I had the pleasure to interview an awesome human being this week.
I was meant to be in Utah this month and it would have been amazing to conduct the interview in person, but due to some travel restrictions I couldn't make the trip. Luckily though, Sidney was kind enough to answer my questions remotely.
Sidney Smith is an avid hunter, triathlon athlete, Ironman, a husband and father. He is also a double leg amputee.
I wanted to document our conversation and with Sidney's permission I'm publishing it here for you to read.
I had to share. He's such an inspiration and his positive attitude and mental toughness can remind us that we can accomplish a lot more than we think.
Below are some of the questions I asked Sidney and his answers to those questions.
The conversation was centered on his achievements and approach to life after having both legs amputated but if you are curious for more backstory, the short video interview with Sidney at the end of the interview is where he discusses what lead to that life-changing event.
Q. You recently completed the Ironman competition. The Ironman race is a grueling 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bicycle ride and then a marathon run to finish. I'm tired just typing that. And if I heard correctly, you are only one of three leg amputee guys to ever finish Ironman. How did it feel to hear Mike Riley say out loud "Sidney Smith, You Are an Ironman!" ?
Sidney: It was one of the most amazing and humbling experiences of my life. The doing the Ironman race was just the icing on the cake. The training, the sacrifice, the doubters, and struggle preparing for it was what made that Ironman a life changing experience for me. Hearing Mike Riley was what solidified that for me. There were tears hearing his voice.
Q. How important is mindset in preparation for a massive challenge like Ironman?
Sidney: Mindset is everything. If a guy with no legs is able to do the Ironman what makes him special? Its Mindset. However, the “Mindset” is not a special gift given to me. It something we all have inside us that develops over time. Reaction to the trials, pain, and experience is what makes the “Mindset” special.
My struggles with my feet have been a blessing because it prepared me to endure this race and it’s training.
Q. On Instagram (@tri_nofeet) you make it look easy, where does that passion for life come from?
Sidney: Gratitude. Being grateful for all the things I still have has brought me joy and passion. I often focus on my blessing that I have taken for granted. Things like my family, wife, job, eyes, hands, food, freedoms, and lessons I have learned.
Q. You were in your early 30s when you had both legs amputated. Up until then you endured surgery after surgery. So how on Earth did you go from living with limitations to competing in Ironman only 4 years later, what clicked in you?
Sidney: We’ve all heard the phrase the idle mind is the devils playground. Prior to my amputations I was kind of who is me kind of person. I did nothing for myself and I would get depressed over it. Depression led to horrible thoughts and almost to some horrible actions.
I used my amputations as a reason to start fresh in life. I made the goal of an Ironman a difficult one that way I didn’t have the time or energy to blame my disability on God, myself or anyone else. I discovered by doing that I found happiness and purpose by accepting life’s challenges and making the best of them.
Q. You're a father. I can't help but think that when your children grow up and face obstacles in their own lives they are going to be so well equipped with the right mindset that they can accomplish whatever they put their minds to.
That comes from you and your wife and how you've both overcome the ups and downs. Was the role model role a conscious thought for you as you were fighting your demons? Or was it a by product of your daily grind?
Sidney: That’s a great question. Yes, a lot of my drive comes from being an example to my wife and kids. Yes, it’s not fair that I was born with disease and the physical pain that I had to go through. But more importantly it would NOT fair to my wife and kids to have a life where their father and husband is negative, depressed, upset, and broken.
Q. I've seen some epic pictures of you hunting & fishing and you have a Bakcou electric hunting bike with you. Considering you're an Ironman athlete you're quite capable without the ebike so why use the electric hunting bike? Does it improve your hunting trip?
Sidney: I love the ebike. Although I have the endurance of riding a triathlon bike for 6-8 hours, the skill of mountain bike while trying to hunt is different kind of challenge. Hauling a boned out mule deer with my bow, and my backcountry camping gear is hard, but the use of an ebike makes it more possible.
Here's a short video of Sidney talking about how he decided to train for Ironman.
Video courtesy of MTN OPS & V6 Media