An Unfounded, Outrageous Claim

05.2.2009 | 7:20 pm

A few (OK, eight) years ago, Provo, Utah was bestowed a tremendous honor: it would be the newest host of an official Ironman. So of course, every local who had pretensions in any of the sports at least considered doing the race.

I, of course, was one of these people. I didn’t actually go so far as to sign up for the race, because that would have been exactly the same as telling my wife that I wanted a divorce. See, she was pregnant with twins at the time, and there was a reasonable likelihood that she’d either be on bed rest or delivering on race day (with twins, the delivery window is gigantic).

But still, I thought about it. And once, while Dug and I were riding the Alpine Loop together (on one of the parts where you can simultaneously talk and breathe), I made an outrageous claim:

“I think I could do an Ironman right now. No special training. Just pull it out of my butt.”

I wasn’t joking, but I said it in such a way that it could be treated as a joke. And I expected Dug to treat it as a joke. After all, I do make unfounded, outrageous claims from time to time.

“It’s funny you should say that,” replied Dug. “I’ve been thinking the same thing.” And we went on to discuss how a fit cyclist could just roll up to the starting line of an Ironman and do it.

The Swim

Gear is essential here. You’ve got to have one of those specialty triathlon wetsuits. Have you ever swam in one of those? It’s incredible: you’re instantly twice as good of a swimmer as you are in real life. You float better, you slide through the water faster, and they’re all set up to give your arms a good range of motion.

I can understand why triathletes get worked up about their wetsuits. There are probably gradations and subtleties of wetsuits they can get all geeked up about, just like cyclists get all obsessed with their bikes. The few times I swammed with those wetsuits, I swear: it was almost like I knew what I was doing.

Even so, as someone who hasn’t swummed much, I know I’d tire out before long. And that’s what the backstroke is for. Flop over on your back and just troll along.

Hey, we weren’t saying we’d win the Ironman.

The Bike

Acknowledging that we would be two of the last three out of the water, we’d quickly find our bikes (because there wouldn’t be any others left in the rack), eating a nice, healthy lunch before starting the ride.

Perhaps, just to underscore the fact that we weren’t taking this thing seriously, we’d wear baggy mountain biking shorts and ride full suspension mountain bikes for the ride (but we’d put on slicks and lock out the suspension). Maybe we’d wear those BMX-style helmets, too.

Turning a nice easy gear, we could ride a road century in our sleep (though that may increase our chances of missing a turn).

The Marathon

You see how I’ve cleverly avoided titling this section “The Run?” That’s because there’d be little actual running involved. It’d be more of a hobbling, wounded-animal limpfest that lasted five hours, at least. Probably six, to be honest. We’d walk 75% of it. But we’ve both done marathons before. We knew we could push through another.

And then we could say we’d done it: an improvisational, no-specific-training Ironman.

Deep Introspection

The thing is—and I have no way to prove it—I really do think a reasonably strong cyclist with endurance riding experience could pull off an Ironman without any particular training in the other disciplines. And by “reasonably strong cyclist,” I mean me.

So the big questions are:

  • Am I completely out of my mind, or is this possible? Both?
  • For cyclists, pure swimmers, and pure runners: Could you do an Ironman right now? For triathletes: Could you do the Leadville 100 or Cascade Creampuff today? (For the Leadville part, pretend that Columbine mine is not presently buried in deep snow.)
  • How much money would someone have to pay you to try? Would it need to take the form of a bet, or would it need to be straight-up payment?  

For myself, I’m thinking a $3000 bet would do it, but the guy betting me would have to pay my entry fee and buy me a wetsuit, which I get to keep no matter what.

PS: This post originally published May 2, 2006, in my Spaces archive. And also, right now I’m pretty sure I could not complete an Ironman.


  1. Comment by Jim | 05.2.2009 | 7:53 pm

    You only get 17 hours dude. Even if you were Norman Statler-esk, and finished the ride in 4 and a half hours, that only leaves you 12 and a half to dog paddle, and crawl yourself across the finish line, or they kick your ass out.

    Can you do anything for 17 hours straight?

  2. Comment by Jamieson | 05.2.2009 | 7:56 pm

    Phew – For a minute there I thought you had *truly* lost your mind.

