I am fortunate to have befriended some of the most amazing human beings on the planet. James Lawrence (aka., the "Iron Cowboy") may be THE MOST inspiring person that I know. Born and raised in Calgary (now living in Linden, Utah), this father of five is doing something that nobody in the world has ever attempted before ... 50 full distance Ironman triathlons, in 50 consecutive days, in 50 different states! Keep in mind a full distance Ironman triathlon consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run (a total of 7,030 miles that he will physically travel in 50 consecutive days). SERIOUSLY!!
But, he could use the support and help of fellow Calgarians as he is embarking on an epic journey for an amazing cause ... one that is near and dear to his heart.
In the spirit of accomplished Canadian athletes who have traveled great distances for a cause, like Rick Hansen's "Man in Motion" tour and Terry Fox and his run for Cancer research, he is doing this to put a spotlight on the growing epidemic of childhood obesity. In partnership with the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation his goal is to raise $1 million in funds towards the fight against the obesity crisis.
Today marks the completion of the 24th consecutive full distance Ironman triathlon in Mooresville, North Carolina (a total distance of 3,374.4 miles) and his body is not cooperating as well as he would like ... he's in a lot of pain. I have been following him on social media and his posts are honest, brutal and infinitely inspiring!
As I am getting to know the Iron Cowboy more over the past few months the poem, "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley, comes to mind:
INVICTUS - By William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
So ... why am I introducing you all to the Iron Cowboy?
When I first met James a few months ago, at an event my company hosted in New York (where he was one of the special guest speakers) I had no idea who he was, what he did, why he would be attending an Internet marketing and business development conference ... or that meeting him would completely CHANGE the way I view life's little challenges.
When he got up on stage and spoke, I immediately connected to his mission to bringing focus and awareness to the growing global epidemic of childhood obesity. Ten years ago I chose the same mission by building an active gaming fitness company with my partners in Denver, CO (but that is a WHOLE other story). Video games, where your body is the human game controller, was our way of getting kids active and proactively reducing the risk of obesity. This man has chosen to put himself under a microscope and place a focus on food and nutrition (in addition to exercise) in this 50 day adventure that begins in Hawaii and ends back with his family and friends in Utah (June 6 to July 25, 2015).
James is no stranger to doing the "unthinkable" and raising millions of dollars for great humanitarian causes (Tri and Give a Dam). In fact, he has earned two spots in the Guinness Book of World Records for triathlon:
- The most long-course races in a year (22 in 30 weeks in 2010)
- The most ultra-distance triathlons in a year (30 in 2012)
Needless to say this man is an inspiration to everyone that knows him ... including me.
The last 14 days have been the toughest ones I've faced in a long time (self-inflicted, of course). I made the conscious decision to throw my hat into the ring for the role of the East Village Resident Ambassador. Whatever free time I've had (outside of work and other responsibilities) I've put into developing an entire social media campaign and brand presence from ground zero (developing the "sixfootcanasian" brand, setting up Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, researching the community and development group, attending events and taking LOTS of pictures and video, posting/tweeting/pinning every day, designing posting and launching a website ... and trying to get social media attention though my consistent efforts). I've been living off of four hours of sleep a night and I'm tired, bitchy, cranky, have very little patience ... and am ready to just be done with this and come up for air.
Whenever I was feeling sorry for myself and losing confidence in what I was doing I would end up coming across a post from the Iron Cowboy and realize what a total WUSS I was being!! This guy, in addition to completing the distance from Airdrie to Red Deer and back every day, has also had to deal with:
- Severe lack of sleep (he's swimming, cycling or running the majority of the daylight hours ... and into the evening)
- Pain in most major joints and muscles in his body
- Swollen feet
- A bike accident (and tumble)
- Crazy storms and torrential rain
- Being away from his wife and kids
When the Iron Cowboy says he's going to do something (regardless of what anyone else may say to discourage him) ... he does it. He lives his life for his kids and their future ... where each day begins with unlimited opportunities and ends knowing no regrets.
Half way there, Iron Cowboy! Your Canadian hometown crowd is cheering you on!
(This post was originally published on www.sixfootcanasian.com on June 30, 2015)