Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Iron Nun? Really?

Yeah…really! Sister Madonna Buder is a Spokane legend. Being able to say, “I saw Sister Madonna running home from the store this morning,” is pretty much a celebrity sighting in the Inland Northwest. Even more so if you discover her patented technique for running while holding a carton of eggs. Sister Madonna is an 82 year old nun who travels the world running triathlons. Actually, not just triathlons…many of her events are ironman distance. That’s a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride, and capped off with a full marathon (26.2 miles) run. If you haven’t already picked up on how impressed I am with Sister Madonna, then you need to sense the tone and get on board with me…she’s amazing!

It was really interesting to read about her early years (she grew up in a wealthy St. Louis family) and what led her to become a nun. I can personally say that I have never really thought about the process that leads a person to choose a nun’s life. It was also very interesting to get a look into what a nun might do and where she might go, depending on what order she joins.

Sister Madonna never even went for a run until she was 48 years old, but after that it took over the latter half of her life. Her first competition was Bloomsday in Spokane (an event that I am hoping to run this year) and she slowly worked her way up to ironman triathlons. She has so many stories to share in this memoir about mishaps and triumphs during her race circuits. She has had many “angels” pop-up during her races to encourage her, she has been an “angel” to other competitors, she’s been blown off her bike by the wind, broken several bones, etc. but she keeps going. Basically, if you feel like you need some inspiration you should pick up this book! It’s not that well written but it’s definitely easy to read and the stories she has to tell are worthwhile.

I am in the process of training for a sprint triathlon this summer, which was another motivation for reading Sister Madonna’s book. If she can open the 80-85 age group in the Canada and Kona ironman races (no one that age had ever tried it before) then I can certainly finish a sprint distance tri. I’ll just have to keep that in mind!

“The real battle in life is conquering self.”

~Sister Madonna Buder, The Grace to Race

If you're looking for a quick intro to the Iron Nun, watch this:

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