Training for the Half IronMan

Training for the Half IronMan

When Lamoni signed up for the half IronMan he immediately turned to me from the computer and said, “Well, I signed up… I guess I better take swimming lessons now eh?”

I once heard Lamoni describe his training for the IronMan by saying,

“Sometimes you just gotta jump off the cliff and grow your wings on the way down.”

And he did. just. that.

Lamoni decided to follow the training plan from the Iron Cowboy. This was an intensive program that helped him to stay on track with training for a swim, bike, and run. He was training anywhere from 1-4 hours a day, 6 days a week. I jokingly called it his second job.

I was in charge of his nutrition. I tried my best to keep him fed with the right kind of foods. That was sometimes a challenge just for the variety reasons. Lamoni will eat whatever I put in front of him. He doesn’t care what’s for dinner, he will just eat. This put a lot of pressure on me. How do I feed and fuel a Triathlete? I researched fuel vs food and quickly found out the difference between the two and what was important. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if they are eating the same thing 3 times a week – if it fuels them sufficiently, that’s what matters.  We live in a small town and my grocery options are limited. There is no Whole Foods (or anything remotely similar) for 3 hours. I just gotta hope Walmart and Smiths carry the organic nut butter that some recipe calls for (and gosh-a-mighty bless Amazon Prime!). I found some great recipes, but he was getting tired of the same two dishes of beans and sweet potatoes. Haha! It was also challenging to keep him full and satisfied. He consumed A LOT of calories every day. He was always eating. He said he felt like a teenager again, always hungry and always eating. I tried to have some protein-packed snacks on hand everyday so he could just grab and go. His favorite go-to…. homemade granola bars, tortilla wrap with {coconut/peanut butter, bananas, honey, and sea salt,} and eggs, eggs, eggs!

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A few years ago we heard about the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF). They are a wonderful organization that helps out athletes with varying needs. Through grants, they are able to supply athletes with anything from training costs, to prosthetics, wheelchairs, and sometimes even travel fees. I had talked to Lamoni about applying for a grant, but he had always shrugged it off. (He HATES asking for help.) But this year he knew he had the goal to run the IronMan and he finally listened to his wife (Me!) and applied, asking for a running foot. Actually, I remember him waiting until the LAST day in December to apply, even down to the last few hours until we submitted the application. Whew! Lamoni is very hard to budge sometimes.

We were supposed to find out in April if we received a grant or not. Lamoni got a call about mid-March saying they were going to grant him a running foot! He was so excited! They sent it to Lamoni’s prosthetic place — Fitwell Prosthetics in Salt Lake City — and they worked on fitting it to one of Lamoni’s sockets. They got quite creative and inventive because that type of foot was a little too long for Lamoni. They tried out a new system to keep the foot on and it worked for the running foot. Yay! Now he could feel a little better about the running part of training.

CAF sent Lamoni some sweet racing gear to wear. Here is Lamoni trying out the biking clothes before he went on a bike ride. (Side note about his bike… he got this bike about 4 weeks before the IronMan race on a second-hand website. There is only so much a stationary bike at the Rec Center can do for triathlon training. Ha!)

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Lamoni found a few guys here in Vernal who were also doing the St. George Half-IronMan. He trained a few times with them. Sydney is on the Left and AJ is on the right. Sydney is actually a double amputee who is a true inspiration. He’s a great guy! They’re both great guys – AJ had done the IronMan last year in St. George and had valuable tips and support for Lamoni. It’s awesome that he found these two guys.IMG_4151

When training in Vernal, Utah in January-April sometimes, well – lots of times, you get to run in the snow!

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Lamoni started using the Strava app when he went out on his runs or bike rides. I liked this because I could track him throughout his ride. He would bike miles and miles up the canyon and I would worry that he’d be hit by a car or chased and eaten by a bear (yes, I’m a worry-wife).

Here are some fun pictures from his Strava app runs.

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Bike

Lamoni’s hardest sport for the IronMan was the swimming. He took lessons at the Rec Center and tried to improve as much as he could. Here is a video the swim instructor took of Lamoni so he could watch it back and improve his technique. I thought I would post it here just because….

