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Becoming an Ironman: First Encounters with the Ultimate Endurance Event Hardcover – April 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Breakaway Books; 1 edition (April 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1891369245
  • ISBN-13: 978-1891369247
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #982,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

physical fitness proponents, an Ironman triathlon seems to be the ultimate exercise in masochism. It consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike race, and a full marathon (a 26.2-mile run), all done in one day. This sport attracts only the most dedicated athletes, and it apparently provides the participants with a huge amount of satisfaction. This book is not a description of how to prepare for an Ironman triathlon but an oral history of the men and women who have participated in Ironman competitions worldwide.. Thom, contributor to Triathlete magazine, Runner's World, and the Dallas Morning News, has arranged the book according to the athletes' experience, such as first-time competitors, veterans of the early days of the sport, and, most affecting of all, physically challenged athletes. The participants' dedication and single-mindedness are truly inspiring. No matter what physical pain they endured, these athletes all say they would do it again. Highly recommended for all public and school libraries. William Scheeren, Hempfield Area H.S. Lib., Greensburg, PA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Kara Douglass Thom has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and currently is the editor of the Dallas Medical Journal. She is a freelance writer with an interest in health and fitness topics and writes about triathlon in Triathlete magazine and on xtri.com. Her writing also has appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Runner’s World and Spirit magazine, among other publications.

Customer Reviews

Take it easy, and thanks for the great book.
Dan Storey
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves triathlon.
Michelle Duca
I read this book in two days - I just could not put it down.
P. Duck

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Duca on June 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I got into triathloning (is that a word?) because I no longer wanted to do marathons. I've completed 3 marathons, and after each one, I said that was the last one. But I really meant it after the third, and took up triathlon as an alternative. I just completed my first Olympic distance triathlon, and had a blast. I love triathlon!
I bought this book because I know several people that have done an Ironman, and I have always thought they were crazy! But after reading the stories, I now have an overwhelming desire to do one. This has actually made me very angry! I stopped doing marathons because they hurt! Now I want to add a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride in front of it?!?! I've lost my mind!
I never envisioned the Ironman as an adventure, but to read the thoughts of each participant, it seems like the Ironman is more about the journey, and not about the race. Each athlete has their own approach and outcome, and I could relate to each. The book is divided nicely into different sections. I liked to read about the ones that barely made the cutoff of 17 hours. I will be one of those people! And to know that some professionals actually DNF'd their first attempt is somewhat comforting.
The book is just a great compilation of life stories - knowing who you are and where you are going. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves triathlon. But if you've ever said "I'll never do an Ironman", you better watch out!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I really looked forward to reading this book as a source of inspiration, but I think the editor ends up missing the boat by overzealously trying to preserve the ironman's own words. This means that crucial facts about people's lives are left out, or the reader is plunged into the middle of the tale, not really understanding whose story is being told, or why we should care. Rather than having the effect of making the race more immediate, this ends up making all of the stories seem alike. We don't necessarily get backstory about who this person is, or from where he/she got the drive to do this ironman, or why. The stories are often told as if the teller is speaking to a good friend, who already knows everything about the speaker, and just needs to hear how this one race went. I hope if the editor decides to follow up this volume with another, she heeds this critique. I would love to buy another volume, but only if more information about the athletes is included.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Joe Sherry on September 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
"Becoming an Ironman" is a collection of personal stories of the first experience of many athletes attempting their first Ironman Triathlon. An Ironman Triathlon is a race consisting of a 2.4 mile swim followed by a 112 mile bike ride followed by a marathon (26.2 miles). Some runners may consider the marathon to be the ultimate endurance event and with good reason, the marathon is not to be taken lightly, but Ironman only lets you run a marathon after one has traveled 114.4 miles. Since "Ironman" is actually a trademark of the World Triathlon Corporation, the "Ironman" name can only be used for a race sponsored by the WTC. But any triathlon of 140.6 miles can be considered an "Iron" distance race and the finishers are no less an Ironman as those finishing a sponsored race. 140.6 miles is a long, long way to go, and typically there is a 17 hour time limit. In "Becoming an Ironman" many athletes will tell of their experience in their own words.

The stories contained in this book are broken into a variety of sections. There are stories from those who are middle of the pack athletes and who struggled with the Ironman but still found strength to complete it. There is a section featuring athletes who learned in their first attempt that they were quite good at this distance and turned in excellent times which put them among the leaders. Conversely the stories of those who finished Ironman with only a minute or an hour to spare are no less compelling. Then there are the Did Not Finish (DNF) stories of those who for one reason or another had to drop out of the race or just could not make it to the finish line in time (the one who finished some six minutes after 17 hours was tough to take).
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
As a long time triathlete (16 years), I found this book to be a much needed breath of fresh air. Since I have been involved in the sport, triathlon has evolved from a rough and tumble gunslinger's kind of challenge to a much more refined and scientific undertaking. There is almost nothing in this book about lactate threshold, bladed spokes, or the merits of the electrolyte-replacement-drink-of-the-moment. There is a lot about peanut butter, which I for one, am glad to see.
This book, and the stories inside, return us to the true nature of triathlon. The fundamental reasons we all race; to challenge ourselves, to be healthy, to have FUN, and to find out what is really out there for us to experience in this short life.
I am returning to the sport after a somewhat lengthy sabatical. I can honestly say that I think I lost sight of why triathlon is important to me. I think I forgot about the roots of this great sport. I never really had a burning desire to do an Ironman, although I always thought I would do one eventually. A couple of halfs had helped to fuel the "long-distance" fire. I am back on my bike, ready to go, and this book has been a gas can.
Inspiring!
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More About the Author

Kara Douglass Thom is a writer with a focus on fitness, active living for children, and the importance of raising a fit family. In 2014 Dream Big Toy Company published her children's book series for the Go! Go! Sports Girls. Kara is co-author of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom (Andrews McMeel 2011), a book for moms who want to find more space in their busy lives for fitness while raising a fit family. She also penned Becoming an Ironman: First Encounters with the Ultimate Endurance Event (Breakaway Books 2001), a collection of short stories about triathletes who competed in the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run; and the children's book, See Mom Run (Breakaway Books 2003). She is continually inspired by her four kids and and blogs about finding fitness in the chaos of motherhood at http://mamasweat.blogspot.com.