It’s hard to understand how the self-described journey of a middle-aged man accomplishing a marathon, a Kilimanjaro ascent and an Ironman comes off as breezy, but that’s exactly the tone the author takes as he details his efforts to accomplish these achievements for his 40th birthday. The author recounts the journey using a daily exercise log, intermixed with anecdotes and stories from his past to demonstrate the power of positive thinking, all while maintaining a cheerful, infectious attitude.
The scope of the achievement is impressive. First, the Paris Marathon – 42 km of straight running, with the summer heat baking down. Then, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with his wife, the highest mountain in Africa at 6000 metres above sea level, over the course of a week. Finally, an Ironman triathlon, consisting of a 4km swim in open water, a whopping 180 km bike ride, finishing up with a full 42 km marathon, all in under 17 hours. For a man self described as ‘having a bit of a belly’, it’s truly an impressive feat.
With the rationale for the three achievements established early, the book proceeds to focus on the training regiment required to succeed in endurance athletics. On the surface this might seem boring to someone who is not interested in long distance training, but the diary format is kept fresh with joyful remembrances of past indulgences, as well as the suspenseful struggle of daily wins and losses. One of the early takeaways from the book is the power of the mind to keep pushing through exhaustion, and how in order to be successful, you must develop mental strategies to convince your brain to keep going, past what your body may think of as its breaking point.
The memoir also provides solid training advice, including nutritional preparation, physical technique guidance, and equipment maintenance. Anyone who has thought in any seriousness about running a marathon will find helpful material inside, and while not dense with these tips, at least will be shown good starting areas for further personal research.
Running between the lines of all this is the story of a father and husband, who with some luck due to the flexibility of his work, finds the hours necessary to train because of the support from his family. The author is clearly aware of his good fortune as he writes glowing stories about juggling family, work, and training, and even when the plans go awry, understanding the need to be flexible and to keep an eye on the prize.
It's hard to imagine anyone who would be able to pull off this trifecta of athletic achievements while being a father, a husband, and working a full-time job, let alone all of this while maintaining a sunny and carefree attitude, and yet he did, he documented it, and he shared the story with all of us. The author’s inspiring mantra seems fitting: Life is good, thank you, thank you, thank you.
by A. Burton
I felt inspired by what was possible despite the time constraints of family and work to become not only an Ironman but a mountaineer and marathoner! The diary accounts of the various obstacles that reveal themselves at inopportune times show that perfection is an impossibility but rather grit and determination trumps all. An easy recommendation.
by Arthur Louie
Harold Cabrera was born in the Philippines, grew up in Winnipeg, Canada and lives in London, England. He currently works as a Software Developer and Data Scientist for Wise Traders where he develops stock trading systems. He spends most of his time with his family, plus running, cycling and swimming. Harold co-authored and published C# for Java Programmers (Syngress Publishing, 2002) to help Java developers learn the C# programming language.
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