>Ten Questions With…James Lawrence, Triathlete & Philanthropist

> Over the years, we’ve all heard of the plight of various populations on our planet.  We’ve seen the devastation that natural disasters have wrought on places like Haiti, China, and most recently Australia.  We’ve grieved and empathized with folks in the Gulf Coast region of America as they recovered from hurricanes and oil spills.  We’ve seen casualties of wars, genocide, suicide bombers, and terrorists.

While each of these types of situations are significant, and shouldn’t be ignored, the fact of the matter is, however, that there are much broader swaths of humanity placed in everyday peril due to inadequate core survival necessities.  Water.  Shelter.  Food.  Three basic needs, without which one cannot survive.  The sad reality is that all too often places with these basic needs just don’t garner the attention they deserve.  They aren’t on the nightly news.

Despite the lack of headlines, there are companies, charities, and people who are trying to make a difference.  Take, for example, In Our Own Quiet Way, a Utah-based charity whose goal is to build dams in rural Kenya to help provide clean drinking water.

Enter James Lawrence.  Triathlete.  Husband.  Father.  Philanthropist.

You may have heard of James – in 2010, he endeavored to raise money for the Give a dam program through his blog and his seemingly monumental effort to compete in more than twenty Ironman 70.3 races.  He was successful – in terms of raising awareness, raising funds, and yes, completing each of those races.

James’ job isn’t complete.  See below for an audacious plan that he’s hatched for 2012.  I guarantee that the plan will blow your mind.

And now, this week’s version of “Ten Questions With…”  James Lawrence.

TM:  For starters, could you share with us how you got involved with In Our Own Quiet Way and the “Give a Dam” project and why you chose completing 22 70.3 races as your vehicle of involvement?

JL:  My father in law in Ron Hatfield. He is a successful business man who is now in his latter stages of life and simply wants to give back, so he started In Our Own Quiet Way. I work as a public relations manager for the company and grew tired of the traditional way of trying to get exposure for a goo cause. I wanted to think outside the box and try to do something bigger than anyone had done before me. I have a huge passion for triathlon and a living healthy lifestyle. The project was born on a long bike ride late season 2009.

TM:  How did you prepare for 2010 from a training perspective (both before you started racing & during the year in the midst of your races)?

JL:  The bulk of the preparation came at the tail end of 2009 with big volume of swimming biking and running. In some ways the prep was harder physically than the quest. Now that I am back in training for 2012’s world record attempt I am working harder than ever. When I started the journey in Oceanside California in March my training intensity dropped. I always said that I couldn’t decide if I was recovering from a previous race or tapering for the next. During the stretch where I raced 8 times in 7 weeks I didn’t do much training. I would go on some long recovery spins in the mountains here and would jump in the pool. There was no running for me during the week. I need to try to keep things light and fresh. The goal was endurance and staying injury free.

TM:  So how did you avoid sustaining any myriad of injuries during the course of this effort? What did you learn that you could share with other athletes?

JL:  I think I did a pretty good job of staying healthy. I had a minor hamstring issue that I quickly resolved three quarters of the way through the journey. I went to therapy at Muscle Works twice a week where Hayden, Stacey and Alex would make sure that I was good to go week in and week out. I honestly think they were instrumental in keeping me in the game. My advice- I have started to do Yoga (I have been resistant in the past) and had I done yoga consistently during the year I feel my performances would have improved and I would have also decreased my chances of getting injured. I also would have done some light strength training to stay strong.

TM:  You’ve got five kids (all under 8 years old), a wife, and a career. How on earth did you manage to balance the competing demands during this effort?

JL:  Well first off my wife and kids are amazing and super supportive. They push me to be better and better. I took a risk and quit working my sales job due to the travel, racing and preparation demands of the project. I wanted to make sure that the project and cause got my full attention (after my families needs of course). I would not have been able to do this without the incredible help from friends, family and sponsors. I also want to add that no funds that were donated came to me, they were passed on to the cause. When I was home with my family I was truly home with my family. I could not afford to risk the tight bond we have as a family and also didn’t want to risk starting the project that I that wouldn’t be able to complete.

