How Triathlon Has Been Transformational In My Life

By Roseann Peiffer | April 25, 2018, 9:40 p.m. (ET)

I would not be where I am today without triathlon.  I was a very shy and quiet child growing up, was always picked last in gym class, and was very uncoordinated, making me quite terrible at most team sports.  I only had a handful of friends.  I took swim lessons from the ages of 5-12, and eventually joined swim team in middle school.  I enjoyed swimming and working hard so much that I joined the varsity swim team once I entered high school.  I ended up being decent at the sport and was recruited for Division 3 Swimming, though I never qualified for District or State Championships.  When my high school swimming career was over, I had a hard time accepting the fact that I would no longer be swimming competitively, but made a vow to myself to stay fit for the rest of my life because I believe it is so important.   

Though my swimming career was over once I began college, I took the discipline, dedication, and determination with me that I learned through the sport of swimming to everything else I did with my life from then on.  I ended up obtaining a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Exercise Science, and even had my Master’s thesis published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine.  I did not forget about the fitness vow I had made, however.  I started running to stay fit in college.  I really despised running before college, but I decided to give it a try, it took less time than swimming did, and I could run for just 20 minutes and be done with a workout.  So, I decided to run 2 miles that first run, no matter how long it took me.  It ended up taking me 28 minutes, but from then on, I was hooked.  I ran 2-3 miles 5-6 days a week in college and would still sometimes swim and lift weights.  I then decided to train for a half marathon, which progressed to running my first full marathon when I graduated college.  I was not smart with my run training; however, so I ended up injured after that first marathon.  I tried to train for another marathon, but became injured halfway through the training.  That is when I decided to start cross training for a triathlon. 

I remember watching the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii on TV when I was a kid and thinking how cool that would be to complete a triathlon.  I made that dream come true when I was 24. When I finished my first sprint triathlon and won my age group, I realized I could progress in the sport and it did not involve so much running!  This is my eighth year competing in triathlon and I absolutely love it.  I learned a lot in these past eight years about training and racing.  I qualified for and competed in the 2015 and 2016 ITU World Championship races for the Olympic distance as well as the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championship.  

Despite my successes in college and triathlon early on, I still struggled with my shyness and confidence.  However, once I qualified for my first World Championship triathlon, I started gaining confidence in other areas of my life.  I had finally found something I was good at, and had the confidence to train and work towards a goal that was important to me.  After qualifying for and competing in three World Championship triathlons, I am happy to say that my confidence has grown.  To succeed in a sport like triathlon you must have positive self-talk, not only in training every day, but during racing, and to win.  Over these last eight years, I can finally say I have the self-assurance that if you work hard towards a goal, whatever that goal may be in your life, and put the time in, you can truly achieve anything. 

The USA Triathlon Ambassadors provide resources, advice and inspiration to aspiring athletes in their local communities, using their collective stories and experiences to grow multisport participation nationwide. Meet the ambassadors here.