Becoming an IRONMAN

In 1990 Jeanne first dreamed of becoming an IRONMAN, but she never really thought it was actually possible.

In 2015 she toed the line at IRONMAN Maryland, but she was ultimately disqualified for an innocent mishap during the run portion of the race.

In 2018 Jeanne got sweet redemption and finally became an IRONMAN!

Her journey wasn’t easy, but no one’s IRONMAN journey is easy. Everyone has a story. And everyone has obstacles they need to overcome along the way. Perhaps that’s why they say, ‘the harder the battle, the sweeter, the victory.’

The Beginning 

At the age of 40, I decided to be make my dream a goal and then put together a plan to achieve my goal.

Even though I ultimately wanted to finish an IRONMAN triathlon, I knew I had to start small, learn the basics and work my way up in distance.

When I started training for my first triathlon I could barely run 3 miles. An 8 mile bike ride was very far and the idea of swimming laps was exhausting. However, I was willing to do the work necessary to achieve my goals. Joining a triathlon club definitely helped with this.


I love seeing my RTA teammates out on the course during a race and I love how much we all support each other. It keeps me motivated to reach my goals. Even though we may all be racing for different reasons, we are all in it together! Love RTA! – Jeanne


Learn more about Team RTA


I started with a sprint triathlon and worked my way up to an olympic distance then a half IRONMAN and then finally a full IRONMAN. I would finish 4 half IRONMANs (70.3’s) and multiple other distances before I decided to train for a full. I wanted to have the experience!


The Obstacles  

I had many obstacles along the way including a DQ in my first IRONMAN in 2015. I had missed 4 blocks of the run course when I turned at an aid  station by mistake.

It would take me 3 more years to get back to the start line of an IRONMAN because two of my children became very ill.

But the goal never faded. It is what kept me going during the dark times with my children. I kept training as much as possible in hopes that I would be back at the start line one day. It wasn’t easy and every day I thought about my DQ.

My IRONMAN finish line in 2018 was the sweetest redemption I have ever felt! I have learned from training and finishing an IRONMAN that you must always keep moving forward. One step or day at a time – to never give up and when things doing’t go the way you planned them, make a new plan!

Anything truly is possible.


Jeanne’s IRONMAN Journey – Q & A

Why did you sign up for IRONMAN?

It was always a dream of mine, but I had never really thought it would be possible. 

When I was 19, my exercise physiology professor shared stories about training for IRONMAN. And I had always watched the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii on TV. I quickly became fascinated and wondered if I had what it took to complete this crazy race someday. 

I wanted to do something that would challenge me and push me beyond my limits. I wanted to feel the exhilaration of finishing! To have the feeling of accomplishment.


Why did you decide to hire a coach?

I did not have a coach for this IRONMAN. I have hired coaches in the past and found it extremely helpful and beneficial. This is especially true if you are new to triathlon or if you are looking to improve your performance. 

Since I decided to do this race last minute (75 days out) I didn’t feel I needed a coach and didn’t want to spend the money at the time.

Having my triathlon coaching certification and degree in exercise physiology I felt confident in my own abilities to achieve my goal. My only goal was to cross the finish line in less than 17 hours (the allotted time).


What was going through your head just before you jumped into the water and started swimming? 

For some reason I was incredibly calm at the start of the race.

I am normally very emotional at the start of my races. 

I told myself I would do whatever I had to do to reach that finish line. I would overcome obstacles that came my way today, no matter what. This was exactly where I was suppose to be. I told myself, ‘this was my day.’

I was so grateful to be at the start line. I remember looking around and wondering what the stories were of all the people around me. Everyone has a story.


What was the best part of the day?

Running down the last stretch of road to the finish line and knowing I was finally going to become an IRONMAN and my dream was going to come true.

The on-course crowd support was amazing as well. Especially on the run course. There was so much encouragement and cheering. Everyone was so positive and gave me a boost when I needed it most. 

My sister came to the race to support me. It was the first time she has come to one of my races and it was amazing to have her there.

I clearly remember making the final turn toward the finish anda woman was holding her young daughter. She shouted out to me and said, ‘you are amazing and I am so proud that you are showing my daughter that anything is possible.’ I never thought I was having an impact on inspiring others.

What was the worst/hardest part of the race and how did you overcome it?

The worst part was the swim.

I am a strong swimmer, but I knew that anything could happen. I was hit many times and very hard on the head. People kept swimming into me or in front of me. It felt like pure chaos. No one was doing it intentionally, but I just couldn’t seem to get away from the congestion.

My head hurt from when I got hit and I kept swallowing water. I was worried I might throw up. The swim felt like it was never ending. I worried that if I flet this badly during the swim, how was the rest of the day going to be?

Then I mentally decided I had to stop thinking this way. I needed to be positive. I decided to slow down. I told myself I was a strong swimmer, to not worry about the bike, but to just finish the swim. To focus on one leg at a time. I told myself it was going to be ok and I said it over and over again.

I told myself I could do this. THIS WAS MY DAY!

What was going through your head when you crossed the finish line and they called you an IRONMAN? 

There were so many emotions while I ran down the final stretch to the finish line.

It was an overwhelming sense of joy and happiness. A huge feeling of accomplishment. It is an emotion that is hard to explain unless you experience the journey of training and finishing an IRONMAN.

I was thinking that all of my hard work finally paid off. The type of feeling where you want to throw your head back, throw your arms in the air and scream at the top of your lungs! I DID IT!!!

I am still on the high. I have never felt a high like this in all of the triathlons I have finished or competitive tennis matches I have played. It is the most incredible feeling ever. I wish I could package it up and feel it forever! 

Dreams can come true if you make a plan, work hard and never give up! Anything is possible!




Make a plan, work hard and never give up. Anything is possible!


Are you a woman with dreams of doing a triathlon?

Do you aspire to maybe some day finish an IRONMAN triathlon?

You’re not alone.

RTA Triathlon is a proud Grant Recipient of the IRONMAN Foundation’s Women for Tri Grant. We have a wonderful group of women within our community who help one another along their journey to be the best they can be.

Learn more about Women for Tri.

Learn more about Team RTA. 

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