Insights From a Triathlete

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I had the privilege of interviewing a man who has been an inspiration to me since the day I met him. He always has a positive outlook on life, is focused and continues to offer his services wherever he is needed. He is what we at The360ManProject consider to be the person for which we strive to be. He, of course, would be humble and say that he is just an ordinary guy and is not perfect. It is his character that is attractive. It draws people in, and his kindness to everyone is genuine.

His name is John Adams. I met with him at Starbucks in Sandusky, OH. When he walked in, he was glowing with energy. You can tell that he is motivated and focused. There is a calm confidence that radiates from him. He stands about 5' 5 1/2”, has a solid build and his chest is broad like that of a strong swimmer. He is lean and clean cut. He is 61 years old but doesn't look a day over 50, and has the lean and muscular body of a man in his early 30's.


He was wearing his black polo shirt with the words Chaplain on the right chest and Sandusky police department badge on the left chest, all embroidered in yellow and white. I enquired about the shirt and he proceeded to tell me he is a negotiator for the Sandusky SWAT team, and serves as the Chaplain for Sandusky, Huron, Perkins and Erie county Sheriff’s Dept. He is the first chaplain these police departments have ever had. Subsequently, he has written Standard operating procedures for these departments and teaches a class called emotional survival for law enforcement officers that has helped hundreds of police officers in the Academy and in the departments to overcome obstacles and struggles in their own lives.

When he is not serving as a Chaplain, he is the head pastor of New Life Church, where he serves others, prepares messages and oversees daily operations. He has a great relationship with his three sons, Josh, Jason, and Jessie. His love for his wife Diane, is as strong as ever. She has faced many battles of her own and overcome them through perseverance and prayer.

He has been a triathlete since 2010, and has since done 25 triathlons, with a mix of Sprints, Olympics, Half, Full, aqua bikes, and some back-to-back tris.  He was 55 when he started. After 2 years of doing triathlons, in 2012 he required hip surgery, but didn't miss the season and completed a half the fall of the same year. He took 1st place in his first triathlon REV3 Knoxville Olympic, is nationally ranked 400th in the country out of some 3500 racers in his age group, and is 14th to 20th place depending on the day for Ohio racers in his age group.



I was able to jot down a few minutes of our Q & A session (Below):

360Man: What made you decide to do a triathlon?
JA: I saw that there was a triathlon coming to Sandusky, It was family friendly. That was it, I said ok, I'm in. What is a triathlon? I almost didn't do it, but I knew I needed to do it to be an inspiration to the guys that I was teaching.

360Man: Had you ever swam before?
JA: No, I was deathly afraid of the water and showed up to the YMCA at 5 a.m. in my wetsuit and snorkel and goggles. It was kind of embarrassing. I prayed the whole way every morning asking God to help me overcome my fear of the water. For 2 years I did this. On race day, in the open water my heart rate shot up to 200, and I was startled. Then I remembered, I could just lay on my back and rest. After that, I knew that I could pull myself along. Now, the water doesn't bother me.

360Man: What has been the most challenging thing in your life?
JA: The most challenging, and the most rewarding thing, is working with people. There is no one size fits all with people, everyone is different. The rewarding part is watching them grow.

360Man: What about the most challenging race?
JA: Quassy - Connecticut half. The run and bike is brutal with all of the hills. The swim is phenomenal but the rest is challenging.

360Man: What are your other hobbies or interests?
JA: I like flying drones, and am in the middle of building an AR-15. I also play racquetball 2-3 times a week.

360Man: How do you maintain a healthy lifestyle? How has that lifestyle help you overcome challenges in your life?
JA: Healthy eating, no fast food. Racquetball and triathlons. I also run 5K's. As far as overcoming obstacles. I have always been hard headed, wanting to accomplish goals. This lifestyle has helped me face the inevitable and normal obstacles of life that come, not with a mindset of "Why me" but rather, ok, what can I learn from this or how can I use this situation for good. These obstacles are no longer devastating, they are merely bumps in the road.

360Man: What do you like to read? What are you currently reading?
JA: Leadership books, the Bible. I also read a book about Tenzig Norgay, the Sherpa who helped Sir Edmund Hillary get to the top of Mt. Everest in 1953 (being the first 2 people to reach the summit). With Tenzig, Sir Edmond would have never reached the top. I am currently reading about the 2nd temple period of Judaism which was around the time of Jesus ministry. I believe that in order to understand the Bible and what God is really like we need to know the origins of the Hebrew. Too often we look at this through our own lens of today and lay that over the Bible, when really we need to lay the original Hebrew culture and context over it to understand the real character of God. (John recently got back from his first trip to Jerusalem, and will be returning next year.)

360Man: How do you measure success? Have you achieved it?
JA: Fulfilling my purpose in Jesus, with who he has made me and the gifts he has given me. No, I have not achieved success. I don't have to be famous or wealthy. If I can't make a difference then nothing matters. Success is helping people and watching them succeed.



John is now in his 7th season as a triathlete and will be doing the REV3 Knoxville Olympic triathlon in May this year to kick things off. I will be joining him for my first triathlon race and then we will also be doing the Cedar Point REV3 in September. What better person to learn the ropes from? John has also written a book titled Mercy Came Running. Make sure to check it out.

You might ask yourself, how does he do it all? He wakes up early, runs, swims and bikes, goes to work and never sacrifices time with his family. He lives the life of a man who is wholly devoted to God and his family, all while maintaining his health and need for physical activity. It is a life of service to others. He has done all of this at an age where most people have a hard time even getting out of bed. There is no arrogance in the air around him. Simply being around him makes a person want to be better. I am glad to call him my friend.

Also, check out this additional article written about John.
REV3Athlete Spotlight

Connect with John here on facebook.