Ironman 70.3 Maine - James Jones
As many know, this hasn't ever been a topic I am fond of discussing. However, with encouragement (and a little bit of arm twisting) from my wife, Julia, I felt compelled to be more open about my struggles with ulcerative colitis and subsequent surgical intervention.
Last year we formed a team of friends and family to participate in an event with the Take Steps Crohn's and Colitis Foundation to raise awareness of Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis which was a chance for me to take this spirit of openness to the next level. I was happy to find an organization that exists not only to provide support to those dealing with these illnesses but is also working hard to raise money to support the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation fund. Moreover, I found support from friends and family whom I had not previously opened up to about what my wife and I had been dealing with throughout the last twelve years. I now know that, as difficult or embarrassing as it seemed at the time, I would have had even more support if I had been more open about the whole thing from the get-go. So... I thought I would to step it up just a BIT further and have committed to Team Challenge - Ironman Maine 70.3 in August 2019!
In 2006, I was in the best shape of my life. Having recently graduated from Army Basic Training and AIT, I was running frequently and had my sights set on participating in a half marathon later that year. Shortly thereafter, I began experiencing symptoms of ulcerative colitis. Instead of training, the years following involved multiple doctor's visits, many medications, IV infusions, numerous tests and procedures, and a whole lot of poking and prodding.
Unfortunately, my ulcerative colitis did not respond to medical therapy. This ultimately resulted in me having a total colectomy at Mayo Clinic in December 2009 followed by an ileal pouch - anal anastomosis (J-Pouch) surgery in May 2010. These hospitalizations, surgeries, and subsequent complications took quite a toll on me both physically and emotionally. Sadly, this was a very trying time for my family as well. Even so, despite the stress of being ushered from one waiting room to another, waiting for updates, and watching me struggle through the whole process, Julia was there; soldiering through all of it. I would be remiss not to take the opportunity to thank her here, along with my parents who made many trips up to Mayo Clinic to lend their support and encouragement to both Julia and me.
The years following my colectomy involved adjusting to having a J-pouch as well as the continuation of autoimmune joint issues. Twelve years after my initial diagnosis and ten years after my surgeries, I am now on effective medical therapy thanks to all of my doctors and specialists. In that last 8 years I have learned how to manage (and sometimes just deal) with life without a colon. I have been swimming and cycling for the past two years and have been able to build my fitness to a level that will allow me to take on this challenge. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to tackle this with Team Challenge's Iron Team behind me as I know that there are still many others who struggle with IBD. Being part of Team Challenge means a lot to me personally and is a chance to raise funds to find a cure for everyone dealing with these illnesses, especially those whose outcome is less fortunate than mine has been.
So... 70.3 Miles comprised of a 1.2 Mile Swim, 56 Mile Bike, and 13.1 Mile Run await me in Maine on August 25, 2019. I am extremely excited and very ready to start this training effort and appreciate any support along the way.
I have committed to raising at least $3,000 to this cause. Please do not feel obligated, but if you are able, and would like to, please consider a tax-deductible gift to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation by clicking the link on this page. Upon remittance you will receive an email confirming your donation. If you prefer to write a check, it can be made out to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and directed to me for remittance to the foundation and you will receive an acknowledgment letter in the mail.
About Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
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