 

About two weeks before the race we packed the kids up and took a mini-vacation down to St. George so Lamoni could scout out the course. He swam in the reservoir and learned for himself (friends had warned him) that swimming in open water is VERY different than Rec Center swimming. It’s hard! He had our older two kids in a kayak follow him to help keep him on course (and catch his breath too). I’m glad we were able to try out St. George before the race so Lamoni could ease some jitters about the swim and the bike course. The St. George bike course is supposed to be the hardest Half-IronMan course there is. Gasp!

Training has been hard, but good. Time for the race!!

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Las Vegas Spartan Sprint 2017

Las Vegas Spartan Sprint 2017

A Spartan Race!! Last year Lamoni didn’t sign up for any races. So, this year, 2017 – we decided is going to be the year of the races. He is going to get his trifecta with the Spartan Races (3 different races, all different lengths). He has also signed up to do a Half-Iron Man in May. He is training HARD for this and my next blog post will be all about that.

Lamoni was in a team of 5 racers who are all in Law Enforcement. 4 of them are correctional officers at our county jail (Lamoni included) and one guy is a road officer in our neighboring county. All good friends!

This was the Spartan Sprint race. 4-5 miles of running, mud, obstacles, and fun!

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Before the Race

I tried my best to get some footage and pictures of the team in the race. Here is what I was able to record.

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I was watching the racers come down this hill. Some would walk slowly, some would trot sideways, and some would flat-out run downhill at full speed. Somehow I knew that Lamoni would be the one who would run with no caution downhill.

That is all the videos I got. I feel bad because I really try to always get a good video of the finish line, but I didn’t this race! Bummer! The spectator course wasn’t that great at this race. There was a point where spectators could view the 2-3 obstacles before the fire jump and the finish line, but to get to the fire jump and finish line, you would have to walk all the way around and enter through the wristband tent to go between the two. I wanted to see the finish so I stayed by the finish line. This gave me very little warning that the team was coming. (The lay of the land was blocking the obstacles before the fire jump.) They came upon me too fast and I saw them right as they were jumping over the fire. Darn! I wasn’t able to whip out my phone fast enough. Oh well, maybe next time.

The team did great!! Aroo! Aroo!

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Finished the Race! Nice medals guys.

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Santa decided to join the picture. Sure big guy!

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Got to sign the Spartan Wall!

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Lamoni doesn’t like the feel of chalk.

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Here are some of the pictures I was able to grab from the Spartan Website. Nice!

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It was a good race. Now to finish two more to get the Trifecta! Lamoni says his new foot was good to use for the race. (Endolite) But he just needs to find a better way to keep the liner and sleeve from coming off. When it gets wet and muddy it has a hard time staying on. Hmmmm we’ll figure it out.

Dino Foot

My last post told the craptastic story of how I lost my SpongeBob foot in a trailer fire. (Read about it here.) We had liability insurance on the trailer soooooo that meant we just had to count our loses and be sad. Really sad.

The reason I was not wearing my SpongeBob foot was because I was wearing a work-in-progress foot. My SpongeBob foot was 2 years old and this meant I get a new foot this year. I have been working with my prosthetic guy to get me a new foot this year. I am a hard stub to fit. I guess you can say that I am picky. When I am on my foot for 12-14+ hours a day it needs to be a good fit.

I had been wearing the prototype foot for a few months. Wearing it a few weeks and coming back and telling the prosthetic guy to change it here, or there. Then go out for another few weeks until it is pretty close. After the loss of SpongeBob we tried to expedite the new foot. That resulted in the new Dinosaur foot! My oldest daughter is fascinated by dinosaurs. It’s everything dino for her. She just turned 12 years old and loves snakes and dinosaurs. I thought it would be fun to get a dinosaur foot. The kids will dig it for sure. My awesome prosthetic people shipped me the foot when it was done since I live 3 hours away from them. This video is of my dino-loving daughter opening the package of the new foot.

 

Colorado Spartan Sprint 2014

There are only two days left until the Utah Spartan Beast. Woo!! I figured I had better hurry up and post about last months Spartan Sprint in Colorado. (Want to read about Lamoni’s experience at last year’s Beast? Click here.)

I, Cami, will be writing the post and it’s details. This was my first Spartan Race and Wow, I say, Wow!

