A 45-year-old public health nurse who completed one of the toughest sporting events in the world has described her achievement as “a dream come true”.
Anne Marie Power (45), who lives in Cork, completed the 2018 Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii earlier this month.
The mum-of-three trained for the race every morning at 5.30am either on her turbo trainer bike in her kitchen, or swimming at her local pool, Brookfield Leisure Centre, while her family slept.
She’d train again every evening while her children were at various sports and activities.
“I tried to fit in my training around the kids. Obviously every mum is a busy mum. There’s so much I could say about the pressure, but it’s just a balancing act… it’s all about time management, and also being realistic about what you’re going to achieve.”
“I try to be efficient with my time and I’m mindful to be present for the kids and their growing needs as best I can. I often batch cook at the weekends to free up precious time during the week. I’m sure there are plenty of mothers like me out there.”
“My kids would never see me training. I’d get up and do a session on the turbo trainer, and I’d eat and take care of my nutrition. Within an hour and a half I’d have showered and I was able then to get the kids up and ready.”
The conditions for the race are notoriously difficult, and athletes often collapse at the finish line.
“It’s not the heat that’s difficult; it’s the humidity.”
“I knew it was going to be a tough, long, arduous day. I thought starting out that mentally I’d break it down into sections. I knew the swim wasn’t going to be difficult even though it’s a non-wetsuit swim so you don’t have the buoyancy of the wet suit.”
“There were 860 women at the start so it was quite an aggressive start but once the canon goes off, you just get going. I finished it in one hour ten minutes.”
“Then I put on my bike gear and it was hot but it could have been hotter. There were plenty of aid stations; it was 180 kilometres on the Queen K highway.”
“Then I started the run, and that’s when the heat and conditions really started to get to me. It was tough. I had some dark moments on my run thinking ‘am I going to be able to finish this?’”
But she added: “I had positive visualisation strategies before the race. And I had a sister over here and her husband, and a couple of friends at various points keeping me going.”
“I had little words of encouragement written on the back of my hand. I’d been told my so many people how tough it was going to be. I was thinking of my kids and thinking of my husband, I knew I just had to keep pushing.”
Anne-Marie says she hopes that by completing the gruelling challenge, she sends a message to her children Cillian (12), Lennan (10) Dearbhla (7).
“There was a huge sense of accomplishment at the finish line. I got emotional. They have catchers there, a lot of people collapse at the finish line just from sheer exhaustion.”
“You have so many feelings – just being grateful to be in this position, being able to complete this. Thinking of my kids back home. They were watching me live at the finish line. My husband was up watching the race as well.”
“I really feel long distance events are where I perform better.”
“I’m still getting faster every year, for the longer endurance-type activities.”
She added: “For me, recovery is a big thing. Every so often I’d feel tired and I’d take a break from training. Consistency really is the key, and staying injury-free provides that base.”
The mum, who says she is enjoying down time with her children and husband Pat, only began entering long distance races after the birth of her first child.
“I was always fairly sporty in school but I was never drawn to any particular activity. I started training during my first pregnancy, and then after my first baby I started jogging and I decided to sign up for a marathon. Someone approached me about joining a club. Then a friend approached me about doing a sprint triathlon, and I got hooked.”
“I think it’s important as well for them to know that their mum is active.”