Interview with Ironman World Champion Tim DeBoom and his wife, Ironman Wisconsin Champion, Nicole DeBoom.

author : trilover
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TriLover recently had the opportunity to interview Tim and Nicole. Read what the DeBooms had to say about triathlon, their support for each other and life.

Ironman legend, Mark Allen once called him, “The quiet man with a loud name.” Although at times shying away from the center stage of publicity, Tim DeBoom has left an indelible impression on both his competitors and in the sport.

DeBoom broke through in 1999 at Ironman New Zealand with a noteworthy win over an impressive field that included late-charging Kiwi favorite, Cameron Brown.

“It was a confidence builder, I won it on the run,” DeBoom said in 2000 regarding his win in New Zealand, “and that had been my weak point over here (Hawaii-World Championships) for years. I feel very strong about my run now. I look forward to it, not every race you’re going to have a strong run, but now I feel like it is a strength instead of a hindrance.”

DeBoom’s blue-collar-workhorse-ascension at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii included a 3rd place in 1999, 2nd place in 2000 and a culminating win in 2001.

“You look at someone like Mark Allen,” said DeBoom in an NBC interview, “who it took 7 tries to win it and numerous failures. I’ve definitely taken the Mark Allen approach with highs and lows.”

At 2002’s Hawaii Ironman, DeBoom confirmed his World Champion status with a back-to-back win. As in 2001, DeBoom relied on his marathon speed and broke away from a pack during the run that included both World Champion Peter Reid and perennial top 3 finisher, Cam Brown.

In 2003, as 1.5 million people logged onto the largest streamed event over the internet with ’s live web-cast of the World Championship, many watched in bewilderment and concern as DeBoom began staggering across the road as a medical van followed him. As he signaled for attention and medical personnel rushed to his aid - he collapsed. A few days afterwards, DeBoom confirmed that he had passed a kidney stone.

Peter Reid, in an interview prior to this years World Championship with Roch Frey and Paul Huddle commented, “I still think of him as Ironman Champion, he didn’t get to defend his race last year, he had some physical problems. Tim is like me, he puts the whole year in one race.”

Unique to the sport, Tim is not the only DeBoom. His brother, Tony, is a professional triathlete also ( ). Tim’s wife, Nicole, has emerged into her own spotlight with most recently, a win at Ironman Wisconsin.

Like Tim, Nicole was a competitive age-group swimmer. However, swimming similarities end there. Nicole was an elite swimmer throughout high school and qualified for the 1988 Olympic Trials followed by a career at Yale University.

In 1999, Nicole made her debut in triathlon followed by her first Ironman with an impressive 3rd place finish at Ironman California. Nicole competed at the Ironman distance for the next two years with great results but she, however, decided to return to short-course racing to include more races into her schedule with the assistance of coach Roch Frey.

Caught by the Ironman bug once again, Nicole competed in Ironman Wisconsin 2004 and blitzed a strong field with a stellar run performance. Her run strength, now widely known by her competitors, paved the way for the fastest run splits in almost all of her races this past year.

Nicole, now President of, is looking forward to her triathlon career, new business ventures, and living life to the fullest with her husband Tim and their dog.

I recently had the opportunity to interview both Nicole and her husband, Tim. Many thanks to the both of them - Lu.


Interview with Tim:

Tim DeBoom -

Q1 - Tim, many of us that tuned into's live webcast of Hawaii 2003 saw Nicole (who was commentating) tearing up next to Greg Welch as the paramedics attempted to assess your situation. How has her support shaped your career?

“I've said many times, that I would not be where I am today without Nicole. I always had the determination and passion to succeed, but she gave me stability, moral support, and a partner with whom I could share my experiences. It's been fun so far.”

Q2 - Can you walk us through your Kona 2004 race?

“Kona 2004 is kind of a "no comment" race. I had some pretty serious injuries going in, and I tried to do my best.”

Q3 - It appears that you opted for a Trek Madone rather then your standard Trek TT bike in Kona this year, could you explain the basis for your decision?

“I chose the Madone SL over the TT bike because of some weight issues. I really wanted to go as light as I could because it's a long day out there. Any extra weight is really evident the second half of the race. I did a lot of testing and the weight advantages outweighed the aero benefits of the frame.”

Q4 - What material difference do you notice using your Bontrager flat aero bar extensions vs. standard bars?

