One year ago today, my friend Adam and I registered for Ironman Wisconsin. It seemed so far in away and before I knew it, it was race day.

Adam and I got to the course right when transition opened at 5am. Ever since we almost missed the start at Mooseman last year, I make it a point to get to the course as early as I can.

I felt really calm all morning. We did a once over of the bikes then headed down the helix to the swim start. We weren’t planning on starting together, I was going to start towards the back of the pack and Adam was starting towards the front.

Just before entering the water I ran in to Coach Jen which was great because she gave me a few last minute tips on dealing with the wind on the bike course. Jen said not to fight the wind, to stay calm throughout the day and to have fun.

The canon went off at 7am and it was time to race! The goal of the day was to run MY race. All I needed to do was stick to my plan and everything would be fine.

Since it was going to be a long day, Jen said not to do a warmup and just to build into the swim. It was a one loop course on Lake Monona and I took it easy into the first turn. There was a lot of congestion betweens turn one and two which resulted in the expected elbows and kicks from my fellow swimmers.

The pack thinned out along the back half of the swim, so it wasn’t too rough. However the exhaust of the idling rescue boats started to make me a little nauseous but luckily there wasn’t much swim left by that point and I was out of the water and up the helix to transition.

I was pumped to get on the bike, I felt pretty confident since I had the chance to ride the bulk of the course. This ride was also a little bitter sweet since it was going to be the last chance I had to ride the Felt DA4 before I have to return my demo.

The ride out of town into the loop was great. The wind was at my back and I was holding a 17mph pace. Jen and I had discussed the bike plan earlier in the week, she said I should stay in zone 2 for most of the course and zone 3 on the climbs. For the most part I stuck to the plan, but some of the hills out me up in to zones 4 & 5. I felt great for the first 30 miles until my chain dropped going in to a climb around mile 34. I got it back and started back up the hill. After about 50 feet it dropped again. I was pissed. The wind was sucked out of my 17+mph average pace. I was able to hang on and continued through the course.

The final to climbs of the loop were brutal, they seemed to never end. The saving grace was seeing the crowds during the final ascent. My legs were cramping during that climb. I wasn’t managing my shifting well and made a mental note to do so for the 2nd lap.

In my special needs bag I grabbed some aspirin & gummy bears. I mean really, what else would I need? My pace slowed a little during the 2nd loop. It was bouncing around the 16mph range. I pushed hard through the hills and the spectators had moved on by that point. I kept reminding myself not to fight the wind. The final climbs were much more manageable when I focused on them. Before I knew it I was at mile 90. Just ahead of me I saw Adam. We chatted for a minute and I continued on my way.

The wind heading back to town was rough, but I was almost there. There was one last hill before we got to the path to transition… And climbing it my chain dropped two more times.

After climbing the helix again (this time by bike), it was back into transition to get ready for the run.

I had a pretty bad cramp in my toes as I headed out to the run course. There was a physical therapist at the exit of T2 who kind of guilted me in to letting him work the cramp out of my foot.

I was hesitant but, it turned out to be a great idea and the cramp was gone!

The run is what I was most nervous about, it always seems to be the part where my race crumbles. Jen and I had a plan for me to run 13 minute miles for the first 6 miles. I was having trouble running and regulating my pace so I walked for the first 6 miles in order to maintain 13 minute miles.

I trotted through miles 6-13 walking only to drink and the KILLER hill mountain on the UW campus. After the turn I grabbed my last aspirin from my special needs bag and continued on my final loop. The pain in my knee was getting worse, but an official finish was in the bag!

The aspirin numbed my knee enough to get me past the big hill on the run course, but after that it wore off pretty fast. I couldn’t do much but walk along the lake path and back towards the finish.

My pace slowed in to 14:30 miles and I could barely bend my right leg. I hobbled back past the football stadium, through town and up to State Street.

Mike Riley’s voice was off in the distance calling off finishers, the music was pumping and the crowd was cheering me along the last stretch.

I ran as best as I could around the Capital. Adam had finished and was standing at the last turn. I high fived him and a ton of other people on the run towards the finish line. Through the PA system I heard “PHIL CASTELLO YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”

15 hours and 12 minutes after the canon went off I did it! The whole day was a blast! Thanks to Coach Jen for putting up with me for the year & getting me ready for this!

For the next week I’m going to take it easy. I’m doing a 5k in about a week just for fun and another one in October.

As for next year, I’m not sure what my plans are yet. This was a great year, I PR’d both my 70.3 races and met my ultimate goal of finishing the Ironman. But on the Flipside it’s very time consuming to train for.

I think I’m going to take some time off before deciding on a race schedule for 2013.

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