After an entire year and countless hours of dedicated training, two University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire seniors crossed the finish line of one of the most challenging athletic events in the world: the Ironman.
Anthony Jagielo and Deana Petersen competed in Wisconsin's Ironman competition in September in Madison. Jagielo completed the event in 10 hours, 22 minutes, qualifying for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, in October 2014. Petersen completed the event in 12 hours, 52 minutes.
The Ironman, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and full 26.2-mile marathon run, required "total commitment," Jagielo said.
Jagielo, a kinesiology major from Almond, said he completed two-to-three workouts a day and put in more than 15 hours of preparation every week to get ready for the Ironman. "(Training) takes a huge amount of time, which leaves little or no time for other activities," Jagielo said.
Jagielo said his interest in doing triathlons began in high school and continued to grow throughout college.
"After sophomore year of college I decided to commit to training for a triathlon," Jagielo said.
Petersen, a mathematics major from Hokah, Minn., said she became more familiar with the triathlon sport after meeting Jagielo, who encouraged her to compete. The two signed up for the Ironman Wisconsin event a full year before the competition, as it is the fastest-filling Ironman competition in the world, Petersen said.
During that year of preparation, Petersen said she trained about 15 hours every week in the areas of swimming, biking, running, lifting and yoga. She and Jagielo even trained for three months in Colorado over the summer to focus on biking in the mountains.
"It took quite a bit of mental preparation, too," Petersen said. "Every day our focus was on the Ironman: eat healthy food, get enough sleep, train hard and recover better. We even studied the course maps months in advance and wrote down our strategies for race day."
On race day Jagielo said he felt exhausted but excited upon crossing the finish line.
"When you compete in an event of that length, throughout the day there are many highs and lows that you experience," Jagielo said. "The fact is that pushing through those tough patches is what makes the finish line so exciting and satisfying."
Petersen said she felt thankful after completing the Ironman.
"I felt thankful for the opportunity I had to race, my friends and family who came to cheer us on and Anthony who helped me achieve this goal," Petersen said. "My body, on the other hand, felt like it wanted to collapse and sleep for days."
Petersen said she and her mother are training together to compete in an Ironman together in two years. In the meantime, though, Petersen said she'll be entering half-Ironmans as she prepares to cheer on Jagielo at the World Championships next year.