TM:  In some cases, you raced back-to-back weekends. Once you did two 70.3’s on the same weekend. What strategies did you employ to recover after races?

JL:  Immediate travel after a race and leaving quickly for the next race made it hard to recover. I never felt fresh going in a weekend but always wanted to go at it on the course. I found it hard to hold back knowing I would be racing again very soon. I actually did my PR for the year in Michigan on the Saturday of the double weekend of racing. I stated in my blog that I think it was harder to do two 70.3 events on back to back day that doing a full ironman on a single day. It was a crazy weekend. Fly into Michigan, check in, build bike, sleep poorly, race 70.3 miles in PR fashion, leave race immediately with fear of missing my flight, break bike down, fly to Calgary Canada landing at 11 pm, drive out to T1 area, build bike, sleep for 4 hours and race 70.3 again. The wear and tear from racing on Saturday then air travel would have been enough, throw in all the tricky logistics made this a tough weekend. It would have been really hard to do had Calgary not been my home town and having the help of friends and family there!

TM:  What are some of your favorite memories from this past season?

JL:  There were so many cool things that happened over the course of this 30 weeks. The thrill of competition, the magnitude of task, the impact of the cause, crossing the finish line 22 times, seeing the country and on and on. My favorite moment from every race was when I arrived home safely, opened the door and had my 5 kids screaming at the top of their lungs “daddy’s home!” There just isn’t a better feeling. I also really enjoyed meeting so many cool people in the tri world from around the country. Another very cool and unexpected moment was qualifying for the World Championships in Boise after racing in Hawaii the weekend before and arriving home to my bike being destroyed by the airlines.

Count ’em.  22 finisher’s medals for 22 Ironman 70.3 races completed in 2010.

TM:  What was your fundraising goal? Did you achieve your goal?

JL:  I have not yet reached my goal for fundraising. Quiet Way has built 2 dams to date and my efforts are just getting started. These dams affects thousands of people and have saved lives. I feel really good about that. I hope to raise 3 million dollars through my 2012 journey…. we shall see.

TM:  Looking back, is there anything you might have done differently in terms of advocacy or promotion to garner more focus for you and your effort?

JL:  I did everything I could on zero funds. I’m no social media specialist of blogging genius. I’m a simple guy with a passion for racing. I will be hopefully doing things very different in 2012 and hope to have lots of help. I have built up a fun following now and I hope people are interested in what I am up to.

TM:  You’ve announced that in 2012 you plan on competing in more than 20 full Ironman races as part of your effort. How will you prepare for that effort?

JL:  I am working hard right in order to prepare for the daunting task of doing 24 plus Iron distance races in 2012. My intensity is up and I am working on some aspects of speed. I am making sure that I am getting stronger and more flexible to ensure that I have the greatest change of success. Failure simply isn’t an option in 2012. Right now I am working 40 hours a week, training 4 hours a day, putting together all the logistics for 2012 and being a father to 5 and a husband. It’s pretty busy right now as my wife is also an athlete and needs her time to train.

TM:  What was the most difficult facet you faced this year?

JL:  To be honest the toughest part was logistics and being away from my kids. I felt that I had prepared sufficiently for the physical demands of racing but there was no way to prepare for the demands of air travel and quick turn around. Despite some minor difficulties or inconveniences I had a blast this year and wouldn’t trade the experiences I had.

You can check out James’ blog here to learn more about his 2012 quest, or to make a donation.

To learn more about In Our Own Quiet Way, visit their website here.

You can also follow James on Twitter.


4 thoughts on “>Ten Questions With…James Lawrence, Triathlete & Philanthropist

  1. >I have heard about him, didnt know his story, my jaw is still on the floor, 20 IM's in one year!!! If I ever win the lottery, I want to do a tri in every state in one calendar year, just like him, I think the prep will be harder then the racing itself.

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