Member Spotlight: Melissa DiStefano

05 Aug 2016 12:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


As a teenager, Melissa DiStefano wanted to do a triathlon. It wouldn’t be for another 25 years when she would actually compete in a triathlon, the TriGator SuperSprint in 2015, twice beating cervical cancer in the process!


Melissa has a background in swimming. She enjoyed much success in swimming as a youngster. She began swimming competitively in the 4th grade, eventually qualifying for the US Olympic Trials in 1988, competing in the 200 IM and 100 Butterfly and then qualifying for the 1988 Olympic Games in the 200 individual medley! She wasn't so lucky in the 100 Fly, unfortunately, she suffered a freak accident at the start of the 200 IM, during the trials that left her with two fractured ankles and her Olympic dreams were dashed.


Many years later Melissa felt that it was time to give Triathlon a chance, the problem was that she couldn’t run a single lap around a quarter mile track without stopping, even as a kid. She downloaded Couch to 5K in her mid-30’s and started to run but was sidelined by pulmonary issues. She felt defeated, but was inspired by her sister who downloaded the same program and found success. With pride for her sister, and a slight pang of jealousy, she tried again. She completed the program and successfully completed a few races, ultimately finishing a few ½ marathons in the process. Now that she could run, it was time to give a triathlon a try, and she has yet to look back.


Melissa lists the 2015 TriRock Clearwater as her favorite race as it was the first race she had ever done with our club, meeting our members and feeling a tremendous amount of support. She loved the pre-race dinner with her fellow G3 members and enjoyed the post race camaraderie. She was also the 2nd overall female in the Aquabike division.


Melissa lists the 2016 St. Anthony’s Sprint Triathlon as her best accomplishment, most memorable race, and the race she would most like to forget. Melissa worked very hard to try to compete in and not just complete this race. She took first place in her division. It was not without adversity. After being first out of the water in her group, she successfully completed transition and was on the bike feeling good for the first 2.3 miles when she struck a water bottle lodged within a pothole and crashed. After taking a deep breath, and a few minutes, she checked her bike, which seemed to at least move forward and thinking her injuries were superficial, she continued forward. She had a discomfort in her arm which wouldn’t go away and it wasn’t until the adrenaline had finally worn off somewhere during the run that she knew something was wrong. 


Turns out it was a fracture of her radius at the elbow. Two weeks later, she would also discover a tibial plateau fracture (broken leg).


Melissa advises people considering a triathlon to “Just do it!” She says just “get in the pool, swim a lap, or 2, or 10.” She advises not to let one’s circumstances define you, rather you define you! She also notes that your first race should be at the beginning of the season and not the end, because if you love it, you would have to wait until next season to race again.


Melissa has created a pre-workout and pre-race routine she calls “Breakfast in the Pantry.” When she started training for her first half marathon, the first time she did a predawn run, she returned to a completely awake household. Her

husband, kids, and dog all informed her that the clamoring arising from the kitchen had awoken them all. Just to prove a point, she now eats her steel cut overnight oatmeal in the pantry prior to workouts so no one can blame their lack of sleep on her. She started posting pictures of this to social meeting and #breakfastinthepantry was born.


Melissa joined G3 in 2015 so she could be around like-minded athletes. She believes the support and advice have been priceless in her time as a triathlete. Melissa’s goal in triathlon is to continuously be better than her last race. She would also like to be able to run a mile in under 10 minutes.


Melissa is 40 years old and has accomplished all of this while being a mother of two children (4 and 6), husband, dog and is a business owner. She serves as the Owner/Director of Clinical Relations at Dynamic Health Centers, a medical clinic in Lake City.

G3 - Gainesville Tri-Club
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