Interview with Sole Inspirer - Annabelle Leuthardt
SI | Hi Annabelle! YOU ARE AN IRONMAN. How does it feel?
Annabelle | The finish line chute of an IRONMAN is like no other! I felt a combination of euphoria, exhaustion, relief, joy, and knowing that anything is possible! One of the best feelings I ever experienced in my life! Finishing an IRONMAN is a result of months of training, dedication, focus, hard work, commitment, fun, and sacrifices along the way.
SI | Tell us a little about yourself.
Annabelle | I was born in Swaziland, but raised in Switzerland, and am the mother to Dylan, a 12 year old boy. I am self-employed and the owner of Annabelle Realty Inc.
SI | What or who inspired you to believe that one day you could become an IRONMAN?
Annabelle | During my first year in triathlon, I had Hawaii 70.3, Augusta 70.3 and a sub 6 at NC 70.3 in October 2016 under my belt, when my triathlon coach, Mike Smith, asked if I wanted to do an Ironman next year. I immediately said "NO!!" In my mind there was no way I could or want to go that distance. But he planted a seed without even knowing it. I thought. “Does he think I could do that or why else would he ask?”
SI | Have you been an athlete your entire life? Tell us about your journey to becoming an IRONMAN competitor.
Annabelle | I was very athletic in my childhood, being a competitive and ranked table tennis player in Switzerland. In my teenage years, I enjoyed playing competitive badminton in a club. After moving to the US from Switzerland in 2002, I started slowly gaining weight. By the time I had my son in 2006, I was 60 pounds overweight. In 2014, I watched the documentary "Fat, sick, and nearly dead", and decided to start juicing the next day. The fat melted off my body, and in less than two months, I lost 60 pounds. This motivated me to start running. I joined a running group and signed up for a local 5k. I enjoyed racing and immediately signed up for a half marathon that took place the following month. From there, I decided to keep going, and before I knew it, I ran Shamrock Marathon in March 2015. I went from being overweight to becoming a marathoner in exactly 6 months, and was proud to cross the finish line with a time of 4:29. My goal was 4:30, and I was joking how I accomplished my goal with Swiss precision. I continued running several more marathons until one day I got injured. A friend talked me into purchasing a bike, which I did the summer of 2015. I also decided to hire a swim coach to learn freestyle swimming, as that was completely new to me. And just a few weeks later, you guessed it... I was signed up for my first sprint triathlon race.
SI | That is an amazing story. You mention in one of your FB posts that the IRONMAN race is a great metaphor for life. Could you elaborate on that a little?
Annabelle | Just the thought of swimming 2.4 miles, cycling for 112 miles and running 26.2 miles after, seemed impossible and insane to me, but I had a coach who guided me, prepared me, and helped me with my workouts. In life, we are faced with adversity and challenges that can seem like an impossible mountain to climb. Ironman's are a metaphor for life, in that if you keep God as your guide, as your center, you will realize that you are not alone. God is always with you, in the valley as well as on your journey to climb that mountain, and I have learned that I am capable of much more than I had ever given myself credit for.
I also think that it is all about the journey. What's a trip without the dreaming of the trip. You have to enjoy the journey as much as the occasion. The special day is over so quickly, so I made an effort to enjoy my IRONMAN training even on the days I did not feel like it.
SI | What piece of advice would you give to women who might be interested in becoming physically fit and competing in a race like IRONMAN?
Annabelle | The IRONMAN is a MONSTER, a full time job. It is more than twice the half ironman distance training. You will hardly see your family. You will hardly see your friends. You won’t have time to go out. You will lose sleep. You train, eat, recover, sleep, and repeat. You will need to be both mentally and physically ready. It is not for everyone. But if it is your dream, then go for it! Know that the "IRONMAN blues" post-race exists.
SI | Would you like to give a shout out to any brand, business or individual that you couldn't have completed the race without?
Annabelle | The shout out goes to coach Mike with 4D Endurance . I was able to fully trust my coach. He answered my 100 questions and called me frequently to check in. I knew he gave me all the tools for a successful race.
SI | Is there another IRONMAN race in you?
Annabelle | No. But never say never!
SI | Thank you Annabelle for sharing your IRONMAN journey!