In exactly 255 days, Ragen Chastain plans to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run a full marathon, all in under 17 hours at IRONMAN Arizona in Tempe, AZ on November 20, 2016. To date, her major athletic achievements include a 1:09:50 5K PR, gaming the rules at the 2013 Seattle Marathon to receive a medal for a 12:20 finish, registering and not showing up for two short local super sprint triathlons, and failing to complete even the generous first segment at IRONMAN 70.3 Arizona in October 2015.
Since our last update a few months ago, things have picked up again on IronFat. Ragen has continued with her “Selfie Sunday” tradition, being extremely careful to strip all image metadata and take close cropped photos that reveal nothing about her training, to avoid a repeat of the multiple times she was caught faking training selfies last year.
In February, Ragen also added “Workout Wednesday” to her repertoire, a weekly feature where she puts a huge amount of effort into writing detailed posts about her training without revealing a single useful training metric or anything meaningful about her performance. We have the usual claims of vague pace improvements without any mention of her original pace, her elite bike cadence, 4+ hour bike rides, “speedwork” and “long runs”, and so on. In an extremely interesting development, in her March 3 update she appears to finally concede she is not actually running during her training. “Speedwork” has become “speedwalk”, “long run” has become “long walk”, and “run/walk” has simply become “walk”. It would appear that Ragen is slowly lowering expectations for what is almost certain to be a repeat of last year’s dismal failure in Tempe.
There have been the usual excuses. In early December, Ragen “wrecked” her bike and posted a blurry photo for Selfie Sunday. It turned out to be a broken derailleur, a minor inconvenience easily solved with a quick trip one of the hundreds of bike shops in LA. For Ragen, it somehow became month-long ordeal where was forced to use a spin bike and blog about her elite cadence. She also managed to injure her foot doing “speedwork” (totally unrelated to her weight), and developed a chlorine sensitivity she has somehow overcome since then. She also posted some extremely inspirational material about slow athletes where she does her usual technique of conflating large animal breeds with morbid obesity, followed by a bonus humblebrag that there are supposedly athletes even slower than her.
IronFat wouldn’t be a Ragen Chastain blog without the usual tales of fat shaming from random strangers. The most prominent one was “the pelaton of pricks”, a gripping story about a horde of bicyclists riding five abreast on narrow bike path, and the conversation Ragen had with them as they blew past and forced her to the side. That was the day after her first big bike wreck, the subject of an upcoming post.
As usual, IronFat is a “training blog” about making excuses and overcoming manufactured adversity rather than actually achieving athletic results. Ragen invents a minor problem, Ragen blogs about her heroic attempts to overcome it, and Ragen finally moves on to her next problem. This is perfectly demonstrated by the “month of momentum” where she didn’t actually achieve anything athletically, but managed to overcome the difficult problem of ordering a derailleur on amazon.com. The most significant piece of information Ragen has revealed in this entire year may actually be when she decided to name her swim cap “Wilson”.
Saving the best for last, this is the update you’ve been waiting for: today Ragen announced on Facebook she will be competing in the 5K section of the 2016 Oakland Running Festival on March 20. She deleted the post as soon as her “trolls” on Reddit noticed, so it remains to be seen whether she will actually show up. We can confirm she is registered for the event, but that is fairly meaningless given her lifelong habit of registering for events and not showing up.
Assuming Ragen shows up, this race will provide the first real indication of how much her two years of intense daily marathon and IRONMAN training with four professional coaches has increased her performance since her race entries in 2013. As it stands, her 5K PR is 1:09:50, which is around the baseline performance for the average newbie octogenarian, according to age grading estimates. Coming in under an hour would be an important milestone for Ragen, demonstrating she is actually able to maintain the average human walking speed of about 3.1 mph (5 km/h). Of course, an elite fathlete who has been training for so long should presumably be able to do a bit better. This event has live tracking, and Dances with Facts will be covering it to the best of our abilities. Stay tuned for further updates!