Nope. He rocked. He rolled. He lived, lives.
Big sigh: why? Why trash your body, perhaps do it irreparable harm eventually? James already had an audience after setting a world record, by finishing 30 of these swimming-cycling-running feats in a single year. So what was the deal?
He says the deal was “...to find my mental, physical limits...” and to help raise awareness of child obesity. Certainly his bodacious, beautiful, body advertises athleticism, and would awe the small fry, but just so you know kids, a healthy body and mind can come from running around and spending way less time in front of the TV or computer. You don’t literally have to follow in his footsteps!
Now the goal of reducing the percentage of fat kids in our midst is laudable, but everyone should be aware of childhood obesity already, at least in the USA. There, as of 2012, 18% of kids between 6 and 11 were deemed obese.
And that number rose from 7% in 1980, so obviously obesity amongst children is rising. Strategies to combat or curtail this trend have basically failed to date.
So, of late, Lawrence tied on the shoes, tugged on the shorts, underwent 8-to-11 hour training sessions, figured out the travelling logistics, and carted around a chiropractor and masseuse – to keep him keeping on for this mammoth marathon of marathons.
The Iron Cowboy, that’s his nickname, stressed that another reason for his tortuous trek was to set a good example for his son and four daughters. His kids (there for the whole journey) judging by their excitement at Dad finishing up in Utah, were excited, not intimidated, but might not other youngsters feel daunted? They might feel they’ll never be able to measure up to James’s stratospheric standards...
James Lawrence may have an answer for that. When not being a family man, or competing (against himself, for he’s in a league of his own) like a madman, culminating in this mind-boggling 50 days of 5,600 miles cycled, 120 miles swum, and 1,310 miles ran, he coaches and gives motivational talks.
James does rest, though. Here’s evidence. Here’s a 16 second video of him sleeping, after he got some blood work done.
And he does have a dynamic wife. Sunny Lawrence is his inspiration and main supporter. She has studied psychology – and that may help her put James’s goals and life - in a proper light.
Lawrence, throughout his ordeal, was basically on track, though she’ll admit he’d get occasionally discouraged during his training preparation. But once his journey began officially, he’d not only perform, but he’d chat with the press, like when he brought his road show through Kansas. It was his 10th stop on his: 50.50.50 challenge. He explained how he was doing.
You know what the hardest part was?
Working out the travelling schedule.
And the biggest factor to consider? Knowing it would take YEARS of preparation.
Keys to success: “...work...focus...commitment...”
Aftermath, as of September 15th, “...he’s out of shape...suffering from body dysmorphia.”
Lawrence is a straight shooter. He’s not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes...
But for him, ultimately, he pulled it all together, at home in Utah, on a sunny July 25th to robust cheers from the crowd and to heartfelt hugs from his family, when he crossed the finish line.
Each Ironman segment, before finish lines, presented problems. In Illinois, his hammertoe condition gave him a very painful blister. Off came the toenail. At Santa Cruz, he had his first swim in an ocean. The ocean was, for an ocean, fairly balmy - at 60 degrees, but that’s colder than your average lake. Worse yet, the showers after the swim were unheated! Off came body warmth.
Yeah, how much sleep did he get between these 14+ hour events? Not always enough. He fell asleep riding his bike in the Tennessee race and smacked asphalt. (In Nevada, he had four flat tires.)
But basically, through the first five expeditions, for example, the most sleep he had, between events – was five hours. Geez, that’s not enough sleepy time for most of us, and that’s after just a normal day’s exertion. This complete, ultra-endurance athlete had to rest off 140.6 sweaty miles per day. Somehow James survived, and revived, to arrive the next day to finish yet another Ironman, on around five hours of sleep. So hard to believe. But it’s true.
James Lawrence truly did prevail. His fastest time was in his last race in Utah! But, again, we “normal” folks and families need not literally follow his example. He’d be ok with that. But he’d be more than ok if we lent our support to the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, which partnered with Lawrence, to fight child obesity by teaching kids “positive eating habits that will last a lifetime.” (And we parents should also look in the mirror, not to compare ourselves to this gritty guy, but to honestly appraise ourselves: a recent study shows that 78% of us with obese kids considered our offspring as being “about right in weight?”)
Let’s take the blinders off. Let’s not look through rose-colored glasses. Let’s make Lawrence’s colossal cross-country course last, mean something. Let us take our own steps to stem the tide of increasing youth obesity, so kids DO live as long as their parents. (If things don’t change, in the States, they might not.)
That’s a tide the Iron Cowboy would gladly swim through again and again.