The first thing you notice about Kamie Peterson is her smile.
Next it’s her eyes – big and wide open and always looking right into yours.
And then it’s her ready laugh and ability to make you feel like you’ve been friends forever, even if you just met. She’s sisterly and kind and curious about everyone she meets.
But put her in a wetsuit, on a bike or running, and she changes to her game face.
The 43-year-old mom of three has been all over the regional triathlon scene this summer, racing and placing and figuring out that her new love is multisport.
Peterson has been a long-distance runner for several years – she ran in high school and then took a hiatus to start and raise a family. When she was 35, her daughter suggested a run after Easter brunch, and Peterson went along.
“We ran 2 miles, and I thought, oh, that was fun,” Peterson laughs. She kept it up, adding miles every week until she was basically in constant shape to run half-marathons and other races.
After a few years, she was ready for a new challenge: Triathlon.
“I knew it was something that was going to be hard to do. And to do all three of those events back to back as fast as you possibly can is such a huge challenge, and that’s what I wanted,” she says.
Peterson has always loved swimming.
“It comes easy for me,” she says. She especially loves open water swimming, which can be a barrier for people new to the sport.
“I try not to think about what’s in the water, just fish swimming by me, and as long as I can’t see what’s in the water, I’m fine,” she laughs.
So that part wasn’t tough.
As for biking, like many of us, she’s been riding a bike since she was a kid, but nothing serious. She bought a road bike. Like most triathletes, she quickly realized she wanted a faster bike. So she bought a second one. That lasted a season, and now she’s moved on to a triathlon-specific bike.
“If you don’t have the right bike, it can really affect your time,” Peterson says. Still, she says starting with what she had was just fine, and the triathlon community welcomed her with open arms.
She was intimidated the first time she lined up for a triathlon – just not knowing what to expect. But when she got done, she couldn’t wait to line up again.
“And that’s the way I’ve felt now after every one.”
She has a few more races left this year and hopes to do a half-Ironman one day. Her training is still a long run of about 10 miles every week – to stay half-marathon ready – and then swimming a few times a week and biking once a week.
“I’m not really hardcore,” Peterson says. “I’m just trying to keep moving in the right direction.”
In large part, she credits the other participants with helping pull her along in that direction – which has ended on the podium for several races.
“The people I’ve met in the running world and triathlon world are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met,” Peterson says. “I have friends that I’ll have forever from both worlds. That makes it so much more fun – having good friends surrounding you and doing the things you love.”
Jacqueline Palfy is a longtime runner, reader and writer, marathoner, mom and board member of the nonprofit Sioux Falls Area Running Club. Her contributions to the 605 Running Co. blog will appear every other Tuesday. You can follow her on Twitter @runnerJPK or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Story ideas are encouraged.
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