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Published October 04, 2012, 11:35 PM

Holt: Benson woman tests endurance

BENSON, Minn. – Triathlete Tyson Cluever started her journey in April 2010 with a 45-minute walk/jog in a pair of cheap sneakers pushing her infant son in a stroller.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

BENSON, Minn. – Triathlete Tyson Cluever started her journey in April 2010 with a 45-minute walk/jog in a pair of cheap sneakers pushing her infant son in a stroller.

“I never thought I would run a marathon; I just wanted to get in shape,” the 29-year-old woman says.

That June she ran her first 5K in her hometown of Benson, about 130 miles southeast of Moorhead.

“I did it and I got a medal, and I was completely hooked,” she says, adding that her first medal is still her favorite.

As a new mom, Tyson cut herself some slack, but she wasn’t happy with her body or the way her clothes were fitting.

“I knew that if I wanted to do something about it, it was me who had to do it. I wasn’t going to put it on someone else,” she says.

During her pregnancy, the petite woman reached over 200 pounds.

“I couldn’t believe it when I saw that number,” she says.

Though she added jogging intervals to her brisk walks right away, she made dietary changes slowly at first.

“My diet didn’t really change until that winter when I decided for some stupid reason that I was going to train for a half ironman,” she says jokingly.

It didn’t take long for running to become her “go-to exercise,” but Ty wanted to cross-train and further challenge herself by adding swimming and cycling.

“I love this multisport competition, even though I’m nowhere near an elite athlete. I’m not even, in my eyes, an age-group competitor,” she says. “I just go out and I do it and I finish. I’m my biggest challenge.”

If she was going to get in the pool, the Minnesota State University Moorhead grad had to face her fears – she’s uncomfortable around water.

“I had to forget every episode of ‘River Monsters’ I’ve ever watched,” she says with a laugh.

Ty trained at the indoor pool at Benson High School, putting in half a mile at a time, sometimes twice a day.

“I did a ton of lap-swimming,” she says.

She struggled in the water during her first indoor-outdoor triathlon in Alexandria in May 2011, but her husband, Jon, her son, Kael, and her best friend were there to meet her at the finish.

“I’ve never felt like more of an athlete than hearing my name announced over the loudspeaker,” she says.

That same month, Ty ran her first marathon in Brookings, S.D. She followed that up with a couple 5Ks in June, a triathlon in July and an Olympic-distance triathlon in August.

During the Olympic-distance triathlon, “I was the last person off the bike. That was really, really hard. It was hard for me to even get out on the run because I was kind of mentally defeated, but it was a hilly course and I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was,” she says.

So what’s next? First the Fargo Mini Marathon half marathon on Oct. 20, then the sky’s the limit.

In these events, “I’m able to shine individually, and I’m able to show what I can do,” she says.

Since setting out to run, then swim and bike, she’s learned a lot about herself.

“I feel more confident, and I trust my judgment, my opinions and my feelings more instead of second-guessing myself, because you can’t do that out in a competition,” she says.

Plus, she dropped 40 pounds while pushing the limits of her mind and body.

Tyson, who at her heaviest wore a size 17, recently realized how far she’s come while putting away laundry.

“I thought to myself, ‘That’s a lot less pant to put away,’ ” she says. “I never would have imagined putting on a single-digit-size anything ever in my life.”

She’s also gained perspective and gratitude for what she’s capable of, especially since inspiring others to get moving.

“You are your biggest competitor. You are the reason you get up and go, and you are the reason you either finish or you don’t,” she says.

Do you have a weight-loss story to tell? Email me at mholt@forumcomm.com.

Forum reporter Meredith Holt has lost 105 pounds since May 2010. She will share stories of her weight-loss journey in her column, which runs the first and third Friday of each month in SheSays. Readers can reach her at (701) 241-5590.