Polar Bottle Employee Finishes His First Ironman

16 hours, 14 minutes. It’s over, I’ve finished! Hands in the air, mission accomplished! First Ironman. What’s so special about me climbing this mountain? The obstacle that is epilepsy and all that comes with it.

The meds, the surgery, the frustration, anxiety and exhaustion; but most of all, the question – Why?, Why me? What did I do to deserve this condition? The pills drain your energy and there is still no guarantee that you will make it through the day without having a seizure. So just sleep, watch T.V? Otherwise there is school and work, two things that require your attention and energy. Then what? Back to sleep? How do you change this and prevent epilepsy ruling your life?

Find something you love. Music, art, sports – whatever you can think of and run with it. Set a goal if need be and then, just go – no excuses. For me it’s sports. This was true even before I knew I had epilepsy, but now sports are a lifesaver. Basketball, football, soccer, skiing/snowboarding, biking, hiking – it doesn’t much matter what as long as it’s pushing my body and my willpower to the limit.

Finding A Way To Cope With Epilepsy

I first learned I was epileptic when I was 16 and all that I have described followed. I didn’t want anyone’s sympathy and I still don’t but I’ve learned over the last eleven years that it ‘s a waste of energy to hide all your feelings and emotions. Three years ago I found a way to make better use of my time. I was watching T.V. and the Ironman was on. I thought to myself – a triathlon, I wonder what that’s like?

Training was grueling work – especially the swimming. I had to go back to basics and re-learn how to really swim. Swimming with efficiency is not the same as jumping off the diving board and paddling back to the wall. Each day involved one of the three elements of a triathlon. A run, a bike ride, a swim and sometimes two in one day or even all three in one day. Race day came and the adrenaline was pumping. Waiting for the start I was jumping up and down ready to go.

There’s the buzzer. Charge into the freezing cold water, swimming still the weak link, peering out of the water to find the finish, finally striding out of the water. Bike and run are quick and fun. I finished that first triathlon and what came with it was an energizing rush and a positive way to spend my time.

The training and participation in races has continued since that day with bumps along the way. Three years after that first race it was finally time to attempt the Ironman triathlon (2.4mile swim, 112mile bike ride, and finish with a marathon).

Life After An Ironman

I finished my first Ironman in Boulder at 11:15pm on August 3rd 2014; something I could never have imagined three years ago and frankly impossible without the support and encouragement of family, friends and co-workers during the training process and the race itself. What now? Probably another Ironman, because I could have done it faster; maybe an ultra-marathon to switch it up. My new goal is to run one of those fast enough to qualify for the legendary Leadville 100. Only one thing is for sure, nothing is over, it’s only just begun.


About Polar Bottle Water Bottle Shipping Employee John Whitney

John Whitney age 27 lives in Boulder and works in online sales for Boulder water bottle company, Polar Bottle. His courage and belief in the life changing power of sports inspired a Polar Bottle team to take part in the Strides for Epilepsy race supporting the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado in Denver in June 2014.