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Racing toward better health

By The Health News Team | June 14, 2022
Kevin Sisterson of Sharp HealthCare at the Oceanside Ironman competition in 2022

Kevin Sisterson completed the Oceanside Ironman competition in 2022.

Close your eyes and imagine a quiet, early morning before the rest of the world is awake. The moon hangs in the sky, and your alarm buzzes at 3:45 am. With your gym bag packed, you’re out of the house an hour later and on your way to train. For Kevin Sisterson, early mornings like these helped shape him into the Ironman athlete he is today.

Kevin, an X-ray technician at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, took an interest in bettering his health. At 50 pounds overweight, he decided to make changes in his lifestyle by improving his nutrition, revamping his exercise routine and joining a local YMCA.

Kevin began by swimming laps in the gym’s pool. With prior swimming experience, this was the logical next step in advancing his exercise regimen.

Soon after, he ventured into the gym to explore the machines and see what options were available to him. Once inside, he hit the treadmill, using the preset programs on the machines. Eventually, Kevin began to meet other people in the gym.

On the road to Ironman
It wasn’t long before Kevin’s new fitness friends encouraged him to try different workouts, including indoor cycling classes and outdoor runs at a local nature preserve. Each Thursday morning, Kevin would join the group of runners and team up with a workout buddy. Alternating between walking and running, he worked up his endurance and stamina.

Kevin’s love for fitness and training ultimately led him to register for his first triathlon in Solana Beach. The mix of swimming, biking and running was the perfect fit.

Completing that first triathlon in 2019 was just the beginning of many exciting competitions to come. One year later, Kevin set his sights on completing the Ironman 70.3 Arizona race. The event included a challenging 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run, for a total of 70.3 miles covered in a single day.

“To compete in an Ironman, you need to prepare,” Kevin says. “I needed to make changes. I couldn’t just sit around anymore, so I found ways to be active. And I needed to eat the right foods for my body to perform.”

Kevin vividly recalls the moment his feet carried him across the finish line of his first Ironman, remembering the tears he shed as he laid on the ground, realizing what he just accomplished.

The course takes a turn
The highs of participating in these athletic events were jolted when in May 2021, while training for another Ironman, Kevin was in a serious bicycle accident. He was transported to a local trauma center for his injuries, including broken ribs, a concussion and cuts. Kevin questioned if he would ever be able to get back to doing what he loves — working toward and completing the next competition.

“It was eye-opening being a patient in a trauma center and seeing all the people that struggle to be able to do basic things and get back to their lives,” Kevin says. “What should be simple tasks really can take a lot of work, and so it spoke to my heart. I knew I needed to get back to competing if I could.”

With support from friends and the drive to return to Ironman competition, Kevin steadily worked back up to the training necessary to complete his next race. While it was daunting to start again after his accident, he continued to trust the process.

In April 2022, Kevin went on to complete the Ironman 70.3 in Oceanside alongside 2,300 other athletes.

The difference mindfulness makes
A key component in Kevin’s success is practicing mindfulness. With competitions such as Ironman drawing thousands of participants, Kevin credits his ability to use mindfulness. During competitions, it’s the anchor that grounds him and helps him stay focused.

With more Ironman races on the horizon, it’s clear that nothing can stop Kevin from achieving the goals he sets for himself.

“During this journey, I’ve learned to find joy in being able to achieve small goals, little by little,” he says. “I find that if you can achieve your small goals, the big ones will eventually come.”

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