Michelle Rosowsky competes in her 100th triathlon at the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships. PHOTO: Finisher Pix

Rosowsky Runs 100th Triathlon

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Thursday August 25, 2016

Local triathlete Michelle Rosowsky competed in the USA Triathlon’s Age Group National Championships in Omaha, Nebraska August 13, earning ninth place in her age division and a spot to compete for the United States at the 2017 Age Group World Championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The race, with top athletes from all 50 states, was a landmark event for the dedicated and accomplished competitor as it was her 100th individual triathlon. At the age of 48, Rosowsky has been competing in triathlons for half her life. She says, “Training and racing has been a big part of my life. It’s fun to hit the 100 milestone and reflect on all the experiences this sport has brought me over the years.”

The triathlon is a swimming, cycling, and running competition that is usually one of four distances: sprint, Olympic, half-Ironman, or Ironman. According to Rosowsky, the events range from a one-and-a-half-hour race (sprint) to a long distance 10 to 17-hour race (Ironman). She explains that the time between each stage, for example going from the swimming to the cycling portion of the race, are called transitions and count toward the athlete’s overall race time. Rosowsky adds, “I’ve always loved the transitions as they remind me of being a kid again and pulling on your tennis shoes as fast as you can to go out and play with your friends. So many funny things can happen in the transition area; it’s a great place to be a spectator.”

Rosowsky reports that her favorite race length is the Olympic distance, consisting of a 1.5K swim, 40K bike, and 10K run, the same distance contested at the Rio Olympic games. Of this mid-distance race, she says, “I love it because it requires strategy and endurance, but the focus is still very much on speed,” and adds, “It’s also more manageable to train for (compared to Ironman) and still have a balanced life.”

The athlete’s first race was a sprint triathlon in 1992, as she describes, “before graduate school, career, family, and several moves around the country and abroad.” Rosowsky, who was 24 and living in Washington, D.C. at the time says, “I remember having to explain to people that I was going to swim, bike, and run as most people didn’t even know what triathlon was! I had no idea then how much the sport would come to mean to me. I’ve competed in some multisport event every single year since then.”

Those experiences include famed triathlons like the prestigious Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, the Ironman Lake Placid (where she placed third in her division), and representing the USA at the Age Group World Championships in London and New Zealand. In addition, Rosowsky has earned All-American status every year since 2005, with the exception of the years she was pregnant or had knee surgery. This notable ranking allows athletes to see how they compare to others across the country and means that Rosowsky, beyond completing her 100th triathlon, is in excellent company as she is ranked in the top 10 percent nationally in her age group.

For any athlete, to achieve such recognition and achievement takes a committed soul and a rigorous schedule. Beyond being an athlete, Rosowsky is a mother, wife, business strategist, and volunteer; a juggling act that is worthy of its own medal. She trains about 14 hours a week and says, “There are a lot of early mornings; my husband is great about covering household duties when I’m finishing up a workout. No question, it’s a busy life. I’m always wishing I could hit a ‘pause’ button and for once have enough time for whatever I’m doing.”

Rosowsky trains mostly on her own, but also belongs to a masters swimming group at the Edge Sports and Fitness and Green Mountain Multisport, the local triathlon club. “Both are full of impressive athletes. That’s one thing about triathlon, you never get a big head because there’s always someone faster or more inspiring.”

Having moved to South Burlington three years ago when her husband took the position of Provost and Senior Vice President at the University of Vermont, Rosowsky shares that she has moved frequently. “My parents and sisters are all on the West coast, but growing up we moved around a lot. My mom is Dutch and my dad did international business. My husband and I met in Oregon and our daughter was born there. Our son was born in Texas.” As a person who has lived on five continents and in eight states, Rosowsky states, “We love living in Vermont. Aesthetically, it’s by far my favorite place I’ve ever lived.”

When not running, cycling, or swimming, Rosowsky works as a business strategist for Marathon Health, a Winooski-based firm that provides worksite healthcare with a focus on prevention and wellness. “I’m really lucky to work part-time there,” says Rosowsky, adding “As a company, we’re all about health, and one of our core values is living the mission. So, fortunately I can get away during daylight hours to bike. I do my best thinking when I’m moving anyway! I’m always right back on my laptop when I get home.”

Readers of The Other Paper may be familiar with Rosowsky’s name as she is the media liaison for the Rick Marcotte Central School PTO and regularly contributes articles. It is easy to see there is no spare time in her schedule when she says, “I have several volunteer jobs, including some I can do with my kids, like delivering for Meals on Wheels and visiting senior citizens with our therapy dog, Journey.”

A woman of many gifts, Rosowsky espouses her guiding principle, to live gratefully. “When life is good - and it’s really pretty good for me right now - it feels like a responsibility to give back to the world in small or large ways. I always feel I should be doing more.”

Rosowsky admits that while it’s fun to earn awards and stand on the podium, it’s the triathlon lifestyle she loves - the discipline of training, excitement of racing, and camaraderie among athletes.

“Triathlons are a huge source of joy for me,” says Rosowsky. “Some people say I inspire them, which is very humbling. To be honest, I think it’s much harder to go from a sedentary lifestyle to exercising regularly. It’s those folks who don’t see themselves as athletes, and have all kinds of other priorities, who still manage to get themselves moving because they know it’s good for them, they inspire me. And they’re not getting medals for their hard work.