sherpa to future ironman engagement couple happy

Sherpa to Future Ironman: Karla's Story

Hi world,

My name is Karla Forney, soon to be Karla Broughton, this coming June! I am the mom of a very crazy five year old boy, he is amazing and very active! Almost two years ago I met my fiancé, Jimmy. He is a very active person and loves working out. Things like swimming, running, and biking. He also loves rocking climbing, don’t get me wrong I love rock climbing too, but not like this guy! I didn’t grow up in any sports like him. I was a theater nerd all four years of high school, I loved it. That was my thing. We couldn’t be more opposite when it came to sports.

Jimmy started doing Ironman races before my son and I came in the picture. He warned me that he works out a lot and he can’t be with someone that doesn’t understand that. I told him “Of course, I understand…” I really didn’t though. I thought, "Why would anyone put their body through so much pain and suffering like that?". It’s dumb, but that was HIS thing. I was sad that he was always gone training but I tried not to let that show. Little did I know he wasn’t training enough. He was trying to spend as much time with us as he could and still get some training in. That was before the first Half Ironman I went to, Oceanside California 2016. He made it look so easy. Then he did Ironman Arizona November 2016 and I just couldn’t believe what I saw, I mean it's 140.6 miles total in one day! These people are freaking crazy! Props to them for doing it, I kept saying "You won’t see me out there!". I started feeling like a slob because here I am dating an amazing active guy that does these crazy triathlons, is healthy and fit. I’m over here eating chips and salsa with a side of popcorn. I started eating better, not as good as I wanted to but I was trying.

A month before Ironman Arizona in 2016 we were sitting at the dinner table with Jimmy and his family. He looks over at his sister and told her “Smile Train just opened up slots for the Chicago marathon, you want to race with me?” She said “yes!” He knew it was something on her bucket list and that was that. He didn’t even ask if I wanted to do it, so I looked at him and asked “What, you don’t think I can do it?” He said “No, I just didn’t think you would want to do it and you’re not athletic.” I took that as a challenge and signed up that night. The next day I was like what the hell did I do?! The year went on and the next Half Ironman in Oceanside was coming up. The coming year would be fun, I had a race on the books and Jimmy had a few races as well.

I thought this year would be awesome because my son will be there to cheer him on! He loved it, I loved it! I was starting to get the hang of being his Sherpa! Next was Ironman Boulder in June 2017. After each Ironman I watched him complete, there was this huge sweep of different emotions that came over me. Worried that he is going to be in a lot of pain and mad he didn’t finish sooner (because I get so exhausted...hahaha, like I should be complaining!). So much more in love, because he has this stubborn part of him that will not give up and drive and passion in him. Boulder, Colorado was tough on him. I guess because of the altitude. He felt like he was losing muscle drive due to the lack of oxygen he was getting into his body. By this time I had two half’s and two full Ironman races under my Sherpa belt.

The day after IM Boulder he and his best friend Scott took me hiking, claiming they needed to “stretch their legs so they don’t get any cramps”. I thought it was weird but maybe they really needed it. We are hiking up this steep, I mean steep hill, and we FINALLY get to the top where his parents were waiting. He said “Pick a view so we can take a picture, with the background of your choice.” He then got down on one knee and proposed on the top of the mountain! I couldn’t stop crying. Best month in a long time!

October came around and it was time for my marathon. I was so worried because my training really sucked. I did okay with my fundraising, raising money for an amazing charity called Smile Train, a non-profit charity that provides surgeries for kids with cleft lip and/or cleft palates. I love kids, this amazing charity and what they do for kids that can’t afford this life saving surgery. Some infants sadly don’t make it because they can’t eat properly or are just thrown out. A lot of kids can’t even go to school or get jobs when they get older because of the way they look. This world can be hard and mean, so I feel like this is my part of helping the world to be a better place. I did my marathon and actually finished, 5 hours and 40 minutes. I got to mile marker 12 and I was done, but I kept moving and telling myself the next mile I’m done I’m going to sit down. I never stopped except to go pee, I just kept going. After a few more miles I just couldn’t stop crying and was screaming in my head "How much more do I have in me? Am I able to finish this??”. But I did and I was so happy and proud of myself to be done and for not giving up.

family triathlon smile race charity

In November 2017, Jimmy and I decided to volunteer and help out at Ironman Arizona. We took a good friend of ours to help and to hopefully get her signed up for next year. I ended up feeling myself wanting to be out there. Passing out water and asking if they needed Vaseline for their butt chafing. Knowing it happens, I was joking with them and was really hoping to put smiles on their faces and give them that little boost for the last bit of the race. It was a great day and my son LOVED passing out the water as well. Every time an athlete took his cup he jumped up with joy and did a little dance singing “Yeah he took my cup, he took my cup!!” The environment at Ironman AZ is amazing. You cheer for some complete strangers and they thank you for being there, because hearing that cheering helps them keep going!

Three days after Ironman Arizona I was still thinking about it. One night Jimmy and I were laying in bed talking and I jokingly said, “I signed up for Ironman Arizona in 2018.” He jumped up and asked if I really did it. I said, “No I’m just kidding.” He was so upset that it was a joke. I wanted to sign up but didn’t know what he would say. We talked about it a little more and he told me, "You know how amazing it would be if you do this? I completely support this act!” So within the hour I was signing up for my very first Ironman!! I told him the other day that I had a goal for my race. He was very interested and asked what it was. I told him, “It might be a silly goal, but I want to beat your time!” He told me it was a very good goal. He is super excited for me which makes me pumped and want to do it even more. To make him even more proud, along with all my family and friends. I am so excited to start this hard and crazy journey. And of course beat Jimmy’s time!! ;-D

If you would like to help put smiles on kids all around the world you can donate here.

Written by Karla Forney

Follow Karla's journey on Instagram @lovebug7712 

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Amazing journey! Thank you for sharing Karla! Go get that goal girl…you have your man behind you in this!

Hamidah Buang

Thank you so much for posting my story on your blog!!

Karla Forney

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