    I was looking for the Bratwurst comment, but found the comment at the end that this post was 3 years old and was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

  3. Comment by erin johnson | 05.2.2009 | 8:07 pm

    been there…done it (IMKY ‘08)…and i’m not even a strong cyclist…(i’m barely a weak cyclist right now!)

    my one long ride was about 60 miles…sporadic other 13-20 mile rides…one long run was 9 miles about 2 months before hand…about 10 swims total…

    so yes…it can be done…i think my time was about 14 hours 15 minutes…

    i had planned to train more of course…but as a mom with a 13 month old and a traveling husband, the opportunities were not always there!

    (and for the record – it was fun…no one would have to pay me to do it again!)

  4. Comment by Miss | 05.2.2009 | 8:19 pm

    Good thing you added the comment at the end – I was just about to mail you a check for $3k. :)

  5. Comment by Di | 05.2.2009 | 8:21 pm

    I gave up running when I took up mountain biking. I was a horrible runner, too.

    As far as swimming goes, well, my best stroke is the dog paddle. I really don’t think I would get very far.

  6. Comment by jwm | 05.2.2009 | 10:35 pm

    you’re forgetting that during all those long training days, you figure out what to eat. And there is one thing that you can mess up in grand fashion, it’s what you eat on the bike. There is a pretty big diff between eating for a 112 mile bike ride and an Ironman.

    just my two cents. Otherwise, I get the gist. It’s not that impossible, unless it is.

  7. Comment by Marrock | 05.2.2009 | 11:37 pm

    The only swimming move I know is the breast stroke, but every time I try to do it my girlfriend tells me to keep my hands to myself…

    As far as actual swimming… I do a great impression of a rock.

  8. Comment by fatty | 05.3.2009 | 12:38 am

    You know, all you guys saying and hinting I couldn’t do it are just making me think I can / should. Where should I sign up?

  9. Comment by Philly Jen | 05.3.2009 | 1:40 am

    Go ask Brad W. — he’s got Ironman experience.

    But if (triathlon : single sport :: triplets : single kid), I suppose being the father of twins constitutes something akin to informed consent.

    Though it’s interesting that the only person who has weighed in so far with actual Ironman experience is someone who had gone through labor shortly beforehand. No offense, big guy, but I don’t imagine you’re quite up for that as a training regimen…

  10. Comment by graisseux | 05.3.2009 | 2:20 am

    There’s an Ironman in St. George next May (I think the inaugural event was today). Unfortunately, I think these things are hard to just do on a whim since you usually have to register far in advance.

    I guess you could sign up way in advance then someone could monitor you to make sure you don’t swim a single lap in a pool or run a single mile until the event–to maintain the “whim” status. Of course, it probably wouldn’t be hard to keep you away from those activities considering what you’ve said about them in the past.

  11. Comment by John | 05.3.2009 | 6:09 am

    Hmmmm. “Reasonably strong cyclist”. Maybe I qualify. I put in enough miles that I could do a 5-hour century in the flats on any given day.

    I run, too, but *never* more than 10k.

    I “know how to swim” but as far as swimming goes, it’s something I only do if the boat is sinking.

    Do I think I could “complete” an ironman? If I walked most of the marathon, sure. I could NEVER, not in my wildest dreams, just suddenly try to run 26.2 miles after previously never going more than 10k, and CERTAINLY not after going 100 miles on the bike. In fact, I’m 100% certain I wouldn’t even be able to run 10k worth of it after cycling a century.

    I don’t think I could be bribed into doing it. It’s just my personality – I wouldn’t try unless I thought I was prepared enough to do well, and the running portion of that would take me at least a year to get ready for, I’d guess.


  12. Comment by S | 05.3.2009 | 6:25 am

    Fatty; just sign up.

    You know you want to. If you don’t you’ll never know and it will eat away at you.

    Go for the road bike tho. Remove any excuse for a poor bike split.

    You can also put in shed loads of training but never mention it and sandbag for all you’re worth……

  13. Comment by Tim D | 05.3.2009 | 6:41 am

    Whilst I’ve never done an Ironman, I’ve done a dozen or so short course triathlons, and you are describing my training plan pretty accurately. All bar the requisite trip to the pub the night before the race for 4 or 5 pints and a big meal.

    I have a 100k road ride in two weeks. The furthest I’ve ridden this year is to the pub and back.

  14. Comment by Clydesteve | 05.3.2009 | 8:54 am

    The few times I swammed with those wetsuits, I swear

    This is the point where I knew you were putting us on.

