Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tri-Life: Ironman: Year One

I recently met two triathletes, Andrew and John, who have transformed their health (and shape) through triathlons and found each other via the internet.  They realized their mission was similar and started a podcast documenting their Journey to becoming an Ironman.... enter Ironman: Year One Podcast.  Their podcast is self described as: From the back of the pack, a podcast for the slow, the large, the first timer, the lover of the endurance tribe. Their podcast is humorous and laced with 80's references. They even let me be on the podcast where i totally messed up my 80's trivia quiz. Andrew, John and Vince Vaughn were disappointed in my lack of knowledge under pressure.  

Anyways, here is their interview for this blog and definitely ck them out if you are looking to share in the journey with those on their journey to becoming an ironman.  

Ironman: Year One- Which one of you came up with the idea to have the podcast?
John: The podcast was Andrew’s idea. The back story is that we were both early listeners to Vinnie Tortorich and Anna Vocino at the Angriest Trainer podcast, and early adopters of his No Sugar No Grains lifestyle. As we listened, since we were part of the early members, we were sending messages, questions, etc. straight to Vinnie and he would mention both of us on the air. That’s pretty cool, but he would get us confused. If I had made a comment he would say it was Andrew, and vice versa (he has since got better with this. Now he only confuses me with Jon Smith at Fit Fat Fast). Andrew and I started messaging on occasion and through this we discovered that we had both, unbeknownst to each of us, had signed up for our first full Ironman races in 2014. Andrew messaged me and asked if I’d be interested in doing a podcast that would chronicle our year’s journey to these races. I am, in my opinion, better in writing but I had been intrigued by the idea of a podcast so I agreed. The rest is podcasting history. ?

Andy: We're really like brothers from another mother. John and I are not exactly the same age, but close enough. We like a lot of the same things, make a lot of the same jokes. Our blogs are very similar in theme, so it makes sense for people to confuse us. Doughboy: fat & slow. What's the difference? But as much as we can relate, I find more and more that our back stories are quite different, which makes the common bond of triathlon and weight, clydesdale issues, all the more strong. We have very different writing styles, and rarely write about the same things, but each of us “gets” the other in ways that others may not. The hope is that by voicing these common thoughts through podcasting, other people can find a kindred spirit out there who may be thinking the same things, but didn't have a conversation partner about life at the back of the pack.

How has it been going so far (i will link back to it)? 
John: We are only 11 episodes in and I think we are still finding our voice, so to speak. We wanted it from the beginning to be like what we find at the back of the pack … slower people who talk about everything; from training to obscure pop culture references. I think we are meeting this plan, though we are trying to introduce a bit more structure as we move forward (This Week in Fat Guy News, Tools, This Week in Training, etc.). We are getting some pretty good interviews as well, but managed to from the beginning. Some “bigger names” (whatever that means) are in the future, but I think (and think Andy agrees) that maintaining a “local” feel is important.

Andy: This probably reflects my personality that wants it all, the best of all possible worlds, simultaneously, but I hope for the podcast to be a place for the local and the global, as John was saying. I have been part of the endurance sports world for only a few years. But in that time, it has given me the opportunity to meet world famous athletes, world-class athletes who SHOULD be famous, as well as meeting “neighbors” in the region that I wouldn't have crossed paths with otherwise. That's one of my favorite things about running and triathlon both. The communities are real. So I hope to continue with guests of a wide range, from names that will be known to nearly everyone in the tri world, to friends of ours whose only “qualification” is an interest in the conversation at hand. Because really, that's all that either John or I have. Why does anyone read an average person's blog? Or why listen to a podcast from a non-expert in the first place? We're not giving out some sort of secret training advice. We're just typical shmoes, whose stories are a lot like thousands of others. We're just shmoes who bought microphones and committed to a schedule.

What are each of your goals for 2014? 
John: The obvious big thing is Ironman Chattanooga in September. My racing is greatly reduced from what I have normally done in years past because training is much more focused. I have a half marathon in Debary, Florida on March 2 and a half triathlon as a “kick the tires” race on March 22nd in Clermont, Florida. Other than that, just stay healthy and get faster.

