Monday, January 14, 2013

January Book Club: You Are an Ironman

Wow, it feels like it has been forever since I have written a book club post! We took the month of December off, but now we are back into the full swing of things. 

While most of my readers identify as runners, it is no secret that I am a triathlete.  Therefore, the book for January was Jacques Steinberg's, You Are an Ironman.

Now, I have to say that I did love this book because while I was reading it I kept visualizing the journey that Mike and I will be (are) embarking on very soon.  We get to register for our first Ironman in about 7 months and I can't wait!

That said,  I felt like there was something missing from the story.  Often Steinberg would just pull from the triathletes' blog/training journal, which is fine but some of the details were lacking.  I would have liked to "experience" more of what the potential Ironman finishers went through during their training, and the race itself.

You Are an Ironman follows six potential Ironman finishers during their training leading up to the 2009 Ironman Arizona, otherwise known as IMAZ.  Each of the individuals followed in the story had his or her reason for pursuing the dream of becoming and Ironman, from overcoming cancer, proving to themselves that they could do it, losing weight, etc.

Steinberg did delve into the training that each individual went through, from open water swimming, long rides on a bike trainer, daunting long distance runs and anything in between.  He also included some of the tune-up races that the men and women chronicled in the book participated in, and I had to laugh when one of the participants said to not train for a marathon and an Ironman at the same time.  Maybe it's not as bad when it's a marathon and a half Ironman??

If the individuals were lucky enough to make it to race day, ie. they hadn't been plagued by injuries, Steinberg included stories from some of the participants' morning routine to what happened at the finish line.

For a race that covers a distance of 140.6 miles which is broken down into a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run, I felt that this part of the book was slightly rushed.  I LOVE watching the Ironman World Championships every year and the age groupers are my favorite part, which is why I was slightly disappointed with the 2012 coverage last year.

Regardless, Steinberg's story got me slightly teary-eyed as he described the new group of Ironmen hearing Mike Reilly proclaim, "you ARE an Ironman!", for the first time.  I can't wait to hear those four words.

Here are some other book club members' reviews:

Carrie at Fitness and Frozen Grapes

Now for the discussion portion:

Which of the potential Ironmen did you relate to the most? Why?

When do you first remember watching or hearing about an Ironman?

Would you ever do an Ironman or a triathlon? Why or why not?

Answer these, or discuss anything else that comes to mind, and check back to see what everyone else has to say!

Reminder: February's book is is Running on Empty by Marshall Ulrich and March's book is A Life Without Limits by Chrissie Wellington.  We will discuss them February 11th and March 11th, respectively.


  1. It's been a while since I read this, but I loved this book. The character development was fantastic. I liked the gym owner and the woman who had a ton of adopted kids (or were they foster kids?). I felt very connected to their journey and struggles because they were real people just like me.

    I first saw an Ironman video on YouTube. It made me sweat and completely enthralled me. It kind of terrified me too. They say that if your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough. That's how I know I'm destined to become an Ironman one day.

  2. Just started 'Can't swim, can't ride, can't run; from common man to ironman' by Andy Holgate, available on Amazon. Meant to be very good. Might be worth a look.

  3. I'm half way through the book, haven't picked it up for a while, time to get back to it! Thanks for the review...reminded me to start reading it again.

  4. I have this book, just haven't read it yet. Thanks for the great analysis. I'm looking forward to reading it soon!

  5. ohhhh how did i miss the book club. Ok I've read the next two :) so score I am ahead of the game.

  6. Here is my review!
    I am on time this month!

  7. Great review, Jamie! I understood why Steinberg relied so heavily on the training logs and blog posts, but like you wrote, I felt like there was something missing. And as to whether I'll do an Ironman? One day for sure! I can *so* see myself doing one when I turn 40 or hit another milestone like that. :)

  8. Oh, I need to find more time to read. These sound so interesting. Currently I am reading my Runners Worlds before bed.

  9. That sounds like a great book! I need to look for it! Even just for motivation for my half ironman in september :)

  10. Confession that I haven't read this yet... but it's one I'm really looking forward to! I just got an offer to buy the bike that I borrowed for my sprint tri (which I fell in love with) so now I think more tris might be in my future... :)

  11. I did a review of this book last March when I read it ( along with a review of another book you should consider for the club. I've also read the book for next month and will look for that review. I need to get my name on the waiting list for the library copy of Chrissie's book. Have wanted to read that since it came out.

    I can't recall which character I related to the most - probably the one that was losing weight since that is how my tri journey started. I'd heard about the Ironman in the 80's, but didn't really know that much about it until I started following so many tri blogs in 2011. I'll never say never on the IM thing - but it is hard to wrap my brain around right now. Of course, two years ago I'd have never envisioned doing a sprint tri either. I'm inspired by many of the former fatties that have done IM - even if slow by pro standards - and think it would be a great BHAG someday.

  12. I have heard this book was good and I wanted to read it but just haven't gotten around to it yet. I don't think I knew about ironman until college maybe. I don't even think i really knew about marathons until college either!

  13. I LOVE this book. Just discovered your book club but I have read this book. I hope one day to do an Ironman and it was so inpiring.