This week CNN is kicking off the 2011 Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge and will announce the six contestants chosen to train and compete with Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the Nautica New York City Triathlon on Aug. 7. The following excerpt was taken from the CNN blog “The Chart.”
The sport of triathlon has grown more than 50 percent in the last two years, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. Today, Dr. Joseph C. Maroon, 70, a neurosurgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a veteran of more than 70 triathlons, including seven Ironmans, shares his story of how the sport saved his life.
Twenty-five years ago my father died suddenly of a heart attack, my marriage came apart and I quit neurosurgery – all within the same week. The week before I was doing complicated brain surgery at the University of Pittsburgh and the week after I found myself filling up 18-wheelers in my father’s near-bankrupt truck stop trying to help my mother. I was overcome by stress, depression and a totally unbalanced life.
After three months of barely existing, a well-meaning friend called and said, “Joe, how about going for a run – it may help you?” Having done nothing physical for several years because of total commitment to my profession and 25 pounds overweight, I apprehensively joined him at the local high school track. Talking as we walked and jogged I was totally exhausted but completed a full mile. For me, at the time, it was equivalent to Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute barrier. But that night was the first night I slept in months!