I lost a lot of weight, I got in shape, but still, there was something missing. By Tony Lanza


I think, rightfully so, many people have looked at me funny when I’ve told them I was training for a triathlon. It’s one of those things that in the course of “normal” life, you think to yourself “Why would anyone subject themselves to that?”


Of course, everything is relative. If you went back to April 2011, back before I lost weight, back before my cancer, back before my training, and you told me “You’re gonna run a triathlon in a year”, I’d have laughed in your face. Probably called you a few nasty names. Now, I look at olympic distance triathlons as perfectly reasonable, attainable goals.

Those guys running half Ironmen and full Ironmen? THOSE are the crazy people.


…I may or may not have already started planning how I could train for a half Ironman.


…This may or may not be a problem.


But realistically, when I started my weight loss journey, I went with things that were safe and comfortable for me. I’ve always played sports and been pretty athletic, so I went to the gym and lifted. I did small bits of cardio, but realistically, I got a trainer, and we rehabbed my numerous injuries that I had acquired, and I just hit the gym.


I lost a lot of weight, I got in shape, but still, there was something missing.


I started to look into doing something big to shake up my preconceptions for what I could do. Additionally, I started looking into doing something that could potentially help some folks that could use a little support and help.


Interestingly enough, Autism Speaks took 2012 to be the first year that they would be a charity involved in the NYC Triathlon. Couple that with the fact that my cousin Ryan has been dealing with Autism, and I seemed to have found a great fit. Suddenly, my training had a whole lot more purpose and value. Any time I came home, and I didn’t want to hit the road, I saw Ryan’s face, and I saw that Autism Speaks banner, and I got up off my ass, and I hit the road.


What started as a fairly simple idea, pushing past my comfort zone, started to take shape as something else entirely.


And then a funny thing started to happen. This torturous effort I was putting myself through suddenly started to be pretty enjoyable.


Now, I’m not going to lie. I am an atrocious swimmer, and I don’t think I ever enjoyed, nor will I ever enjoy, swimming at any sort of “respectable” pace. I don’t mind snorkeling, or being in the water in general, but the second you start telling me there’s a time and a pace and a stroke that I need to do, I’m basically ready to start committing crimes wreaking mayhem.


However, the biking and the running really just started to be moments of clarity in my life. Bits of quiet bliss that existed outside the realm of my normal day to day worries, thoughts, and concerns.


The unfortunate reality of this is that it didn’t last. The day before my practice triathlon, I was diagnosed with my leukemia. I wasn’t able to compete in either triathlons I signed up for, and ostensibly, all my training went to “waste”, one could say.


Although it didn’t, really. It mentally and physically prepared me for the rigors of chemotherapy. It toughened me up to the point where I am tolerating the treatments above and beyond expectations. So much so that I have preliminarily signed up for something potentially silly.


I am intending to train for the St. Anthony’s Olympic Triathlon in Florida in April. I will be training in the middle of getting chemo, and Leukemia Lymphoma Society has actually made me an “honored hero” for the event. So I’m supposed to speak to people about leukemia, and help motivate them to complete the event.


I think also completing the event might be slightly motivating?


But I think the real lesson I want people to learn from me is that these “crazy” endurance events really aren’t that crazy. That these endurance goals can give you bliss and hope and happiness in the midst of drama and nonsense in your life. And that these events are catalysts that elicit an unbelievable amount of change in your life, in areas you wouldn’t even expect to be affected.


And the funny thing is…these changes you make in your life ripple out, and change the lives of those around you. Which ripple outward, until suddenly, big changes have been made.






  1. Bradley Stegall says

    You are inspiring due to your can do attitude I mean it would be easy to give up but you continue to move ahead and focus on things that are important to you I have lost 97 pounds since Christmas 2012 and if I had an ounce of your enthusiasm I would consider myself very fortunate. Keep going my friend our only limitations are the ones we place on ourselves.

    Bradley Stegall

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