By Dan Meyer
This was my first Ironman, and I loved almost every minute of it! I can’t believe how much fun it was.
The swim was a mass start and very crowded, especially through the first turn where the tradition is to moo like a cow. The back half was tough into a strong headwind. I swallowed a lot of water and had to breathe on my weaker left side.
After exiting the water, I ran up the “Helix” (spiral parking ramp) lined with cheering spectators to transition. T1 and T2 took place inside the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Monona Terrace Convention Center. I changed into my Team Podium bike kit, got my bike, and rode down the other side of the Helix to the “lollipop” course: a stick, two loops and the stick back.
Wisconsin is one of the hardest bike courses with lots of rolling hills and turns that can burn up your legs. The plan was to ride easy the first half, pick it up a little on the 2nd loop, and push the stick back.
My coach told me that the hills in WI were no big deal as long as you ride them correctly, and he was right. Training in the Gaps and Cartersville prepared me well. The hardest parts of the course were actually 2 sections of long false flats into headwind — Mt. Horeb near the start of the loop and Cross Plains near the end of the loop – but the crowds in these towns were fantastic!
The highlight was the 3 biggest hills, “The 3 sisters”: Old Sauk, Timber Lane and Midtown. I smiled and laughed the whole
way up as people, many in costume, held up signs, yelled, and rung cow bells. When I finished this section, I thought “that was so much fun I can’t wait to do it again!”
Dan on the bike
At the halfway point in Verona, there was a huge crowd and the wind was behind us, so I was feeling great, but I missed seeing my family among all those people.
The 2nd loop was similar to the first, but slightly faster. When I got back to the stick, I hammered and passed a lot of people. My legs were feeling good, but my back and neck were tight and sore. My initial thoughts about the run were negative, but I remembered in training when I felt bad at the end of a ride and ended up running well.
I spun up the Helix, got out of my shoes at and handed off my bike. I changed into my Team Podium tri kit and took off. Just after exiting T2, I saw my family and stopped for hugs and to chat.
The run is a 2 loop course with great crowds around the Capitol and on State Street, which you pass going out and back on both loops. The plan was to run the first 20 miles very slowly. I was stiff at first, but, loosened up and settled into rhythm.
Early on, we did a lap on the Wisconsin football field and I copied my Podium teammate, John “Tonito” Rotella’s pose from last year.
Dan in Camp Randall Stadium
The first loop went by pretty quickly. Around the half way point, I made the signal for making more noise and the crowd roared! Right after that I saw my family again.
Around mile 14, I decided to walk every aid station (rather than every other as I had been) so I could get enough fluid and nutrition. Many people say the run gets really hard at mile18, but it came and went and I was still running steady and feeling good.
At Observatory Hill, around mile 20, everyone around me was walking, but I ran up it feeling strong. The next few miles were harder and spent focusing on getting to the next aid station. My coach told me not to walk past the last trash can at any aid station, and I didn’t. At mile 22, I knew I was going to make it. “I am going to be an Ironman” I thought and started to tear up.
When I hit State Street for the final time I was elated! I ran a victory lap around the Capitol and into the chute high fiving as many people as I could, then stopped and walked the last 20 yards with my arms held high. I crossed the finish line in 12:31:49. I am an Ironman!