Age Grading

January 21

Still basking in the glory of yesterday's race I floated through my day. After a 13 hour workday and a 3 mile "shake the legs out run" I sit down to check my e-mail. Secretly, I look forword to the "You rock " e-mails from friends and family. I open up an e-mail from Bruce, Tim's dad. The e-mail explains to me the results of the Carlsbad 1/2. Yes, I had PR'd. Yes, I negative split the race. Yes, I ran a 1:44 placing me 42 out of 600 some runners my age........and yes I got beat by an 80 year old lady. She posted a 2:43 but according to age grading handicap system she finished 20th for the females.

How do I feel about that?

I say bring it on. Give me more ladies like that. Let those ladies kick my pink running shoes to the curb. Those ladies inspire me.

So thinking of women like that brings to mind my favorite lady of inspiration. Readers I introduce..........(drum roll)......... Sister Madonna Buder. Some of you already know her but for the rest you here's her story.

She Glows, She Flows, She Really Goes

We in the triathlon community have been blessed by the presence of a 76 year old nun, Sister Madonna Buder. In a sport full of technology and the latest and greatest gadgets, bells, and whistles she puts everything in perspective by keeping things so simple. I hope she attends Ironman Couer D'Alene this year as I want to see her at Iron prayer. Last summer at Ironman Canada Bruce met Sister Madonna and gave her a ride to the airport after the race (He had rented a big systems Buick). I also am hoping to meet her and ask if she would like to be sponsored by "" She'd look great with some stickers on her bike. Last year, she might have been too humble. After Wildflower, where some guy hit her on her bike causing her to crash and break her arm, she may support the cause.

She's from Spokane, WA. I think that's kind of like being from the Yettie North. Besides being a nun she has been setting Ironman triathlon records for the last 20 years. An Ironman triathlon is generally considered the ultimate triathlon test as the distances involved mean that only a few, elite athletes can finish in less than nine hours. In August, 2005 Sister Buder became the first female 75 years of age or older to complete an Ironman distance race. Sounds like a big feat but remember she's got connections :) She flows and glows and really goes is what he announcers say. From what I've read her attitude of gratitude and spiritual energy uplifts all around her. You think there are limitation in life and she shatters them. Sister Buder's athletic career began in 1978 at age 49 when a priest encouraged her and her fellow nuns to start running. Sister Buder felt that the exercise needed a purpose. The priest told them it would help harmonize mind, body and soul and this appealed to Sister Buder. She decided to run an 8.2 mile race and dedicate it to a family member who was having personal problems. Sister Buder believes that anything you do can have a spiritual meaning based on your intentions. The training for the race was difficult. In fact, her body was so sore that she felt that she could not do the race. At this point a voice told her that she would have to step out in faith. She said "that's fine, but you will have to be my strength, because I can't do this on my own." The training did not get any easier, but the race was "resurrection." She said it was a beautiful day and the race experience was great. She decided to keep running in order not to revert to where she had been during the process of training. Her plan was to do one race per month. Sister Buder realized that she had a talent for running and thought "how ridiculous would it be for a woman over 50 to run a marathon?" So that is what she set out to do. She ran well and qualified for the Boston Marathon. She thought she would run the Boston Marathon if it were for a cause bigger than herself. She determined to fund-raise for Multiple Sclerosis and they were very supportive. Sister Buder decided that the Bishop should know what she was up to. She made an appointment to see the Bishop and revealed her plan. Having obtained his approval she went on to raise about $4,000 in each of her two Boston Marathon races in 1982 and 1983. After running the Boston Marathons, she read an article in her local paper about a triathlon event that had just occurred in Spokane. The idea of completing a triathlon tantalized Sister Buder. She knew she could run and she had ridden a bicycle and enjoyed swimming as a child. Her first triathlon was a half-Ironman distance race. She rode a donated bike, but forgot to shift into an easier gear going into the wind and "trashed" her legs. The people at the race helped and encouraged her to continue. At the start of this year's Ironman Canada race Sister Buder said to herself, "This is the day the Lord has made, so I am ready." She asked for courage and little wind, but the race did not go exactly as planned. She had started walking at about mile eight of the run because of nausea due to a mixture of foods and drinks offered along the course. Sister Buder was expecting to pick up a jacket at mile 13, but it was not there. She had to rummage around in the community box for a warm shirt to complete the race in. She continued on, but the race had to be completed before midnight in order for the results to be official. It was dark and she was by herself and she had two conflicting thoughts. She was tired and thought "you don't need to do this. You don't have anything else to prove." The other thought was "you started this and you have to finish for the other women in the future." She decided to hobble on. At an aid station a race official told Sister Buder that if she kept walking at a 15 minute per mile pace, she would beat the deadline. She was convinced that she better start running. Allowing herself to throwup, she felt better and resumed running. Just after 11:30pm, well over 16 hours after she started, Sister Buder was heralded onto Lakeshore Drive by race announcer Steve King and cheering crowds. Steve King announced "Ladies and gentlemen, you are witnessing history in the making." Not only is Sister Buder the oldest female finisher of Ironman Canada, she is the oldest ever to have completed it male or female. She also holds four age group records in this Ironman race which no one in Ironman history has ever done. A five minute long standing ovation at the awards dinner left Sister Buder speechless and overwhelmed. Her eyes filled with tears. The crowd asked for a speech and she told the crowd "I am humbled at your show of enthusiasm because I don't see what the big deal is!" Sister Buder believes that being in sync with "mind, body and soul" is an attitude of acceptance. Negative thoughts can be changed to positive offering the possibility of peace and serenity. She also believes that goals are powerful incentives. As we achieve a goal we either need to reset it or come up with a new goal to keep you going. She also believes that there is "No such thing as failure as long as one tries. The only failure," she says, "is not to try." It is easy to see that this is how she has lived her life. Sister Madonna Buder also says when you train you are in God's Cathedral. I like that thought.
*Some of the above information taken from Role Models of Health by Greg Damian*

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