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Success Stories: From overweight to Iron Girl competitors

If you need some inspiration to rev up your fitness program, look no farther than the Iron Girl event, April 4 at Coachman Park. The all-woman event offers 5K and 10K races, along with some competitors who not so long ago might never have imagined themselves racing across a finish line. Here are the stories of two Iron Girls.

Miriam Castillo, 36, of New Tampa

Starting weight: 190 pounds

Current weight: 132 pounds

Lost: 58 pounds

Quote: "I was never a sports person. I used to think, 'Why would anyone ever want to sweat?' "

Is this your first Iron Girl?

Yes. I've run in several other races. My first was a 5K on Father's Day last year.

Goal for the Iron Girl?

To finish the 10K in under an hour.

How were you inspired to get in shape?

My mother, who's had diabetes for 13 years, manages it by walking every day. Besides, diabetes, colon cancer and high blood pressure run in my family. I want to do the right thing now before something happens.

How did you get into racing?

In January of 2007, I made a New Year's resolution to lose weight. I started walking, then running on the treadmill. I thought, "How cool would it be to be in a race?" After one race, I was hooked.

What kind of gear do you use?

I use "Nike +," that checks time, distance, pace and calories burned from my run. A sensor in my running shoes transmits information to a sport band on my wrist. I also have a Polar watch, which monitors my heart rate.

How do you train?

I run 3.2 miles every other day, I do Zumba, I attend a boot camp class at the Y and have a personal trainer. I've also changed the way I eat. I'm Hispanic, and we used to eat rice with just about every meal. I've cut that out and stocked my kitchen with low-carb, low-cal, sugar-free items. I eat lots of vegetables and haven't had McDonald's in two years.

What's the biggest benefit of weight loss?

My energy level. And confidence — it's through the roof.

You know you've lost a lot of weight when . . .

When people tell me I look just like my younger sister, who is a toothpick.

Fasha Lynche-Chachin, 30, of Seffner

Starting weight: 307 pounds

Current weight: 220 pounds

Lost: 87 pounds

Quote: "I bought a great outfit for the race. I might not be the fastest runner, I may even finish last — but at least I'm going to look good doing it!"

Is this your first Iron Girl?

Yes, my second race. I ran in Gasparilla 5K a few weeks ago and finished in 49 minutes, 50 seconds.

Goal for the Iron Girl?

To finish the 5K in 45 minutes.

What motivated you to drop the pounds?

My mother weighed 400 pounds and died at age 53. She had cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. When I reached 300 pounds, I knew I had to change.

So dish — how did you do it?

I started on a medically supervised weight loss program in January 2008, and after about six months, I was noticeably lighter and had more energy and confidence. My blood pressure returned to a perfect 120 over 80. Then, one day I was walking on the treadmill and wondered if I could run. I was like, "Wow, I can run!"

How are you training for this event?

I run for an hour almost every day. To be honest, I don't like running, but I love racing. I want to catch up with the people in front of me and I want to stay ahead of those in back of me.

What kind of gear do you use?

Brooks running shoes and a Timex Ironman triathlon watch.

What's going through your mind as you run?

At first I think, "When is this going to end?" Then I reach a point, zone out, start breathing better. Before I know, it's over.

You know you've lost a lot of weight when . . .

I have to show a photo ID and they don't believe it's me.


If you've lost weight, shaped up, or overcome some other health obstacle you'd like to share with the readers of Personal Best, please send us your story. We need to know your name, age, hometown, what you achieved, how you did it, and how it has changed your life. "Before'' and "after'' photos are helpful, too. Please e-mail your information to Personal Best editor Charlotte Sutton: [email protected] (write Success Story in the subject line).


The AFLAC Iron Girl 10K & 5K is Saturday at Coachman Park, Clearwater. Visit to register by Thursday; late registrations ($10 extra) accepted at the expo on Friday from 3 to 7 p.m., and on race morning from 6 to 7:15 a.m. 10K Race: adult, $45; mother/daughter team, $70. 5K Race: adult, $25; mother/daughter
team, $40.

Success Stories: From overweight to Iron Girl competitors 03/30/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 30, 2009 6:58pm]
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