Colorado Athletes in Kona: Jeff Beckman

I grew up in rural Georgia playing competitive basketball and tennis but quickly transitioned to mountain biking/kayaking/mountaineering once arriving to Colorado in the late 90’s, and I didn’t look back. In sports, I always seemed to be able to keep up with and often lead the “pack” without training. Getting after it just off the couch was my routine and I had never considered any training or exercise regimen outside of the particular sporting event. “Practice” as Allen Iverson had famously dismissed, wasn’t really in my vocabulary as well. In 2013, after putting on some pounds over the years while starting a family, the “pack” I had easily kept up with was moving far too fast for my sedentary ways. I became content with the refuge of my couch after having some epic bonks on supposedly easy excursions. During this year, I was shocked when my seemingly healthy father in his early 60’s required urgent cardiac arterial stenting, placement on multiple medications, and underwent cardiac rehabilitation. Upon my own personal physician follow up and testing shortly thereafter, I realized that I was not the prime picture of health I imagined to be. Though in my early 40’s, I had arteries of a 65 year old, was categorized as overweight and obese for my height, and was started on cholesterol medication therapy. I was floored and processed this wake up call in regards to my longevity as a husband and father.
In retaliation, I purchased a road bike, made a commitment to my health, and took up triathlon in the summer of 2014 – which changed my life forever. Other than swimming after fallen beers off a raft or chasing down kayaking gear in rivers, I never had formally learned to swim. My first training swim left me demolished after 4 lengths, and it hit me that it would be a long road to regain fitness. I embraced the mantra of exercise “practice” through triathlon training. Within 6 months of adopting the triathlon lifestyle, I had lost 30 pounds, had normal to low cholesterol levels, and was taken off all medications. My friends had suggested my transformation was “historic” and wondered where the sedentary Beckman had wondered off to. My new lifestyle and fitness not only saved my health, but also brought new life and energy into a 15 year Emergency Medicine career where I was facing burnout.

After my first triathlon in 2014, the Boulder 70.3 IM, I was hooked to triathlon. From there, I continued to race over the next 2 years despite injury setbacks including a clavicle fracture from a neighborhood bike accident (2014), right knee injury during my first full distance IM in 106 degree record heat in CdA (2015), and left knee injury in a bike accident during the Boulder Ironman (2016). After three straight years of injury, one might say I was a little crazy to return… I was drawn back to triathlon not only for the love of the combined sport and methodical training regimen I had adopted, but to keep good on the promise I made to maintain my health and fitness I fought so hard to achieve. Furthermore, the process of working through intense physical and mental obstacles in rehab brought fortitude, humility, patience, and experience of how to train smarter and recover stronger. In the spring of 2017, I began working with coach Tim Crowley who brought perspective, efficiency, and wisdom to my training and racing regimen and was able to carry this forward to my first Kona qualification at Ironman Canada in July 2017.

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