Andy: The thing I have lacked in my first three years in triathlon is consistency. I too have an Ironman to complete in 2014, Ironman Mont-Tremblant. This is how I came up with the podcast name: each of us is in a countdown to our first ironman race. (Also I liked the comic book title sound of it, stealing a Frank Miller title from Batman and applying it to Ironman. Did we mention we geek out on pop culture a lot? Even in print!) So right before my 20th wedding anniversary, in the latter half of August, I should be “earning” the title of IRONMAN. But Ironman isn't made by one finish line. It's the training that gets you there. So my goal is to train consistently, eat like I consider my body worthy of quality, and cross that finish line.

What drew each of you to triathlons when you were getting started?
John: My draw was from my new doctor. When we finally figured out some issues I was having he gave me the challenge to sign up for a triathlon that was a year away and train for it. I think what drew me initially was the fact that it was three disciplines so I figured if I was really good at one and average in the other two that I could compete. Kind of silly to think that way now. What keeps me involved now, other than the pure challenge of it, is that I truly enjoy the people I have met (well, 95% of the people). They have been supportive the whole way and have helped me immensely in ways most will never know.

Andy: I had just started a commitment to running to make a goal of a half-marathon before turning 40. There is a longer, more dramatic backstory on that, but I'll just say it was one of those Shawshank “get busy living or get busy dying moments.” Since I do nothing halfway, I found myself home on a December Saturday and watched the 2010 Ironman World Championships, which as always, included those everyman back-of-pack stories in addition to the elites. I'm not like many triathletes who act like they are too cool for the sappy Kona broadcast. I'm not afraid to say outright: it moved me to tears and I wanted to do it. I think a lot of adult-onset athletes (thanks for that term John Bingham) can forget the swell of emotion when we first decided to make a change. It becomes easy once you're “in the club” to get all jaded and too-cool-for-school once you're around it more. I was never athletic as a kid, this is new stuff for me, and I'm all about the mental and emotional transformation. Just punch me if I use the word “journey” too much.

Any advice for those struggling with their weight and wanting to change, why should they consider triathlons??
John: I struggle with this question, because after three years I am not sure triathlon is the best way to lose weight. I have struggled with the LOSING portion, though I am in great shape. Let me clarify that, though. I have lost weight from where I was in the beginning (300 pounds). The reason I would say triathlons is the same as I wrote above … for the people. Everyone comes to this sport for their own reasons (weight loss, a challenge) but it’s the people that makes them stay. If you enjoy what you are doing and the people you do it with, then the more you will do it, and the healthier you get. I’d say that’s a win on all levels.

Andy: I'm going to echo John here. Triathlon on its own is not only a bad way to lose weight, it can be counter productive if you don't focus on what's really important. What you eat is at least 80% of the battle, and for me, it's like 95%. You cannot outrun (or bike or swim) a bad diet. I discovered quickly
that the tri world, and even moreso, the running world, has a lot of folks who are in denial about their relationship with food. The “oh I always run it off” mentality, the increased appetite from training, and the borderline psychotic low-fat high-carb conventional “wisdom” put out there in the magazines and pushed by gel and bar companies: it's an unholy alliance of factors that works against a lot of us. I'm hardly the first triathlete to finish a season of first real activity and wonder “why am I still fat?” John and I are part of a small but fast growing movement of low-carb endurance athletes that isn't just for super heavyweights, but there are world-class athletes going this way with success too. I predict that within five years, even the mainstream press will be touting low carb, just as soon as Hammer can figure out a product to sell of course. So to end the question on a positive, less cynical note, triathlon is a great motivator for weight loss if not the source. I thought I'd start running to lose weight. Now I want to lose weight to run. It's a whole lot easier to cross a finish line carrying 200 pounds than 300. It's even easier to do it carrying 160, but I'm not crazy. Just under 200 is realistic for me by the end of this year. From there, we'll see. But it's no longer about numbers. Get into triathlon where unless you're sub 6% bodyfat, everyone kind of looks at least a little chubby in lycra. Get over your fear of being seen in public in less-than-flattering clothes. You'll be amazed how much support comes your way from total strangers.
You can follow Andy at:

You can follow John at:

Their FREE podcast is at:

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