It’s been just over 4 months since completing the Ironman in Hawaii. Coming down from two of the most special weeks of my life could be a recipe for disaster, but fortunately I had a number of strategies on hand to keep me distracted while I recovered and set the next batch of goals.

The acknowledgment and congratulations from everyone helped ease the return to normal and the Kona celebration on November 8th was amazing. Thanks again to Corinne, Pete and Sabrina for organizing the night and to everyone who hauled ass to Oakville or sent me their congratulations.

It took me a couple of months to start feeling like myself again, and three full months for my bicep tendons to stop screaming at me, but I’m happy to report that the stress of racing Kona didn’t result in a permanent injury.

Back home from Hawaii to start my recovery, I now had over 20+ hours of ‘free time’ every week.  This is a mixed blessing. Knowing I can commit to some new challenges is exciting. The challenge is to not bite off more than I can chew. When I’m feeling well, I tend to forget that my first job is always going to be dealing with the shitty realities of a spinal cord injury. The mistake I keep making though, is taking on too many things when I’m feeling good. Commitments that when they ramp up and become stressful, ignite my neuropathic pain and make even the simplest tasks, like sleeping, extremely difficult. The less my life is simple and balanced, the greater the odds and degrees of pain I experience. It’s a real bitch, especially when I love the thrill and challenge of something complex and extremely demanding.

My internal dialogue that debates the merit of accepting new goals typically ends with my type A Personality delivering the knockout punch. After some back and forth, invariably the last thought goes something like... “Fuck it!  You’re 46 and have the potential to do some worthwhile shit… get busy and figure out the pain later.” Perhaps I need to include Sabrina more often in these dialogues.

Whenever I commit to doing something I put a lot of pressure on myself to follow through, and do it as well as I can. There’s no doubt I shouldn’t be quite so serious about everything, but because this approach has served me well all my life, it’s a tough thing to change.

Here are a few things that I’ve put on my plate for 2017. I’ll blog about the highlights throughout the year.

First off, even if I’m not doing a full Ironman this year, I learned over the last few years that if I don’t stay fit, my body seizes up and I feel like shit. So, in an effort to dial things back a little, I’ve decided to focus on racing two Olympic distance triathlons and potentially a Half Ironman in September. An Olympic distance triathlon (1.5k swim / 40 bike / 10 run) is the first triathlon distance I ever raced, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how much I’ve improved since 2010, and also being able to race with fellow LPC athletes and a few close friends who are taking up tri. The bonus is that I should be able to get by with around 10 hours of training a week, and I should be able to participate in a couple of handcycle races this year as well.

 Wasaga Olympic Triathlon, September 2010. My first tri!  Not sure if I 'rocked the chair', but I certainly had fun chasing down Peter Carson on the run.

Wasaga Olympic Triathlon, September 2010. My first tri!  Not sure if I 'rocked the chair', but I certainly had fun chasing down Peter Carson on the run.

The second thing I’ve committed to working on, is growing my motivational speaking career. I’m always happy to share my story in the hopes that I can inspire someone to get outside and use whatever abilities they have, and if I can bring in some income in the process, it’s a win-win. This past Fall I spent an afternoon with students from the Chiropractic College, and more recently I enjoyed connecting with some of Oakville’s finest, keynoting an Oakville Rotarians awards dinner. In March I’ll be opening up for Dr. Vonda Wright, and the keynote, Peter Diamandis at a YPO (www.YPO.org) event in California. Here’s a link to a video about the event https://player.vimeo.com/video/197642250 .  This is a big deal and I’m very excited (thanks to Amir for the invitation). I’ve also been working with a couple of friends/colleagues to break into the Canadian Speaker Bureaus. It’s a tough nut to crack, but I’m hopeful to be listed by at least two of the big firms by the summer.

The third thing that I’ve been investing my time in, is a Director position on the Board of Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, formally known as the CPA (Canadian Paraplegic Association). SCI Ontario played a big role in my recovery when I broke my back in 2008, and I’m hoping to add some value to help grow this very important organization. www.sciontario.org.

The last big thing that I’m working to launch in the summer, is a national, non-profit mentoring association. There’s a great deal of work to be done, but the excitement that is building amongst colleagues, partners and my board of directors is electric. I can’t wait to share more about this with you in the near future. If this is something that is piquing your interest and you’d like to get involved before launch, please drop me a line and we’ll chat.

Tomorrow I’m loading up the Sequoia and venturing down to the States for 6 weeks. It’ll be a mix of family holiday, training, working and speaking. I’ve been grateful for the gentle winter in Ontario that we’ve had so far, but the opportunity to spend time in the sun is too good to turn down. Last year in Florida I had the greatest number of pain free days since my accident. It’s something about the sun and the climate that seems to calm my neuropathic pain. Hopefully this year will be even better.

So there you have it… my little update that once again was way too long for a blog post. But, if you’ve made it to the end, thanks for reading, and I’ll share with you one last commitment I’ve made since Hawaii.  I got the tat! Torn between wanting to get the Ironman M-Dot tattoo, and not wanting to brand myself only with a corporate trade-mark, I came up with the perfect solution (for me). Starting in December and just finishing this past Tuesday, over three visits and 15 hours, I got a half-sleeve tattoo of the customized M-Dot and mix of Polynesian symbols and hidden elements that mean the most to me, and that will serve as a reminder for the rest of my life of how lucky I am, and what I can accomplish.  It’s still healing, so I don’t have a great picture of the entire thing, but here’s a little snapshot.

Thanks everyone!
Rob

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