Back in 1989, Mary Houbolt was diagnosed with breast cancer that spread to her lymph nodes and her chances of survival weren’t good. But the then 32-year-old beat the odds and after aggressive treatment, her cancer went into full remission.
So when she was turning 60 in 2010, Mary wanted to do something “monumental” to celebrate surviving cancer. She decided on competing in an Ironman triathlon and signed up for the endurance race that combines a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run.
Mary won her age group in that Ironman and went on to compete at the Ironman World Championship, where she came in third! After that, she was hooked and has gone on to compete in nine Ironman competitions and 20 triathlons in the last seven years. She’s also raced across the country as part of a four-woman team for Race Across America, an ultra-endurance bicycling event.
“I get so much personal satisfaction from competing against myself,” explains Mary. “I will not grow old gracefully. I don’t want to just sit on the couch. I feel lucky to be alive.”