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Turning 40 is a big deal for a lot of people. It was a turning point for Jason Glazier.

“It freaked me out a little bit,” the now 44-year-old Santa Rosa man acknowledged.

His mother had died at age 48 and he realized he was way too heavy for his own health and confidence level. Nearly 270 pounds and in too much pain to run, he couldn’t even bend over to tie his shoes comfortably.

Seeing 40 rapidly approaching, the independent financial adviser wanted to “do something that meant something.”

He got serious about getting fit.

Glazier will put his efforts to the biggest test yet Saturday in the Ironman Santa Rosa, a 2.4-mile swim in Lake Sonoma, followed by a 112-mile bicycle ride into Santa Rosa and a three-loop, 26.2-mile marathon finishing at Courthouse Square.

As he labored on his path to fitness, Glazier spotted a contest last year: “Make Me an Ironman,” sponsored by Beachbody Performance of Santa Monica.

The fitness and nutrition company culled through 2,000 applicants to choose six people to turn into successful endurance athletes.

Glazier won with his story and his upbeat and self-deprecating personality, he suspects.

The contest provided winners with entry into an Ironman race, which is about $800; a Quintana Roo bike, Hoka One running shoes, a Roka wetsuit, Pearl Izumi cycling shoes, Zoot Sports triathlon clothes, a Rudy Project helmet and a Beachbody coach and nutrition supplements.

The “Make Me an Ironman” campaign was designed to make the world’s most challenging race accessible and achievable for everyday athletes.

Glazier already had a local coach, but has enjoyed all the first-class equipment as he ramped up his regimen with an eye on Saturday’s event.

He’s come a long way since age 40, when running seemed almost impossible.

“I couldn’t even run a mile for the longest time,” he said.

But he powered through. He started cycling to build strength and endurance. The pounds started coming off.

He still hated running, but: “One day, I even remember the day, something clicked.”

Instead of stopping when he felt like quitting, he just slowed down.

“I went from three-quarters of a mile to two miles,” he said.

Soon, Glazier ran the Human Race 10K (6.2 miles) in Santa Rosa.

“I thought I was going to die,” he said.

But that day he learned another valuable lesson. He saw a “very, very heavy” girl running.

He thought, “I’m not going to let her beat me; she’s heavy and she’s a girl.” Then she passed him.

He passed her. Back and forth a couple times.

“She beat me,” he said.

“It changed my perspective on what an athlete is. It’s a lot more mental than people give it credit for.”

The year he turned 40, in 2013, he completed the Ukiah Sprint Triathlon. That’s a half-mile swim, 12.4-mile bike race and 3.1-mile run.

He began working his way up through harder competitions like the Giro Bello, where he got cramps about two-thirds of the way through.

“But I survived,” he said.

Then a half-marathon: “That almost killed me.”

Another race that he survived, another that almost killed him.

He set his sights on the Vineman 70.3 in 2015.

He was 42 and firmly had the endurance mentality — shooting for bigger, better races, faster times, fewer errors. But he was still 224 pounds, which at 6-foot-1 was still heavier than he wanted to be. He cut out sugar, processed food and alcohol and became dedicated about tracking his eating and activity.

For the Vineman half-triathlon he checked in at 185. He finished the race in 6 hours and 26 minutes.

“I really wanted to do an Ironman,” he said.

Why, one might ask, when he still hates running and seemingly barely survives after each race he tackles?

He’s looking for that perfect race, one where he gives his all and literally can just barely finish.

Once — or if — he achieves the perfect race, he said he’ll shoot for faster times. He finished this year’s half-tri Vineman 70.3 in 6 hours, 12 minutes and 30 seconds.

His hope is to finish the full Ironman in 12½ hours.

“Less than 10 hours would be huge,” he said.

There is always another goal.

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 707-521-5470 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @loriacarter.

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