I had the pleasure recently of talking triathlon with the Tri Club's own Diana Noble. Diana qualified for the Hawaiian Ironman on June 25 with her great performance at her first ever Ironman at Coeur d'Alene. Her time was 11:43:03 placing her 4th out of 105 women in the 40-44 category. Please join me as we get to know Diana.
CZ: What prompted you to start racing triathlons?
DN: Free time! With three children, and my youngest starting preschool three days a week I found myself able to try something different. I ran a few marathons during the past couple of years and thought while the going was good it would be fun to try an Ironman. My friend and fellow Tri Club member Kevin Schneider competed in Coeur D’Alene in 2005. She had a great time and I hoped I would as well.
I was clueless in how to train for an Ironman. I bought a number of training books, read articles on the Internet, and talked to as many people as I could. But what really got me going on the right path was getting an excellent coach – Peter Clode (referred through Tri-Club member Rick Laird). I really enjoyed having a challenging training schedule set out for me for each day of the week and having someone to answer my many questions. I took a deep breath, bought a bike, and started training in January.
My first race was the California 70.3 in March and this race seemed to come up very quickly. I was nervous and wondering if I had taken on too much. With a finishing time of 5:34:08, I was happy with my first effort. I accomplished my goal of feeling enthusiastic to keep training.
CZ: Tell us about your race at Coeur d'Alene?
DN: My husband Brian and I arrived in Coeur D’Alene on the Wednesday before the race. It was very busy trying to fit in some local training and somewhat overwhelming preparing for the race. It was good to be busy. I didn’t have time to get nervous or dwell on the hot weather forecasts.
The start of the race was very crowded and full of positive energy. What a feeling of nerves and excitement waiting for the gun to go off. I decided to start just past the middle of the pack. I was pleased to wear my neoprene cap with the water being in the low 60’s. During the first lap it was difficult to take a stroke without hitting someone. It was a little strange to get out and hop back in and do it all over again. I finished as about expected in 1:17:12. The transition tent was a mad house so I decided to stay out and put on my bike gear outside.
I was able to get into the groove of biking quickly and was trying to focus in getting my food into my stomach. The hills weren’t too bad but some of the flat areas were a little tougher than I thought because of headwinds. The second lap was a little tougher with climbing temperatures. The scenery was beautiful throughout the course. My time on the bike was 5:56:22. I was happy to be under 6 hours. T2 went well and was much calmer. The volunteers were very helpful.
As soon as I started running I knew I was in trouble because my stomach started to cramp and it was very hot (90’s). I was very discouraged to be walking before mile 3. At the first sighting of Brian, I decided to get rid of my heavy fuel belt and threw it at him. He thought this was the end of my Ironman. I soon realized that this was not a good thing since I had thrown away my much needed salt tablets! After many potty stops and at about 13 miles my stomach settled. At this point I just wanted to finish and it was apparent that I was not able to follow plan A which was to run the whole marathon. Instead plan B kicked in and I ran between the aid stations. This worked quite well. I looked forward to the chicken broth, oranges, water and sponges at each aid station. I don’t think I have ever been so happy to see the finish line!
CZ: What was it like when you learned you had earned a spot to Kona?
DN: I had no idea of what place I had come in when I had finished. I took my time in the finishing area enjoying chicken broth and a massage. After resting at home and finally being able to eat some real food we decided to look at the results. My family got a kick of how my energy level increased when I found out that I had come in 4th place in my age group. I couldn’t believe it! The previous year there had been 4 slots in my group so I was hoping that I might get a spot without a roll down. I was waiting at the qualifiers registration tent at 9:00AM the next morning and sure enough there were 4 spots! Amazingly the 1st spot went to me in 4th place and the 4th spot fell all the way down to 14th place. I was on my way to Kona!
CZ: How did this news go over with your family?
DN: My family was very excited. There was no hesitation - we were going! Brian, my girls Tara, Nicole and Savannah and parents will be joining me in Kona. My kids were even more excited when they found out that they will be skipping a couple weeks of school!
CZ: What are your strengths that helped you have such success?
DN: My greatest strength is being very motivated and loving to swim, bike and run. I always found a way to fit in my training around my busy family schedule. Biking and running are easier for me than swimming. Having a background in running marathons has been helpful in being used to spending time out of my comfort zone. Although, raising three young daughters is an endurance sport of its own!
CZ: And what are your weaknesses and how did you address them?
DN: Swimming is my weakness. Learning to swim at 42 is not easy! I have been attending masters swimming 3 times a week. Sometimes I substitute one masters session for an ocean swim. I try to focus on my own progress instead of watching the rest of you in the fast lanes.
CZ: What advice would you pass along to others considering their first Ironman?
DN: If you have the motivation and time – go for it! It will be one of your most rewarding accomplishments!
CZ: How have you balanced the responsibilities of parenting and being a wife with the sport?
DN: I am fortunate to not work outside of the home, so I have the time. Most of all, I have a very supportive and wonderful husband who has rearranged his work schedule so he can drive the kids to school and take care of them while I training in the mornings. My house is a little messier but that is a small cost to be part of this great sport.
CZ: How has the Tri Club helped you?
DN: I have met so many wonderful people in the Tri Club. It’s a whole new world to me. Everyone has been very supportive and has offered lots of great advice from their experiences. In particular, I have learned a lot from you Craig at the Ironman Networking Dinners and on those Sunday B&L runs. Additionally, I have been enjoying the group bike rides and Friday ocean swims in Solana Beach.
CZ: What is the dumbest thing you have done during your time in the sport?
DN: I have done a number of dumb newbie things training for Coeur D’Alene but, what stands out is T1 at the California 70.3. My plan was to be organized and have lots of options with the cold weather. I put a variety of clothes in individual zip lock bags to keep them dry. By the time I got to T1 my hands were so numb from the cold swim that all I could do was look at my nicely organized stuff. 1 bag would have been far better. Eventually my hands thawed enough for me to struggle to open some of the bags and get enough clothes on to continue almost 12 minutes later!
CZ: What is your goal in Kona and beyond?
DN: At Kona this year I would like to improve on my time at Coeur D’Alene. The plan is to increase my strength to improve my swimming, work on my race nutrition, and upgrade my bike (might have to win a lottery for that one).
At this point I don’t know what my plans are for 2007. It hasn’t really sunk in that I am going to Kona. The past 6 months have been fantastic and more than I could ever hope for. I will definitely be racing in more triathlons. I will need to decide if I will be competing in another Ironman in 2007 soon to secure an entry.
CZ: Diana, thank you for sharing your story. I have had a great time getting to know you this year. On behalf of the entire Tri Club we will be cheering for you in Kona. You have already made us very proud!