  15. Comment by Clydesteve | 05.3.2009 | 9:08 am

    My last untrained run was with my daughter and wife, who HAD been running. (I quit running over a year, well, WAY over a year – previous because of knee pain.)

    I figured I could use my cycling fitness an push them in a beach run of about 10 miles, and the sand would protect my knee from the pounding. I DID push them for about the first 4-3/4 miles.

    At that point, my unstreeeetched calves, now ooover streeetched in the sand complained. bitterly. I hobbled 4-3/4 miles back to the start, a miserable crumpled broken and pathetic shell of a boastful former duath-A-lete.

    I could probably pull a long swim out of my butt, I am sure I could make it through any road century. I am just as certain that I would not be able to walk a marathon within the time limit. Running is out of the question.

  16. Comment by russ | 05.3.2009 | 9:41 am

    I’ll be doing IM CdA in June. I’ve trained a lot but life and snow has a way of not letting you train as much as you want to. I could finish Leadville today, in fact I’m heading out the door for 140km on the bike now. If I’m not back by supper send out International rescue.

  17. Comment by Patrick | 05.3.2009 | 9:59 am

    The inaugural St. George IM is next May (2010) and there are still slots available so you have a year to procrastinate training and then just go do it.

    I have done many triathlons of varying length but never an IM (my wife and I are signed up for SGIM). I know that I could go and do a century ride today if it wasn’t raining outside. The worst part of a triathlon is the swim. I think that most relatively fit people could pull out a 2.4 miles swim if there were no time constraints (you have to finish the swim in 2.5 hours). But an IM swim is a completely different story, the start is the worst part. If you can mentally handle the swim start you can handle the rest of the race. You have 2000 people fighting, and I do mean fighting, for position this is what a mass swim start is like.

  18. Comment by Patrick | 05.3.2009 | 10:02 am

    there’s something wrong with the link to the video but try this:

  19. Comment by fish | 05.3.2009 | 10:08 am

    I’ve been saying for a while you guys could do it. I’m not a reasonably fit cyclist, so I have to actually train for those things. The fitness that you, Dug and the rest of the core team maintain even when you’re ‘out of shape’ is sufficient you could do it. I’m signed up for St. George. Dug could do the swim as a backstroke and make the swim cut in plenty of time. Sign up.

  20. Comment by Flyin' Ute | 05.3.2009 | 10:11 am


    I’m pretty sure you could do it. You know how to suffer. You would need something to motivate you though and if that is $3k then it won’t be a problem. I would want enough money to pay for a new bike so maybe $6k would do it.

    All five of my kids play soccer or some other seasonal sport and either coaching or being at one of those games has spoiled more than one good bike ride.

    I don’t know how to be a good dad and spend so much time training and recovering. Seems too selfish. Plus the fact that my many friends who Have done an Iron Man are so burnt out they don’t even ride with me anymore.
    So the plan to show up and just “go for it” is a good one, but then again WHY? You are already doing the only event that really matters…..Biking!!!

    Just stick to that and love it. Everyone wins!

  21. Comment by Russell | 05.3.2009 | 10:16 am

    I started cycling to save my knees from running. Cycling in turn ruined my forelimbs. A severely dislocated shoulder, a broken collar bone, a broken arm have rendered my forelimbs to the fairly useless category, so swimming is out. Could I just do three back to back centuries and call it even?

  22. Comment by Kathleen | 05.3.2009 | 11:07 am

    You could do it but the risk of injury would be pretty high.

    I trained decently for my first tri (olympic length) AND took it slow (as you described) and made it through injury free.

    If I tackled Leadville tomorrow (40 miles is my longest bike ride to date – and yes, I’m training for Team Fatty)I’m not sure I would finish but if I did I bet I’d be either super sore or hurt.

  23. Comment by monkeywebb | 05.3.2009 | 12:11 pm

    I’ve had a similar discussion several times while on a ride. My problem is surviving the swim. The only triathlon I’ve done (triathlite they called it) didn’t go so well. The people on the side of the pool were openly laughing. I then got stuck halfway in my bike jersey ’cause I didn’t dry off before trying to put it on. Not my finest day.

  24. Comment by Bri | 05.3.2009 | 2:21 pm

    How about a cumulative 3000 for cancer? I bet you could get people to sponsor you on that. Hey, you might even get a camera crew to follow you…that might be entertaining!

  25. Comment by Bluenoser | 05.3.2009 | 3:50 pm

    Oh Lord Fatty,

    You’re not geeking out on me are you? Just change the blog name to would you if you do?