The Spartan Sprint is the shortest of their races. It was 4-5 miles long and I thought that this race would challenge me, but not completely destroy me.

I felt ready for the race. . . sort of. I wished I could’ve trained more in running and upper body. I knew there was a rope climb. . . I also knew I would be doing the penalty burpees for that obstacle because there was no way I could do a rope climb! But race day came and there was no turning back! It was exciting. The environment and atmosphere of a Spartan Race is amazing. Our start time was at 10:45 and things felt a little rushed. It’s different arriving at a race when you have 5 kids in tow including a stroller, a million bags, a few camping chairs, an umbrella, an amazing husband, great brother-in-law and my hero mother! We were quite the sight!

We found a place to “set up camp” and soon after it was about time to line up. Ahhh! Getting nervous!

Here is a good “before” picture of me.

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Me, Lamoni, and Lamoni’s brother Mosiah were running the race together. We were supposed to be joined by Lamoni’s older brother Enoch, but Enoch passed away 3 months earlier very unexpectedly. That situation is explained a little here. It was a little somber with the three of us at the starting line. But with Enoch in our hearts we were ready and pumped to race!

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I don’t want to go on and on about every little detail of the race. But I will tell you that it was fun! I started off pretty strong, jumping over the 5, 6, and 7 foot walls and such. It was after that when we came to the first hill that I started to slow down a bit. I’ll tell you what. . . the hills sure destroyed me! I am thankful for my husband and Mosiah for keeping the good vibes going. I was struggling up a hill and I could hear them saying encouraging things to me. Wonderful men!

The obstacles that I did well at were the “carry the heavy thing from here. . . to over here”. One time we strapped on a backpack full of rocks (60 lbs for women and 120 lbs for men) and had to walk up and around the mountain side. Piece of cake! It was like carrying my 9-year old around. No biggie.

The mud roll was a relief. I was pretty hot and tired when we came down the hill to the barbed wire roll. Through the mud we rolled and it was very refreshing. Honestly from the barbed-wire roll obstacle it went more smoothly than the first part of the race. I enjoyed the rest and attacked it with a “momma bear” attitude.

Lamoni had very little problems with his prosthetics this time around. (Thank goodness!) He didn’t have his running foot ready so he just ran with his regular every-day foot. Everything went well until all the water came. We were wading in muddy water that was at our shoulders and when his liner got that wet his foot had problems wanting to stay on. I remember one time I was sitting on top of a big muddy hill. You basically slid down the hill on your bottom and landed in the *cold* muddy water, then swam to the edge. Lamoni went first. . . he slid down, went under the water and when he emerged he was holding his leg in his hands. It had come off just as he hit the water so he grabbed it and popped out of the water! It was hilarious!

I really enjoyed running the race with Lamoni. One thing that happened (and he warned me that it was going to happen) is the amount of other racers who would pass us and acknowledge Lamoni and say a little “good job man,” or “way to go” or “you’re such an inspiration”. To actually see this first-hand as an experience was interesting. He is pretty humble about it, he usually gives them a thumbs up, or a shaka,(see hand gesture below) or a friendly “Thanks man! It’s fun!” It was truly an honor to race with him. I felt a little bad that it was ME that was holding us up most of the time, but he was okay with it.

I love my partner and my best friend!

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I love this shot! The ever-awesome Lamoni and Mosiah leaping over the fire at the finish line.

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Even my kids ran the Kids Spartan Race. My three oldest ran the kids course and absolutely loved it! I’m so proud of them!

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This Momma Bear was antsy to get back to her baby.

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A Family Finish! What an awesome family I am a part of. I love it!

People have asked me if I will do another Spartan Race in the future. I’m honestly not sure. . .It was fun and I’m super glad that I did it, but I’m not addicted to them (yet). We will see what the future brings.

Aroo! Aroo!

 

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Newsletter Feature

Every so often the place where I get my prosthetic work done sends out a newsletter in the mail. They will feature one of their patients in the news letter. This time it was me!

I’ll give a shout-out to them, thanks Fit-well prosthetics and orthotics!

