Ironman provides motivation, satisfaction

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011
— Mike Wimmer and Shawn Fredricks, both of Janesville, finished the grueling Ironman Wisconsin with satisfied minds.

Wimmer, 44, completed the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile marathon run in Madison on Sunday, Sept. 18, in 16 hours, 28 minutes and 18 seconds. Fredricks, 56, finished in 12:39.51 and won the 55-59 female age group.

Fredricks—a veteran of six Ironman finishes, including the Ironman Hawaii in 1987 and ’91—wanted to prove she could still climb the mountain after five years off.

“I am older,” said Fredricks, whose son, Tucker, is a U.S. Olympic speedskater. “I wanted to prove I can still do this.”

Fredricks said her performance exceeded her expectations.

“I was excited about my swim time (1:05.06) and my bike time (6:19.30),” said Fredricks, who posted a 4:59.34 for the marathon. “They were right on the spot.’’

Fredricks was surprised and unsure what to credit for her performance.

“It’s a toss up between the grace of God and muscle memory,” Fredricks said. “It’s a variety of things. It’s putting one foot in front of the other and keep on until the final one is down.’’

Wimmer, who works in sales for Nelson Global Products, wanted to hang one Ironman finish on his wall after two straight misses.

In 2009, Wimmer missed the Ironman Wisconsin 17-hour time limit by 15 minutes. In 2010, Wimmer became ill during the run and dropped out.

Even though Wimmer dropped out of the race, he didn’t throw in the towel.

“I worked harder,” Wimmer said of his preparation for 2011. “I put in a lot more time and effort.’’

Wimmer hit the treadmill and the stationary bike harder during the winter. He improved his conditioning, including losing 30 pounds.

“I had a pretty good pace built up,” Wimmer said. “When I got outside, I hit the ground running.’’

Fredricks said her training was not as intense as in the past, adding that it may have helped her.

“I’m older, and because of work, I got in fewer miles,” said Fredricks, a retired teacher who received a physical education grant and works for the Beloit School District. “I think my work schedule was a blessing. I just didn’t have the time to train.”

Wimmer’s training strategy was to have more time for the run.

“I did a lot more running,” Wimmer said. “But I also tried to be a little bit smarter.’’

Wimmer’s heady approach was to spend less time on the bike during the race. Less time riding meant more time for running.

After finishing the swim in 1:45.42, Wimmer peddled the 112 miles in 7:23.20.

“I got off the bike earlier than I ever had,” Wimmer said. “I was feeling great.’’

After burning nine-plus hours on the swim and bike, Wimmer had seven-plus hours to finish the marathon.

“I got a pretty good run-walk pace going,” Wimmer said. “I ran when I could, and I walked.

Wimmer finished the marathon in 6:28.18.

“It felt great,” Wimmer said of finishing. “I was really happy. It was something I wanted to do, and it feels good to achieve my goal.’’

Fredricks’ response to finishing at the top of her age group was more direct.

“Heaven,” she said.

All ended well for Fredricks and Wimmer, and each is happy to rest.

“This is going to be my last (Ironman),” Fredricks said. “I want to rest a few years. Maybe I’ll do it again when I’m 60. I should be able to finish in 16 hours.’’

Wimmer will volunteer.

“I’ll volunteer in 2012,” Wimmer said. “Maybe I’ll shoot for 2013.’’

Last updated: 6:18 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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