Taking On the Ironman To Celebrate Being Cancer Free

In 2006, I was going for my follow up colonoscopy for follow up to my stage 3 colon cancer.  While in the waiting room, I was thinking about what I was going to do to celebrate my 5-year cancer free date the following year. That was when I saw a Triathlete magazine sitting on the table as if God had placed it there Himself and said, “Here, look at me!!!”

It was in that magazine that I saw pictures of Ironman and I knew that that was going to be my challenge. I had done lots of marathons at that point but never a triathlon before. I didn’t even own a bike! I knew that I had a lot to do as far as research goes but I also knew that I could pull this off with some help and a lot of hard work.

My colonoscopy went fine and I started doing the research. Madison, Wisconsin was going to be the place the following September and I was off.

I got a coach, a bike, a wetsuit, and I started watching every video on Ironman available. The other thing that I had going on was even bigger than Ironman. I knew that God had put Amy in my life for a reason and I didn’t want to wait any longer. I proposed to Amy that January and we set a wedding date for July 28, 2007. So not only did I have Ironman training going on, I also had a wedding to plan with her. To say this was going to be my best summer ever was an understatement!

Training was going great and I couldn’t wait for both the wedding to get here and for Ironman. The wedding went off without a hitch and I was now married to the most beautiful woman ever! I took a few weeks off from training for our honeymoon and then kicked it back into high gear for the final push for September’s race.

Being someone that does marathons without much speed or athletic ability is not always easy. Now I had entered into a sport filled with elite athletes and I was scraping the bottom rung of this ladder. Somehow, I made it to the starting line though.

All throughout the training, I kept thinking of the road that I had traveled to get here: Here I was in 2007 after getting diagnosed with stage 3-colon cancer in 2001; surgery, chemotherapy, lots of tears, and long days were all part of the package. I also attended a lot of funerals. See, I was put in a group of other young people that had stage 3-colon cancer and I was the only one left.

I have lost a lot of people that I know and care about to cancer. That was one of the reasons I chose the Ironman. I wanted to honor them and celebrate my 5 years cancer free with something big. Five years later I would celebrate my 10 years cancer free with my 20th marathon but that is an entirely different story.

Anyways, race day was finally here and it was everything I had hoped it would be. I saw Amy throughout the day and was able to have my wedding ring on for the run portion of Ironman so it would show up in my pictures. I know it’s cheesy but it was important to me.

The last 10 minutes of Ironman were just about the coolest 10 minutes ever. When you are a really slow triathlete like me, it’s pretty late in the day when the finish time comes around. I was around the 16-hour mark so I knew I was going to finish under the 17-hour time cut off. I saw the lights at the finish area and knew this was it. I thought about all the people that helped me get to this point. The list was long but some of the people that stood out were my coach Meredith, Mark at Runners High, Jaime at Bodywerks, so many friends at the Niles CARA running group, and countless friends and family.

The one that really stands out here though is my wife Amy. The support that she gave me, and continues to give me to this day, is unreal! To say she is AMAZING doesn’t do that word justice. I can’t thank her enough.

Hugging Amy after crossing that finish line was a feeling I will never forget. Of course I hope to repeat it in September 2014 when I will tackle Ironman Wisconsin once again.

IM finish

I want to thank God for the journey that He has put me on. I am beyond blessed! I will give all the glory to Him because without Him, I accomplish nothing. I hope to honor all the cancer patients who aren’t able to do any of these things. I am never going to win a race but I sure will try to give glory to God and honor cancer patients by doing these crazy events. I may be slow but I will keep moving forward because forward is a pace.

God didn’t bless me with much athletic ability but He gave me some great challenges to showcase His glory and to show that nothing is impossible when you lean on Him.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

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