 

Q & A with Lamoni Riordan

Q. How long have you been an amputee?
A. April 13th, 1985 – When I was five years old, I was involved in a lawn mower accident. I 2006 I had an elective surgery to amputate a little higher allowing for better prosthetics.

Q. What are some of your successes as an amputee, both mentally and physically?
A. Mentally I have had to overcome very deep depression and thoughts of suicide. I’ve also had to overcome addiction to pain meds. I believe my greatest success is to keep going, keep living day after day trying to maintain a positive attitude. Instead of asking “Why me?”, I ask “Why not me?” How can I learn and grow from this? Physically I walk, I run, I work, I compete in physical events and most people do not ever know I’m missing a leg unless I say something. I always want to keep taking a step forward.

Q. How does your amputation affect your every-day life?
A. I can’t just step out of bed and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Sometimes it’s just the little things. Keeping my liners clean for the next day. Lifting and bending my leg just right to get in and out of the car. How to not hurt my kids with my prosthesis when we wrestle. To me, it’s all normal.

Q. What keeps you motivated?
A. My family. I am blessed to have a marvelous, understanding wife, 5 children, wonderful parents, brothers and sisters who care for me and help me. There was a time when I struggled to even want to live. My wife, children, and faith in Christ gave me the desire and motivation to press on and overcome my trials.

Q. What kind of physical activities do you enjoy?
A. Cliff diving, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, snowboarding, construction work, logging and being a dad. More recently I have enjoyed obstacle racing like the Spartan Race. I enjoy anything physically challenging. When others think twice about it, I think “bring it on” this one legged man can do it.

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Q. What are some incorrect assumptions that other people make about amputees?
A. That they need to feel sorry for us. That we are weak and helpless. That it will hurt our feelings if you ask questions. It’s okay if children point at my prosthesis, they are just curious.

Q. What advice would you give to new amputees?
A. Press forward and realize there is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a hard road, but you can overcome whatever comes your way with a positive attitude. You will become a better, stronger person and help so many others along the way by your example. Life is an adventure with many obstacles but it is worth it. Live it, love it, enjoy it!

Q. How has being an amputee blessed your life?
A. It has made me the man I am today. The pain, the suffering, the trials I had to go through have prepared me to endure and overcome whatever comes my way. It has made me more persistent, more resilient, and more determined to press forward regardless of the challenge. I am also more compassionate.

 

 

So, that’s why they call it “The Beast!”

Lamoni had so much fun doing the Spartan Sprint in Colorado that he “thirsted for more!” His buddies invited him to join their team to race the Spartan Beast in Utah the following month. He accepted their invitation and was stoked to do it again!
The Spartan Beast is 12-14 miles long with many more obstacles. “No problem!” thought Lamoni.
So we planned to spend the day in Midway Utah for the Spartan Beast. I invited my Mom to come with us to help me with the kids, due to the fact that I was 6 months pregnant. We signed up our two oldest children to participate in the Spartan Kids race.
We arrived in the morning and got checked in. The kids were excited that they got their own Spartan shirts to wear for their race. We found space under a shade tent and “made camp.”
Of course we had to do the traditional “before” pictures.

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Lamoni starts to warm up and get ready.

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Soon it was time for Lamoni’s group to start. He got set in line and my Mom, the kids and I tried to find a good spot to watch them start the race.

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And there he went! I was so excited for him. I also had a sense of nervousness for him not knowing what obstacles lay ahead, and when I would see him along the race course again. I knew it was a very long race and I had the backpack of tools in case he needed to fix anything on his foot.

We made our way back to the shade tent and relaxed while we watched all the amazing people and racers that are at these events. I love the atmosphere!

A few hours went by and we decided to head to the next spot along the spectator course where we could meet up with the racers. While we were waiting I received a phone call from an unknown number so I ignored it. (Come on, who else does this too? Yea I don’t think I’m alone in this.) “Huh, strange,” I thought. Just after that I got a text message from that same number saying, “broke my foot.” That was it! Nothing else! So, I had to put my detective brain to work. Was this a wrong number? If not, who would be texting me to tell me that they broke their foot? Could it be Lamoni? I know he didn’t take his phone with him for the race. Could he have borrowed somebody’s phone to send me this message? With Lamoni, a statement like “broke my foot” doesn’t necessarily mean broken bones. See? Well then I started to worry about him. I texted back, but received no answer. I even called the number, but again no answer. Well crap! Darn Lamoni and his cave-man texting tendencies! “Hi,” “OK,” “ugh,” “broke my foot.” More words! More details please! Perhaps this is a universal man-texting problem.

