To New Tampa Resident Kat Ward, The 2012 Panama City Beach Ironman Triathlon Was More Than Just A Race!

Before New Tampa resident Kat Ward even left Tampa to compete in the 2012 Panama City Beach Triathlon on November 1, she already was a big winner, if only because of what a big loser she actually was.

If that confuses you, consider this: the petite and very fit 115-pound woman Kat is today actually weighed 230 pounds and couldn’t run a mile without a few breaks not very long ago.

So, whether she finished in the top 15 in her age group (which she did; more on her results below) or dead last out of the more than 3,000 competitors who finished the “Full Ironman Distance” (2.4-mile open water swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile full-marathon run, or 140.6 miles total) Panama City Beach triathlon, the fact she lost 115 pounds the “right way” and was able to build up her training regimen to even legitimately attempt to finish that type of event, Kat already was a winner.

“I’ve struggled with weight my whole life and never thought that one day I would be competing in what is considered the ultimate fitness event worldwide,” Kat says. “I lost 115 pounds through diet and exercise and realized that I am capable of an Ironman; more than capable. I trained for a year, beat my hoped-for time by more than hour, and truly enjoyed every minute of the race. I brought home a ton of Ironman gear, a Finisher’s T-Shirt, a Finisher’s hat, and beautiful sparkling medal!”

But, Kat admits that finishing that imposing test of the human spirit and endurance in a little more than 11.5 hours doesn’t even skim the surface of what she actually took away.

“I learned I truly can do anything I put my heart into,” Kat says. “I learned that my mind is just as important as my body. I learned a lot about the person I want to be on my 6-hour training rides, 90-minute swims, and 18- mile runs I did on my own. I learned that dreaming big for me is not just a dream but a reality. I learned that believing in myself allowed me to conquer every obstacle that stood in my way.”

But, she adds that she believes the most important thing she took away from the Ironman had nothing to do with finishing the race and everything to do with, “the people I am fortunate enough to have in my life. I am astonished by people’s generosity and support, like the 40-plus text messages wishing me good luck and congratulating me.

“I also found out that my sister Danielle Jayne Granger, who passed away in 2003, is my guardian angel and I know with every fiber of my being that she is my biggest fan even though I cannot physically see her anymore.”

Obviously, numbers alone can’t tell Kat’s entire story, but the numbers are still pretty amazing. Kat came in 13th out of 67 competitors (in the top 20%) in the very tough in Females 25-29 division. She also finished 580th out of 3,061 overall finishers, or in the top 19% overall of all males and females in all divisions.

For training, she followed a 24 week program that broke down every single swim, run, and bike. “Some people just go out there and do what they feel like,” she says, “but I work better with a detailed training schedule. I tried my very best to get in every single workout the schedule had but sometimes life gets in the way. I worked a full-time job, worked on starting my own business; FIT-KAT, and attempted to have a social life. Training for an Ironman is a full-time job itself.

Kat Ward is the owner of FIT-KAT Personal Training, a one-on-one personal training studio by appointment only. Whether you want to train for an Ironman triathlon or try to survive the holiday season, call Kat at (315) 521-1032.

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