Heather Ann Diehl, 37
Tell us a little bit about you:
Personal background: I graduated from Loyola University in Chicago and then worked at Chicago Board of Trade for 10 years. That’s where I meant my husband, Eric, a Santa Barbara native.
Athletic background: I was captain of my varsity basketball and softball teams in high school and played club volleyball and did gymnastics year round. I went to an all girls’ catholic school in the mid-west and all my friends were athletes and excellent students. If you were not an athlete you had to be in the drama club, and that was so not my thing. I believe that playing sports in school actually makes you a better student. I had to be very organized with my time from day one and never let myself get behind. I would never want to let my basketball teammates down by not turning in a paper on time and getting benched during playoffs…
When did you complete your first triathlon (and if you’ve completed more than one, how many)? My first triathlon was in 2007 and I did it again in 2008.
What inspires you to train/compete?
My oldest son, Kyle, has autism. He works so hard every day to do such simple things as string four words together to ask for something (“I need apple juice.”). That is his daily triathlon. The ocean is a little cold for the swim? Whatever! How can I complain?
What is your favorite thing about the sport?
My Momentum 4 Life teammates and coaches. Kyle was diagnosed with autism just after I gave birth to my twin girls, and I was feeling pretty low. I had no idea what doing a triathlon was all about, but my friend Rebecca told me to be ready on the curb at 6:30 a.m. one Saturday morning. She took me to my first Momentum workout, and the rest is history.
What’s your least favorite thing?
Running. I’ve always wanted to be someone who loved running. I love the whole idea of it, but I have some back/knee/hip issues from childhood injuries that keep my runs slow and short. Those two miles at the end of the sprint triathlon are my marathon.
What is the best advice you ever received regarding the sport of triathlon?
Get a super lightweight road bike.
Share your top three (or one, or ten) training tips:
- Find a friend and go swim in the ocean. No matter how long and how fast you can go in the pool, it is just not the same. (Thank you Marcy, Sandy K. and Bek!) I considered myself quite a “good” swimmer until I went for my first ocean swim. Rounding the first buoy, I had the mother-of-all panic attacks and our coach Marcy calmly led me back to shore and pretended like it was no big deal. Momentum teammates Sandy and Bek took me out during the week, when the kids were in school and I was able to stay calm, get my breath and just swim.
- Bike EARLY. I have seen way to many car vs. bike accidents that did not fare well for bike.
- Some people may hate me for this, but when doing my hated training for the run, I listen to my iPod with great motivational songs. It just helps.
- Trick yourself. A little too much chardonnay the night before, don’t want to practice, pretend like you are just going to “show up” and the next thing you know you’re climbing Farren hill, laughing with the ladies.
How do you stay motivated?
Dawn Schroeder (of Momentum 4 Life) has a little pep talk before our workouts and has great speakers. Cancer survivors, young widows, a mom with triplets, moms with children in wheelchairs—they’re all running next to you. I have twins and a kid with autism, big deal, keep running.
How has training for or participating in triathlon(s) affected other areas of your life?
I always loved the idea of being on a team. Would I ever put on a wetsuit and jump in the ocean at 7 a.m. on a Saturday by my own accord? Hell no. I do it because I recruited two newbies (Heather H and Jen G) and I can’t let them down.
Any words of encouragement for novice or aspiring triathletes?
I did my first triathlon 6 months after giving birth to twins, after having been on bedrest for 5 months. I did it all in baby steps. A couple of five minute run-walks, five little laps in the pool. It all adds up, just keep moving.
Do you have a post-triathlon indulgence?
King size Snickers. My dad calls it the poor-man’s PowerBar!