Michelle Newman, Coach of Women 40+

Maryland, United States

“I was training for the World Ironman in New Zealand when I had a biking accident that left me with bruises, broken fingers and a torn posterior cruciate ligament in my right knee. The doctors told me there was no hope of me competing in the Ironman. But my physical therapist thought differently and put me through a rigorous month of rehab exercises.

When I got to New Zealand, I was filled with energy and hope, until 48 hours before the race when my knee froze up and I was not able to even walk. What did I do? Nothing. And I really mean NOTHING. I sat in a chair outside and absorbed the beauty of that incredible country. The next day, I felt fine – so I changed, took my bike on my shoulder and entered the 2003 World Ironman.

I started off great. The swim was no problem, and I even clocked one of my best times. The bike ride was going well too when suddenly everything went sideways. The weather went from blistering hot to wintery rain and freezing cold. I started to get a massive pain in my knee, which brought my spirits down. Somehow, I got through the 112-mile bike course. Now I only had to run a marathon!

In Taupe, New Zealand, it felt like the whole town had come out to cheer us on. It was exciting to see champion racers zooming by and my friends pushing themselves to beat their times. Due to my injury, I was going much slower than normal, so by the time I went along the course there were less and less people. It felt as if I was the only one out there.

Just when I was ready to call it quits, an encouraging voice came from a young girl who was riding her bike alongside me. She kept cheering me on, "You can do it... keep going." At this point, I was numb from the pain and cold that I was half walking, half running. Could I really do this? Maybe it was pride or foolishness, or maybe I did not want to let that little girl down, but I somehow found the energy to keep going. I kept repeating to myself the girl’s sunny cheer“you can do it." Finally, 15.5 hours after I started, I crossed the finish line. This experience changed me. I learned that you can achieve anything, with grit, determination, and an unwavering belief in yourself - and perhaps a bit of divine intervention." - Michelle Newman, Coach of Women 40+


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