SPOKANE, Wash. - At 82-years-old, Madonna Buder is still in this race. "I seem to have a natural whatever for being active," Buder said.
She takes being active to a whole feat. Madonna is getting ready to run a triathlon. This won't be her first race. "355 was the last count, but that was awhile ago," Buder said.
However, this triathlon isn't just any triathlon. It's an Ironman. 140.6 miles isn't a new distance for this triathlete. It's her 47th. Buder is off to Kona Hawaii for the 2012 Ironman World Championships. She qualified two months ago in the Canadian Iroman. "I just do one race as training for the next. So far it works!" Buder exclaimed.
Before August 26th, 2012, no woman over the age of 80 had ever finished an Ironman. Until Buder did. "It wasn't till a couple days later I heard someone say, that's a world record! I said what? O well, yah! Just by finishing in my 80 I set a record because nobody else had!" Buder told KHQ. Even though Buder does many things alone, she always has her training partner by her side. "Sometimes, when I catch myself fretting, I am saying he is asking me to trust him? Yah Lord you know I trust you, I have been doing it for years! So why do you have to keep trying me? He just wants to keep me sharp I guess," Buder said.
In the 1950's, Buder became a catholic nun. She joined a convent in St. Louis, Missouri when she was 23-years-old. Here in Spokane, Buder is a nun with the Sister For Christian Community. But today, Sister Madonna rides out her vows. "I'm saying Lord, it really would be nice if I could be a lazy old lady once and awhile. He's saying not yet, not yet," Buder said.
It was her love for God that introduced her to her new love of training. "I was actually introduced to running at a workshop on the Oregon cost that a priest was giving who started to expound on the benefits of running. Which I thought was nonsense," said Buder.
At 45-years-old, Buder gave it a try. "I thought I have to have a goal. I can't just run for no good reason. This makes no sense," Buder said.
So Buder kept setting goals, wave after wave. But Buder's number one goal has nothing to do with time. Buder said, "So I seem to be kind of an inspiration. So I am thinking if that's the way you want to use me Lord that's ok with me. As long as you give me the – to work with and he hasn't stopped yet. So I have no excuse."
updated her incredible story about qualifying for Kona. Truly amazing! See
qualified for Kona by completing the 70.2 Hawaiian Ironman on June 2nd where
the winds were so furious they even tore buoys loose. A group of swimmers on my
left were following them to China, so it seemed, thus elongating their swim.
Not realizing this was happening I was concerned when I no longer saw them
thinking I had somehow gone off course until I spotted a lone swimmer yards
ahead of me going the same direction I was headed so I held the course even
though I could not spot a single buoy which, in itself,
was disconcerting, but I followed my instinct and the lone swimmer as my guide.
Even so, it seemed like I was in the water longer than I should have been. I
was getting chilled as well as exhausted from battling the waves so decided to
bag it and head toward the beach. Since I still had the Canadian Ironman as a
qualifier I figured I might as well abort this event and save myself for the
future! At this point a stand-up surfer came along side me trying to tell me
something. How he even kept his balance was a marvel to me! Realizing I
couldn't hear a word he was saying he gestured toward the direction I had been
swimming so I angled back.
That lone swimmer, although having gained yardage, was still visible as my
guide so I struggled on. Before I knew it I was practically on top of the two
turn buoys that heretherto I had never seen. This eventually brought me to the
finish channel although, by that time, there was only one of two yellow buoys
remaining. The wind had swept the other away. Throughout this whole episode I
sensed I was being blessed by the guidance of two "guardian angels"!
Having exited the Swim I was now facing a very windy Bike segment. The trip up
and down Hawi was reminiscent of the 2000 Hawaiian Ironman where the winds
swooped bike and body up and carried both combined several yards before
trashing us on the road where I lay in a pool of blood awaiting the ambulance
45 minutes in coming so busy had it been all day. I did not want this to happen
again so stayed as focused as I had ever been in my long career trying to keep
as aerodynamic as possible without chancing the aero bar positioning which
resulted in very achy upper arms. I was ever so grateful to once again be on
level ground...well, more of less!
The whole while I was wondering where this concentrated energy was coming from
and sensed there was a power other than my own pushing me onward. Even on the
Run I was inspired to develop an aero position by bending at the waist keeping
my head at the same level and locking my arms behind me. Although I didn't
realize it at the time this is the same posture speed skaters adopt but all I
could think of was, "if I didn't look like a little old lady before I
surely must now"! At this point appearance was the very least of my
concerns. Since I wear no watch I sensed that I must keep moving regardless of
Going two steps forward and being blown one back made me time sensitive. How
relieved I was to see that I not only made the cut-off time by 20 minutes which
qualified me for Kona but opened the 80+ Age Group for Women making me the
oldest finisher of this event as well.
However, there was a problem as they had no 80+ women's trophy to present
me. Guess they weren't expecting me to finish and risked saving a few bucks on
their calculated guess as if their exorbitant entry fee couldn't afford it!
After a month or two the situation was resolved and the 'Ukeme is now in my
possession much to my relief!
Now let us fast forward to the Canadian Ironman. I had only one other race
after the 70.3 just described and that was the Calgary 70.3. Having never done
this one before I didn't realize that we would be bused way out from town
to a glacier-fed lake body of water called Ghost Lake! Well, subject to hypothermia
as I am, this Lake almost turned me into a Ghost! How I emerged after being in
it for 1:40 hr. clinging to each buoy to ease my erratic breathing I'll never
know! I was dragged into the med tent immediately with a classic case of
hypothermia and what they called SIPE (Swimmer Induced Pulmonary Edema) so I
counted myself lucky to be alive.
'Tis no wonder I approached the Canadian Ironman with a certain degree of
apprehension knowing that Lake Okanagan can also be quite cold if the winds
turn it over bringing cold water up to the surface. Many prayers and trust that
God would provide just the right weather was my central focus leading up to the
event. Also, I had reminded Him that the "third time is the charm" or
"three strikes and I'm out", as this was my third year to attempt
opening the 80+ for Women.
Prayers were answered! Weather was the best I can ever remember from my 20 plus
years of doing the Canadian IM.
The water temperature was quite tolerable so I was off to a good start with a
1:36 Swim which was shorter than my 70.3 swim in Ghost Lake even though it was twice the length. Hence, I didn't have to
spend undue amount of time thawing out in transition. The Bike, too, minus
difficult winds, heat, and/or chill made for a 7:54 ride through scenic orchards
and mountain passes. Still, I felt I was being propelled by a force greater
than my own. I even dared to hope that I could finish less than 16 hrs. but was
also aware that the Run might alter that. By doing more walking than intended I
was able to ward off stomach issues until longer than usual and there was only
the one episode.
Even without a watch I knew that if I paced myself I would be able to complete
the entire course before the 17 hr.cut-off. So it was that I crossed the Finish
line in 16:32 amidst
a crowd gone wild stimulated by the voice of Steve King the
announcer, "Ladies and Gentleman we now have a World record!" It took
me several days to assimilate this, "Well yes, I guess if I am the only 82
women to complete this distance I suppose that makes it a World Record at least for the time
being". But there are some saying, "That Record will never be
broken". BUT! Wouldn't it be fun if I could break my own record at the
Hawaiian Ironman on October 13th? I also realized that between August 26, 2012
at the Canadian IM and until October 13, 2012 in Hawaii I am not only the
oldest woman but the oldest PERSON to have done an Ironman. There are 3or 4 Men
entered but I have no competition so as scripture tells us, "Nothing
is impossible with God'!
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