    But if you really want to do this I won’t hold it against you… just sell all your bikes except the TT bike which you will get addicted to.


  26. Comment by Aaron | 05.3.2009 | 4:06 pm

    I know people who are naturally gifted athletes, that could do this. These are the people that put in two or three long rides before Leadville, and still easily finish, with plenty of time to spare. They make me sick. ;-) So yeah, I definitely think it can be done.

  27. Comment by Miles Archer | 05.3.2009 | 4:58 pm

    The real Ironman in Kona – are you kidding? The swim will kill you. The ride will kill you. Then, the run will kill you.

    An Olympic distance tri – That I could do. Best if I had a couple of months to get back into swimming shape, but I could power through 1k if I had to.

  28. Comment by Kevin | 05.3.2009 | 5:41 pm

    You just need to be careful when your riding buddy is “thinking the same thing.” That’s how I got myself roped into a 24 hour bike race (24 Hours of Moab) without riding enough and doing adventure races (just the short-course 10-hour cutoff kind) without any idea what we were doing. Or, maybe that’s just the way to get into a good adventure!!

    Of course, make sure whatever you thought was a good idea when you were sober is still good when you’re drunk and visa versa (I think it was the Greeks who came up with that).

  29. Comment by Big Boned | 05.3.2009 | 6:29 pm

    Though “triathletes” would have you believe it can’t be done, it can. I’ve done several 24-36 hour adventure races training nearly exclusively on my MTB. Those races were completed sans sleep – straight through till morning. The 17 hour cutoff shouldn’t be a concern as long as you keep moving.
    I didn’t train on running, but certainly ran further than a marathon in those events.

  30. Comment by WheelDancer | 05.3.2009 | 7:13 pm

    Well, I’m a pretty strong rider and I tested the running part, which I don’t do very often. I went for a run and it was no problem so I ran pretty good and hard for around five miles since I didn’t want to push it. I got back and felt a bit sore but fine all in all. However two days later I could barely walk my legs were so sore. I know, I know, more cross-training which I have gotten better at but holy crap, I don’t ever recall getting that sore from an activity that caused me no pain while I was doing it. I think if I had done a marathon I would have needed a Hover Round for a few weeks.

  31. Comment by MechE Hokie | 05.3.2009 | 9:06 pm


    I’ve done triathlons and adventure races, and I think you could probably have pulled this off. What nobody’s really mentioned, and what’s the hardest part for me, is the second transition from bike to run. I’ve only done sprint triathlons, but that switch from tiny pedaling circles to big running strides is killer.

    My crazy triathlete friends claim that anyone can run an ultra, even off the couch, so I think you could do it.

  32. Comment by UltraRob | 05.3.2009 | 10:12 pm

    I know I couldn’t do a triathlon right now. I couldn’t have done it even the year I attempted RAAM or the year I did the Leadville 100 in 8:18. I could crawl my way through the run.

    The problem is I swim just like a rock. I go straight to the bottom and stay there. I even took swimming lessons. After a couple months, I could sometimes make it to the other end of the pool without grabbing the lane divider. I even had the instructor say everybody’s upper body floats but some guys legs pull them down. She had me put foam noodles between me legs so I could feel how to float. My head went down and my legs went up. So much for her theory.

  33. Comment by Angie G | 05.3.2009 | 11:12 pm

    Fatty- If you maintain the right attitude about it, it would be a walk in the park. I did my first sprint last year and I have to admit, the bike to run transition kicked my ass!! No really. My calves mooed all the way through the walk/shuffle. I don’t know that I would actually call what I did, “running”. And it was only a sprint.
    I agree you could make this totally awesome with a Team Fatty crew and make it another opportunity to raise some more moolah for LAF. If anything it would be great to watch!! :-)

  34. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 05.4.2009 | 6:22 am

    I never got pretentious enough to seek out a full ironman. When I was young and stupid there wasn’t a single full ironman within 800 miles of where I lived. As a swimmer in a team I did the first ever Noosa Triathlon, now the largest Olympic distance event in the southern hemisphere. The following couple of years in amongst my track cycling I did 6 Olympic distance triathlons.

    In 1986 as a consistent finisher (just finisher) I was offered a start in something called “The Great Race” triathlon. It was only 2 hours from home. This was in the days before standardised distances and was configured 2km/75km/20km.

