She may have time off over the summer while her students enjoy their break, but that doesn't mean Noel Reagan won't be working hard. The recent Chattanooga transplant will be training almost daily on the bike, in the pool and along the roads of the Scenic City as she prepares for her next triathlon challenge.
Q & A
What was it like competing in your first half Ironman? What was the best part and the worst part?
It was a surreal experience competing in my first half ironman. It was something I always dreamed of doing but I knew it would take some work to make it happen. I actually had to learn how to swim and bike before it was even possible. After months of preparation, I woke up on race day and wondered how in the world was I going to swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles and run 13.1 miles.
The worst part was the fact that it rained constantly the entire day (May 5) and the temps were in the mid 50s. Biking was dangerous because of the wet conditions and hilly racecourse. A number of people dropped out of the race due to hypothermia. On the run we had to run through a lot of standing water. In a couple areas it was up to our knees. It was almost like an adventure race.
The best part was that I kept a positive attitude all day long and had great support from my husband and friends in the Chattanooga Triathlon Club. Crossing the finish line after racing all day in the rain was incredible. Since this was my first 70.3 distance race, I almost choked up after crossing the finish line, realizing I had accomplished a longtime dream and I did it in the worst possible conditions. My dream of finishing a 70.3 race finally became reality and I am ready for another one this fall.
How long have you been training for triathlons and how much time do you spend on each component?
I competed in my first triathlon in 2008 but have been more committed to training for the past two years. I actually just did my first open water swim sprint triathlon last fall, and my second open water swim was the 70.3 half-iron distance race this May. I currently train six days a week with a minimum goal of two swim workouts, three bike workouts and two run workouts. On average I probably train 10-12 hours per week.
What got you started in these sports? Did you start in one and gravitate into the others? What is your favorite, or strongest of the three parts and why?
I grew up playing basketball, and I played golf through college. In 2008, I was training for a half marathon when an acquaintance suggested that I do a pool sprint triathlon that was happening in three weeks. I didn't even know what a triathlon was, I didn't own a bike, and I could barely swim. Being adventurous, three weeks later in 2008, I did my first triathlon and came in almost last place. I enjoyed that race enough to buy a bike and make an attempt at learning how to swim. Since then I have competed in a number of sprint distance triathlons. I was never a swimmer, biker or runner so my love for triathlons has been a wonderful journey that will continue for a long time.
It's hard for me to pick a favorite of the three sports; today I'd say biking because I enjoy the beautiful scenery on the rides around Chattanooga. You may get a different answer if you ask me tomorrow. The beauty of triathlon is that when you are tired of one sport or if you are injured, there are two other sports you can go enjoy!
As a triathlete first and foremost who is just getting into competitive cycling, how much time are you now devoting to the bike and how often and how many miles are you now riding regularly?
It depends on the week, but on average I ride around 90-100 miles per week. When I travel or go on vacation I typically ride 0 miles.
Do you expect to begin competing more in cycling-exclusive events?
Yes, I am in my first season on the HUHUB Endurance women's cycling team and I am doing a race this weekend. I have two or three more that I'll do including the local Village Volkswagen River Gorge Omnium August 24-25.
I've already learned a lot and I have more to learn, but I am thankful for my teammates and the encouragement and support they have for cat 1/2 races as well as women (like me) who are new to racing.
You mentioned possibly competing in upcoming events like the Sportsbarn Sprint and the Fall Creek Falls Tri. What would be your dream event to try and why?
Secretly, I am starting to think about a full ironman race (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run). But that is a far-off dream that will take a lot of time and commitment. Now, I just have to convince myself that I could survive something so crazy. Beyond that I've always thought that riding my bike across the U.S. would be interesting.
As a college advisor for high school students, I would guess motivation is a common theme. Are there lessons you can relate from your training and competitions to your work with teenage students?
Yes, motivation is a common theme and I teach students to find self-motivation. I tell students that they have to be willing and want to work hard and not depend on someone else to do the work for them. Just as in training for triathlons and cycling, it can't happen unless I have self-motivation and I am willing to work hard and stay committed. I also teach students to set goals to work toward and that is part of keeping motivation and moving forward - there are a lot of life lessons that transfer from my active lifestyle to working with teenagers as they make their post-high school, college and career plans.
Where is the best place you've been for your outdoor interests, or where is the one place you'd most like to visit?
The absolute best place I have been for outdoor activities was when I spent a summer in Alaska. There were always mountains to climb, trails to run, deep-sea fishing and you could be outdoors until about midnight when it would start to get a little dark. Hiking into the Grand Canyon is on my list of places to visit.
Besides triathlons and cycling, what are some of your other outdoor interests or what would you like to try?
I enjoy mountain biking, backpacking, I have recently started to trail run, and I also enjoy fishing when I have people to fish with (it's not often). If there is an outdoor activity I haven't done, I want to do it; lately I have wanted to buy a kayak or SUP board.