No Pool? No Problem!

Anne Pileggi: Seize the Challenge! Anytime, Any Place, Any Age

How much appetite for adventure do you think you’ll have when you’re 64 years old? For me, I hope it is as much as Anne Pileggi, our Endurance Executive interview this week. Anne is the COO of the CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler, Texas and an Ironman triathlete.

Anne did her first triathlon 20 years ago, and with some peer pressure (it happens to the best of us!) and determination, she has completed a full Ironman, and several Sprints, Olympics, and 70.3 distances. Triathlon gives her an outlet for structure, but she is an adventurer at heart, having completed a 172-mile trek through England and the Pikes Peak half marathon, which she tells us about in this interview.

Like many of us this year, Anne has had races cancelled due the COVID-19 pandemic, but she remains consistent in her training, and turns her focus to her job at the hospital, fulfilling the mission of health and healing.

Here is more about Anne, in her own words.

Q: First of all, this is such a crazy time that we are all going through with COVID-19. As the COO of a hospital, how has your “normal” been disrupted?

My normal has been disrupted in much the same ways as everyone; no access to my pool, no access to the State Park for swimming, running, hiking, no access to the track where my group meets for weekly track sessions. As for disruption in my work life, I find the biggest thing that is very, very different for me, is that all meetings with more than about 5 people are done virtually. I much prefer meeting face to face! I am making decisions on the fly and operating this hospital in a very changing environment. Despite all of this, my mindset and mission remain the same; give at least 100% everyday in everything that I face. Our health system's mission is To Extend The Healing Ministry of Jesus Christ and I try to make decisions based on that.

Q: I understand that you just got a new job, which is a promotion for you. Congratulations! What are some of your philosophies and values that have kept you consistent with your training as you navigate your new career demands?

My philosophy is to show up every day ready to face the challenge, do the work, whether it is work related or sport related. Sometimes that means giving myself permission to go home! As for my workouts, lately I have been giving myself permission to do what I can given the circumstance of the day, i.e. do something, do part of a workout. Something is better than nothing. In my work, I like to be transparent. What you see is what you get and I tend to express my opinions pretty openly. Most people appreciate that because they know where they stand. However, some are intimidated and have to get used to me or I to them.

Q: How has working with a coach benefited you as an athlete, and in your life in general?

Working with Coach William Ritter at FlyTri Racing gives me more structure. I have always been pretty driven and perhaps push myself too much. I have finally convinced myself that I am paying my coach and therefore I should listen to him and do what he says. My coach has recently helped me to make better use of data and allow him to do the same in order to correctly judge where I'm at with training and how to structure a schedule that works. I love to set goals and coach helps me do that.

Q: Tell us about your most satisfying athletic accomplishment. What was the event, how did you prepare for it, and what did you learn from it?

It was a toss up between my Ironman and Ascent on Pikes Peak. I am going with the Pikes Peak race. That was unbelievably hard, both mentally and physically. This is a half marathon starting at 8700 ft. elevation and going up to over 14,000 feet. There are time markers on the way up which mean if you don't make it to the marker in the time threshold, you are out! Given the altitude and the elevation gain, it was all I could do to make it. We have lots of hills here in East Texas, but no mountains so all I could do to train was to build endurance on hills and overall fitness. I did not have enough time to arrive there more than a couple of days ahead of time, so there was no real acclimation period. It was such a challenge and so exciting to actually make it to the top within the allotted time frame! I cried when I finished that one for sure!!

Q: What advice can you give to someone who is overwhelmed at the thought of getting started in triathlon? Maybe they have fears, or a busy schedule, or self-doubt, or something else. How, and WHY, would you suggest they take the first step?

My advice for getting started is to do just that! There are plenty of beginner friendly races and groups to help so you just have to let go of your pride and do it! I would tell a newbie to not worry about the time that it takes to complete an event. Just cherish the moment. As for time constraints due to a busy schedule, no one's going to get much sympathy from me on that! You simply have to want to do it and find time, even if it's 20 minutes, to do something that you truly want to do. Not everyone has to be an Ironman. Set a goal, however small, and remember that you are ahead of probably 90% or more of the population. As for the why, I would encourage people to take the plunge for the wonderful feeling of accomplishment that they will feel in choosing a healthy lifestyle that is just so much darn fun! I hope to continue to do what I love for many years to come.

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