    I swam at high school. Club level stuff, but I could swim. I cycled. State level stuff. In training I could run 5k in 18 minutes as long as there wasn’t a swim/ride before it. But that was 5k and I’d only run half a dozen 10k besides the Olympic tris in my whole life. Never 20.

    In a field limited to 500, sweet little 18 year old me came out of the water in 262nd. Rode my $1500-off-the-peg road bike against 24″ front/27″ rear funny bikes with double disc wheels and made the second transition inside the top 10. Go read the last sentence of the previous paragraph.

    I strode out of transition and had a TV crew interviewing me out of the back of a moving station wagon. “You’re only a couple of minutes behind the leader and first U21. How do you see this race developing?” “We’ll have to wait and see. My strong leg is behind me.” They left after that, but my mum saw me on TV. I eventually ran a 2:23 for 20k and slipped back to finish in 268th at 5:02:something.

    Sub 5 hour finishers got a mounted plaque. I got a pullover and an ambulance ride. My newish blue shoes had gotten soaked and the dye ran so when I took them off at the finish I was diagnosed with no circulation in my feet.

    But be warned Elden, almost anyone can bob and float and paddle 4.2km. Your cycling background would see you through the middle bit. But like most cyclists, working your leg muscles in something other than a circular motion and making them bear weight at the same time is a dismal failure for most.

  35. Comment by Jake | 05.4.2009 | 7:02 am

    I’m a former road pro (for 1 year) and former US national team member (also for 1 year) and I started doing triathlons almost two years ago. I showed up for my first one (a sprint) without having run or swam before hand. IT WAS HARD! I had the fastest bike split, but the run hurt. It hurt bad. I did my first half ironman last year without ever running more than 10 miles. It was also very hard and I was sore for a week. Cyclists, in general, are not good runners and the run is where triathlons are usually won.
    I’m glad I’ve switched to triathlons. I’m still a cat 1 road racer and NORBA pro, but the tri scene is so much more welcoming than cycling.

  36. Comment by yeagermeister | 05.4.2009 | 7:16 am

    Take some pointers from this guy- he did IMAZ on a BMX bike:

    My wife (who has completed 3) has this to say:
    “I’m sure he could do it. Being able to swim the distance, ride the distance and run the distance is not the same as being able to put them together but that’s what the training is for. I seriously believe that anyone, barring some physical disability, can do an ironman if they do the training, and some people can blag it without doing the training (the bastards). I have team mates who complete on the back of very little training at all. I have team mates who complete having trained 20 hours a week. Those who actually compete are a different story.”

    Of course, she’s nuts. I don’t believe anything she says.

  37. Comment by SurlyCommuter | 05.4.2009 | 8:01 am

    Up here in Seattle we have several to choose from, one of my riding buddies has done several and hints at doing one again some time. I have trouble with both the swim (when I swim laps the lifeguard usually tries to “save” me) and the running. I truly despise running – perhaps its my gazelle like stature (5′10″ 204) Come on over for the ChelanMan the end of July, or the one in Lake Stevens. I’ll cheer you on!

  38. Comment by jwbikes | 05.4.2009 | 8:39 am

    I am going to hook this up on the Ride to Nowhere. 102 on the bike, 26.2 on the treadmill, and then 1.5 hours in the Hot Tub (I don’t have a pool). Imagine an Ironman and only moving a total of 50 yards. I see international fame and fortune in that endeavor. Awesome


  39. Comment by (California ) Matt | 05.4.2009 | 8:49 am

    I will just toss this out….I swam all thru high school and then throughout my Navy career (did a few roughwater swims during my time in Hawaii). The Navy has a Fitness test (at least they used to) required 4 times a year. Part of that is either a 1.5 mile run or a 500 yard swim. I can’t tell you how often I saw a ‘young stallion’ see some overly plump person do a respectable swim time and think “hey…I’m a fit dude…if he/she can do that, then I can do better”. And lo and behold they show up for the swim, they launch into the water hell bent…which lasts about 75 yards…which is about when a the non-swimmers arms have turned to total concrete. By about 250 to 300 yards they are literally lying on their backs, kicking some and even unable to do a backstroke. And they’d fail the test with a finish time outside of the limits. Yet if they had shown up at the pool even twice a week, inside of 2 months I’d have them doing the 500 yds non-stop.

