What’s Your IRONMAN? – Wayne’s Story

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Each of us has some kind of personal challenge that stands in the way of reaching an amazing goal.  Each of us also has the ability to overcome these challenges by tapping into our own inner IRONMAN.

Finding your own IRONMAN will prove to you that anything is possible when you begin your journey of discovery.   Your IRONMAN will prove that you have the inner strength to achieve your goal:  You can do it.

Resolve to answer the question “What’s Your IRONMAN?” and power your heart and spirit into reaching your goal of training and competing in the IRONMAN Triathlon. The life-affirming event captures how high an individual’s guts and determination will soar through inspiration and motivation.

Are you ready to stretch yourself beyond your imagination and find your IRONMAN?

Unleash Your Competitive Spirit

Wayne Fraleigh, chief operating officer of Memorial Hermann Ambulatory Services, is now officially an IRONMAN.

The title did not come easy.  After overcoming a serious medical issue and a former football injury, he successfully finished the IRONMAN Cozumel race during Thanksgiving 2014.

“IRONMAN’s mantra is anything is possible,” he says.  “You can achieve any goal you put your heart into.”   Amidst the most scenic and challenging landscapes around the world, athletes of all skill levels tackle a personal goal and experience first-hand the power of this positive and self-affirming mantra.

The IRONMAN Triathlon, considered by many to be one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world, consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile marathon run. The events are raced in that order and must be completed within 17 hours to earn the coveted title of IRONMAN.

Amazing Personal Stories

“In May 2013, I was introduced to my first IRONMAN event, Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Texas,” he adds.  “During the pre-race dinner, I heard amazing stories of athletes with life-threatening diseases or physical dysfunctions who were competing in their first IRONMAN.  It seemed crazy that people would put their bodies through torture like this; I couldn’t fathom running more than 2 miles, let alone a marathon after a swim and bike ride.”

After attending his second IRONMAN event at the World Championships in Kona, Fraleigh began to realize it was more than an event.  “These athletes pushed their bodies through their weaknesses and conquered defeat.  They didn’t allow a hardship to determine who they are.”

Fraleigh realized that everyone has obstacles in their lives.  For some, it is cancer; for others, it may be the loss of a limb, or vision, hearing, or both.  “How we choose to do battle or be defeated is up to us,” he explains.

“What’s your IRONMAN?”

As Fraleigh reflected on his own life, he realized he was afraid to exercise at a high level because of the challenges in his own life.  “I had a heart issue – atrial fibrillation – and an old college neck injury that kept me from working out,” he explains.  “Drinking something cold, I would experience shortness of breath, chest pains, and palpitations.  It was impacting my everyday life.”

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that usually causes poor blood flow to the body. During atrial fibrillation, the heart’s two upper chambers beat irregularly, out of coordination with the two lower chambers of the heart.  Symptoms often include heart palpitations, shortness of breath and weakness.  Atrial fibrillation affects millions of people, mostly men.

After trying to manage his symptoms with medication, Fraleigh realized he needed further intervention.  “Dr. Ramesh Hariharan recommended I have a cardiac ablation to improve my heart rhythm,” he says.  The procedure was successful and after an eight-week break from training he began to prepare for the IRONMAN.

Fraleigh had his ablation procedure in May 2014.  “By November, I completed my first IRONMAN,” he says proudly.  Although it may seem like an individual sport, one thing Fraleigh learned is that he couldn’t have persevered and conquered this obstacle alone.  “It takes a team of people to support you, encourage you, and to keep your body healthy enough to stay the course.”

Life-Changing, Rewarding Experience

“The IRONMAN was an amazing journey that allowed an ordinary person, like myself, do the extraordinary,” he explains, “and I am so glad I did it.  The IRONMAN race helped me make a commitment to have my heart checked out and to become physically active again.  It is during difficult things in life when you learn the most and I learned a lot about myself in this process.”

The journey has not ended.  “The most rewarding part has been watching how my family responded to this new lifestyle commitment,” he notes.  “My family went from being fairly active to achieving amazing accomplishments.  We have become an endurance family.  My wife just completed her first full marathon and is signed up for the half IRONMAN in Galveston.  My son, 17, completed two half marathons in January and my 14-year-old daughter just ran a 5K and joined the track team.”

The IRONMAN experience has been life changing for Fraleigh, physically, mentally and emotionally.  “Special thanks to my family for giving up many weekends as I trained; the awesome therapists, physicians, and Human Performance team from the Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute who kept my body in check; and my TRI Endurance Team who pushed me week after week to get better.  When you have the right people, providing the best support, anything is possible.”

Most of all, he is happy he decided to take control and change his life for the better.  “This is such a motivational experience for yourself, your family and your friends,” he adds. “Now I am excited to train for this year’s Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Texas in The Woodlands.”

What’s your IRONMAN?  What weakness can you turn into greatness?   And who are you going to have beside you to support you, to encourage you, and to enjoy the ride with you?


  1. One has to have that resolve to accomplish what he/she has set for himself/herself. Determination, courage and hard work no matter what…these set some apart.

  2. Wayne,
    This is remarkable, very inspiring. We lost contact but today, 9/11 Someone prodded me to find you.
    I am very proud of what you’ve accomplished, so far, and to think that Kim, Noah and Abigail were there to support you, I am truly proud…actually, no words can describe what I feel when I saw this.
    Always praying for you and the family.
    God bless.
    Fr. Hermes

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