Not only was it going to be a hilly course; the heat was oppressive. Last year’s starting temp was 66 degrees; this year’s was 73, with sock-soaking humidity.

Last July 4 was quite different, however, and that has everything to do with why I am here today.

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Tri Challenge: A view from the kayak
June 30th, 2011
11:07 AM ET

Tri Challenge: A view from the kayak

By now, with less than six weeks of training left before the Nautica New York City Triathlon   most of us  “six’ers” - the six iReporters chosen to compete alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta   have completed at least one multi-sport event as part of our training. I was seeking one as well, and was happy to learn of an Olympic-distance triathlon scheduled for early June that was right here in my hometown of Rome, Georgia.

It was the second annual “Tri for the Shelter,” proceeds of which benefit our local homeless shelter and the setting was a lovely nearby mountain-lake recreation area. My plan was to gain some open-water experience by doing the swim, and then do the bike course as well.

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Tri Challenge: Gaining buns – and nerves – of steel
May 6th, 2011
01:24 PM ET

Tri Challenge: Gaining buns – and nerves – of steel

I think that part of our 6-pack training experience in Kona was intended to jolt us into the reality that the NYC Triathlon is now just twelve short weeks away and we have much training left to do. My Hawaii experience brought changes both physical and mental.

Physically, I became a little more fit, which is actually starting to show. Sure, it feels great to accomplish my workouts and have more energy these days, but when people start noticing that I’ve lost weight, that is an extra bonus! My hope is that I can inspire others to get off the couch like I have done, and get out and live life to the fullest. I have also noticed a humorous twist: Occasionally someone doesn’t even recognize me! (Stay tuned…I may do some mischief with that one soon…)

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Gupta joins triathletes in Hawaii
April 22nd, 2011
03:48 PM ET

Tri Challenge: Personal bests during mini tri

Do you remember the first time you swam in the ocean? Kas Seerla does, that's for sure. It happened here in Kona, Hawaii, two days ago. She braved the waves, the current and lots of anxiety to swim nearly a quarter of a mile. And then she did it all again yesterday during this week's capstone workout: a mini tri where the 6-pack swam for 20 minutes, biked for an hour and ran for 20 minutes.

Yesterday was hot, hot, hot, but that didn't stop anyone from completing the race. Even Kendrick was able to swim, bike and run the course - stitches and all.

Collectively, the 6-pack came here with only a few miles logged on the road bike, a few lengths in the pool, a few miles of running. But they're leaving Kona each having experienced a personal best of some sort. For Joaquin, it was swimming almost a half of mile when before he hadn't been able to swim more than two pool lengths. Stasia and Kas swam in the ocean for the first time. Scott, Kendrick and Nina collectively biked 65 miles in a day - a huge improvement from the short rides they had been doing.

As each person continues to change their life and become stronger and healthier, we'll continue to bring you their journeys. We hope you'll be inspired to start changing your life, too!


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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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