Don Borowski knows the true meaning of getting up when you fall and trying again. It’s a lesson the 47-year old, non-traditional Georgia Southern student and RAC spin instructor learned after attempting to finish an Ironman contest not once, but twice.
“I first competed in it back in 2012, but I came up short and had to drop out because of being severely dehydrated. So, this time around my goal was properly named ‘Unfinished Business!’”
And he didn’t leave any business unfinished in his attempt this year. He completed the grueling race, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile marathon, raced in that order and without a break, with just 17 minutes to spare. Competitors are given 17 hours to complete the race.
But the race components weren’t the only obstacles Borowski faced. Held in August in Louisville, Kentucky, he and other competitors faced the highest heat index of the summer that day–115 degrees. After the swim and bike portion, it was time for the greater challenge, the full marathon run.
“At the 8-mile mark, I threw up for the first time. What was happening at this point was my body was shutting down on me,” Borowski said. At mile 10, I actually passed out and had to be revived by the medical crew. At first, I could hear them, but I couldn’t see them, which scared me to death. I’m not sure how much time passed, but I remember asking the medical crew if I had enough time to finish,” Borowski said.
Somehow, he mustered up the strength and energy to get back up and keep moving to finish the race. “I saw my wife along the way and she kept motivating me by saying ‘You Got This! Just keep moving forward.’ My friends and GSU alumni Jordana Childree and Shane Jenkins, walked with me the last 12 miles to help pace me.”
Despite an exhausting day, the experience and reaching his dream goal was all worth it. “I found out what I was made of that day,” he said. “All the sacrifices that not only I, but my family and friends had made during this journey and six months of training was all worth it! A friend of mine, Mike Williams, had called Jordana’s phone at around the 19-mile mark and said ‘Finish and nothing matters tomorrow!’ He was right! That feeling of accomplishment on that one day was overwhelming.”
This achievement in Borowski’s fitness journey probably seemed impossible 10 years ago after hitting a low point. “Growing up and always fighting weight issues, when I reached my maximum of 300 pounds in 2005, I knew it was time for a change,” he said. “I had a newborn son and if I was going to be around to see him grow up, I had to change my lifestyle. I found the Statesboro Pacers, a terrific and supportive running group here in town and started my journey of losing weight and becoming a runner. After losing over 100 pounds and completing the Walt Disney World Half Marathon within my first year, I’d found a passion and became what I’d never thought was possible, I’d become a runner.”
And to become an Ironman finisher, Borowski never gave up on his dream. He encourages others to never give up.
“Like any goal, you’ve got to have a plan. Be willing to make the sacrifices it will take to achieve success! Lastly, get your miles in during training and whatever you do, get it on film! One of my favorite hastags is #milesandmemories!”
He added he couldn’t have come this far without his True Blue family. “To my Georgia Southern RAC Group Fitness Family, faculty, staff, students and my faithful spin class patrons, I can’t say THANK YOU enough for all the support and motivation. If you want to achieve great goals, surround yourself with people with the same passion.”
Borowski also recently took over the ownership of local fitness business Swim.Bike.Run, which was owned and operated by two fellow Georgia Southern alumni. He encourages all True Blue fitness enthusiasts and community members to stop by for their fitness needs.