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Three to Inspire

Here are three individuals whose recent exploits are inspirational. They have overcome major obstacles and advancing age to thrive and show us what's possible when we put our mind to it.

Tony Handler

Triathlete Tony Handler turns mega excuses into reasons. Tony's completed more than 220 triathlons, including two Ironman events, despite several battles with cancer. More specifically, this now 70-year-old has, since age 45,when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given two years to live, battled through six different cancers (liver, thryroid, prostate...) and 17 operations, including the replacing of his aortic valve in recent years.

To celebrate turning 70, Tony set a goal to complete a half-Ironman - 70.3 miles of combined swimming, cycling and running. On May 17, 2009 this six-time cancer survivor successfully completed the Ford Ironman 70.3 in Florida with a time of 8:33:29. And he wasn't yet ready to rest on his laurels, as he has completed at least 10 other triathlons as of August. Tony Handler shows us that we can thrive no matter what obstacles life throws in our path, if we stay focused on what we want.

Dale Hull, M.D.

In 1999, Utah's Dale Hull became a quadriplegic as the result of a trampoline mishap. Through intense rehab over the years, he was able to regain the ability to walk. In June, using a special underwater treadmill, this 55-year-old ran an underwater marathon in 5 hours, 56 minutes. In doing so, he raised $10,000 for charity. To achieve his goal of running 26.2 miles, Dale trained for 5 months, 6 days per week. Despite not being able to run on land, with some creative thinking and modern technology, Dale was able to accomplish the "impossible."

Colleen DeReuck

On September 7th Boulder, Colorado's Colleen DeReuck won the USA 20K Championships in New Haven, Connecticut. What makes this of interest here is that she is 45 years old, which makes her the oldest woman to ever win a major U.S. championship. Her obstacle? She was competing against elite runners decades younger than she. Her time of 1:07:21 beat the second-place finisher, who was nineteen years her junior, by 17 seconds. To win this race and title, Colleen had to run 12.5 miles at a 5:25-per-mile pace. So much for our having to slow down as we get older.

Tony, Dale and Colleen have shown us once again that falling apart as we age is an option, not a mandate. By reading about these age blasters and the obstacles they had to overcome, our own self-limiting, self-sabotaging beliefs about aging and our relatively minuscule excuses are challenged - which encourages more empowering beliefs.