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No Journey is Impossible

July 14, 2015 2 Comments

IMG_0796“Nothing is impossible; the word itself says ‘I’m possible’! – Audrey Hepburn.

I am amazed at the human body. Its many shapes; its many sizes; what it can do; what it can endure; what it can survive. I am more impressed and amazed though by the strength and resolve of the human spirit. I see it all the time not just on TV or through the clients I have the privilege of working with. I see it at the physical events that I either participate or attend, everything from the artificial limbs on a participant to the 80+ year old who just crossed the finish line. Age is never an excuse to do whatever it is you want. If you use that as an excuse then that is the choice you make. Don’t ever pass judgement on those who make no excuse for anything and label them as crazy because you simply don’t understand. I was just recently very guilty of making that same mistake and I want to share with you how humbled I am currently involving this story I’m about to share with you.

Enter The Iron Cowboy

A few weeks ago I was introduced to this story of a gentleman who was embarking on what seems like a seemingly impossible journey. His name is James Lawrence, or better known as the Iron Cowboy. Mr. Lawrence is a triathlete who already holds two Guinness World Records: 1) the most half triathlons in one year – 70.3 (22 in 30 weeks); 2) the most full triathlons in one year – 140.6 (30 in one year). At that time, he was told neither of those two goals was attainable. He proved them wrong. His next and current goal is to do 50 full triathlons (a full triathlon is a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run) in 50 days in all 50 states. Why? For the glory and notoriety? Nope! To prove that he’s the best in the world at his craft? Not even close. He wants to create a grass roots effort and awareness for childhood obesity the best way he knows how – demonstrating a new precedence of what the mind and body is capable of.


My initial reaction was like most I’m sure – “He’s crazy!” What in the world? Who thinks or comes up with stuff like that? I mean really! Now mind you, other than the fact that I’ve seen triathlons take place (my wife and a client regularly compete), I’ve never participated in one. I’ve ridden the bike for over 100 miles in a single day and I’ve run two marathons but never together or consecutively. I respect the sport and those who compete in it. I know and appreciate the components of the physical training and the importance of proper nutritional fueling and recovery so this just sounded so absurd to me. Then, something happened. As I stated previously, I’m constantly amazed at the stories of the human spirit and I started to think that perhaps this particular story was something special. I began to follow his daily updates on line via his blog and Facebook page. I was following daily snapshots of when he would start his swim, when he began the bike ride, and when he started to run, etc. There were the notes about how he was doing, comments from his coach, data on his times and paces in all three disciplines. Then of course there were the stories from whatever state he was in: the people who came out (he runs a 5K as part of the 26.2 with anyone willing to come out and run with him); the famous people he encountered (swam with 12 time Olympic medalist Jenny Thompson in Maine); the individuals who either did a portion of the race with him (some have run the full marathon with him) to the guy who did the complete full triathlon with James as his first ever! I get exhausted just thinking about it but I’ve gone from thinking he’s crazy to fully supporting the guy and wanting him to see it all the way through.

A Small Stop in PA

I was fortunate enough that his visit to Pennsylvania, Day #37 which was Sunday, July 12th, was little more than an hour and a half away. I had to see this guy so we took a little road trip. The Iron Cowboy looked like a man that has been swimming, biking, and running for quite some time (kind of like Forrest Gump when he decided to start runnang) but showed no signs of quitting. He was charming, humble, and happy to talk about his journey thus far, what it means to him, and how much he loved the support he’s seen to this point. I still can’t explain how or what I’m thinking. I no longer think he’s crazy but I don’t have any other words to describe him either. The Iron Cowboy exemplifies everything I preach about setting goals, taking the action steps one step at a time to achieve them, and not have a care what others say or think. He’s taken it to another level. His family is with him throughout the entire journey (his wife and five children – the real reason he is embarking on this journey). He has a full support staff made possible by the sponsors he now has and donations that he hopes to have accumulated to 1 million dollars by the time he finishes July 25th in his home state of Utah! As I write this I still can’t believe it other than I want to see him through it all the way.

A Take Home Message

“Change is hard, but hard things come with incredible rewards.” – James Lawrence. The Iron Cowboy’s challenge to everyone is not to complete full triathlons. It’s to change the way we eat; change our activity level; change our lifestyles to one that promotes health and vitality not just for this generation but for the ones that come after us.  The “professional” athlete of today is idolized like a beacon of hope for aspiring athletes to follow when in reality, most are over-payed, over-hyped, spoiled brats who are more interested in their own wealth than anything else. Now, that’s not to label all professional athletes that way or take away what some have been able to accomplish. Some of them have also overcome incredible odds. But what the world needs are not necessarily role models, but leaders who lead by their actions, whether the whole world knows who they are or not. I introduce to you the Iron Cowboy!

“First and foremost my motto is “No goal too big”, so really go after it! The biggest thing is to not listen to all the negative people out there. To be honest, if they’re being discouraging they’re just jealous that you’re doing something that makes you happy. Don’t seek the approval of others; just go after it. I love seeing people push their limits and shoot for what others think is impossible.”

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better

At time of this publication, the Iron Cowboy will be in Day#40, just 10 more days until he hits 50. If you’d like to donate to his cause, simply click the following link.


About the Author:

Jeff Harrison is a fitness coach based in Pottstown, PA. He received a BS in Exercise and Sport Science from Penn State University and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), NSCA Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) and ACE Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist (ACE-AHFS). Jeff's articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals as well as consumer oriented websites and magazines.

Comments (2)

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  1. Lori P. says:

    No journey is impossible !! Amen to that.

  2. Elaine M. says:

    OMG – loved loved loved this article!! Could relate to it on so many levels!

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