    Running: well..even if you are tired you can walk, or crawl..or just stop and rest. But you still have air. Cycling: you can pedal just enough to keep forward momentum, or just stop…still have air. Swimming: you have to propell yourself forward AND stay afloat or you get to try to breath water. Even if you stop, you have to stay afloat. That takes energy you obviously don’t have, or you’d still be swimming. Of all the events in any triathlon, I believe swimming is the one you MOST need to do your prep-work. (With that said, I’ve never done an full Ironman… but have done several smaller triathlons). I’m not a runner but I can always muddle thru that part. Most smaller triathlons have a very short swim as compared to the run and bike…so the swim isn’t such a penalty if you’re not a strong swimmer (and it’s in a pool). But a full Ironman is a 2.5 mile swim. And THAT is a very serious swim my friends. And it’s usually roughwater.

    Just my 2 cents worth…for one I’d love to hear about it if you DO ever totally lose your mind and do one Fatty. That would be quite a story!

  40. Comment by Chezhed270 | 05.4.2009 | 10:09 am

    Hi Fatty! I am proud to say that I am an elite athlete, with similar delusions of competing an Ironman. I’ve done half a dozen sprint tri’s and finished in about the middle of the pack. That’s about all I can say. I’ve done 2 half-mary’s, so I’m pretty sure I can do that, however, not sure if I can put the swibiru all together within the same 24 hours for IM distances. Ha!

    Anyway, here is a link to an article about Devo. Hope it helps with your Monday!

  41. Comment by dug | 05.4.2009 | 10:21 am

    i’m telling you–as long as you can get out of the water in exactly 2:19, it’s a done deal.

    spot me the st george entry fee for next summer, and i’m there.

  42. Comment by Scott | 05.4.2009 | 10:28 am

    It’s probably not the 17 hour cutoff that would get you – it’s the 2 hour 20 minute cutoff for the swim. If you’re not a swimmer at all, and have never trained for it, and plan on using backstroke as your backup plan, there’s a pretty good chance you wouldn’t make it out of the water in time, in which case you’re pulled from the race. Happened to a friend of mine – strong cyclist and runner, weak swimmer – despite consistent swim training, he didn’t make the cutoff (partly because of rough conditions and trouble staying on course) and he got pulled from the race as he exited the swim – 30 seconds after the cutoff. He would have easily made up the time on the run/ride and finished well under 17 hours… (he finished one the following year in a bit over 13 hours, after spending lots of time in the pool). So yeah, maybe you could do the distance, but within the rules of an actual Ironman race – probably not.

  43. Comment by (California ) Matt | 05.4.2009 | 10:48 am

    OH..and just a thought…I’m not totally sure they’d let you into the water at a REAL Ironman wearing your kids water-wings.

  44. Comment by Rick | 05.4.2009 | 11:06 am

    And for a non-athletically oriented comment regarding swimming:

  45. Comment by axel in texas | 05.4.2009 | 12:36 pm

    3 months of swim training and you should be good to go. Plus mental ability to keep going while in pain for a few hours. That’s all it takes…
    advice from someone who finished an ironman on a used bike bought for 99 Euro on ebay.

  46. Comment by spkell | 05.4.2009 | 1:31 pm

    I think the more apropos question is:
    “What manner of demonic possession or psychosis would have to occur to induce an otherwise sane cyclist to undertake such an endeavor?”

  47. Comment by Charisa | 05.4.2009 | 3:53 pm

    Here’s my take on it – having done 5 ironmans, all of which I trained for. They give you 17 hours. That is a LOT of time. Yes, I think you could do it and finish in time w/out training much at all as long as you were in decent shape. And you would be sore for weeks. But they would call you an “ironman” haha :)

  48. Comment by Dobovedo | 05.4.2009 | 4:46 pm

    Interesting that you should post this again, which I suppose is because Utah is getting an Ironman again next year?

    I also find it interesting because I am currently doing what you suggest. Last fall I decided to take my strong cycling background and try to turn it into an Ironman. I am doing Florida in November, and will have 1 year of training. Until last October I hadn’t run in over 20 years. It started out great at short distances, but here’s something I wasn’t expecting: Cycling has done as much harm as good.

    My cardio is great, and so is my endurance. But 10,000 miles a year on a bike with no other cross training has left my body wired all wrong for running. I’ve got a whole team of doctors, physical therapists and massage therapists trying to rebuild me.

