Local Success: Marc McCoy
For some time, Mark McCoy knew he had a drinking problem. He was a functional alcoholic; he wouldn’t drink at work, but as soon as he was done, he would go straight for a drink. He’d spend hours during the day telling himself, “I’m not going to drink after work” over and over again, only to find himself immediately heading for a drink at the end of the day. When it seemed like there was no hope for change, a doctor’s visit and the persistence of his neighbors changed his life.
McCoy, now 52, went for a CT scan that showed a great deal of plaque on his arteries. He would need both cholesterol and high blood pressure medication. It was unrelated to his drinking, but the scan made him reflect upon his health as a whole. McCoy’s father died at age 53 of his fourth heart attack and McCoy did not want to leave his wife and two sons at that young of an age.
McCoy’s neighbors had been doing fitness boot camps and frequently asked him to join them, although he had always turned them down. Still, they kept asking. Finally, he decided to show up one morning and join them. He was so out of shape that at his first workout, he threw up. While McCoy was not obese (he often skipped meals while drinking), he was not fit, either. He describes his calf muscles as “skin and mush.”
But McCoy kept battling. He suffered muscle pulls in his calves and hamstrings, but he never gave up. Soon, his workout buddies suggested he participate in a duathlon in Mandeville. Once he did it, he fell in love with it. After succeeding at a duathlon, he began preparing for triathlons even though he had very little swimming experience. “I could swim two lengths of a pool and then I’d have to rest,” McCoy said. He eventually turned to YouTube to study instructional videos on proper swimming technique.
In fall 2008, McCoy participated in his first triathlon in Santa Rosa, Florida and he’s never looked back. He regularly gets up at 4:30 a.m. to exercise before he makes the journey across the Causeway to work as a sales manager for Lexus. While that may sound like a daunting time to start the morning, McCoy says he’s never felt better and that exercising has made his cravings for alcohol go away. “I remember the feeling I used to have when I was hungover and think of the feeling I have now...The euphoria of exercise is as much of a thrill as drinking ever was,” McCoy said. “Compared to where I was four years ago, I’m so much stronger and healthier.”
For the future, McCoy has the goal of eventually competing in a Half-Ironman. But while his swimming has improved drastically, he still wants to work on it so he can compete at the Half-Ironman level. For now, he remains proud of what he’s achieved and how his healthy habits have rubbed off on his wife, who regularly works out with a personal trainer.
When asked what advice he would give to people looking to get healthy, McCoy says finding a group of people to exercise with is crucial. “I don’t care how strong your willpower is, when that alarm goes off, it’s so easy to go back to sleep,” McCoy said. It’s important to have friends who will text you or call you to ask “Where are you?” if you try to go back to sleep. And on some days, you’ll provide the motivation for your friends. For McCoy, his training partner Parrish Tadlock has been particularly helpful keeping him motivated.
As much joy as McCoy takes from being physically healthier, he’s more grateful for the rewards he’s reaped as a human being. “It’s made me a better manager at work, a better husband, and a better father,” McCoy said. “It’s more than just getting in shape. It makes life easier for everyone around you.”