For many, completing a marathon or an Ironman triathlon is a feat that may never be accomplished. For Dr. Anne Siegrist (Appleton), it’s a feat she’s accomplished 78 times.
Born and raised in Appleton, Dr. Siegrist first started to take interest in running, biking and swimming during high school despite the lack of competitive opportunities available for female students. “For most of my time there, Xavier High offered no women’s sports and only first introduced a girls’ track team during my senior year, which I elected not to join,” said Dr. Siegrist. “We weren’t even allowed to go on the trampoline, as we were told girls were uninsurable!” Due to these circumstances, Dr. Siegrist continued to practice these activities on her own – running in the early mornings using the neighborhood park as a course, and biking to the YMCA after school for swim practice.
This sort of routine became more difficult to maintain while she attended Marquette University School of Dentistry, focusing the majority of her time on studying. Upon graduating from dental school, she quickly jumped back into the sports she loved, eventually leading to her first marathon one year later. “After dedicating so much time to schoolwork, which resulted in me being physically less active, I was excited to start running again. As I got back into form, I decided I’d sign up for the Chicago Marathon as my first major competition,” remembered Dr. Siegrist. “It wasn’t until my third year after graduation that I completed my first triathlon.”
A marathon is a long-distance run of 26.2 miles. An Ironman triathlon combines events in swimming (2.4 miles), cycling (112 miles) and running (a full, 26.2-mile marathon) – in that order. When asked which she prefers, it’s no surprise that Dr. Siegrist says that she favors the “ease” of running marathons, noting that they’re much less demanding on the body and go by quickly when you’re next to friends you can talk with. This differs from triathlons where competitors are required to separate during the cycling portion – the longest and most difficult distance of the race – so as to not be disqualified for drafting an opponent.
As you would expect, triathlon preparation requires much more time and attention to training for each of the three activities. Already swimming at 6 a.m. four times each week for the YMCA Masters swim team, Dr. Siegrist found that she needed no additional training in that category to be fit to race. Similarly, as a naturally gifted runner, she felt that it merely came down to clocking a certain number of miles within a given year to prepare. Cycling, on the other hand, proved to be more challenging. “In the winter, I would ride the stationary bike while reading my dental journals for an hour at a time,” she said. “Once the weather was warmer, we would go for longer bike rides (around 100 miles) on weekends around the lake with seven hills at the halfway mark to meet the 112 miles needed for an Ironman. I didn’t do any sort of mental training or diet changes for these races – though I naturally only drink one or two glasses of wine each year, which may have helped.”
In total, Dr. Siegrist has completed 65 marathons and 13 Ironman triathlons throughout her life – many of which she’s traveled to with friends, including some that she’s met along the way. “I deeply value the nice people that I have met while training and participating in these events,” she said. “Many have become patients, and many were patients that I encouraged to join me. It makes such a positive mental and physical impact to just get out there and enjoy the fresh air, and I love to share that experience with others.”
Some of Dr. Siegrist’s favorite and most notable competitions that she’s completed include: the Boston Marathon (twice), the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. (twice), Honolulu Marathon in the pouring rain, the Chicago Marathon, the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon (10-plus times), the Leadville Trail Marathon through the Rocky Mountains, a scenic marathon in California’s Humboldt State Park and countless local Fox Cities Marathons.
When asked about how training and competing has impacted her career in dentistry, Dr. Siegrist has found stamina to be the most obvious and important improvement. “I definitely believe there are lessons you learn from completing a race in unexpected/extreme weather conditions or coaching a friend through rigorous training sessions when they want to give up. You tend to find new ways to push yourself and others in those situations – a useful skill to have when dealing with adversities in the dental office where there’s always a lot of coaching, just in other ways.”