For the Kids!
Dear Mr. Alexander,
I am writing to you today for two reasons;
First, to Thank You for your recent assistance by providing an autograph on a disk wheel you had previously used for our raffle to benefit The Boys & Girls Club of Kootenai County here in Coeur d’Alene Idaho. I had sent the wheel to Mat Steinmetz in October and you graciously made time to provide your signature even though you were preparing to leave Colorado for Kona. You are a true testament of why kids and aspiring adults look up to professionals as role models and figures of inspiration. When our kids at the local club that serves more than 500 local Coeur d’Alene area youth had heard that the Coeur d’Alene Ironman course record holder lent a hand (and signature) for them they were pretty excited, so Thank You. Currently we are in the process of raffling the wheel by selling tickets on our website at www.ourgreatbigadventure.org if you care to help us spread the word on your facebook page or via twitter I am sure the kids (and us adults) would really appreciate it.
The second reason I am writing is to share my personal journey and how I actually ended up with the wheel in the first place. Hopefully it will inspire others to lend words of encouragement to others like I had received and lend assistance like you have. Often times it’s the little things that help inspire like commenting “keep it up” or just saying “good job” to someone to someone at the gym who is trying to better themselves who may view you as a role model or look up to you like I had.
For the last 4 years I have lived by the motto “What the Mind Believes the Body Achieves” you see, for most of my life I had been an out-of-shape avid golfer (overweight golfer that is). I, like most, knew that I was not in the best of health. But like so many people, I always said to myself tomorrows the day I’m going to start getting in shape and like most, tomorrow never, ever, came. Sometimes life throws you a second chance and little did I know on September 29th of 2008, at the age of 39, I was about to get mine.
For several days I had been feeling like I had had the flu and felt somewhat congested. At the same time I also had what I thought was a muscle strain or cramp in my right calf. On the evening of September 29th I felt dizzy and noticed I was having a hard time catching my breath. Several people have always told me to listen to your body (including my current coach) and this was one time I was really glad I did. I immediately asked my wife to drive me to the hospital. As my wife was driving me to the emergency room and I was struggling to stay conscious all I could think about were my two young children ages 5 & 9 that I had just left at home crying with a friend. This thought is still crystal clear in my memory and will remain with me forever. I often reflect to this moment when I am training for a race or a race isn’t quite going as well as planned. After checking into the hospital, where I remained for the next 6-7 days I was seen by several specialists. After going through a battery of tests, I was diagnosed with having a Pulmonary Embolism that had developed from a clot breaking free in my leg as a result of having a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). The doctors attributed it to inactivity, and said if I hadn’t come into the hospital that evening there was a good chance I could have died in my sleep. I underwent blood thinning therapy for the next 9 months to keep my blood thin while my body could naturally dissolve the clots in my leg and lungs. When I checked into the hospital my weight was at an all time high and I was 6’2 and weighed around 290+ lbs.
After going through about 10 months of therapy and receiving a clean bill of health (but still on blood thinners), I was out in my hometown of Coeur d’Alene watching the 2009 Ford Ironman as I do every year admiring the athletes and their determination. Later that week I bumped into an acquaintance who is now a very good friend (Greg Gervais) who had qualified for Kona and was one of our area’s top local finishers. He had noticed that I had lost a little weight and heard what had happened and, as always, offered positive comments. I told him I was running a bit trying to stay healthy and had just finished a 12k race and jokingly said, “Now that I had ran the 12k race, my kid’s think I’m Superman and want me to do Ironman.” He quickly said without hesitation, “Are you going to do it?” I politely responded, “I wouldn’t even know where to Start!” to which he replied “if you want to do it I will help you”. Needless to say, ten days later I had registered for the 2010 Ford Ironman Coeur d’Alene and didn’t even own a bike! But reflecting back, it was those four words of encouragement “You Should Do It” from a person that helped push me into the comfort zone and I thought to myself “if an athlete like this thinks I can do it then he can’t be wrong”.
I must say and I mean this with unwavering conviction, that aside from my marriage and the birth of my two children, my journey over the next 10 months to complete the 2010 Ford Ironman Coeur d’Alene was THE most rewarding and liberating experience of my life and I couldn’t have done it without the help of my family, friends and supporters from all around the U.S. I will never forget what this opportunity has done for me and what this experience has done for my family, my relationship with my wife, and what a positive influence this opportunity has had on my two young children who have now completed their first Triathlons! More importantly I learned that while completing my journey to a better me, life sometimes gives you an opportunity to help others though your own adventures (as I had been) and that is what makes them all the more fulfilling.
How I ended up with the wheel: What began as an idea one night with a couple friends has turned into just that, an opportunity to help others through adventure. In 2011 I and three other Ironman Athletes decided to go on a bike ride during the summer after we had completed the 2011 Ironman. The one you won and set a course record at by the way. After many lengthy discussions we decided that if we were going to do the ride we should also try to raise money and make it a charity ride to benefit our local boys and girls club. The ride consisted of cycling 500 miles from Coeur d’Alene to Jasper National Park in Alberta Canada. We asked for pledges and through this idea “The Big Bike Adventure” was born. All told in 2011 we rode 500 miles in 4 days, climbed 4 mountain passes and ended up raising over $52,000 for the local kids in our area. This year we decided to go on another “Adventure” assembled a team of ten cyclists one of which owned your wheel. This year’s goal was set a new Guinness World Record category for most miles cycled in 24 hours by a team. To do this we would need to and ride for 24 hours nonstop in a relay fashion around a 1/4 mile car race track and named it the 10:24:625 challenge (10 Cyclists, 24 Hours, 625 Mile Goal). Although we fell short of our 625 mile goal we did end up cycling 610 miles and more importantly raised over $42,000 for the local kids.
My Journey has truly blessed my life in so many ways they are hard to count. The people I have met in this sport are some of the best I have ever had the honor of being associated with. I am a true believer in our youth and that they are our future and am honored to be able to ride in their honor. Had you asked me 5 years ago if I thought I would have completed two full Ironman’s, one half Ironman, ran in countless running races, swam from Alcatraz twice in the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon, been on the podium two times in my age group but most importantly raised almost $100,000 for local kids I would have told you YOUR CRAZY!. But you’re not, It’s all true, so to anyone out there who is thinking of running a race, riding a bike or competing in a race don’t be afraid to take that first step because it’s a great path to walk down or in some cases swim bike and run on!
Thank you for your support & Ride On!!
Ian Martin – Coeur d’Alene Idaho – USA
P.S. If you want a chance to own a piece of history go to www.ourgreatbigadventure.org and buy a raffle ticket. You never know you just may win but regardless of whether you win a wheel or not you will still win by helping a child.