A full time engineer in Tyler, the work never seems to end for 29 year old Clay Emge. It's 40 hours in the office. Another 25 to 30 hours of training. It's running, cycling or in the pool.
"Realizing that you're pushing yourself to places you've never been before," said Emge. "If you're up to the challenge, then pain's okay."
His not a super hero, but he is an Ironman.
Emge recently returned from Hawaii where he competed in the World Championship Ironman Triathlon.
Against the very best in the sport, the Tyler native completed the triathlon in 8 hours, 47 minutes and 36 seconds. It was the fastest time in the 25 to 29 year old age group, 27th overall in the world competition.
"He's humble and he down plays it but it's a massive accomplishment," said Emge's training partner Seth Cooke. "First in the world in your age group is a big deal."
"It was surreal," said Emge. "I didn't expect it."
Emge really didn't expect to lose his watch in the opening swim. What could have ruined his race, only made him stronger.
"I had supporters, family and friends giving me updates," said Emge. "I could have panicked I could have let it get to me but I just said I'm going to race my race and let's see what happens. I think it may have been a good thing. Instead of going by pace you're going by feel."
Emge celebrated with Cooke and his family in Hawaii. Thursday night he celebrated in Tyler. Emge and Cooke were honored by the YMCA. Both qualified for the Ironman thanks to hours of hard work in the YMCA pool.
"We come here every morning," said Emge. "This is the first place I see every morning. I come to the YMCA and swim. I've got to know the people here and I think it's neat that there doing this for us to honor us."
"This has been years of work to get here," said Cooke. "The support we have received from the community and the YMCA really means a lot."