Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Eric Byrnes doing Ironman Arizona!

I was reading one of the recent issues of Triathlete Magazine, when I can across an article about the once great Arizona Diamondbacks player Eric Byrnes (I say once simply because after he signed his huge contract extension, he was never the same).  The article was about Eric's newly found love...triathlons.

A few months back I did a race called the Prospector Triathlon.  It was an interesting race on the management side, with it being their first time having the race an all (let's just say the olympic distance swim magically turned into a 2-lap swim because they could figure out how to get the buoys to stay in place, and we started about 30 minutes late!).  Anyways, during the awards ceremony, they announced the winner of the clydesdale category like this, "Eric Byrnes. Byrnesie?  No way."  Sure enough, standing right in front of me was Eric Byrnes.  And he did in fact win the clydesdale category.  When he accepted his most wonderful plaque, he took a moment to explain why he was there.  He basically said that tri's had always interested him, and he got around to doing one a little while before the Prospector's Tri.  Since his first tri, he was hooked.  He also said that he had his sights set on other races, but didn't really say which ones.

Well, this article was the big announcement, I guess.  Sure enough, Eric Byrnes is going to be racing Ironman Arizona this year.  It will be his first Ironman distance race, and I'm sure he is going to do spectacular.  Why?  Here's just a few reasons:
  • 35 years old (which is around the age of most pros)
  • Former professional athlete
  • RETIRED (at 35?! - must be nice!)
  • millionaire
Now I'm not saying that because he's rich that he'll do good.  I'm saying that he basically has the perfect situation to get into racing triathlons.  He has the time, the money, and he has the athleticism.  The only thing that I see as hindering him is his size.  He's not excessively large, but he's always been a pretty built ballplayer.  Maybe with all this endurance training he'll slim down quite a bit.  I bet if he wanted to, he could finish sub-10:00 in his first attempt.

Which brings me to my next my goal for Ironman Arizona going to stay at finishing sub-12 hours, or is my new goal going to be to beat Eric Byrnes?  Maybe I'll just track him down during the race and keep harassing him to give me autographs, which would definitely break him mentally during the race.  It's pretty much like Chris McCormack breaking down his opponents mentally.  Chances are, though, that he'll smoke me, so I should probably just stick with my original goal.


  1. Eric Byrnes is going to have a serious wake up call as he enters into az ironman 2011. His longest tri event posted is one hour twenty minutes in length, he weights over 200 lbs, he probably has never rode 112 miles on a bike nor ever ran the marathon distance. yes he is 35 years old, however most pros by this time have had years and years of base work and experience. he was a pro athelete, however i don't believe a pro bowler has much advantage over anyone else when in comes to the ironman. most american pro atheletes are pampered during there entire career. And that is why he is a millionaire. The reason for retirement has many factors, like he is old and can not preform at the same level which made him a millionaire. Bottom line is, You are going to smoke byrnes during ironman az. You are younger, faster, stronger and most of all, experienced and tested at the ironman distance. your goal of sub-12 is a good one, a goal of bearing byrnes is basically sub-17. not to discount that mr. byrnes could play baseball at a very high level at one point in his life, doing ironman az is a whole different sport with whole different requirements. so, don't be surprised with your relative finish position this november. you are a race proven ironman while byrnes is a meager age group sprint participant. good luck to you, and be gentle as you smoke that 35 year old, pro-athelete, millionaire retired guys.

  2. Hey Old Wise One! Sorry for the late response here. I think you bring up some valid points in regards to Eric Byrnes. However, I have to slightly disagree. During his time playing for the home team here in Arizona, the Diamondbacks, Eric Byrnes never struck me as a guy who did things at half speed. He always seemed to give his all. I don't know for a fact, but I'm sure he's talked to plenty of people about completing the Ironman distance, and probably even has a superb coach to rely on. Whether or not he has a breakout performance will be a mystery. However, I am willing to bet that he will have a very solid plan, and all he will need to do to be successful is stick to that plan.

    As for him not doing any long-distance events, I'm not too sure that really matters. For some people, there is a mental block that needs to be broken during training. Other people can just follow a training plan and go sub-12:00 in their first Ironman attempt, while others can go even faster on their first attempt! (A quick Google search produced many examples. One of which was Stephen Enquidanos, who not only finished his first Ironman in 11:22, but did this after having ACL surgery 7 months prior!) My point of this post was really just to highlight how awesome it is that a former professional baseball player of Eric Byrnes's caliber wanted to push himself to the limit, and has chosen to do that by competing in Ironman Arizona. And also, I think he will more than likely have a great performance out there on race day.

  3. Eric Byrnes went sub 5 hours at Soma, which is the same swim and run venues and covers part of the ironman bike course.

  4. You are correct! Mr. Byrnes finished in 4:54:45, which is a blazing fast pace in my book! Like I first predicted, he is going to have an amazing Ironman debut. Will he go sub-10 like I first said? Maybe, maybe not. I do feel pretty positive that he could go sub-11 no problem though. Either way, it's about a week and a half away, so we'll know soon! Thanks for reading and thanks for the update!

  5. Conditions will make the difference. Soma was contested in 96-degree heat. Temps for the Ironman Sunday are expected to be in the high 60s to low 70s, depending on which forecast you want to believe. Byrnes has a background in surfing off the northern california coast, so cold water isn't going to be an issue. Wind is always a factor, and accuweather is calling for stiff gusts while others forecast calm conditions. If he gets optimal weather -- high 60s, little or no wind -- he will have a shot at breaking 11 hours. By the way, he ran his first marathon in 3:37. That's ridiculous for somebody just starting endurance racing.

  6. All very good points. And those points seem to lean toward Byrnes having a great race day. We'll know in just a few short days!