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Well, I did it!

October 31, 2008
by Leslie Biernat

Well I did it!!  I finished the Ford Ironman Wisconsin on September 7, 2008 with a time of 15 hours and 43 minutes 24 seconds.  The day was grueling but worth all the time, training, and suffering.  Let me sum up the day for you.

 

Woke up at 4:15 am to have my toast with peanut butter, a few Endur Lyte pills, some Gatorade, and my pre race drink.  A bus transported us over to Monona Terrace where the race would begin.  It was still dark outside at this point.  Nerves were jumping and the excitement was building. There were over 2200 athletes participating and only 650 women in the group.  I put on my wet suit and headed down to the start point.  We all entered the water together, yes all of us, and at 7:00 am sharp the horn went off and so did we.  The water was warm but crowded I was kicked, hit, actually came to a stop a few times because it was so crowded all that testosterone in the water made it a rough swim but I did it, my time was 1hour 29 minutes for the 2.4 mile swim.  I was pleased that I had tons of energy coming out of the water and a huge sigh of relief. One down, two to go!

 

After transition and changing my clothes going to the bathroom etc. I was out on the bike.  It felt great at first to know I made it through the swim but now I had 112 miles of grueling hills to contend with, I can do it! So I started off with a smile and talking to the volunteers.  The first loop of 56 miles was pretty good and I stopped for 35 minutes at the halfway point to refuel and load up my bike again.  Of course I talked for most of the time and told my survivor story to two volunteers I was just so proud to be out there.  They encouraged me and I was back for the second loop of 56 miles.  At this point my feet began to burn tremendously because of the lack of blood flow!  I would wiggle my toes and try to move my feet as much as I could.  I prayed for the pain to go away and it did for a little bit but then came back it was a viscous cycle but I endured I am not stopping now.  The wind also kicked in the second loop, wind and hills, not a good combination.  I was nearing the end and the excitement was building two down and only one more to go, I can do this, I am going to this!! I was so excited and I finished the bike in 7 Hours 40 minutes, remember bathroom breaks and my social time included. Jumped off the bike jogged into transition to change for the run.  I also learned how to farmer snot, sorry for graphics but your nose runs a whole lot when you are on the bike and you can’t carry enough Kleenex to help the problem. So I learned to blow my nose while riding the bike, I always made sure no one was too close behind me.

 

So now the final leg of the race the marathon, yes 26.2 miles.  I started the run around 4:40 pm some of the professionals were already done at this point, oh well here I go.  I started jogging and was surprised how good I still felt it must have been the adrenaline kicking in.  The first 13-mile loop was okay and I realized people were walk/running so I decided that was a great idea!  So I did the same and believe me at this point your run looks like a walk anyway. Finished the first 13 in about 2 ˝ hours so I thought I would be done sooner than I expected.  Well the next 13 were tough, it was dark, cold, and rained on us for about 1 hour which made us even colder.  It was a lonely road at some points you could barely see the path. I met a fellow triathlete Jon who would become my sidekick for the last 8 miles.  We talked the whole time and pushed each other through until the end. He was an awesome guy and we discussed our families, God, work, anything and everything it made the time go by so much faster.  Seeing at this point my knee joints were aching my feet hurt and I thought the finish line would never come. until…  About ˝ mile out we could hear the music and the announcer, the excitement was building that we were almost there.  Jon looked at me and said let’s go and when we get there you go ahead before me I have done these before now you go enjoy your moment.  And that I did, all the hours of training and sacrifice paid off and as I entered the final chute where crowds of people were cheering and clapping I heard those magic words, “Leslie Biernat, 38, from Franklin Wisconsin, “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”  I get tearing every time I say those words because they mean so much to me.  I beat cancer, my body endured chemotherapy, radiation, and seven surgeries and now an Ironman.  I am a survivor who is not just surviving but thriving.

 

My last thought to all of you is for you to remember to live your dreams, find your passion in life, set goals and achieve them.  No matter what life has dealt you, you can succeed if only you believe!  What are you waiting for!



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