A few weeks ago I started to think about what was behind my motivation to do 70.3 for IBD triathlon. There are countless other ways I could spend my time – why this? I stewed on this, reflecting on my first two months of training and looking at all of the training ahead of me. There are probably more reasons than this, but here is what stuck out:
- I want to do something challenging – despite my IBD.
- My friends who complete them are so positive and really enjoy themselves.
- There are many inspirational people in my life that said if I truly focus, I could complete it.
- It can help the IBD community to show that incredible things can still be done.
- If I can inspire just one patient with IBD to fight a little more and do what they love, it will be worth it.
After figuring out why I wanted to do a 70.3 distance triathlon, I thought about how much others have inspired me – not just to live an average or normal life, but to strive for more. It’s partially because of them that I can look the disease in the face and say, “You can’t stop me from finishing the 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run.”
Here are a few of the major inspirations of mine:
Just days before my ostomy surgery in 2010, I was told about a fellow IBDer and ostomate named Rob Hill. He was not only into living a very active life and overcoming his IBD, but also had climbed the 7 summits of the world (the tallest peaks on each of the 7 continents). Rob also runs a charity in Canada called IDEAS. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. At this point, I had talked to a few fellow ostomates but most weren’t into similar activities as me. I wasn’t sure if I would ever climb, ski, or have many of the outdoor adventures that I loved so much again. Over the 4-5 days before my surgery, I watched many of Rob Hill’s YouTube videos on repeat. I immediately began to have a different outlook on life. This surgery wasn’t going to be the end of my life. In fact, it was going to be the beginning of a great new one. I went to the hospital on November 9, 2010 not with a negative mindset but a motivated one, ready to take on whatever came next. Knowing that someone who went through the same surgery could climb the 7 summits taught me that anything is possible if I put my mind to it. It helped me wake up from my ostomy surgery with a positive light shining on me.
IDEAS Website: http://weneedideas.ca/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/weneedideas
Ryan has also been a big inspiration to me as another member of the IBD community. Ryan runs an amazing website that has helped countless IBD patients at www.CrohnsGuy.com. I had the pleasure of meeting Ryan couple of years ago while I was driving back to CT from Chicago. Ryan and I are very similar in that while we know we’ll have down times battling Crohn’s disease, we won’t let them keep us down for long. After a hard day, we wake up the next morning with the motivation to make this day better than the last. It might not be easy but we don’t have a choice other than to fight our Crohn’s. Last summer, Ryan swam almost the entire distance of Lake Erie (24+miles). This would be a tough feat for a healthy person, yet Ryan trained relentlessly and put himself in a position to do something incredible. He didn’t let his IBD keep him from doing something he was passionate about. He set his goal and went after it, despite his Crohn’s disease. I find this incredible inspiring and helped me get to the point I am at right now.
Sally is a close friend of mine. While she doesn’t have IBD, she has been a huge inspiration in my life. A couple of years ago Sally found out she had a brain aneurism, which she named Albert. On Christmas Eve in 2013, Albert was removed during a craniotomy. Since then, Sally has shown the world that nothing will stop her. She’s not only inspired those with brain aneurisms, but many others, including me. Shortly after her surgery she decided to complete an Ironman. I’m sure many people thought it would be a to much after such a life experience, but Sally didn’t waiver from what she had set out to accomplish and she finished the 140.6-mile race in Austria. Like Sally, I’ve been told I am a little crazy to do a half Ironman so soon after such a life changing surgery. They’re worry I’m overcompensating or forgetting I’m not a regular healthy person. But with proper training and attention, I know I can complete the 70.3 miles, even with Crohn’s disease. It doesn’t have to keep me from reaching my goals, just like a brain aneurism didn’t keep Sally from reaching hers.
The list of all the people who’ve inspired me is really endless. But one of my biggest inspirations is the entire IBD community. Over the past few years since I started the Intense Intestines Foundation, I have been blessed by the opportunity to meet countless people battling Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. And each one of you is courageous and has your own incredible story about fighting the diseases. They aren’t easy to deal with, yet we all have a similar goal: to live our lives to the fullest. The details of our goals might be different. They might be to complete a triathlon or to climb the 7 summits of the world, or, at others times, maybe it’s just to get out of bed or find a comfortable position to sit. No matter what the goal, we are all fighting. What inspires me most is all of the fellow IBD patients out there who aren’t giving up and continue to stay positive. Thank you all.