The Day I Quit My Ironman

Posted: September 24th, 2012   |   Category: Blog

I’ve decided to quit the pursuit of my Ironman.

Signing up for a full Ironman when I didn’t even know how to swim was a stupid idea. It was too large of a challenge. It stretched me too far.

In April, I literally could not go to the 7 foot end of the pool without clutching onto the wall. Swimming 2.4 miles was like asking a penguin to fly.

I’m sorry.

I had the best intentions and hired the best coach. In my mind I thought that if I was relentless enough that I could do it, but after my second lesson with my swim coach even he told me I wouldn’t be able to do it.

He said that I would panic and freak out as soon as I got into the Ironman lake. Honestly I thought that 7 months of solid training would prepare me enough, but there I was in the 4 foot pool, refusing to get into the 7 foot pool.

Maybe he was right.

He told me not to book my flight to Arizona. Not to book my hotel. It’d be a waste of money because I wasn’t going to be able to do it.

So I gave up.

I didn’t want to, but I just didn’t think that I could do it. I knew it was going to be hard. I didn’t think it was impossible. But if an expert with years of experience who knew things about this event that I didn’t told me it’s impossible then who am I to argue?

It was hard to break the news. But when I told my friend Frank, 2-time Ironman, he said “Mark you can doggie paddle that swim in 2 hours and twenty minutes. You don’t have to make it look pretty, you just gotta get through it.”

That helped me believe that I could do it.

And then I thought, who am I to quit 7 months away from the event. I’ve been to the pool twice this year. Did I even try? Did I give it my all?

What if I went to the pool everyday? What if I read every swimming book and article I could get my hands on? What if I spoke to everyone I knew who swam triathlons? What if I watched every Youtube video on swimming technique?


So I committed myself to swimming. Got in the pool as much as I could; sometimes 6 days a week; sometimes twice a day! If I were going to fail at this event it would be because they had to PULL ME OUT OF THE WATER!

Nothing came easy. But since then I completed 2 triathlon swims! Me. The guy who couldn’t float in a 7 foot pool traveled .8 miles in the Hudson River! And on November 18 I WILL come out of the Arizona lake AFTER SWIMMING 2.4 MILES!

We all want certain things and have personal goals. Are you putting in your best effort? Never take yourself out of the pursuit of your own dreams.


In January 2012, not knowing how to swim or tread water, Mark Izhak signed up for Ironman Arizona, beginning with a 2.4 mile swim.




2 comments for this entry:
  1. Eli SAYS:

    Hey dude,

    Quite ambitious of you – I certainly admire your brazenness. With just under 2 months to go, where do you stand now? I know you’re nervous about the swim, as you should be – 4k is a huge distance for a non-swimmer 7 mo. out, but don’t forget – even though it’s going to be November, IMAZ is still hot and dry. There are other disciplines to the race other than the swim, and you might not feel like you have to drink, but DRINK. Drink or you may get much more than you signed up for. Fluid intake is critical.

    Let us know what happens, dude!

  2. MarkIzhak SAYS:

    Check out my Poconos Ironman 70.3 report:

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