The Grace to Race
The Wisdom and Inspiration of the 80-Year-Old World Champion Triathlete Known as the Iron Nun
As a beautiful young woman, she became an elegant equestrian and accomplished amateur actress. But as she describes in this intimate memoir, she had a secret plan as early as 14: she wanted to devote her life to God. After being courted by the most eligible bachelors in her hometown, she chose a different path and became a Sister of the Good Shepherd.
She lived a mostly cloistered life as a Nun until her late forties, when a Priest suggested she take a run on the beach. She dug up a pair of shorts in a pile of donated clothes, found a pair of second-hand tennis shoes, and had a second epiphany. This time, she discovered the spiritual joy of pushing her body to the limit and of seeing God’s natural world in all its splendor.
More than thirty years later, she is known as the Iron Nun for all the triathlons she has won. Just five years ago, the age 75–79 category was created for her at the Hawaiian Ironman in Kona, where she completed a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a full 26.2-mile marathon in record time. Now she has set her sights on a new goal: inaugurating another new Ironman age group, 80–84, in 2010.
Sister Madonna holds dozens of records, has broken dozens of bones, and tells of dozens of miracles and angels that propelled her to a far-flung race. "It is my faith that has carried me through life’s ups and downs," she writes. "Whenever injured, I wait for the Lord to pick me up again and set me on my feet, confidently reminding Him, ‘God, you know, my intent is to keep running toward you.’"
The Grace to Race is the courageous story of a woman who broke with convention, followed her heart, and found her higher mission.
Read an Excerpt
The Miracle Finish—
2006 Hawaiian Ironman
Determination is the mind willing something to happen
by the grace of God.
I WAS A fourth of the way through the 2.4-mile swim course of the Hawaiian Ironman, wondering why I didn’t seem to be making any progress through the water. I raised my head, peering through my goggles at a landmark hotel on shore, and realized I wasn’t getting beyond it. I kept stroking, wondering what was going on in the ocean depths below. When I finally reached land, it was twenty minutes later than I had... see more