“There are alot of companies out there making carbon aero bars . The Bontrager ones are just hands down the best I have tried. They fit my body perfectly, and they are lighter than anything else out there. The fact that they use a normal stem for attachment, gives much more adjustability. They are also extremely stiff, with no flex.”

Q5 -  Peter Reid and you have mentioned on numerous occasions that you both benefited from training together in the summer of '98. You said he helped you realize what it took to race at that level. Peter noted that you both were the best of friends that summer and the rides around Boulder were incredible. Any future thoughts on getting together for another epic summer?

“I had a blast that summer with Pete. We had a great time training together and I learned alot from him. He was a few steps ahead of me in the Ironman game and I still appreciate the time I spent with him. We did have another training camp together after that, but it's been awhile now. I would love to have a few other epic rides with Pete. It's probably more likely to be on motorcycles though.”

Q6 - Your brother, Tony DeBoom ( ) is also a successful triathlete. You've mentioned that it isn't about beating him but "matching" him. What has it been like having your brother involved in athletics alongside you from age-group swimming to life as professional triathletes?

“Tony and I had so many adventures together that many friends tell us we should write a book. We still can't get together without having some good laughs. Tony is another one of those people in my life who I wouldn't be where I am without him. He was my partner in crime for many years and we are still really close today. He lives just a couple blocks away and I see him all the time. Our lives are on slightly different paths now as he has started a family and stopped racing. He still helps me all the time though. Motor pacing, support crew - whatever. He's there.”

Q7 -  Tim, your win at Ironman New Zealand in '99 over Cam Brown gave momentum for your ascension in Ironman racing. How big of a win was that for you?

“My win in NZ in 1999 was a big breakthrough. I knew I had it in me, but it was nice to finally step up and put it together. It gave me more confidence and the payday didn't hurt either.”

Q8 -  In 2001, a tumultuous time for everyone, you solidified your place in IM history with a convincing win. Was it emotional for you to win such a short time after 9/11?

“2001 was a very emotional Ironman. With 9/11 and everything I wasn't even sure if we should be racing. Winning Ironman would have been unbelievable no matter what, but with the state of the world, it definitely was a little more special. I think my continued drive to the finish was evidence of my passion on that day.”

Q9 - In 2002, you emphasized that spot in IM racing with another stellar win. Peter has mentioned that he finds it unbelievable that you did not get the publicity and spotlight that you deserved after '01 and '02; that others with no history of success in Kona stole your thunder. Did the lack of credit from the critics bother you or did it provide fodder during training and racing?

“I really don't pay attention to the press or my public image. I know that when the day's done, I have some wonderful people around me and they are important. It doesn't matter who is getting the hype, only who delivers. I know that. I know that the public's view is that you are only as good as your last race and I am hard on myself that way too. It's a constant strive to do better.”

Q10 -  What's a typical early season training day like for you?

“Early season is about long easy miles. I just try to build a good base in all 3 disciplines. The weather can be tough here in the winter, so it's alot of dirt riding and trail running.”

Q11 - What's a training day eight weeks out from Kona like?

“Eight weeks out from Kona, everything is structured down to the minute. I know what I'm doing all day, and I try not to waste any time. Sleeping and eating is as important as the training. Yes, it usually involves swimming, biking and running. Everyday is different though.”

Q12 - Have you thought about life after triathlon? You mentioned in previous interviews that you have great relationships with your sponsors and working for one of them after your career is a possibility. Is that still the case or will you become entrepreneurial like Nicole and

“I'm really enjoying racing right now. I have started thinking about the future and I have great relationships with all my sponsors. I would love to continue working with them after racing, but I still have some time. I really just want to find something that I enjoy as much as racing.”

Q13 - Speaking of sponsors, you are now Craft apparel's new poster boy. Any thoughts on your relationship with them at the moment?

“I had been having my own custom stuff made for years and I was about to get some new stuff when I got hold of some prototype Craft race gear. It was everything I was looking for and more. They cover all my training and racing needs in all climates. Some of their materials are beyond my imagination. It's hands down the best stuff I've ever worn. I think you will be seeing alot more of it this year.”

Q14 - Have you finalized your races for this season? Will you be splitting it up again with Germany?

“I haven't finished my ‘05 schedule yet.”

Q15 - Your wife was an elite swimmer who qualified for the Olympic Trials while in high school. Even though you were an award-winning swimmer also, she can still kick your butt in breaststroke can't she?!?

