Last September I joined thousands of other triathletes flooding Ironman Wisconsin's website vying to register for the event. Known for selling out quickly, I was thrilled to learn I had made the list of official registered competitors for the September 9, 2012, event.

The euphoria of making it through the time sensitive registration process faded as reality set in. I've completed four marathons, dozens of shorter distance running races and enough 100-mile cycling tours to understand what that physical effort felt like. But covering 140.6 miles via swimming, biking and running was uncharted territory for me.

When I challenged myself to move from sprint distance triathlons to the Ironman Racine 70.3 Half Ironman in 2010, I used an online training program to plot out a training regime. While I finished that race, my first DNF ("did not finish") result at the same race in 2011 left me frustrated and unsettled.

Although there's an incredible array of sophisticated Ironman online training tools available, I just wasn't comfortable risking a repeat of the disappointment I felt last year.

Like many other age group endurance athletes seeking to master the Ironman distance, I sought out the advice of a professional coach. Kris Swarthout, a USA Triathlon-certified coach at Optum Health Performance in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has created a year-long training program for me.

The entirety of Lou Dzierzak's story appears in the May 2012 print edition of Silent Sports. To order a copy or subscribe, call 888/706-4045. Don't miss an issue!