Cross The Line. An IRONMAN Story told by Jesse Coleman


If someone would have told me I would be competing in triathlons a year ago, I would have called them crazy. A year later and an IRONMAN 70.3 down, I’m beginning to believe I’m the crazy one.

I started to do light workouts with Kyle and James a little over a year ago when Kyle asked us to do the Brett-Robinson Triathlon in Alabama with him. In all honesty I told him “No” the first few times, until James said he was doing it. It ended up being a really good experience and we all had a good time competing that day.

The group after the Brett Robinson Triathlon.
The group after the Brett Robinson Triathlon.

A couple of months later they are talking about doing the IRONMAN 70.3. Just so you guys know, I really was not trying to do this, but since my two workout partners were doing it, I felt as if I didn’t have a choice. So fast forward to the race…

Us in our
Us in our “Cross the Line” Tanks before the Madness started. As you can see, Everyone was in their own “Zone.”

My heart is racing, adrenaline is flowing, and they send me off. I jumped into the water expecting to have a good swim because this is where we spent most of our time training. Like Mike Tyson said,

“Everybody has a game plan until they get punched in the mouth”.

Well, that water punched me square in the mouth. For some reason I couldn’t breath, or even do freestyle for the first half of the swim. This was the first time that doubt entered my mind, and I began to question why I was even putting myself through this. This was my first obstacle I had to overcome. I just kept telling myself to keep going.

Finishing up the 1.2 Mile Swim.
Finishing up the 1.2 Mile Swim.

Then I went on to the bike. 56 miles to be exact. I believe the longest bike ride that I’ve taken before this was around 25 miles, but I knew that I would be able to pull through it for the simple fact I like to ride bikes.

Just Biking...
Just Biking…

The way out was easy because the wind was in our favor, but the way back was a different story. The most challenging part of the bike was the home stretch (7 mile straightaway back in). The wind was directly against us. My speed dropped down to around 11-12 mph.

Reppin' Team Gleason during the Bike. No White Flags.
Reppin’ Team Gleason during the Bike. No White Flags.

At this pace it was going to take us another hour just to get 7 miles. It felt as if I wasn’t going anywhere. I teamed up with this random guy for a few miles during this stretch simply to motivate each other to pull through.

After I get off of my bike my legs are done for. I couldn’t fathom putting my bike down and running 13.1 miles, but I knew that I had to do it. So I took off my biking gear and put on my running gear including my “Cross The Line” shirt. From there I knew I only had one mission, to Cross The Line however I could.

“I’ve always believed that the mind was a powerful thing, but I didn’t quite realize how powerful it truly is.”

Around mile 3, I came across a spectator who saw me struggling and gave me some extra motivation. He said something to me that basically empowered me to finish the race. He started shouting at me,

“The mind will always give up before the body does! Cross the line! Cross the line!”

He was completely right. At that point, I truly realized you can do anything you put your mind to. If you tell yourself to keep going or to stop, that is exactly what you will do. I kept repeating those words for the rest of the run.

At the halfway point of the run, all of the runners turn around and run the 6.5 miles back in. I had in my mind that I would stop and walk it out for a little while right there. As I begin to walk, a 40-year-old woman comes running past me and said to me,

“You’re 22 and the wind is at your back, keep moving!”

Tough love? Yes, but I needed it.

It put into perspective for me that they have all of these 40-65 year olds doing the same thing I’m doing. The craziest part is that they don’t stop. I knew how bad I was hurting, and I am in a 22-year-old body…I could only imagine how their bodies feel.

They weren’t stopping or complaining, so what gives me the right to?

As I get around mile nine, I saw an elderly woman running the opposite way (she had to be around mile 3). As I’m looking at her I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I could tell every step she took was painful, but even she wasn’t walking. She had a jog going that was no faster than an average fast pace walk. I had to stop where I was and watch her pass so that I could look at her calf to see how old she was….


Yep, she was 85 years old, running this race. She could have been part of a relay team, but even if she was, how many 85 year olds do you know that can build up enough motivation to run 13.1 miles? I ended up seeing her again later when she was getting closer to the finish line, and she was still jogging.

The last story that I have from my first IRONMAN 70.3 is about a man who I crossed the finish line with. If I remember right, this guy was 42 years old. As I was coming up on him in the last mile, I noticed this man was hobbling. When I get to him, I realized that he was running with a cramp in his right calf.

His words to me were,

“I couldn’t get it out so I kept running.”

This man willed his way to the finish line. His body was telling him to stop, but his mind wouldn’t let him.

Like I said earlier, I always believed that the mind was a powerful thing, but after the things I saw and experienced during this event, I have a new understanding of what Thinking Positive does.

Crossing the Line
Crossing the Line

Everything in life is about your mindset. I believe that you can truly do whatever you want to do, that is as long as you truly want to do it. There is not an obstacle in this world that can stop you.

Lastly, I would like to Thank You for taking the time to read a little of my story. Thanks to Everyone who reached out with support. It definitely helps to make a difference and helped me Cross The Line.

Until Next Time…..

Ironman New Orleans 70.3.
IRONMAN New Orleans 70.3.

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Cross The Line. An IRONMAN Story told by Jesse Coleman

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