Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sean Swarner

There are seven continents on the planet. Each and everyone has a mountain range that hold the honor of being the highest point of that that continent!

They are as follows:
Asia - Mt. Everest - 29, 035 feet
Africa - Kilimanjaro - 19,340 feet
Europe - Mt. Elbures - 18,422 feet
South America - Aconcagua - 22,842 feet
Australia - Mt. Kosciusko - 7,310 feet
Antarctica -Mt. Vinson - 16,067 feet
North America - Mt. McKinley - 20, 320 feet

Sean Swarner has been to the top of all of them. The amazing part is that he is a 2 time cancer survivor and is the first and only survivor to make it to the top of Mt. Everest. By the way he only has one lung!

While in the 8th grade he was diagnosed with 4th grade Hodgkins Lymphoma and was told that he only had six months to live. Within a year his cancer was in remission and follow up test were all negative.

Then in May of 1990, 20 months into remission, doctors found a tumor next to his right lung. The tumor was an aggressive form of cancer called Askins Sarcoma that was unrelated to his early fight. He was only given two weeks to live.

Again he survived! The removal of the tumor and the treatment that followed left him with only one functioning lung and one goal in life.

In an interview with a Denver newspaper, Swarner stated “My goal is to hopefully inspire others to motivate themselves,". To do this he set out on a mission to stand on top of the Seven highest peaks on the planet!

On June 19th 2007 he completed this goal on the Top of Mt. McKinley! At that time he dug a hole and buried a banner bearing the names of 300 people who had been effected by cancer. He stated that they carried him to the top. Not the other way around!

He has said that “The human body can live for 30 days without food, the human condition can sustain itself for 3 days without water but no human alive can survive more than 30 seconds with out hope”.

His story is more complex and detailed then I can possible write in a bog. There are a lot of videos on youtube about his story so check them out. It is worth the time.

I saw a special report last year on ESPN’s “Out Side the Lines” about Sean (also on you tube).

The reason I am bring this up is that on Saturday 10/11/08 he completed the Hawaii Ironman!

I am perfectly healthy. Never had cancer or any other major illness and there is no reason for me to ever miss a workout, when there are people like Sean can accomplish so much with nothing but their will to do so!

Do you have an excuse?

Train hard!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ironman Anyone?

It is not a comic book or a major motion picture! Hawaii is our spots Mecca and The Hawaii Ironman World Championship is our Super Bowl!

This race will be held on the “Big Island” of Kona, Hawaii this Saturday October 11th.

You can log on to and track the race as it is happening or wait and watch latter this fall when NBC will air its telecast.

If you have never seen it before then get some tissue and get ready for a great show. NBC has won Emmy Awards in the past for this production and is well worth the time to watch. You will cry and get motivated! If you don’t then you simply do not have a soul!

A friend of mine watched it 5 years ago and decided that he did not have time to train for something like that but he did start running and has completed several 10ks, ½ and full marathons. He gives credit to the telecast.

My favorite Ironman moments:

In 1995 Mark Allen, one of the greatest athletes of all time, said in a pre-race interview that he thought something amazing was going to happen. He did not know if it was going to involve him but he just felt that this was going to be a race to remember.

Was it ever…

A German rookie named Thomas Hellriegel destroyed the bike course record and had a 13 minute lead over Allen, who was in 5th off the bike.

Some how Allen picked off the 4 athletes in front of him one by one until he passed Hellriegel at mile 16 and won his 6th Ironman World Championship in 7 years!

How did he do that?

In the women’s race that same year Paula Newby-Fraser and Karen Smyers reminded us of what character is all about. Newby-Fraser had won the last 4 races in Hawaii and had an 11 minute lead off the bike but Smyers ran the second-fastest marathon time ever in the women's race and passed Newby-Fraser less then 500 yards from the finish.

Newby-Fraser had hit the wall and sat down for over 20 minutes before she could finish. 20 minutes out of it and she still finished 3rd! Hard to say who had the better race.

How did they do that?

That same year a 34 year old from Australia named John Maclean became the 1st wheelchair athlete to complete the course but was not an official finisher because he missed the cut off time. I have always remembered something the commentator said about Maclean’s effort. They showed Maclean pushing himself up a steep hill, wincing in pain and the commentator said:

“The pain will not last for ever but for those who bear witness the memory of accomplishment always will.”

That has always stuck with me and I think about it every time I am going up a hill.

A few years later Maclean finished an Ironman distance race well inside the allotted time! That is 140 miles using nothing but your arms!

How did he do that?

I know that this is dragging on and I swear that this is the last one for now.

In 1996 a Belgian named Luc Van Lierde became the 1st European to win the Ironman. He was a rookie that no one had really heard of. He received a 2-minute drafting penalty on the bike but managed to come catch and pass Thomas Hellriegel and not only win the race but also set a course record in the process! To top it all off he had never run a complete Marathon before that day!

How did he do that?

The answer to all the above questions is simple!

They believed in themselves! That is something we can all learn from.
Happy training!