Tim DeBoom Talks About His First Ironman Hawaii, Ten Years Ago
By Kristen McFarland
BOULDER, CO, September 2002 – Tim talks to Colorado Triathlete editor Kristen McFarland before his second Ironman victory in 2002.
CT: So ten years ago was your first Ironman race?
CT: In Kona?
Tim: Oh ya.
CT: How long at that point had you been doing triathlons?
Tim: That was my first year. It was probably, I think, my third race, fourth race; somewhere in there.
CT: How old were you?
CT: How did you qualify to get to Kona?
Tim: I qualified at Memphis in May, an Olympic distance race. I just went down there kind of on a whim, just by myself. I drove down before finals of school and said, “Well, I’ll give it a shot.” I ended up winning and qualifying. I won the overall age-group. I was racing age-group and I think I was fourth or fifth time over all. So I took the slot and said I’ll go. I was not sure what I was getting myself into.
CT: So that was the second triathlon of your whole life?
Tim: Memphis in May was my second triathlon.
CT: Do you remember what made you start doing triathlon?
Tim: I was kind of burnt out on swimming and I had some friends and a swim coach that had done triathlon. And I just, I think I still wanted to be really physically fit and still had a bit of a competitive nature, and thought I’d give it a whirl. I had done one the year before, and did it and said, “Well that was fun.” Then over the winter I kind of got the bug again and really trained through the winter. By training in mean I continued to run and rode more in the wintertime than I ever had. Then went to Memphis in May first thing in the springtime.
CT: At this point, when you qualified for Kona, had you thought about going pro yet? Had you even thought about it?
Tim: No, not at all. I didn’t even really know. I didn’t know the top guys in the sport. I didn’t know that it was possible. I didn’t know much about it. I was just doing it as kind of just an activity.
CT: Do you remember what you felt like before you got to Kona in anticipation of the race?
Tim: I was really excited just to do the race. It was great because there was no pressure. All I wanted to do was finish. I wasn’t worried, really, about finishing, but I was more like, “I just want to finish,” and say that I’ve done this thing. Going into it I had no idea what I was doing training-wise and so that was, I think, the biggest eye-opener. I mean, I did fine. I swam great and rode fine and walked and ran the run and ended up with 9:45 as my time. So it was pretty good, but considering the training I did, looking back I think that was mostly on talent (laughs).
CT: Had you even done a half (Ironman) at that point?
Tim: I had done one half, and it was a bad experience. It scared me.
CT: Was it after the Memphis in May?
Tim: Yes. And it scared me about Hawaii. I was like, “Boy, I don’t know if I’m up for this.”
CT: Which one was it?
Tim: Well it wasn’t even a half it was the Springfield Ironhorse (in Illinois) so it was only a ten mile run and a forty-five mile bike. Only the swim was a half, or a little longer than half the distance.
CT: So that made you nervous before you got to Kona?
Tim: Ya, I did okay there, at Springfield, but it was, I just finished and collapsed. I crossed the finish line and like two minutes later I think I was asleep. Just sleeping I was so tired. (laughs) So that kind of spooked me. It didn’t make me train much harder but I just said, “Wow, this is going to be tougher than I thought.”
CT: Was Tony there?
Tim: No, the first year I did it all on my own. He was still in the military.
CT: And he started doing them with you after you had done that first Hawaii?
CT: When did you arrive in Kona that first year?
Tim: I think I got there a little bit over, like eight or nine days before, like the Thursday of the week before. That’s changed on and off over the years and now I kind of have a system down. But then it was more like, “hey, I’m goin’ to Hawaii for a couple of weeks and hang out.”
CT: So did you have any special pre-race experiences that week?
Tim: I probably just trained way too much, got caught up in the hoopla. I had one friend who showed up who I had met at that Springfield Ironhorse race. He was there, had gotten there even a little earlier than me. And he had already talked about how he had ridden the whole course and I was like, “Well, lets go do it!” (Laughs heartily). You know I hadn’t even done that in training. But I didn’t ride the whole course. We just rode a ways out and I was like, “I better turn around. I’m gettin’ tired.” We ended up riding like three and a half hours and I think that was close to my longest ride.
Tim: Ya (more laughs).
CT: So what was your experience like in your first race?
Tim: It was great. I think I came out of the water in like fifth place, because I was just coming off a swimming background. Then I proceeded to get passed by at least a hundred and fifty people (laughs). And then I got on the run and it was one of those good experiences where I kind of hooked up with a person on the run and kind of walked and ran with them for most of it until just finishing by myself. That person is still a friend of mine today. That person I met on the course.
CT: Who is it?
Tim: Luis Vargas. It was a really good experience. And just crossing the finish line, I was happy and it was just a lot of fun. I had a really good time.
CT: Do you remember what you finished?
Tim: I think I was like, I want to say 140th. Somewhere in there, I know the time was right around 9:45. 142 maybe. It wasn’t bad. It was a lot of fun. I beat all my friends who were there with me, so that was a good thing (laughs)!