    Some of the previous comments really surprised me (aside from the fact that they missed that this was an old post). First, I would completely ignore any of the commenters who have only done sprint or even oly distance tris. No offense, but it’s not just a matter of doubling distances a couple times. The body does strange things when pushed beyond certain points. The difficulty is not linear. And what shocks me even more are those who have done full IMs and say you could do it “with little or no training”. Mostly because everyone assumes they can forgo running and walk instead.

    Have you ever seriously considered the prospect of walking 26.2 miles? After an hour and a half in open water and 6 hours on a bike? While it might sound easier than running the same distance, walking for 5 to 6 hours introduces a whole new set of potential problems.

  49. Comment by axel in texas | 05.4.2009 | 5:00 pm

    dobovedo, if you just want to finish, make sure you finish the bike ride early enough and in reasonable shape and enjoy the walk. train enough that the swim and the bike does not wear you out and that you are not afraid of the marathon. The later part of all endurance events is mental, going on through pain.
    Oh, and eating and drinking plenty while doing it, something that fatcyclist readers probably have no difficulty.

  50. Comment by Rob M | 05.4.2009 | 5:29 pm

    In keeping with this blog’s theme of often funny and other times serious, there is a great inspirational and emotional video about a father and son in an ironman competition:

    Oh, and be sure to have some tissues handy.

  51. Comment by fexy01 | 05.4.2009 | 5:33 pm

    Hmm… It would be fun to watch you out there.
    Between us, the wife and I have 19 IM finishes (she has one more than I do). Leadville? Yeah, I think so. A number of my fellow IM finishers have done so. Cascade? Don’t know anything about it; I need to check it out. Divide Ride? Love to try it; Great Divide? Even more so.
    Do I think you could finish? Probably, but you’d probably be hating life afterward. I promise you, the truth about IM is out there on the run. The bike and swim are just the warm up.

  52. Comment by Clydesdale | 05.4.2009 | 7:50 pm

    Cadabra, and the good doctor, WINS!!

    Win Susan!
    Win Leona!

  53. Comment by Dogwood | 05.4.2009 | 7:55 pm

    Go ahead and do it. You know you want to.

    I just faked my way through the Indy mini-marathon on Saturday, much to my wife’s chagrin & surprise.

    No training, out of shape, haven’t run a road race in 20 years, and my new shoes didn’t arrive until three days before the race.

    I finished in 2:52.

    Now granted, I couldn’t lift my left foot over a six-inch high curb to get out of the finisher’s chute, and my wife had to help me get up off the toilet post-race, but I finished and I wasn’t last!

    And, I had a lot of free time in the four months leading up to the race, time my wife spent running mile after mile after mile so she would be in shape and ready run. I mean, she used up a pair of shoes just training for the thing. What a waste!

    So what if she is walking around today pain free while I’m swallowing bottles of Tylenol and struggling to stand and walk under my own power. I did it! I finished! I survived! Barely.

    So forget the training. Spare your body, bike tires and shoes the abuse of training, and just show up on race day.

    I dare ya. I triple dog dare ya.

  54. Comment by Susan Tomlinson | 05.4.2009 | 8:33 pm

    Hi Fatty–

    While I applaud your willingness to try to pull an ironman out of your butt (that is what you said, right? I’m worried that might be painful) without any specialized training, I thought I’d offer this little caution: I have been part of the boat support team for several local triathlons. Unfortunately, every race has us picking up swimmers who had underestimated the swim leg of the race. Some of them hadn’t bothered to train at swimming at all, figuring that they could run or cycle long distances, and that little swim didn’t look all the far…

    Try out the pool first, at least, to see how hard that distance is. We love you too much here to want to see you drown.

    Your pal,

    Boat Support

  55. Comment by LostHim | 05.4.2009 | 9:12 pm

    I actually had a good friend drown during the swim portion of the event. The safety patrol in the water did not see him soon enough. He had trained for months and could swim a mile+ in the YMCA pool. Roughwater is something different.

  56. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 05.5.2009 | 2:48 am

    LostHim – “Roughwater is something different”

    Getting kicked in the face a couple of dozen times in the first 300m is also something different.

  57. Comment by Dana | 05.5.2009 | 7:01 am

    What’s with Kona not posting the results to the contest yet? Their site says to check back on Monday, which was yesterday…

  58. Comment by Big Boned | 05.5.2009 | 7:04 am

    The winner is listed on the kona homepage. Cadabra it is! Nice work Legion of his Roayl Fatness!

  59. Comment by Big Boned | 05.5.2009 | 7:05 am

    …Or “Royal”, depends on if you are dyslexic or not.

