Journey to the Ironman: Expanding My Palate

By Jonathan Mackintosh

Ouray And we’re off! I just finished my third week of the 13-week Ironman training program, the tension has lifted, the birds are singing and I can honestly picture myself crossing the finish line.

Fear of the unknown can draw you into so many dark places where insecurity and failure thrive. For me, it goes back to the feelings I’ve had in the past, like a rubber band drawn tight, waiting to be snapped.

Three weeks ago, I felt the release of tension as I finally tackled the uncertainty of injury. I ran. The tightness in my legs, tightness I had been feeling for months, released and I finally felt like the roadblock that was barring my path to completion was eliminated. The narrative has changed from “will I be successful” to “how successful will I be”.

The first three weeks have been my proving ground. I have trained hard over the past few months, I have stayed diligent and now I am sitting back (figuratively of course) and reaping the benefits.

The workouts have become longer and more frequent, but I am enjoying them far more than at any other point in my journey. Point in fact, I got the chance a couple weeks ago to change the scenery a bit in my training and headed into the mountains for the weekend with my family at a beautiful Bed & Breakfast called Black Bear Manor in Ouray, CO (Full disclosure, my in-laws own and operate the place, but that changes nothing about how amazing the place is). I brought my bike up and had a 2 hour ride in the mountains that blew my mind. I was grinning like a fool the whole time as I wound along rivers, scared a few deer and challenged myself not to accidently ride off the cliff.

It was a taste of the possibilities that have opened up to me. My poor decisions of my past had taken my freedom of decision down a bad road that had severely limited my options. I can’t do that because it makes me feel uncomfortable. I can’t do that because I am exhausted.Peanut Butter and Jam - Feb 10 (40/365)

Today, I am pushing my body and my mindset to new limits and it has made me realize that I have been an ignorant fool. I don’t want to spend my life eating a boring PB&J on white bread with the crusts cut off (WARNING: Symbolism at play). I have now tasted grilled cheese and it has shattered my preconceived notions of “normal”. Borrowing a phrase from the Bible again, I have tasted and know that it is good.

Now I am pushing for Creme Brulee.


Here is what my first two weeks looked like:

  • Swimming Total: 14.88 miles
  • Biking Total: 210 Miles
  • Running Total: 56.85 Miles

Total Time Spent: 31 hours and 30 minutes.

Loved every minute of it. Except for the hours of running on the treadmill due to Spring snow storms. I got in some good episodes of Community on my phone though.


I am at the point where calorie exchange is critical. I need energy to fuel my efforts, so I am not as focused on weight reduction as I am on building lean muscle. The NuChallenge products have helped me bring in those extra few calories I need for my big endurance days and I have stayed steady on my overall weight. I have also been starting to use Alert in place of coffee as my “before” pick me up prior to training. Love it!


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