Kristin Armstrong, who turns 43 on Aug. 11, picked up her third gold in the women’s time trial event. Armstrong — don’t worry, no relation to Lance — won the event in Beijing in 2008 and again in London in 2012 before beating Russian Olga Zabelinskaya by more than five seconds in Rio.

Despite her longtime dominance, her win Wednesday appears to come as a surprise. As she slowed her bike after crossing the finish line, she asked, “Did I win?”

Yes. Yes, she did.

“I don’t have words to describe it,” she told reporters after learning she won. “Today the stars aligned. I knew it was going to be a close race. My coach said to me, ‘OK, you decide what color medal you want to have.’ I dug so deep.”

Armstrong burst onto the cycling scene in 2004 by winning the national road race championship. But it’s the time trials, where cyclists race solo instead of in a bunch, where she’s found the most success. Besides her three Olympic wins, Armstrong has found herself on the podium in four world championship competitions, with one third-place, one second-place and two first-place finishes.

Armstrong does this while raising a son, now 5, with her husband, Joe Savola, and holding down a full-time job as a community health director for the St. Luke’s health system in Boise, Idaho, according to ESPN. (Women’s cycling championships don’t exactly make one a millionaire.)

Armstrong has tried to leave cycling before — twice, actually — but the allure of new challenges kept bringing her back. In this case, it was a third gold medal and a chance to make history. She and legendary speed skater Bonnie Blair are now the only two American women ever to win three gold medals at the Olympics in the same event.

“When you’ve already been two times at the pinnacle of the sport, why risk coming back for the gold medal? The best answer I can give is that I can,” she told reporters on Wednesday.

Armstrong also just “loves a challenge,” she said in a teleconference (via CyclingNews.com) on Tuesday night. “I love challenges in life.”

Armstrong faced a big challenge Sunday, when she competed as part of Team USA in the women’s road race. She failed to finish the course on that rainy day, but she played an important role in helping her U.S. teammate Mara Abbott place fourth.

In fact, it was Abbott’s finish, which saw her relinquish her lead late in the race, that got Armstrong going on Wednesday.

“I gave everything for her in the final 5 kilometers,” she said Wednesday, following comments she made Tuesday about why she decided to take on the extra team challenge in the first place instead of rest her legs.

“People might look at that and say, ‘Wow, she put it all out there before the time trial,’ but I have a different outlook on that. I feel that I need an opener,” she said. “It’s my style.”

Like Armstrong said, she loves challenges.

Writer Rick Maese contributed to this report.