I've been a triathlete for over 10 years and I live and breath the sport. When I began my athletic journey, I thought that living as an athlete meant getting in big workouts and competing a few times a year. Now that I have participated in over 50 triathlons, trained for over 30 hours in a week, and completed the Ironman World Championship, I've realized it's much more than that. Living as an athlete is a life approach. It requires a relentless awareness of your body, mind, and environment. It requires an unwavering desire to live and adapt, rest and grow. 

I first learned about triathlon in fourth grade when my teacher Tracy Kahn brought in her finishers medal and pictures from Ironman Lake Placid. I was impressed by the achievement and knew that I wanted to be an Ironman one day.

A few years later, in 2013, I did my first tri at the Got the Nerve Triathlon and I caught the bug. I raced a few local tris each year through high school, but was more involved with music than I was in sports. I wrestled as a freshman, but that's the extent of my high school sports career. That said, I was still very drawn to triathlon and, to celebrate my graduation from high school in 2007, I trained for and competed as the youngest athlete at Ironman Lake Placid.

I went on to race 4 more Ironman including the Ironman World Championships in Kona. I also qualified and competed at the Ironman 70.3 Worlds in Vegas and qualified for Olympic Distance Worlds at USAT Nationals. All the while, I achieved a BA in Health Science with a focus in Exercise physiology, a BA in English, and an MA in English.

By the time I finished graduate school, I realized that I wanted to give myself the chance to become a professional athlete. I began supporting myself through coaching and started chipping away at my goal. Although the time between graduate school and becoming a Pro was laced with major setbacks--namely, a broken collar bone and two surgeries-- I eventually qualified as a professional at the South Beach Triathlon by placing second overall amateur on April 6th, 2014. I've since made my debut as a Pro in a strong field of athletes that made up the St. Anthony's Triathlon on April 29th, 2014.

Although I had a lot of success as an elite amateur, I do not have any Pro wins, let alone world titles, to my name. So, as of right now, I cannot bestow upon you any wise advice about what it means to win a race like Hy-Vee or Kona. But what I do have to offer you is my journey as I continue to fight my way towards the top. I believe that we can learn just as much from the challenging process of improving as we can from winning races. My hope is not just that you enjoy reading about the struggles and successes of my career, but that my experience will bring you a new perspective of what it means to be an athlete and a human being.

Photo Cred: Jennifer Schulten

I look forward to sharing my experience with you!