Hines Ward set to tackle Ironman Triathlon

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PITTSBURGH —

Former Steeler Hines Ward is taking on a brand-new challenge, one that will test his ability like nothing before.

Ward will compete in his first Ironman Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii on Saturday.

"To me it's been life changing," he told Channel 11's Gordon Loesch.

The two recently met on the North Hills High School track.

For the last eight months, Hines has been swimming, biking and running nearly every day.

He now puts in 20 hours a week.

"I had muscles on my body like I never thought I had before. They were hurting, aching," he said.

After being Super Bowl MVP and working as an NFL analyst for NBC Sports, Ward is now on a mission to become an Ironman.

"I was naive when I signed up for it," he admitted.

Ward will have to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 and then run a full 26.2 mile marathon in the heat and wind of Kona.

And he'll have to do it all under 17 hours.

"I got on the scale one day. I was 230 pounds. I was like, what the world?" he said.

He's lost nearly 40 pounds during his training and said he is in the best shape of his life.

Ward has done three shorter triathlons as part of his training, an experience that has been humbling.

"This 76-year-old woman passed me and my pride kicked in. I got out of form and tried to keep up with her, but that was her pace. She ran me out of my form until I was gassed," he said.

The 37-year-old admits he is nervous, worried if he'll have the strength to cross the finish line after racing for 140 miles, but Ward is a man who knows how to dig deep.

"It would be discouraging if I can't make the finish line. The will that I've always had, of never quitting. I think the mental aspect of it, that's going to help me persevere, somehow, someway," he said.

Hines is doing the Ironman as part of a promotional campaign for chocolate milk. Footage of him competing used in Channel 11's video report was documented by "Got Chocolate Milk."

The Ironman World Championship is on Saturday.

You can follow his progress online at the Ironman website.