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Conine to get ultimate test at Ironman triathlon


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Miami Herald

 

Former Marlin Jeff Conine never has endured a physical challenge as draining, demanding or difficult as the one that awaits. Playing 2,024 games in 17 major-league seasons tested him, but not like the Ford Ironman World Championship will in Kona, Hawaii, on Saturday.Conine, a member of the Marlins' two World Series championship teams, must swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles in 17 hours to claim Ironman status.

 

''There's nothing that I've done that will come close to this,'' Conine, 42, said Wednesday by phone from Hawaii. ``I'm nervous. I'm anxious. I'm fearful because I've never done all three [disciplines] in one day at this distance. You don't know how your body will react and how you will get through it.''

 

Conine was granted an exemption to participate in the Ironman, which features 1,800 competitors, because he is competing for charity. He is hoping his effort will culminate in raising $100,000 for the Bone Marrow Transplant Program at the Memorial Cancer Institute at Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines -- to honor late friend Howard Zimmerman, who died of cancer in November.

 

To prepare for the race, Conine followed six-time Ironman winner Mark Allen's training program and got advice from Marlins president David Samson, who completed the Ironman in 2006.

 

''There's going to be a lot that happens in the Ironman, and you just have to remember to keep going,'' Samson said he told Conine. ``The second thing I told him is he's competing in the world championship, and he's a professional baseball player, not a professional triathlete. It's OK not to finish the race first.''

 

Conine has two goals: complete the Ironman and beat Samson's time of 15 hours, 36 minutes, 44 seconds.

 

They also made a bet. Samson bet Conine that his legs would be as smooth as Samson's were after shaving them for the Ironman.

 

''He'll be the only guy with hairy legs, just so he wouldn't lose the bet with me,'' Samson said.

 

Samson inspired Conine to compete in the Ironman, and according to Samson, the day after he competed, Conine called to say he planned to one day do the race. Conine, a Weston resident, has been regularly training about seven days a week since retiring after last season. Conine said his longest training days were about 7 ? hours.

 

The training has been manageable, he said, and he hasn't wavered about competing.

 

Friends and former teammates are supportive of his effort. But he said many questioned his sanity.

 

''They don't know why I'm doing something like this,'' Conine said. ``It's the greatest physical challenge anyone could undertake.''

 

Conine's agent, Michael Watkins, said he is not surprised his close friend and client of 17 years is doing the Ironman because, ``He's just motivated to do things other people don't do. It's just the way he's wired.''

 

Conine's wife, Cindy, three children, parents and in-laws will be cheering him on in Hawaii, and Samson and Watkins will be following his progress from afar. Watkins said this will be life-changing, and Samson said Conine will wake up Sunday feeling like a different person.

 

''Crossing the finish line in Hawaii was better than winning the World Series,'' Samson said. ``I'm excited I'll have someone to talk to about that.

 

'Since crossing the finish line, a lot of things have gotten easier. When you're in a hard situation in business, you think, `Hey, if I can do the Ironman, I can do this.' If you're doing something physical, you say, 'Listen. I did the Ironman. I can do this.' ''

 

Conine said he is unsure how participating in the Ironman will affect him but knows he will take away at least one lesson.

 

''It's taught me how you can push the limits of physical endurance to levels you never thought were possible,'' he said.

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Split time comparison:

 

Samson, David (swim) 01:46:54 (bike) 07:46:46 (run) 05:43:53 (total) 15:36:44

 

Conine, Jeff (swim) 01:32:41 (bike) 07:35:47 (run) 05:13:56 (total) 14:43:45

 

http://ironman.com/events/ironman/worldcha...1&year=2006 (you'll need to type "Samson" in the "athlete search" box)

http://ironman.com/events/ironman/worldcha...;athlete=conine

 

Congrats to Jeff

 

Looks like the race(highlights) will be broadcast on NBC, Dec. 13th (2:30p-4:00p EST)

 

http://ironman.com/mediacenter/tvschedule

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I can do the swimming and biking part with no problem, but the running part, Im really worn out after 1 mile

Seriously, you probably can't. Don't worry, there probably isn't a person on this forum who could.

Triathlon, you're probably correct. It's definately not something you say, "Oh, let me try and see if I can do it". You have to be pretty skilled in at least two areas and hope to compensate for the third with determination.

 

A marathon is possible for almost anyone, as long as you put in the proper training and dedication into it.

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I can do the swimming and biking part with no problem, but the running part, Im really worn out after 1 mile

Seriously, you probably can't. Don't worry, there probably isn't a person on this forum who could.

Triathlon, you're probably correct. It's definately not something you say, "Oh, let me try and see if I can do it". You have to be pretty skilled in at least two areas and hope to compensate for the third with determination.

 

A marathon is possible for almost anyone, as long as you put in the proper training and dedication into it.

I am very much talking about the Ironman.

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Ironman ... it just floors me that people can do this.

 

 

I've done sprint triathlons before (shorter distances). I've run in half-marathons and I'm sure I could do a full one. But swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. That's insane.

 

It would probably take me a year to get my swimming ability to that point.

 

 

 

Go Niner!

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