Book Review: You Are An Ironman

I have a bad habit of wanting to read the end of a book before I read the beginning. All books have a finish, an end, and I want to get there. Knowing a bit about the end helps me enjoy the bits and pieces and side stories along the way so much more, so that I don’t have to worry about what’s going to happen or read too quickly to find out. Yes, very telling of my personality, always on to the next. Well, I did not jump ahead while reading this book if that tells you anything. I wanted to experience the journeys to Ironman the same way I will.

When You Are An Ironman by Jacques Steinberg was recently released I couldn’t even wait for paperback. I swooped it up and finished it in a matter of days. With IMC seemingly forever away I hang on to these little Ironman bits deeply to feel connected and remind myself what this all means. Yes, that means I’m unavailable December 10 for your fabulous event or party or what have you because I’ll be on my couch watching the IMWC broadcast.

Overall the book was an excellent way to feel connected and remind myself of what’s in store for me and the couple thousand people who I’ll be racing alongside. Through the pages I followed 6 individuals while they endured a year of training and mishaps on their way to be an Ironman. Training happened, life arose, more training happened, they were nervous, scared, more training happened, they got excited, inspired, doubtful, happy, and then were done and relieved. I imagine, summed up, that could describe many roads to Ironman. I got to live moments through the characters that I haven’t yet on my own, and experiences that I anticipate were written out for me to breathe in.

I’ve read other reviews that describe the book as somewhat self-indulgent and tiresome, saying that the bar of tolerance is set high as only triathletes really care about the specifics. Now, I’m a triathlete so don’t care or worry about that second bit much, but I actually didn’t feel that the book was too narrowly focused and specific. In fact, I felt like it was too broad.

The part of the next year that I look forward to most is fighting my way to be as good as I can be. Literally. Fighting. Downhills in the road are awesome, and I hope to have success. I don’t look forward to the countless crappy workouts that I expect I’ll experience, but I very much look forward to facing those days in the eye to conquer the challenge. I look forward to withstanding it all and learning to be stronger. Via the stories I experienced bike crashes, sickness, fear, family death, financial struggles and some awesome training sessions, but I didn’t feel as inspired as I wanted to. When I read about each athlete’s low point I couldn’t relate it to feelings I’ve felt, and when they celebrated their successes it choked me up for certain, but only because I have an idea of what this all means. Their particular success wasn’t that relatable to me as an athlete, but I can’t help myself but root for the age grouper underdogs.

I wish that they had chosen to follow less athletes, but much more deeply. I wish that there was more coverage regarding the details of those crappy workouts rather than glossing it over by leaving me hanging and jumping to the next soon-to-be-Ironman’s story. I wish that I had felt the shift in confidence more than described by tired legs or fatigue. Perhaps I’m the exception, and probably I am, but I wanted to finish the book knowing how I’d feel for the next 10 months.

Guess I’ll have to experience the next 10 months before I’ll really know!

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