James Lawrence, a world-class endurance athlete best known as the “Iron Cowboy,” spoke at the University of New Mexico, advising the audience on how to achieve the unthinkable and succeed in completing their goals.
“I’m going to share with you experiences that articulate a person’s ability to have so much (belief) and conviction in what they are doing and figuring out a way to accomplish something that is impossible or deemed impossible,” Lawrence said at the beginning of his speech.
An Ironman Triathlon consists of 2.5 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and a 26.2-mile marathon. In 2015, Lawrence achieved the seemingly impossible feat of finishing 50 Ironman Triathlons in 50 states in 50 consecutive days, thus writing his name in the Guinness Book of World Records.
“When you set a goal, you have to have 100, 200, 300 percent conviction that it’s going to happen,” Lawrence said. “If you don’t have that conviction, there is no point in even setting the goal and starting.”
In times of adversary and throughout his incredible journey from one triathlon to another, Lawrence dug deep inside to find that one reason that kept him going. Sometimes the reason was his daughter, while sometimes it was him proving to himself he can do it or the greater cause for which he was doing it.
Recalling an incident that tested and pushed him to his limits, Lawrence spoke about an Ironman Triathlon during which he helped an adolescent named Dayton, who has cerebral palsy, cross the finish line.
Despite difficulties emerging early on during the race, Lawrence pushed towards the finishing line not because of him, but because of Dayton. They were on the verge of disqualification, and it took Lawrence to register his personal best time in the marathon leg to achieve his goal. With Dayton alongside him through every step, Lawrence crossed the finish line after 16 hours.
“We have pounding hearts in our chest and intelligent minds in our brains. The opportunities that we have are incredibly abundant,” he said.
Success, preparation and visualization are important aspects, Lawrence said. He emphasized how visualization without action is useless, and doing a lot of little things consecutively leads to victory.
Throughout the semester, ASUNM Student Special Events has organized several events that seemed to be geared towards engaging students with motivational speakers, like the one Wednesday night with Lawrence.
Katarina Rasinski, a health science student said motivating yourself, putting yourself in uncomfortable situations and growing rather than regressing were things she learned from this event.
“I think it was going to benefit UNM students to push themselves mentally and set their goals to be higher than they ever thought possible,” Dominic Colosimo, a communications student and the Speakers Director for Student Special Events said.
“As an organization, we try to bring in a variety of talent,” Colosimo said. “For speakers, there is a wide range of possible talent: from authors to comedians to poets to athletes.”
Lawrence said, for him, there is no overnight success, but only a decade of practice and consistency that leads to that moment.
“I’m very competitive, I love it...I still believe my best Ironman’s in me. My fastest time is yet to come,” he said.
Ajinkya Patil is a freelance sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s soccer. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ajinkyapatil_16.