“Breaststroke was never my specialty, but I think I could give her a run for it.”

Q16 - What's Tim DeBoom's diet like? i.e., Paleo, etc. How has it evolved over the years?

“My diet is pretty normal. I think what most people would be surprised at is how little I really eat. I think my body has become pretty efficient over the years so I'm not a big eater.”

Q17 - Do you have a coach?

“I don't have a coach, but I've gotten advice from many people over the years. Everyone from Chuckie V to Mark Allen.”

Q18 - Do you train solo?

“I do alot of training solo. All my important workouts are pretty much lonely days.”

Q19 - Out of the three sport disciplines, which do you enjoy training the most?

“It's a toss up between riding and running for which I enjoy most. I love the simplicity of running, but I love the speed of riding too.”

Q20 - CDs on rotation in the DeBoom household?

I've been listening to alot of Jack Johnson, the English Beat and some acoustic Colin Hay.

Q21 - What do you enjoy when you're not training?

"I love riding my motorcycle, skateboarding some log descents around town and hanging with my friends.”

Q22 - Tim, the majority of men reading this have careers as well as their own family. You're living the life that many of us dream about. In respect to training, assume things turned out differently and you ended up at medical school and you are now a physician with a family and hindsight regarding training, what advice can you impart to the 'average joe' training for an Ironman with other obligations?

“When people ask for advice on training, I always say fit in what you can, but be consistent about it. Make sure it's enjoyable too.”

Q23 - What advice do you have for beginner triathletes making the jump into the IM distance?

“If you're doing your first Ironman, your only goal should be to finish. You can't have any other expectations other than finishing.”

Q24 - Tim, what is one nugget of wisdom from your experiences in Ironman racing that you're willing to share about racing in an Ironman?

“Never give up. The finish is always worth it.”

Q25 - Any words to all of your fans reading this?

“Hmm...words to my fans...Don't give up on me yet.”



Interview with Nicole:

Nicole DeBoom - 

Q1 - Nicole, very few women have been successful at both distances at the professional level (Karen Smyers, Joanna Zieger). You've indicated that you love to race and short-course allows you to compete more often. Have you decided to focus on one specific distance or will you continue to experiment and have fun in both?

“I will continue to have fun in both distances. After a few years of Ironman racing, I thought I would never do another, I just didn't enjoy them as much after the first couple Ironmans. I learned that you never say never in this sport. Last year I needed a little more inspiration, I chose to do an Ironman to keep things fresh. I'm glad I did.”

Q2 - You left an indelible mark on women's IM racing with your decisive win in Wisconsin, can you walk us through your race?

“In a one word summary, I was steady. Actually I tend to race steady all the time, it works for me. Wisconsin was so much fun. I had an excellent swim and felt great in the water. The bike was definitely tough. I would call the course relentless. It was tough to get into a rhythm. I made the decision beforehand to hold back a bit. I didn't want to push too hard and get leg cramps and dread the run. I had more confidence in my run, so I wanted to rely on that confidence. I started the run over 5 minutes back, but I felt really good for the first half. I was in the lead by the 8 or 9 mile mark and even though I died a bit, I was still able to increase my lead. I'll be honest though, I was exhausted at the end. Those fans did a great job getting me home!”

Q3 - Was it difficult making the transition from elite swimmer to triathlon? What was your biggest limiter?

“My biggest hurdle was to let my body adapt to the different kind of training that triathlon entails. I knew how to work hard. I knew how to suffer. But I wasn't accustomed to that "comfortable discomfort" which is triathlon racing. I needed to really learn about and listen to my body, much more than when I was a swimmer. My longest races were under 5 minutes. Yet I would train 4-5 hours a day. As you can probably tell, women swimmers have a very different body composition. When you swim so many hours a day, you just have more body fat. It takes a while (for me, probably 3-4 years!) for your body to become lean and efficient.

Q4 - Can you give us details on your Trek bike setup for IM Wisconsin?

“I rode a Madone 5.9 in Wisc. I loved my setup. I was extremely comfortable. The bike was so light and I felt very controlled throughout the twisty course. It was a great setup for that course.”

Q5 - You have been doing recent commentating; will you segue into this after your triathlon career?

“I don't think so. It's fun, so I may keep my options open, but I'd rather be on the other end of the mike, as the person who is being interviewed for doing something great.”

