She ran 26.2 miles, biked 112 miles and swam 2.4 miles, all in 14 hours, 31 minutes. But Pan Pan Fan ’08 only vaguely remembers the exhilarating moment when her name was announced at the finish line.
“I only remember the pain in my stomach and the bright lights,” Fan said. “I collapsed into a volunteer’s arms as soon as I finished.”
Fan competed in the Ironman Wisconsin on Sept. 9 with Catie Markesich ’08, who finished the race in 15 hours, 48 minutes. Both women are on the Yale club triathlon team and became involved in this particular Ironman through affiliations with Elis who had competed in years past.
With favorable weather conditions in Madison on race day, the only hindrances Fan and Markesich faced were their own physical limitations. Markesich had experienced an injury five weeks prior, and made it her goal to complete the race by making all the time cut-offs.
“I did not exert myself completely because I wanted to make sure I finished,” Markesich said. “That fact was a little disappointing at the finish line, but I still made it to the end. There were points in the race when I was not sure if I could finish.”
Fan said she blacked out during the marathon portion of the Ironman, hurting her overall time.
“I was a little disappointed with my marathon, but I definitely plan to do another Ironman in the future,” Fan said. “I want to place in my age group, and do it to win it.”
The winner, Maik Twelsiek of Germany, finished in eight hours, 52 minutes and 29 seconds.
Both women struggled to squeeze training for the race into typically crowded college-student schedules. A further challenge was that they both spent the summer studying in Europe.
“It was particularly difficult for me to train when I was doing research in Geneva,” Fan said. “I had to ride a bus for an hour just to get to a pool.”
Ideally, triathlon participants would train for 15 to 20 hours per week, Markesich said, but school and other activities can prevent that from occurring. As both women had participated in triathlons before, they knew what to expect from the months and weeks leading up to the race.
Markesich’s inspiration for her first triathlon was an advertisement on a cereal box, she said. She joined a gym and was able to compete in her first triathlon a month later.
“I wrote my college essay on it because it absolutely changed my life,” Markesich said. “I went from being third on my high school track team to third in the state. I knew I could do anything I put my mind to.”
Fan’s inspiration came from watching the the Ironman Hawaii as a child, when she once saw a boy with cerebral palsy compete in the race with his father. His heroic story motivated Fan to set goals for herself that were challenging yet tangible, like competing in the Ironman Wisconsin.
The women have become inspirations to others with their dedicated work ethic and goal-oriented motivation.
“I have trained with these girls since last semester, and they have inspired me to do a half-Ironman because of their determination to complete the Ironman,” said Sophie Turrell ’08, who is on the club triathlon team with Markesich and Fan.
Markesich and Turrell will race together this Sunday in a half-Ironman. Several other Elis will be competing in the Mighty Man Triathlon on Sept. 29.
“The Ironman was such a fantastic experience that became an integral part of my personality,” Fan said. “I am now suffering from post-Ironman depression.”