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Bernie Brosnan's Ironman Diary

The swim was crazy. It was a deepwater start and was 2 laps in the 72 degree water of Lake Monona. The cannon was shot off and me and 1800 of my fellow racers set off. For about the first 1/2 lap it was pretty brutal. But I managed to find some open water about 20 meters off of the buoys, so that made it easier. I settled in to my pace. Before I knew I was at the final stretch headed towards shore. When I got out I checked my time 1:09:38, right on schedule! Nothing like a 2.4 mile swim to get loosened up.

Aerial view of the swimmers.

After getting the wetsuit off I dashed up into the changing area to get ready for my bike ride. I want to say this. The folks who organized this race did a phenomenal job at taking care of us. Everything was so organized and the preparation was first rate. It really was something to see, and I'm sure that it is hard to appreciate unless you see it. Back to the story...I got dressed and went back out to mount my valiant "steed." While on my way, I heard some people calling my name. I looked all around (and then finally up) to find my Dad and brother cheering me on. I felt an immediate surge, pumped my fist a few times (which really drew some cheers) and headed out. My whole transition time 12:47 and that included a brief (but necessary) potty stop.

The bike ride was incredible. The first 1/2 of it I was flying. The wind was low, and I was on a mental high. The only problem I had was inside of the first mile I lost one of my water bottles. It was my special bottle that had my nutritional powder in it. So I had to back track about 200 meters to pick it up. I covered the first 56 miles in just over 3 hours. I stopped off at this point and grabbed my peanut butter and honey sandwiches (they NEVER have tasted so good). At this point of the course we went through this town called Verona. Let me say this, I will remember riding through Verona for the rest of my life. They had about a mile stretch of people (5 rows deep) cheering us on. They had signs up about every 10 feet. They had names written on the street in chalk. It was like something out of the Tour de France. Very exciting and exactly what you need to get you over the hump. The second loop was not as easy especially since the wind kicked up a bit. But I kept rolling on. Again the crowds in the various towns (especially on the BIG hills) were inspirational. I finished in 6:43:55.

My bike to run transition was fairly unremarkable. I changed out of my bike clothes and into my running stuff. I had felt pretty calm because so far I have followed my plan and I have hit all of my goal times. I headed out onto the run course doing some calculations to figure out what my pace needed to be in order to finish under the 17 hour race limit. I figured that if I averaged 3 MPH I would finish. My whole transition time was 9:12.

My plan for the run was to run the flat spots and speed-walk the uphills and downhills. By the way, Madison, WI is not what you would call a flat city. I managed to run quite a bit at the start and then I saw the first mile marker. I did a quick time check, 9:10! I was happy that I could run a mile at that speed, but I knew that I had to slow down and get to a more reasonable pace. I still had 25 more miles to go. The miles kept ticking down and my energy just seemed to grow. I felt better and better every mile. I just kept to my run/walk plan. When I completed the first loop I saw my family there cheering me on. Dalton and Joe were beaming. I found out that the Lions lost (a slight downer). At this point, I could barely contain myself. I knew that I was going to make it to the finish line. I tried to encourage every athlete on the course that I saw. I ran with some and I walked with some. I had about 3 miles to go. I did a quick time check and realized that if I picked up the pace I could finish in less than 14 hours. I figured that I owed it to myself to make a stab at it. I started running. And the funny thing was is there was no pain at all. I felt so light on my feet. I got towards the finish chute, and Joe and Dalton came out and ran the last 100 meters with me. We finished it and got our pictures taken. My marathon was 5:41:50 (less than an hour slower than my marathon time from March).

Altogether, my finish time was 13:57:20. I feel great right now. I haven't had to take any pain meds (besides a couple of Motrin). And I can even walk up and down the stairs today. Out of the 1801 people that started the race 1726 people finished in regulation time. It was a great day. I don't have any pictures yet, but I would love to share them with you all when they become available.

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