Q6 - You're the President of, can you fill us in on the company?

“I started Skirt Sports with the goal of promoting fitness, specifically fun in fitness! My ultimate goal is to give back to the community, to inspire people to be fit and healthy. My first endeavor under Skirt Sports is a line of fun, sexy, women's fitness clothing called Triks. I will have 5 styles of fitness and casual skirts and 2 tops for sale in stores and online in the spring of '05.”

Q7 -  What's a typical early season training day like for you?

“Early season and off-season are pretty much the same for me. I usually don't have a strict schedule. I will exercise 5-6 days a week, from 30min-3 hrs a day depending on the weather and how I feel.”

Q8 - What's a training day 8 weeks out from an Ironman like?

“8 weeks out from an Ironman I am doing large volume. My biggest training weeks are around 30hours. More than that and I'm fried! My longest training days are close to 8 hours, most of that on the bike.”

Q9 - Can you fill us in on your upcoming season?

“I do not have details yet on my race schedule for 05. I may run for one of the USAT athlete positions in March though. I'll let you know.”

Q10 - What's Nicole DeBoom's diet like? i.e., Paleo, etc.

“Everything in moderation. At least that's what I try to do. I drink coffee all season, 1-4 cups a day. I drink beer or wine much of the year, 1 glass a day (more in the off-season!). I eat dessert when I feel like it. Today I ate too many Dots! I don't eat nearly as many calories as I did when I was a swimmer! Damn we knew how to eat back then!”

Q11 - What word pops into your head when you see these names:


Heather Fuhr - “Continues to amaze me. Good friend. Great person. Always ready to laugh. She makes me feel funny!”
Norman Staddler - “He's a mystery to me, I don't know him well.”
Natascha Baddman -“Does she really have an 18 year old daughter?”
Heather Gollnick - “Starting to prove herself.”

Q12 - Do you have a coach?

“Roch Frey from Multisports helped me jump up another level. Now I go to him for guidance, not strict schedules.”

Q13 - Do you train solo?

“I swim with Tim. All my key workouts are solo. Occasional rides/runs with friends, rarely fellow pros.”

Q14 - What do you do when you're not training?

“Right now, Skirt Sports stuff. Otherwise, play with friends, play with Annie my dog, cook, read, movies, coffee shop dates and normal people stuff!”

Q15 - What is it like in the elite women world of Ironman? Is everyone great friends and friendly rivals or is their friction at times?

“There are a few people who I always want to kick their asses. Otherwise, may the best woman win and we can all celebrate together afterward.”

Q16 - Iron distance triathlons allow women to compete into their forties on an elite level. Do you plan on continuing your career for as long as you're able to?

“Last year I would have said no. This year, I’m not sure. Lately I've been thinking about the '08 Olympics. I'd be 36, it could be perfect.”

Q17 - Nicole, you live the life many women dream of. Your professional career is what many women do in their spare time outside of their career, children, etc. With what you know now with hindsight in training, what advice do you have for the working mom/woman?

“Balance. As soon as you focus on one thing only, it doesn't work. Women, in general, are amazing multi-taskers. We function better when we have structure. Not all women, but many. I found that when all I did was race, I was unfulfilled and I didn't race as well as I had hoped. Too much pressure maybe. When I added other activities/jobs, things just rolled right along!”

Q18 - Next month, you will be recognized with your induction into your high school's Hall of Fame. As a graduating high school senior, did you think your life would be as fun and interesting as it is?

“Yes. I knew I would never settle for boring!”

Q19 - What's in store for the DeBooms in the next few years?

“We're doing it. New business ventures. New goals in triathlon. You name it!”

Q20 - Any advice for the beginner triathlete making the jump into Ironman triathlons?

“Practice your race protocol before you actually get to the race! Patience.”

Q21 - Nicole, what is one nugget of wisdom from your experiences in Ironman racing that you're willing to share?

“If you get crabby or bitchy or negative, eat!”

Q22 - Anything you would like to say to all of your fans reading this?

“Set goals and then go get them. But remember, it's about the journey, not the destination. So enjoy every moment!”


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date: December 13, 2004


endurance sports, politics, reading, organic foods, coffee shops, great friends, good food, great drinks.


endurance sports, politics, reading, organic foods, coffee shops, great friends, good food, great drinks.

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