Pushing Personal Boundaries

Patrick Clark at the XTERRA World Championship Oct. 27. Photo courtesy brightroom.com

Patrick Clark participated in his first triathlon in 2007 and has since finished four Ironmans and countless triathlons (about six to 10 a year), including last month’s Ironman World Cham-pionship on the Big Island and the XTERRA World Championship on Maui, which were only two weeks apart.

“I’ve always wanted to do a triathlon but I was always afraid of the swim,” says Clark, who ran track and cross country in high school and cycled at the Naval Academy. “I’m a competitive person, and I didn’t have that competitive background in swimming.

“I never really want to do anything that I don’t think I’m going to be very good at. I knew how to swim, just not fast.”

So he worked on his swimming, and in his first sprint triathlon in Tampa, Fla., he placed first in the race’s category of first-time triathletes.

“Now I’m still not super-fast in the water, but I’m definitely comfortable in the water,” says Clark, an executive assistant for the commander of the Pacific Fleet submarine force at Pearl Harbor. “There’s a quote that says, ‘Every day you should try to do something that you don’t think you can do.’

“The first time I did an Ironman, I thought there’s no way I can complete this, and when I did I was like, well, I think I may be able to go a little faster. So that’s what inspires me – just trying to see how much I can push my body.”

Since becoming a triathlete, Clark says he feels a lot younger, is leaner and more toned, and has more energy than before.

“Being as active as I am is kind of my way of turning back the clock on aging,” he says. “What’s neat is I just did a 5K in March and my time was 30 seconds off from what I ran in high school.”

Clark’s wife, Leigh, also is a triathlete, and they have a 9-year-old daughter. Add a 50- to 60-hour workweek to his schedule, and finding time to train can be a challenge. “It’s making it a priority in your life,” he says. “There were a lot of early morning and late-at-night workouts.”

Next for Clark is the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship Dec. 2 ata 9 a.m. at Kualoa Ranch.

The event features three courses: 21K, 10K or 5K distances. There also is an ‘adventure walk.’ Runners of all ages and skill levels can still sign-up.

Entry fees are $60 for the 21K, $45 for the 10K, $35 for the 5K and $30 for the Adventure Walk. To register or for more information, visit xterratrailrun.com.