Courage and ambition have never been in short supply for Army Veteran Indira Glennon. As a young child she dreamed of joining the service and becoming a pilot. As a stay-at-home mom with five children, she walked into a specialty store for triathlon racing and signed up for her first race—with no prior experience and without owning a bike.
“I’d always been a runner, but I’d never run a triathlon before,” said Glennon. “I had just moved to Georgia from Dallas and I thought it sounded interesting.”
She saw it not only as a way to explore her home town, but as an opportunity to meet new friends. She immediately joined a triathlon club to learn about the sport. Her first race was a Turtle Crawl, a charity race in Jekyll Island, Georgia, benefiting the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. The race comprised a 600-meter swim, 15-mile bike ride, and 3-mile run.
“I trained every day—I ran a lot and would ride my bike for 20 miles and then run three miles afterward,” said Glennon. “The hardest part of a triathlon is getting used to the transitions. No matter how hard you train the disorientation you feel when getting out of the water never goes away.”
She’s quick to point out, however, that “it’s so much fun; I enjoy every minute of it.” When she signed up for that first race, Glennon never imagined the joy and passion she would discover through the sport. It turned out to be a great coping mechanism and a bridge to connect with her 11-year old daughter who now runs triathlons.
“Triathlons have seen me through some really hard times. When I needed an outlet, I would go on really long bikes,” said Glennon. “I’d ride down the Georgia highway for 50 miles and then come back at peace.”
In addition to inspiring family with her dedication, Glennon inspires other Veterans to adopt an active lifestyle through her volunteer work with Team Red, White, & Blue. She currently serves as the co-captain for Columbia Team RWB of the South Carolina Chapter, an organization committed to enriching the lives of Veterans by “connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.”
Glennon is one of 10 women Veteran athletes that will be showcased at VA medical centers throughout March—Women’s History Month. The 10 women represent all service branches and were selected by VA and its partners.
Being selected as a featured athlete is deeply gratifying for Glennon. As a woman Veteran and a military spouse, she can recall times when she has felt invisible at VA or in the military community.
“It’s difficult for me because when we go places I feel like unless a woman Veteran wears a big sign that identifies them as a Veteran it is assumed automatically that they aren’t a Veteran,” said Glennon. “It’s very discouraging, but being honored in this way tells others that I’m not just a spouse or a stay-at-home parent.”
While the exhibit is sparking much needed awareness and sensitivity around women Veterans, Glennon encourages all Veterans to try something new. She explains that you will never know how far you can go if you don’t try.
Indira Glennon is one of 10 athletes selected for the Women Veteran Athletes Initiative. The participants represent all branches of the armed services, and were selected by VA and its partners — the Veterans Canteen Service, Team Red, White & Blue, the Semper Fi Fund and Comcast. Visit the Center for Women Veterans website to see photos of each athlete by Veterans Portrait Project photographer Stacy Pearsall. Find more on social media at @deptvetaffairs (Twitter, Instagram) and @VAWomenVets (Twitter, Facebook) and by following #WomenVetAthletes.