Anyway, after a while I found some of Lamoni’s teammates and they stopped to tell me that Lamoni had broken his foot very early on in the race but he was coming along slowly. *Sigh* Okay, thankfully some answers. But where was he? How far behind was he? I thought about getting somebody in charge and asking them to get into one of their little golf carts and head along the course to find him. But I knew Lamoni, and I knew that he wouldn’t ask for a ride unless it was really bad. He would endure. He has a very strong will. So we just waited. Then I spotted him!

The perseverance in this man astounds me. What an example to his children to never give up on anything. He tells them, “Always move forward.” For example: when the race started and Lamoni and his team were running the course, they came to a little dip in the road. This was only about 0.5 miles into the race. The dip in the road wasn’t big at all, in fact you could’ve easily ran right through it. But Lamoni did a little leap over the dip (just for fun, because he was feeling energetic) and when he landed (on his prosthetic leg) he heard a “snap!” Uh Oh! Bad news! He had broken the spring of his foot right in half! Impossible! (or so he thought. . .)

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Lamoni was worried that too much weight on the prosthetic wasn’t good now that the spring was essentially gone. So he didn’t run too hard on it. He found some “crutches” on the side of the course by using tree branches. He told me that he often traded up branches for “betta ones.” He’d be running along and see a better branch so he would toss one, and grab the new one. He continued like this and pressed forward until he knew he would eventually see me along the spectator course. He knew that I was carrying the backpack with tools and extra parts. He knew if he could get to me he could fix his foot.

So, here he is, just 0.5 miles into the race and he breaks his foot. It might have been easier to backtrack that half-mile and find me so he could fix his foot. But not Lamoni, no – Never look back. Always Move Forward! He pressed on for another FOUR miles until the course caught up with the spectator track. Four miles!!! On a busted foot! I tell you, he is my hero!

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When I spotted him coming down that hill I was so proud. I was amazed that a) his foot actually broke, and b) he was still trudging along with a smile on his face. Lamoni later told me that when he was coming down that hill and he spotted me and heard us cheering for him he almost got emotional. He was so relieved that we were there so he could stop and fix his foot.

He plopped down and began to take apart his foot and replace the spring with another.

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Then he was set! Good as new! Just a few massive blisters on his hands from those sticks he used for crutches. Onward Ho!

It was then time for my two oldest kids to participate in the Spartan Kids race. So we headed over to that area. They had a blast and can’t wait to do another one day.

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After that fun messy adventure, we went back to the shade tent and waited for an hour or so. It’s so hard to gauge when the racers come around the spectator course again. I wish they had trackers in them like the Hunger Games and we could see where they are in the “arena”. That would be awesome! Just an idea. *wink*

When I thought it was about time for Lamoni to show again on the course I headed up there. I waited for a while and recognized some people who were in his start group. I waited a bit more and contemplated asking a volunteer at one of the obstacles if he had seen a very handsome amputee come through yet, but I didn’t ask. (Looking back, I really should have.) I finally saw a lady who was on Lamoni’s team and I stopped her as she ran through. I asked her if she had seen Lamoni and she waved her hand and almost laughed “Oh yea sweetie – he passed me a long time ago! He’s way ahead of me now.” Well bummer. I missed him. I thanked her and walked back to the shade tent to my mother and children. I felt really bad that I had missed him. I hoped he was okay, I hoped he didn’t need anything from the backpack, and I felt bad that I missed some opportunities to film him on those obstacles. Big bummer, but oh well.

