Tuesday, 20/10/2020 | : : UTC-5
Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

HHFD Lieutenant competes in Ironman Triathlon

HHFD Lieutenant competes in Ironman Triathlon

Martin Mercado is a Lieutenant with Harker Heights Fire Department and he is also a triathlete. Mercado trained for 16 weeks before his participation in the March 20, Ironman Triathlon in Puerto Rico.

“I have been doing triathlon for a while. This is the second time I participated in this distance, which was a half Ironman,” said Mercado. “I liked this race. First time I did this was three years ago. I screwed up the nutrition portion of the race. Two miles from the finish line my body ran out of fuel, I was exhausted.”

Energy gels, protein bars, bananas and a lot of water, those are the trade secrets to being able to go that far.

“So, this time, I changed the training and the nutrition up. The weather was 80 degrees and the winds were 15-20 miles per hour,” commented Mercado. “I had family there and they were supporting me throughout the course. They were all there, my mom, dad, sister and my wife and daughter.”

Mercado mentioned that the terrain of Puerto Rico and the winds make the race challenging.

“I felt really good. At the start of the swim, I wasn’t getting in the groove. But, after 10 minutes into the swimming portion, I felt it, the drive and was ready to go,” remarked Mercado.

Mercado was able to take 45 minutes time off the race from the last time he participated in a triathlon. His average for the bike portion was 18.1 miles per hour.

“I was sick the week before the race and feeling dehydrated. The day before the race I was hesitant, but when I arrived to pick up my race packet my bib number was 229. Joel Lytle, a firefighter friend of mine that passed away, his badge number was 229. I then felt encouraged and not alone. It was a sign to do this race,” said Mercado. “I felt proud I got Joel’s firefighter number as my bib number. I felt proud to commemorate him. I called his wife Diana and told her.”

Mercado talked about how running is the hardest part of the race. A triathlon event may have over a 1,000 participants, but one will feel alone and in their own thoughts during the race.

“Joel was there in my thoughts,” mentioned Mercado. “At the end of the race you feel sluggish and light-headed, but Joel was there with me.”

Mercado’s brother introduced him into competing in triathlon. Like any younger brother, Mercado wanted to do what his brother was doing. In 2013, they did their first race together in Puerto Rico. Mercado purchased his brother’s bike and has been hooked ever since. And, now Mercado’s son, Michael is into racing and has joined the Texas Tech Triathlon Team.

After completing the race and coming in 111th in his division and finishing the 70.3 miles in 6 hours, 31 minutes and 19 seconds, Mercado took it easy.

“The rest of my two weeks in Puerto Rico, I ate food, a lot of food and had a good time. My favorite food is my mom’s,” commented Mercado. “Now, I’m back on track with my training and ready for my next triathlon on Waco on July 24.”

Mercado said his goal is to complete a full Ironman Triathlon. A full triathlon consists of a full marathon in addition to the swim and bike portion. Mercado does most of his training at the fire station and his swimming at the Belton High School pool.

“My bucket list is getting smaller. I like to be strong and healthy though I do like a burger and a beer once in a while,” said Mercado.


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