Given his job description, Jeremy Martin is no stranger to pressure, but the Prescott Valley police corporal stretched his physical and emotional limits last month during the grueling Ironman Arizona triathlon in Tempe.
Martin swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles and then ran 26.2 miles without a break in between events, per the Ironman rules. The 35-year-old finished the entire course in 12 hours, 27 minutes and 9 seconds, placing 1,084 out of 2,705 participants. Athletes must complete the course in 17 hours and cannot go over that time, not even by one second.
"I wasn't sure how I would finish," Martin said. But what kept going through his head was that by the end of the day, he would be done. No more training sessions, no more monotonous laps in the pool and more time with his wife and two young kids. As it is, Martin's work schedule permits sleep only during the day while he works at night - a flip-flop life that has been his new normal for several months.
"It was very difficult at times, managing my training, work and home life," he said. His 10-hour graveyard shifts already proved daunting but topped with his self-imposed exercise regime before and after his workday forced him to strike a balance anywhere he could.
"My wife kept me motivated. If I said I was too tired to train, she would remind me to keep my eye on the prize," Martin said. Sometimes while he ran, his wife would ride her mountain bike next to him and his 8-year-old daughter would ride alongside him at times. Martin incorporated his training time with family time as much as possible.
"It was hard. I just adjusted my time. I worked out twice a day - as soon as I woke up I began working out and some days I would go on a 3-hour bike ride or ride the bike trainer in the house so I could be with my family," he said.
For those who feel that starting a fitness program might be too difficult, Martin's example might be the spark that lights a fire for change. The corporal did play football and baseball in his past, but the subsequent years brought changes to his physique.
Martin said he made the decision four years ago to improve his health, and he set his sights on losing weight and getting in shape. He then made a decision to train and sign up for the Ironman event.
Once his fitness plan began taking shape, he realized what he was facing. "It's hard in the beginning. If you set a goal early and remember most any goal is achievable, you can do it," he said.
His advice, once training starts to feel uncomfortable, is just keep moving forward.
"A few years ago, I would have said there's no way I can do this. I realize now almost anything is possible," Martin said, and attributes his success to his family support.
Today, Martin considers himself to be in the greatest shape of his life.
As for his fellow officers, Martin said they were incredibly supportive. "It was cool that they would keep track of me during the event by texting my wife to see how I was doing," he said.
Martin said he will continue to run and work out and plans on entering another Ironman Triathlon in 2015.