A long-time racquetball player, Neal Oseland came to running in the late 1990s, on an altruistic whim.
"I went out and did this 5K Race for the Cure and was all proud of myself and my accomplishment," said Oseland, 44, a Colorado Springs father of three.
But then a co-worker made a snide comment as Oseland crossed the finish line.
"He basically called me a loser 'cause he had finished faster than me," Oseland said. "That single-handedly motivated me. I was going to find a race this guy was in and get better than him."
Oseland trained like crazy and returned to run in the same event the following year. That time, he beat his rude colleague by 2 minutes, finishing fifth overall. When the co-worker finally finished, Oseland clapped and yelled "good job" from his spot on a massage table by the finish.
"You talk about the wrong reason to get into a sport, but it turned out to be the best thing that happened to me because I absolutely fell in love with it," he said.
For Oseland, challenge beget challenge. He eventually moved on to longer races, half marathons and marathons - then cycling, swimming and, ultimately, triathlons.
"I didn't even know what a triathlon was, but I was determined I was going to do one," said Oseland, who went on to compete in seven Ironman competitions, a series of rigorous races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation.
Ironman competitions, considered among the toughest races in the world, include a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.
This year, Oseland qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, a half-Ironman slated for Sept. 8 in Henderson, Nev., as well as the Ironman World Championship, in Hawaii in October. Earlier this summer, Oseland was named to the first triathlon team formed by sports supplement company X2Performance, beating out hundreds of other applicants to make the 24-member team.
When it comes to an Ironman, which requires hours of ceaseless exertion, "you really have to deal with nutrition - eating, drinking and getting electrolytes in your body. Really, the fourth component to Ironman is nutrition," said Oseland. "The supplement really helps with that."
As he preps for the upcoming season of competitions, Oseland is training seven days a week, logging the kind of hours that would wither a less-conditioned athlete.
"I'm lucky that pretty much my entire family, except my 16-year-old, goes to bed early, which allows me to go to bed early so I can wake up, most days, at 3 a.m.," said Oseland, who belongs to a 24-hour gym. "I can always swim there, and I have my bike attached to an indoor stationary trainer, so I can ride it 24/7 inside my basement, and then I'll run in any conditions outside."
By 6:30 a.m., when Oseland prepares to head to his full-time job in insurance sales, he's already logged three hours of workout time. Then comes the lunch-break run, and maybe a long evening bike ride.
"I'll take days off when my body says, 'Hey, you're tired.' Time off equals recovery and recovery equals getting better. That's how this sport works," he said.
Contact Stephanie Earls: 636-0364