Now for a little hindsight shall we? I later learned that Lamoni had indeed passed that teammate, but he also suffered another setback with his prosthetic leg and had to step off the course to fix it for a while. She must have passed him without knowing because when I was waiting for him at those obstacles, he had not arrived there yet. Oh how I wish I would’ve known this. He could have possibly used something in the “magic backpack” to fix his foot again but I wasn’t there to help him. The pin system in his prosthetic that keeps his foot attached to his liner/sock had failed. It essentially stopped holding the prosthetic foot to his liner. (If he had been wearing a knee sleeve it would have been better, but the sleeve was in the backpack, Argh!) So every time he stepped, the foot would not rise with his leg, it would just fall over. He tried everything he could get his hands on to jimmy-rig the foot. He tried a plastic bag and he even tried some old yucky duct tape he found on the side of the course. But nothing was keeping his leg on. Many racers stopped to try and help but it was a tricky situation. There was even a nice volunteer at the water station who spent a good amount of time trying different things to keep the leg on. Finally a generous racer stopped and offered his belt to Lamoni. Lamoni denied and told him that he probably should keep his belt on. But the racer said, “No man, really – I really don’t need this belt, but I felt impressed this morning to wear it during the race, so here you go. Take it.” And with that Lamoni was able to use the belt to keep his leg from falling off while he ran the race. He continued like this for approximately 8 miles of running and 15+ obstacles until the end of the race. I’ll say it again, He’s my hero! He’s a keeper for sure.

When talking to Lamoni about this race he mentioned that the monkey bars were pretty rough to get through. Because of the tree branches he used as crutches early on in the race, he had formed massive blisters all along the insides of his hands. These blisters were irritated throughout the race because of the various obstacles and when he was messing with trying to hold his leg on while running. So when he got to the monkey bars (which were towards the end of the race) they were awful to endure on those blisters. Lamoni then said, (to my astonishment) “But I didn’t want to do the burpees required for skipping or failing the obstacle, so I pushed through the pain to get through the monkey bars.”

So after another few hours I headed to the end of the course to hopefully see Lamoni soon. I had thought Lamoni was a few hours ahead of what he really was so I sat at the barbed wire roll obstacle for about 2-3 hours waiting for him. I’m just glad that I had a chair to sit in and an umbrella to keep the hot sun off of me. At least it was entertaining watching all the racers roll down the hill.

I finally spotted him! Yay!

 

Almost finished – just the wall climb and the fire jump. Yes!

Aaaannnnd he did it! He finished! I am so proud of him. Love this guy!

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Lamoni will tell you (and show you) to always move forward. Always push forward when you are given trials. Life can be crappy, but life can be wonderful. Enjoy the adventure!

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Introductions

I’d like to introduce you to Lamoni. He is an exceptional husband, father, friend, warrior, finisher and competitor among other things. He has been through many of life’s highs (very high) and lows (very low) and has found a way to combat what he calls the “dirty birds” – negative voices in our heads.

We decided to start this blog to document Lamoni’s journey. (I’m Cami, his wife, and the person who will be writing most of the posts and typing all of them.) We have envisioned this blog as a documentary and a learning tool for our children, family and friends – but hopefully we can inspire others in their obstacles and journeys as well.  I have two warnings for our readers. . . First: I have never been nor will I ever be a good writer. Writing has always been a struggle for me, but I feel Lamoni’s story is too important to be worrying about my silly writing skills. Second: This blog is not going to be all happy and encouraging all the time — because that’s not how life is.  We have definitely learned that, and I know all of you know that as well. Lamoni doesn’t want to “pretend” that having obstacles and difficulties is easy and you can/should just smile your way through them. He will “tell it like it is”. He does strive to be an inspiration and to uplift people, but he also wants to be real. Life is real, and sometimes life sucks. We want to share the “day-in-the-life” story as it really is – REAL.

Let’s start with a quick overview of Lamoni’s journey through life so far. When he was 5 years old he was involved in a lawnmower accident that left him without his right foot.  When he was 16 years old he went through two leg-lengthening procedures. When he was 26 years old he voluntarily amputated his stub higher to get better prosthetics to help with his active lifestyle. This last surgery sent him into a deep depression and addiction to pain killers that lasted almost 7 years.   It has been just this last year that Lamoni has begun to fight back — to slay those dirty birds and take back his life and his mind. He wants to share his journey, his successes, and even his failures with the hopes to inspire others and give them a glimpse of a “day-in-the-life” of a peg leg racer, peg leg father, peg leg finisher, and just an all-around peg-iddy pegged of a great guy.

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