I have had the opportunity to visit and train many times at Bloomer Area Aquatic and Recreation Center and am proud to say that helping with the development of the facility and watching it grow over the past 10 years has been exciting. It always amazes me at the people you meet at BAARC from swimmers, weightlifters, kids taking swimming lessons, or people enjoying aerobics and swimming classes. The aquatic center has become a meeting place for residents of Bloomer and the surrounding communities.
One day while working out in the fitness center I met a lady who really impressed me. She was training on one of the stationary bikes and curiosity got the best of me so I asked, “Do you mind me asking what you are training for?” To my amazement she replied, “I am training for the Ironman Triathalon.”
The Ironman is a true challenge and requires an athlete to compete in a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, concluding with a 26.2 mile run. All to be done within the time limit of 17 hours to be an official finisher.
Let me introduce you to Dawn Mihalovic-Bayer, PA-C who is currently living in Chetek with her two daughters and works in Emergency Medicine with Mayo Clinic Health Systems at Barron. Dawn was born and raised in LaCrosse. She grew up coming to Chetek, to visit her grandparents who had a summer cabin there. Her dream was to practice Emergency Medicine in a small rural town. She says she is living the dream as she works as an emergency Physicians Assistant primarily in Barron but also practices a couple days a month in Bloomer’s Emergency Department. Her daughters are the reason she started on the road to be healthier. She also stated that she was never active or in sports until she had her first child at age 34. Her involvement started with walking which led to running a 5k, then a half marathon, many marathons, a couple of 50k races and then a triathlon and Ironman.
I asked Dawn to tell me about her use of the Bloomer Area Aquatic and Recreation Center and her competitions and she said, “I started going to the Bloomer Aquatic Center in February of 2015 in hopes to “teach myself” how to swim so I could compete in a triathlon. I decided to become as healthy as I could by moving more and eating healthier. I had not swam since I was a child and never in my life swam as an athlete or in competition. I completed the Chisago 70.3 (half Ironman) in the summer of 2015 and was hooked. I did my first Ironman in November 2016 in Tempe, Arizona and since then have never stopped training. I have competed in five Ironman distances to date: Ironman Arizona, Ironman Lake Placid, Ironman Louisville, Ironman Texas and most recently, September 2019 Ironman Wisconsin in Madison.
“I swim in the Bloomer pool mostly in the early fall through spring months and spend the summer months open water swimming for my training. I usually swim about twice a week anywhere from 2,500 yards to 4,000 yards depending on where I am training.
“My training also requires strength training twice weekly and I have done my fair share in Bloomer. I truly love the Bloomer facility—great staff, it’s never crowded and it is super clean—a great combo that makes long hours of training much more pleasant. The biking portion of my training is usually at home with my bike hooked up to a trainer and my laptop since the biking season in Wisconsin outside is so short,” said Dawn.
“Running long miles on slippery roads is never a safe idea so there have been some long training days in the Midwest Physical Fitness Center at Bloomer,” she said. “I put in 10-18 hours of training a week depending on where I am at with my races and goals.”
Up next for Dawn is a brand new adventure called the “Rim to Rim to Rim of the Grand Canyon.” Dawn and two girlfriends will plan to start at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and run/hike down to the base and back up the North Rim and then immediately turn around and come back. They are planning their 48 mile trek with 10k of elevation gain for April 17. On deck for 2020 are the DesMoines half Ironman, Ironman Canada in Penticon, BC and Ironman Arizona.
Dawn says she is in the best shape of her life and has been blessed with great resources in our small communities that allow her to chase her goals. She finishes by saying it is all worth the hard work because of the friends you meet along the way and finishing on the red carpet is amazing. We all wish her the best as she continues to be an outstanding example of dedication and hard work.
If you have questions of Dawn or want to learn more about her work contact her at MihalovicBayer.Dawn@Mayo.edu. If you have questions about the Bloomer pool or BAARC please feel free to contact us at Bchamber@bloomer.net or firstname.lastname@example.org.