About 15 years ago, Robert Arruda took a hard look at himself and didn’t like what he saw — a 35-year-old overly skinny smoker who didn’t take care of his body.
“I was scrawny. I had no muscles. I was not healthy,” the Grapevine resident said. “I decided I wanted to change my focus.”
The epiphany led him to make some drastic changes in his lifestyle.
He bought a bike and began a regimen that included bicycling, eating healthier and addressing his smoking habit.
He signed up at a gym and got a weight trainer.
Arruda got involved with Team In Training (TNT), a fundraising program for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It involves an endurance sports training program for charity that raises money for blood cancer research. Their efforts include marathons, triathlons and cycling and hiking events.
He got “hooked on cycling.”
Arruda competed in several cycling competitions but “got bored with just cycling.”
“I started looking at triathlons,” he said of competitions that include bicycling, swimming and running.
His first foray was in 2004 at Joe Pool Lake and said of the event that was a shorter distance than a full triathlon — “I finished it.”
After that, he “worked my way up” to Ironman competitions.
On June 5, he competed in an Ironman competition in Nice, France. He completed it in 12 hours and 23 minutes.
“I was happy with the day that I had,” Arruda said upon his return. “I did what I expected to do. It was a good, hard day.”
An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation, consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile run, raced in that order and without a break. It is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world.
“It’s a long day,” Arruda said.
Although there are Ironman competitions worldwide throughout the year, he chose this one because it coincided with his June 3 50th birthday and allowed him to compete in the 50-54 age category.
“Ironman is a challenge at any age and this allowed me to be one of the youngest competitors in my age category,” Arruda said.
It was his eighth Ironman competition. His competitions have taken him across the world, including Australia and Canada. This was his first competition in Europe.
Arruda grew up in Toronto and his family moved to Texas when he was 16. He attended Texas schools and works as a national account executive in security solutions for Siemens Industry in the building technologies division.
“I am blessed to work for a company that allows me the time to train for and compete in Ironman competitions,” Arruda said.
His training schedule includes 5 a.m. swims at The REC of Grapevine.
With others from Southlake and Keller, he is involved in a local branch of Tri4Him, an international Christian-based organization that uses training and competition in triathlons “as means to honor God, glorify Jesus and love others,” according to the group’s website.
The members come together for open swims.
“I enjoy the training and the camaraderie,” the athlete said.
Arruda is quick to not make himself out an Ironman hero.
“I’m usually in the middle of the pack,” he said.
Marty Sabota: 817-390-7367