Sometimes the start of something great isn’t how you expect it to happen. For Rose Scovel, her journey towards becoming an adult-onset triathlete and runner began in 2008, with a life-changing phone call that informed her of a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. At that moment, Rose’s first thought was that she simply didn’t have time for diabetes – she was too engrossed in her busy work life to deal with another challenge. What she didn’t know was that her world would include a triathlon triumph over diabetes.
The Diabetes Diagnosis
As she reluctantly went to the doctor’s office to learn about what managing diabetes entailed, Rose received a stern “food lecture” and was enrolled in diabetes education classes. Prior to diagnosis, the demands of her work often took precedence over her health. Her activity level was non-existent, especially as a consultant while managing graduate school work. She found herself prioritizing work over her well-being, often eating on the go and neglecting exercise. But, as the saying goes, sometimes adversity is the catalyst for change.
Rose’s diabetes diagnosis marked a turning point, forcing her to pay attention to her fitness. She decided it was time to dust off her treadmill, which had been serving more as a storage rack than an exercise machine. The first step in her journey was a modest 20-minute walk at 2.0 mph, which she committed to three days a week while closely monitoring her diabetes.
The Turning Point
The pivotal moment in her transformation came during a Halloween party for her church group when her college roommate, Kara, discovered Rose’s newfound commitment to walking. Kara persuaded Rose to register for a 3-mile “event,” though Rose was apprehensive about finishing last. Dressed as Neo from the Matrix, glucometer in hand, Rose went out to the event, determined to push herself.
Kara finished her own race and then returned to support Rose, both encouraging and challenging her. This act of kindness was a bittersweet experience for Rose – while she appreciated the company, it was disheartening that her friend had time to complete her own race before returning to help her.
Rose’s journey, however, was far from over. After that event, she celebrated with a beer and French fries, and the immense satisfaction she felt inspired her to explore more athletic endeavors. She discovered the Tuxedo Brothers race company website, where she found a wealth of races in her area to register for.
Her next big milestone was a 4.5-mile event, which she completed alongside her sisters. This achievement served as a stepping stone to the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon, where Rose completed the race in 3 hours and 19 minutes. Due to the event, she understood more about nutrition and diabetes management for endurance athletes.
Rising to the Challenge
Eager to continue pushing her boundaries, Rose realized she was already running and had a bike, making the idea of a triathlon seem attainable. She registered for the Go Girl Sprint in August 2009, nearly a year after that initial 3-mile run as Neo. Her journey in the world of endurance sports was well underway
Rose became deeply involved in running, eventually serving on the Board of Indy Runners. This provided her with a unique behind-the-scenes perspective of race organizations. She also began volunteering with race companies, gaining insights from both the operational and athlete sides of events.
Over time, Rose completed her first 70.3 Ironman and multiple marathons. She describes the 70.3 event as one of the most challenging things she’s ever done. Despite that belief, she never said never to racing another. In fact, she went on to complete Ironman distance triathlon as well as RAGBRAI, a cycling event crossing Iowa. Recently, she has swam 8.2 miles at the Mackinac Island Swim, all while managing Type II diabetes.
Motivated by her desire to lead a healthier life and inspired by her family’s propensity to “live forever,” Rose made a commitment to change. She discovered that there wasn’t much research on Type II diabetes in the athletic world. This created the opportunity to blaze a trail for those like her.
The Ironman Dream
One of the most inspiring moments on her journey was being told she wouldn’t make the cut-offs for an Ironman based on her fitness level. Rose took a step back, regrouped, and formulated a plan. She spoke to her coach, setting a goal to train for the 140.6-mile event over three years. The training would allow her to focus on her fitness and change her diet to accommodate the training volume.
While life’s twists and turns occasionally delayed her plans, Rose crossed the finish line of her first Ironman event. As life will have it, she was 42, which is ten years after her initial diabetes diagnosis. Her story is a testament to the power of focus and patience.
Today, Rose is a USAT Associate coach, dedicated to helping athletes who are Athenas, have diabetes, or may fall into the ‘older’ category. She’s also working towards becoming a triathlon official. She views this role as a way to give back to the triathlon community that has given her so much.
A Living Example
Her journey is a living example that people can overcome even the most unexpected obstacles. It shows the power of determination, resilience, and the belief that anyone can become an athlete, regardless of their past. Rose is living proof that good things indeed come to those who are focused and patient.