A physician assistant at the BYU–Hawaii Health Center, Adam Cottle, advises people regularly about their health and how to treat their bodies right. He said he was able to “practice what he preaches” by participating in the Ironman competition on Oct. 11 to 13 in Kona, Hawaii.
“I just like to be active. I work in the healthcare field, where I am seeing people all the time that I tell to exercise and keep their bodies healthy. I feel like a hypocrite if I don’t take care of myself,” Cottle shared.
Cottle is originally from Bountiful, Utah, and is an alumnus of BYUH, graduating in biology. He said that he is always looking for ways to stay active and to challenge himself physically. The Ironman competition was his next step.
The three main events in Ironman are swimming, biking and running. Each contestant must swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles, all within 17 hours, according to Cottle. He said he was trying to prepare the best he could for this competition and spent roughly 10 months training.
In a Facebook post celebrating Cottle’s experience with Ironman, his wife Stacey Cottle wrote, “In preparation for the Ironman, Adam swam approximately 117 miles, biked approximately 3,169 miles and ran approximately 935 miles. He set a goal, stuck to a game plan, gave it his all and finished the course – all 140.6 miles of it.”
Cottle said he originally planned on participating in the half Ironman. However, he won a prize lottery slot to compete in the full Ironman. Cottle said only 10 people were drawn in this lottery, and the 10 people were chosen at random.
Expressing hesitation at first, Cottle said he felt like he had not won his spot to be there. He shared that the event in Kona was the biggest Ironman competition and draws people from all over the world. However, Cottle decided to go ahead and compete in the full Ironman. He completed the whole event in 13 hours and 11 minutes.
“The whole journey and all of the work that you put into it is what makes crossing the finish line so cool. If it had been super easy, then crossing the finish line would not have meant hardly anything… To know that you have worked towards it is just the cherry on top of all the investment of time.”
Competing Against Yourself
Cottle shared that one of the biggest things to overcome in preparing for competitions like this is the need to compete with others in the race. “I had to really learn to not compete against others. This is not a competition about everyone else. This is a competition for myself.”
Around 7 years ago, Cottle said he participated in the Salt Lake Marathon and started to burn out in the last few miles due to trying to keep up with other people.
“This is about me going the distance. Even in my training, I had to keep certain paces with my swimming, biking and running. I found that if I tried to keep up with other people, I did not do as well. If I just ran, biked or swam my pace, I would do so much better.”
Cottle also talked about how trying to genuinely better oneself is the kind of competition that benefits people. “In life, if we just do what we can and do our best, that is a longer motivating force that lasts longer and can endure when you do that.”
Little Shots of Energy
One thing Cottle said helped him throughout the race, and that stood out to him, was the cheering and motivation from people watching the Ironman.
“Out there on the run, I was just so tired, and someone would say, ‘You’ve got this, Adam!’ It was like a little shot of energy. Little encouragements can really just be encouraging on the journey of life,” Cottle said.
Cottle also shared that sometimes strangers would be some of the biggest motivators for him.
“People were cheering me on, and they didn’t know my story. Almost everyone there has a story because it is usually a journey to get to the Ironman. Everyone has a cool story where they sacrificed something … People did not really know me or my story, but they are just excited to see you be successful.”
Stacey Cottle also shared in her Facebook post how much their four children get involved in cheering on people. She wrote, “One of my favorite parts of the whole day was watching our kids cheer on the athletes from all over the world. They shouted, encouraging words and cheers all day to complete strangers. They lined up along the fence and gave high fives to so many athletes, and they loved it!”
Cottle shared that it is the small things that make a difference for people. Anything from a little smile to a high five helps.