By: Sarah McWilliams
Although Alex Hollanshead has been active all of his life, he never imagined his weekends would consist of 100-mile bike rides or Ironman training.
A cross country runner in high school, Hollanshead ran casually while studying biomedical engineering at the University of Cincinnati. He never gave serious thought to running a marathon until a friend bet him that he couldn’t run one under four hours. Challenge accepted. Twelve marathons later, Hollanshead epitomizes the term weekend warrior.
While at UC, Hollanshead also developed a love for biking. It all began because of the parking situation at the Great American Ballpark, the home of the Cincinnati Reds. While working selling beer during Reds games, he became frustrated driving to the stadium and having to park over a mile away. His solution was to buy a bike, so he could get closer to the stadium. His passion for biking was born, and now he rides 200 miles a week.
Finding the time
As a full-time product engineer for FMC Technologies, an oil company in Houston, finding the time to ride and run isn’t easy for Hollanshead. But when something becomes an integral part of your life, it’s easy to add it to your to-do list. “It has become such a routine for me that when I don’t do it, I miss it,” Hollanshead said.
He meets fellow riders and runners at 5 a.m. to train. Since Houston is very flat, they use overpasses for hill work. In the summer, early mornings become a necessity because of the Houston heat. They save long rides for the weekend. Sometimes the goal is to get the miles in, and other times the goal is to simply enjoy the scenery with other riders.
Hollanshead also discovered his riding group is one of the best ways to network. It’s not uncommon to start a conversation with a fellow rider and end the ride as friends with some of the most powerful people in his industry, offering yet another good reason to find the time to ride.
With his increasing workload and travel schedule, it does get difficult to get the workouts in. “I have bad days,” Hollanshead admitted. To stay motivated, he always thinks about a quote he read in the book “The Winner’s Manual” by Jim Tressel,
“On your worst days be good, on your best days be great. And on every other day, get better.”
Having a sense of accomplishment is another motivating factor. “Even though you’re mentally and physically exhausted, you look back and say, ‘Holy cow, I just ran 26.2 miles,’” Hollanshead said. “You’re not only motivated for yourself, but you want others to experience it as well… It’s infectious.”
Medals also adorn one of his bedroom walls. He wakes up seeing what he has accomplished, and it inspires him to do more.
In addition, Hollanshead set goals for himself. After his first marathon, he came up with an ambitious plan of running a marathon in every state. He is well on his way after running marathons in Ohio, Illinois, Texas, Florida, Arkansas and Kentucky.
Another goal includes competing in his first Ironman.
“Depending on how the first one goes, it might be my first and my last,” Hollanshead joked.
One last piece of motivation: great food. “I get to eat a lot,” he said. “Texas has the best barbecue, and I love TexMex. In one bike ride, I burn almost 3000 calories. You pretty much get to eat whatever you want.”
Why it’s worth it
Hollanshead recently competed in the Goofy Run at Walt Disney World. The weather was horrible, and the event consisted of running a half marathon the day before running a full marathon. But his nine year old niece was at the finish line for him. She has been at the finish line for over 75 percent of his races. “Having your friends and family at the finish line keeps you going because you know they are watching and cheering for you. They know your goals and you don’t want to fall short of what you set out to do.”
Cincinnati Flying pig Marathon 2005 (first full marathon)
Heart Mini Marathon /15K 2006
Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon 2006
Air Force Marathon 2006 / half marathon
Columbus Marathon 2006
Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon 2008
Walt Disney Marathon 2009
Chicago Marathon 2009
Walt Disney Goofy Challenge 2010 Half and Full
Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon 2010
Grandfather Mountain Marathon 2010
200 Mile Overnight Relay: The Bourbon Chase 2010
Kentucky Derby Marathon 2011
Heart Mini Marathon / half 2011
Marine Corps Marathon 2011
200 Mile Overnight Relay: The Bourbon Chase 2011
Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon 2012
200 Mile Overnight Relay: The Bourbon Chase 2012
Energy series ride (weekend rides to prep for BPMS150 ranging from 40 to 80 miles)
Fayetteville Stage Race
Easter Hill Country Tour, 195 Mile Two Day Tour
Houston Gran Fondo
BPMS 150 Houston to Austin
Portland Marathon 2013
Houston Chevron Marathon 2014
Mercedes Marathon 2014
Galveston Half Ironman 2014
Little Rock Marathon 2014
Big Sur Marathon 2014
Texas Ironman 2014