  60. Comment by (California ) Matt | 05.5.2009 | 7:42 am

    Big Mike…you bring up an interesting point that I had forgot about. In my FIRST roughwater swim (Hawaii..north shore..prob around 1993), it was an in-water start. I knew I was somewhere in the ‘average’ zone of eventual finishers…so I figured to go ahead and be in the middle of the ‘pack’ for the start. So there we are….hundreds of us…treading water in a giant bunch at a virtual start line. And then “BAM”..the gun goes off…and HOLY CRAP!! I had no idea…talk about a dog eat dog world! The mere-moments ago quiet water-treading field has turned into a clawing, kicking, swim-right-over-the-top of anybody who isn’t moving fast enough mob! I lost my goggles and nearly had my speedo ripped off my body in the first 30 seconds! Thankfully I was able to grab onto my goggles before they were lost in the churning whitewater and just hold them in one hand as I franticly swam my way at an angle to the outside of the pack. I literally had scratch/claw marks over most of my body when it was finally past. It was truly insane! I was totally exhausted by the first minute or so of max intensity swimming just to get clear of the mob. After that you can calm down, clear your goggles and start swimming towards the first buoy. That was my rude awakening to the sport of roughwater swims. Fatty…I think you should do it! I’d LOVE to hear your take on it all!

  61. Comment by rookieroadracer | 05.5.2009 | 9:02 am

    Fatty, you could finish an ironman. How long it would take, how many days you paid for it, if you ever forgave yourself for the torture, all valid questions. But you could complete it. I’m almost sure of it. Personally I’d like to see a new kind of triathelon. Road bike race, mountain bike race, then motorcycle race. 3 sports, all on 2 wheels, plenty of excitement. And did I mention no running?

  62. Comment by Rick S. | 05.5.2009 | 9:31 am

    I’m with Dug. Let’s skip Leadville next year and get a group do do a full distance tri. As much as hate the tri scene, I’d be up for it. It sounds like a suffer fest.

  63. Comment by (California ) Matt | 05.5.2009 | 12:21 pm

    I’d be up for a Tri….Swim, bike, and then maybe beer-bottle cap zinging, or maybe Lawn Darts wiht copious amounts of beer…or how about high-speed downhill racing in old radio-flyer wagons? Wearing Keds tennis shoes to stop with. Something of that nature for the 3rd and final leg. Oh wait…Swim-bike-RUN?? I thought it was FUN! Sorry. Count me out.

  64. Comment by Lynn | 05.5.2009 | 2:56 pm

    We have this phenomenon here where I live…people that aren’t ready for Ironman’s…doing them…so sure, you could definitely do one…and live to tell about it…however, I find something slightly horrific about coughing, sputtering and walking your/my way through an Ironman… doesn’t really seem very “Iron”, now does it? ; )

  65. Comment by Rosco | 05.5.2009 | 6:08 pm

    Maybe we could make this some sort of special event. Who can do an ironman of the LEAST training.

  66. Comment by Victoria | 05.6.2009 | 7:16 pm

    I’m in agreement with California Matt. The swim just cannot be underestimated for people who aren’t swimmers. I think the best possible candidate for someone to pull this off with only adequate endurance training in one of the three disciplines would be a strong runner who grew up swimming. (Um, a little like myself.) Even if you haven’t swam for a long time, it’s like riding a bicycle… erm, sorry, bad comparison– you can get back into the groove fairly easily for one swim. The bike section (and I’ve heard this from several triathletes) is the least divisive section– and probably the “easiest” to slide into with only adequate cardio training and no time on the bike.

    That’s my two cents.

  67. Comment by kelly | 05.7.2009 | 2:47 pm

    Also, consider this: depending on water temps, you may not get to wear a wetsuit. I did IM Louisville last year and did the swim in a Speedo, since the Ohio River was over 80 degrees.

  68. Comment by Will | 05.8.2009 | 1:10 pm

    As a swimmer with a decent resume (high school champion, ocean lifeguard, skin diving instructor, Horsetooth Reservoir 10k finisher), I believe I could do an Ironman (poorly) right now. I think it’s not the best comparison, though, as I’ve already worked up to 1/2 Ironman (2 years ago). I think it would be interesting to hear a response from someone who has never, or barely done any triathlons.

  69. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » An Unfounded, Outrageous Claim | 12.12.2011 | 2:51 pm

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