When life beckons exercise | SierraSun.com

When life beckons exercise

Tripp Mickle, Sun News Service

Court Leve/Sun News ServiceMichael Hurst is shown running in preparation for the Donner Lake Triathlon on July 17 and 18.

Michael Hurst swirled down the failed Dot1Web funnel along with 130 co-workers when the Incline Village company went defunct in December 2002. Unemployed and uncompensated, the Carnelian Bay resident languished into depression.

“I was one of those casualties,” he said. “I was stunned.”

To fill time in his vacant schedule, Hurst returned to the sport of his high school years ” swimming. Freestyle became his escape, and with each stroke, he began to pull himself out of the depression that threatened to carry him away.

“[Training] felt so good, I wanted to dedicate myself to it,” Hurst said, and by the end of his swim, he decided to become a triathlete. The decision marked a major change in his life and this weekend he will compete in his sixth race when he joins more than 600 triathletes in the Donner Lake Triathlon.

Hurst has spent months training his body for the triathlon’s multi-discipline challenge. He bought special shoes to run on the snow this winter, he spent hours in the pool, he biked in and outdoors – weather permitting.

But the hardest part has been this week, being patient enough to limit his training before he begins Sunday’s 1.5-mile swim, 24-mile bike ride and 6.5-mile run.

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“I really want to get going,” he said, his soft blue eyes glaring with focus. “I can feel it now, but I have to hold back.”

Hurst has already pushed himself once this year in Monterey County’s Wildflower Triathlon on May 1, where he battled 90-plus degree temperatures to finish his first half-Ironman race. He’s eager to improve on his result there.

“My time was horrible,” he said. “The fact that I finished is good, though.”

Finishing should not be a problem this weekend. Hurst swam a mile, biked 40 miles and ran six on July 9 to be sure he’s ready. He hopes to finish in the top-20 in his age group and beat his time of 2:50:00 from a year ago.

Listening to his goals and dedication to triathlons, it’s obvious that Hurst is a very different person from the laid-off, Dot1Web employee he was more than two years ago. All signs of depression have vanished, and he’s been working part-time as an English teacher at Western Nevada Community College. Next year, he will be a full-time teacher.

“It sounds hokey,” Hurst said, “but I got a good contracting job and the teaching job at the same time of the triathlon (last year).”

Though Hurst stops short of crediting his commitment to triathlons for the reversal in his life, there’s no doubt that with each stroke he swam, each pedal he pushed and each step he ran, his life was changing. Everything in it was improving along a parallel plane, and this weekend, as he pushes himself through the Donner Triathlon, he hopes the future holds more of the same.