11 Mar “Dana Wagner, you are an Ironman”
“Dana Wagner, you are an Ironman”
By Dana Wagner
As I reflect back on the 2015 Ironman in Louisville, KY I can’t help but get a little emotional. I was that person that never even realized what an Ironman consisted of and when I did find out I thought there was no way I could do something on that level. I mean, I’ve completed marathons and smaller triathlons but an Ironman, no way! Fast forward to August 2014, I started taking swimming lessons from Craig Culver and there began the discussion of possibly training for an Ironman. It didn’t take much convincing and thus I decided to take the plunge. Once I made the decision to complete an Ironman I knew I needed to enlist the help of Craig. I trained for 12 months with Culvertraining to reach this milestone in my life.
Over the 12 months of training I had really great days and really terrible days. I would often re-watch the Kona, Hawaii Ironman World Championships from 2014 and contact Craig for some encouraging words.
October 11, 2015 came and went very quickly. I knew I had my coach and all the training in my corner which helped ease some of my nervousness but I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t a ball of nerves.
The morning started VERY early. I was in line for the swim start about 2 hours before the start of the race. There was a lot of nervous chatter between the other athletes as I stayed quiet listening to the tips they were sharing. Then, it seemed out of nowhere I heard the “Call to Arms” and off we went! The swim went by fairly fast. I had the voice of Craig in my head during the swim telling me to relax, high elbows, finish the stroke. And just like that, the swim was over. Whew! One down, 2 to go.
The bike portion was unforgiving. Constant hills and 112 miles. This is where I struggled the most. I kept my nutrition on track just as I had practiced in my many training rides. I never once thought of quitting but I definitely struggled to get up some of those monster hills. And then…I’m done! I have never been so happy to get finished with a bike ride in my life!
As I started out on the run, I finally allowed myself to think of finishing. My legs were rubber but my spirits were high. I felt very confident going into the run because of the countless “brick” workouts that Craig had me do in my training. The run course consisted of 2 loops where I was able to see my family several times. I also saw my coach and my other Culvertraining teammates along the way, which helped give me a boost.
Finally, the most magical thing happened. I was about a quarter mile from the finish when I started hearing the roar of the crowds and the announcer declaring athletes Ironmen. In that moment I thought back to all of the swims, bike rides, and runs that were tough. I thought of all the days that I struggled to get the motivation to do the workouts. I thought of my coach smiling at me and telling me that I am strong and I can do this. As I made my way onto the red carpet and I saw the finish line all of a sudden I was high fiving all of the spectators as my eyes started welling up with tears. And then it happened, the thing I had been dreaming of for a year, I heard “Dana Wagner you are an Ironman!”
It’s hard to put into words how amazing it feels to work so hard for something and then you realize that you did it. I could not have made it to that finish line without the guidance from Craig. I have never worked so hard for so long to reach a goal in my life. It was by far the best day of my life.
~Dana Wagner, Ironman