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Well: Update From an Ironman (and Oprah) PDF Print E-mail
John Carson.John Carson
Well: Update From an Ironman (and Oprah)Mr. Carson completes an Ironman triathlon.

Recently I checked in with John Carson, a 30-year-old Long Island triathlete, who two years ago was hit by a sports utility vehicle during a bicycle training ride. The accident left him a quadriplegic.

I wrote about his rehabilitation efforts and subsequent athletic achievements in my recent post, “The Last Ironman.” Since the article appeared, Mr. Carson has completed the Ironman competition in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Oprah Winfrey even named him a “Life Lifter” on her Web site, “Reason No. 472 to Love Perfect Strangers: What a ‘Walking’ Quadriplegic Taught Us.”

This week, Mr. Carson e-mailed me with an update about his performance at the Coeur d’Alene Ironman, his plan to retire from the sport and his ongoing efforts to raise money for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

I am home and settled back in New York. The feedback from the article you wrote was tremendous. Prior to the race several people came up to me and asked if I was that guy. What an honor.

The race went better than I ever could have expected. I dropped a little over 2 hours from my previous triathlon in Lake Placid, and I finished in 12:54. I did the swim in 1 hour and 14 minutes. The bike took 6 hours flat, and I managed to pull together a 5 hour and 18 minute run. I never in my wildest dreams would have ever thought I could improve by so much, but my coach, Brian Shea, of Personal Best Nutrition, did an amazing job of getting me in shape.

I honestly think I am in better shape now than before the accident, and I am certainly a smarter athlete. I knew going in that I was fit enough. I just didn’t know if I could mentally and physically keep my form for that long, at that pace. My friend New York City firefighter Matt Long, author of the book, “The Long Run,” has a saying that I repeat daily: “I am not a challenged athlete! I am an athlete with challenges.”

I really enjoyed the race and took in as much of it as I could. I made sure to find my wife before the finish line to thank her for all her love and unwavering support from the moment I was injured. With that I raised my hands to the sky and crossed the finish for the last time.

With time to reflect about the race and my journey, I honestly can say that I wouldn’t change a thing. As hard as it can be for me at times, with what I lost in the accident, I think about what I have gained. I also think about how my struggles now pale in comparison to those of some one confined to a wheelchair.

Going forward I look forward to spending more time with my good friend Kevin McDermott, who is continuing to defy the odds after his spinal cord injury and is even walking with a walker on his own. My work with the Christopher Reeve Foundation has just begun, and I look forward to playing a support role and advocating and raising awareness whenever possible.

The Oprah shout-out was quite a surprise to me. To be able to reach a fan base as large and diverse as hers is amazing. Any time you can generate a buzz and get the Christopher and Dan Reeve Foundation back in the public eye, you jump at it. I am truly humbled by all the support.

Read more http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=fd848b61631fbbf96a873075087feb72