With endurance greater than any Marvel Superhero’s, senior Doyeon Kim completed the Ironman Challenge of 140.6 miles of swimming, biking and running at the Vineman Triathlon in Sonoma County July 25, 2016.
Although Kim completed this taxing combination of 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and 26.2 miles of running, his memories of his early participation in a marathon club could never have foretold his current passion for such demanding events. At the age of 13, Kim reluctantly joined a marathon club at the request of his parents and started his running career, struggling to keeping up with runners who were more than triple his age.
Following months of integrating running into his weekly routine, Kim settled on racing 13.1 miles at the Long Beach Half Marathon. In this race he finally found passion in the pain of running after experiencing a sense of unity and motivation in the presence of other runners, Kim said.
“After [running] for a few months I ran the Long Beach Half Marathon. At that time I thought I was going to die because running 13 miles in seventh grade [was difficult],” Kim said. “But once I surpassed that, I started realizing that [marathon running] might be something that I should be doing. I actually [enjoyed] running with 20,000 other people and having a crowd cheer for me.”
Kim thereafter ran multiple full marathons, but later hoped to expand his individuality as an athlete by participating in two half triathlons which drove him to sign up for the full Vineman Triathlon, Kim said.
“I did ten full marathons up to this year’s San Diego Rock n’ Roll,” Kim said. “After that, I decided to run a full triathlon. Before I [raced in] San Diego, I had done two half triathlons and one relay. When I first ran [marathons] no one was doing them, so I felt special. After a while though, many of my friends started to run marathons as well, and I no longer felt special. I wanted to step up my game and do something that no one else had done.”
After setting his sights on competing at the Vineman Triathlon, Kim immediately began devoting every Sunday in the months prior to race day to one leg of the triathlon. Kim’s weekends became increasingly arduous as he transitioned into practicing all three events in one training session once race day drew closer, Kim said.
“Usually I [trained] on Sundays and I [practiced] running the most,” Kim said. I [ran] about 20 miles but no more than that because I [didn’t] want to injure myself before the race. Also, bike-wise, the most I’ve practiced [biking] was 100 miles. When an event gets near, I make sure to increase the number of days [I train] because doing everything on the same day is very hard.”
At the finale of 16 hours and 28 minutes of complete physical exertion, Kim emerged from his first triathlon more assured than ever of his love for the sport and his ability to reach higher goals. Participating in a full triathlon gave Kim the opportunity to increase his confidence and become stronger as both an athlete and a student, Kim said.
“Throughout the entire event, you just want to give up,” Kim said. “But I think [completing a triathlon is] worth it for sure. Mentally, you’re more mature after going through an ordeal like this. In the future, I feel like [my mental strength] will help me accomplish what I want to. My goal right now is to become a surgeon. Some people feel in that it’s too hard to make it to medical school, but I feel like I know I’m going to be one. Now that I’ve done this, I have the mentality that ‘Oh, because you did this, now you can do anything, no matter how hard it is.’”