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DannyB
10-07-2008, 10:18 PM
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/other/sfl-flspconine07sboct07,0,5618073.story

By Sharon Robb | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
October 7, 2008
Jeff Conine showed up for his first swim practice in baggy shorts.

For years, the former Florida Marlin watched the Hawaii Ironman on television and was always intrigued. He had no idea what it took until last year, when he decided to train for Saturday's 30th Ford Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

"He knew it was a swim-bike-run, but he didn't know what the sport was all about," said veteran coach Michael Kenny, of 4 Seasons Multisport Club.

"He didn't realize boxers would pull him down in the swim. I told him, 'You can't do this in boxers—you have to wear the right attire; it makes a big difference.' So I sent him to get the tri shorts and basic goggles and that was it. He was hooked after the first day."



Mr. Marlin, Jeff Conine, 42, and his family left their Weston home Saturday "for the challenge of my life.

"Crossing that finish line is my goal," Conine said. "That will be a major accomplishment. I don't want to compete. I'm here to complete the distance. I haven't done anything like this in 15 years."

Conine was inspired by Marlins Get your Marlins Tickets now! President David Samson, who completed the 2006 Hawaii Ironman.

"I talked with him quite a bit along the way, picking up little tidbits," Conine said. "It's almost like playing baseball where you learn by experience and learn by playing, only a lot tougher. Baseball has probably the worst-conditioned athletes. Running around the bases four times and running down four to six baseballs is not physically taxing."

What began three decades ago in Hawaii as a friendly wager to determine the fittest among a group of buddies has grown into an international series of 22 Ironman events, including Hawaii, the granddaddy of them all.

But what makes the Hawaii Ironman so special is that "average" people get to compete alongside the best in the world.

Conine is more than average after two stints with the Marlins (1993-1997 and 2003-2005) and two World Series (1997 and 2003). He and his wife, Cindy, are also national-caliber racquetball players.

After 17 seasons of Major League Baseball, he said he was looking for and found a new challenge: Salt water that makes your lips crack and tongue swell during the 2.4-mile swim. Howling headwinds in both directions that can knock you off a bike in the 112-mile race. Furnace-like heat and miles of lava beds along the 26.2-mile marathon course that give new meaning to working up a sweat.

There are 1,800 athletes who have 17 hours to complete the daunting course.

Conine has been following Ironman great Mark Allen's online training program. He completed the St. Anthony's and Walt Disney World Half Ironman Triathlons earlier this year.

He was granted an exemption into the Ironman because he is competing for charity. He hopes to raise funds for the Bone Marrow Transplant Program at Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines as a tribute to "dear friend" Howard Zimmerman, who lost his battle to cancer last November. Conine's Web site is conineironman.org.

Conine and Zimmerman co-founded the Conine All-Star Classic Golf Tournament, which helped build and pays for the annual operations of the Conine Clubhouse at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood, where families can stay while a child is hospitalized.

After months of training since last October, breaking his collarbone in a bike accident in late December and stepping up his mileage the last few months, Conine now knows what the sport is all about.

"At some point in the race my body is going to say, 'I don't want to do this anymore,' and my mind will say, 'Keep moving.' Then my mind will say, 'This is stupid, let's quit,' and my body will keep going. Hopefully, they won't stop at the same time. It's all mental."

A typical training day was taking his two oldest children to their bus stop at 7 a.m., returning home and hopping on his bike for an 80- to 100-mile bike ride followed by a short run along a 20-loop course he mapped out near his home.

"That's 7 1/2 hours total, and holy cow, that was tough," Conine said. "To think that is going to be just a little more than half of race day. Actually, I am trying not to think of that. Nervous, yeah ... excited, yeah. ... I just want to get there and get it done."

reds2221
10-07-2008, 10:43 PM
that's awesome. I really hope that he can accomplish this.

ChatterRed
10-08-2008, 02:19 AM
I can't even imagine. I am 43 years old, and everyday, I think of Lasik (for my eyes), a personal trainer (to help me take off the weight), and a whole lot of other things that might help me feel young again.

redsfandan
10-08-2008, 02:31 AM
I can't even imagine. I am 43 years old, and everyday, I think of Lasik (for my eyes), a personal trainer (to help me take off the weight), and a whole lot of other things that might help me feel young again.

sounds like me lol