On a warm, sunny Sunday, earlier this month, Highspire Police officer Ron Weber competed in his first triathlon on City Island.
He finished ninth in his age group.
Most athletes would be satisfied with that. Not Weber.
“I made a lot of mistakes my first time,” he said. “Next time I will do better.”
It took Weber an hour and 20 minutes to swim a mile in the Susquehanna River, bike 14 miles over the Market Street Bridge and through Harrisburg, and run 3 miles to the finish line.
The real accomplishment is that Weber competed at all. Three years ago he was pain-stricken after a knee injury he sustained while on duty as a police officer.
Oct. 3, 2008, started out like any other day for Weber, a 12-year veteran of the Highspire Police Department. Then a call came over the radio — medical help was needed at the McDonald’s on
W. Harrisburg Pike. A woman there had collapsed and appeared to be unconscious.
The restaurant was just across the borough line in Lower Swatara Twp., but Weber was only minutes away with an automated external defibrillator. Weber, a certified emergency medical technician since 1993, arrived at the scene and attached the AED machine to Yvonne Barnes. He was about to shock Barnes when he realized he was kneeling in a puddle. Barnes had knocked over her food and drink when she fell.
“I jumped off the floor and caught my duty belt on the edge of a table, and didn’t think about it, I was just concerned for the victim,” Weber said.
The sudden movement was too much for his knee, which required surgery.
Since 2008, Weber has had four knee operations and had his kneecap replaced.
The injury kept him off duty, and the inactivity resulted in substantial weight gain.
“I weighed 280 when the injury happened back in 2008,” said Weber.
When he reached 307 pounds, he said he knew he needed to do something.
“I knew that I needed to lose weight for health reasons, and for the knee replacement,” he said.
Motivation drove him.
The goal: To get back to being on patrol as a police officer, he said.
“I wanted to do everything I could to come back to work and so I started changing my diet and eating healthy,” he said.
Exercise wasn’t Weber’s favorite activity in the past, but he began riding a bike about 10 miles a few times a week.
“Bike riding is easy on my knee, no impact there, and it felt nice to ride,” said Weber.
The weight started dropping for Weber who is down to about 140 pounds, he said.
As he became more active, he started to enjoy riding and swimming and decided to challenge himself by competing in the triathlon.
“So I took on the challenge and started training between 15-20 hours a week,” Weber said.
Weber’s goal is to compete in the Iron Man competition in the Poconos in October.
The competition includes a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run.
“I have always wanted to do the Iron Man, and now I plan to try it,” he said.
Taking notes and tips from his first triathlon, Weber feels that he will do better during the Iron Man. To prepare for the competition, Weber is swimming 6-8 miles a week, cycling 200-260 miles, and running 25-30 miles a week, he said.
Back on duty
Weber has his final doctor’s appointment in a few weeks where expects he will be cleared to return to the police department full time in August.
“I love my job and community I work for and the people I work with,” he said. “I plan to be here in Highspire a long time.”