Meet new Chicago Athlete Ambassador from Crystal Lake, Jim Toledo! I recently sat down with Jim and asked a few questions that all of his new fans are dying to know (or soon to be fans, either or). Buckle your seat belts, sounds like this go-getter is off for an eventful 2021!
When did you first start getting involved in endurance sports?
I had tried to be a runner multiple times in life, only to quit after shin splints and/or a wane in interest. In 2015, a friend organized a 5K for charity and was having trouble getting entries. I agree to help him out. I had a few miserable training runs of 1-2 miles leading up, then jogged through 3.1 miles on race day. I was sore for a week. Still, I had run 3 miles without walking for the first time ever and didn’t want to lose the momentum. I kept at it, and here we are.
You’re a multi-sport athlete (swim bike run). If you had to choose… What’s your drug of choice?
It goes in cycles, but lately it’s been running I’ve enjoyed the most. I’ve made exciting improvements over the last year while staying healthier that I have in the past. Still, the thrill of putting three sports together on one day will always trump any one of them on their own.
Give us a funny story relating to your early endurance days. Everyone starts somewhere and everyone has a story that a current newbie would love to hear!
My first 10K was an eye-opening experience. IT was in Cary on a pretty warm day, and I was struggling by mile 2 of the hilly course. I shuffled along slowly, finally finished and slumping down to sit on a curb. Hollie (my wife) was worried about me driving home, and I had plenty of thoughts about never running again. After 6.2 miles. TO cap it off, an older woman, must have been in her late 60’s, came by and thanked me for pacing her for the last half of the race. Humbled.
What advice would you give to a newbie embarking on a new fitness journey who might be struggling?
You don’t have to do it alone. Join a running group. Get to know your local bike shop and shoe store owners. Find group rides that cater to different abilities. There are people in our community who are willing to be supportive and encouraging while still pushing you to go outside your comfort zone. IF a group seems like the wrong fit then find a new one. Find a group that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning for a meet-up and workout. There’s a lot of us out here doing the same thing, and all of us struggled at some point (and hopefully still do at times).
What keeps you motivated to swim/bike/run on a daily basis?
At this point it’s just a part of daily life. I’m looking forward to racing again, which keeps me driving to go faster and father with every training session. The better question is – what would actually motivate me to take a rest day?
What has been your favorite race experience so far and why?
Seeing the red carpet at Ironman Texas has been the best moment so far. After a DNF at IMWI the year before I was determined to ear my Ironman title. I kept training through the winter and just counted down days to race time. I pushed through some hot, tough conditions, and go to share the finisher chute with a friend and training partner. It wasn’t the prettiest finish, but it pushed me through a big mental barrier. I know I can finish the long course and can focus now on getting faster and improving that finisher time.
Outside of your endurance life how do you like to spend your free time?
Family, friends, wine, cooking, working when I have to, and watching other people sweat on TV. I guess I write now, too.
What is your favorite meal, breakfast, lunch or dinner? And Why?
Pizza, for breakfast lunch, or dinner. It was always a special treat growing up, and Rockford is a little-known goldmine of great local pizza places. It’s also why I’m a huge pizza snob now.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
I was once a finalist in a karaoke competition in Las Vegas and got to perform Baby Got Back in front of 1500 people at Planet Hollywood.