33 year old Tim Hola has finished in the top 50 at the Ironman World Championships in Kona and in the top 20 at Ironman Florida among many other great results. He sat down for an interview with us.
ST: Tim, can you tell us which race result you are most proud of?
Tim: I am proud of many results but the top result has to be when I placed 2nd in my age group at Ironman Hawaii in 2006. It was also the first time I broke the 9 hour mark. That race marked my 8th trip to Hawaii and it seemed like that day all of the hard work, & dedication I put into that race over the last 8 years paid off. It certainly was a bonus knowing that I was the 5th American. It just goes to show that if you put enough time & effort into something you want, you’ll get it.
ST: Have you ever considered turning professional?
Tim: Yes, I have considered it, but I am really happy in the place that I am in now. Meaning that as an age grouper I still face some good competition out there, which makes my races more fun and challenging. If I was a professional, I realistically wouldn’t be racing for the overall win in the bigger races. Besides, working full time and having 1 year old twins probably would not help my career as a pro too much.
ST: What is your favorite race and why?
Tim: That is a tough one. There are so many races that I love to do. I would have to say that Kona obviously is a special place for me in Ironman Hawaii, simply because it’s the race that I strived to get to when I was just starting out in triathlons. However, Ironman Florida might have to edge it out just a tad. You see, my family and I have been going to Panama City Beach, FL even before triathlons were put on the map. Our family would drive from where I grew up in Fort Dodge, IA to Panama City Beach every summer since I was 7 years old. We loved the beaches and I quickly found a connection to that city. It just seemed natural to participate in Ironman Florida and luckily all 5 of my trips to that race have been very memorable in a good way! Another event I like is the Pikes Peak Ascent. It poses the ultimate challenge of running to the top of a 14,110ft peak gaining some 7,815 vertical feet of elevation. No matter how in shape you are in, it really humbles you!
ST: What do you do to recover from an Ironman race?
Tim: Well, not too much. As for most long distance athletes, we hate to see a day go by without doing something, and it’s no different for me. However, I know that recovery from an Ironman is important so I typically don’t do anything for 2 days after the race. Then I will swim about 3,000 on the 3rd day, possibly bike easy on the 4th day. I’ll run on the 8th day after the race just to see what my body can handle. It all really depends on how the race went. The weeks after each Ironman I’ve done, I have sometimes felt really good, and some I just needed more time for my body to heal.
ST: Can you tell us about your athletic background?
Tim: Ever since I can remember, I was raised to believe that keeping in shape and being physically active is important in life. After being exposed to many sports when I was younger, swimming seemed to be my ticket and that’s really what I focused on from age 7 through high school. I wasn’t a state champion or anything, but I did swim in state meets each year, and swam year round. It was in college, that I could not get onto the swim team at the University of Iowa, so I resorted to rowing. I thank God for that because it was that sport that introduced me to running. I rowed for 3 ½ years in college, then did my first marathon in 1994, and soon was recruited by my dad to do a local triathlon with him in Des Moines in 1995. And here we are 13 years later still racing, and yes, my dad still races too.
ST: What does a typical training week look like for you?
Tim: It really depends on the year, but in general I take Mondays off, Tuesday I’ll swim/lift and/or bike, Wednesday I run & ride, Thursday I’ll swim & ride, Friday I’ll ride & run, Saturday I’ll ride and /or run, and Sunday I’ll run long. I have been doing that schedule as long as I can remember. I am working with a coach this year and have done some testing at the International Center for Performance & Health (www.icphbalance.com) here in Denver and it’s been helping me out a lot with my biking. It’s kind of like an Olympic training center for the public and it’s an amazing place!
ST: What are you doing in terms of activities in the off-season?
Tim: I still continue to swim/bike/run and lift weights. Sometimes I’ll go to the gym and hit the ergometer (rowing machine) for about an hour or so. It’s a wonderful full body workout and, if done properly, can leave you as pooped as an hour run! My wife and I also do a good amount of snowshoeing and snowshoe races. There are many here in Colorado, and each effort results in high heart rates and a very taxed body! They are some of the more fun races that I do because you just never know what you’ll expect on a snowshoe race course whether it is packed snow or deep powder.
ST: Can you tell us what you have on schedule for the 2008 season?
Tim: My big races this year will include Strongman Japan and Ironman Hawaii. Strongman Japan is just shy of an Ironman distance race held on a tiny island in-between Japan and Taiwan. It’s April 20th so I am already getting geared up for the training in the next month or so. I’ll end the season with my 10th trip in a row to Ironman Hawaii and I am so very excited to test myself again under the Hawaiian sun. I’ll also do some other of the 70.3 races such as Kansas and California along with a few ½ marathons and the Pikes Peak Ascent in Colorado Springs.
ST: You always seem very mellow and calm at races. Do you let things bother you, or do you have any pet peeves?
Tim: At races there are always a lot of things going on, and I really try to stick with my plan. I just keep my focus and do what I love to do. I don’t really have any pet peeves at races. I know that weird things do happen though. For instance, there was a time when I was doing a race in Kansas City one year and on the run I went by a shooting range. I heard shots and it took me a while to figure out what it was. It freaked me out a little, but I stayed safe!
ST: What is your favorite food?
Tim: I do eat very healthy everyday and rarely binge on unhealthy foods. Some of my favorites are grapefruit, salad, turkey burgers, avocados and if you can believe it, PowerBars. After a good race, my wife and I will have what we call “good, bad food” where we’ll eat something greasy and know that we have deserved it! Donuts certainly fall into that category!
ST: Where do you think you’ll be in 5 years?
Tim: Hmmm…let’s see, in 5 years I’ll be 38, and the father of twin boys in kindergarten. Wow, scary thought, eh? As far as athletics go, the ideal situation is that I’ll still be racing triathlons, be injury free, and my wife and I will be teaching my kids the benefits of keeping an active lifestyle. I’d love to see them do a kids triathlon at that point.
ST: Do you have any preferences in terms of music?
Tim: To the surprise of many, I don’t have and iPod and I don’t run to music, yet I still really love music and going to live bands. My wife has gotten me into country recently, but for the most part I like all types.
ST: Do you have any tips for other age group athletes?
Tim: None for any that are in my age group. Just kidding…actually, the best piece of advice I could give to any triathlete, pro or age group, is to absolutely love what you are doing. It’ll really make you a better athlete. If you find yourself doing races just to do them, then I feel that’s a bad sign. I find that enjoying the training is a huge benefit in racing stronger and faster.
ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?
Tim: This will be my 6th year on the Timex Multisport team and this year we have a quality team of amateur and pro athletes from all over. We also have a long list of supporting sponsors that contribute a lot to the team including our bike sponsor, Trek Bikes. Other personal sponsors I have include PowerBar, Tri-Swim, and the International Center for Performance and Health.
On a lighter note for fun, I have participated in three eating contests: salad, steak and pizza. The salad contest was fairly successful as I ate 1 ¾ lbs of salad in 5 minutes. The steak eating contest was very successful as I ate a salad, potato, shrimp cocktail, roll and 72 oz. steak in 48 minutes which showed me what my body can do after completing a ½ Ironman 6 hours earlier. The pizza eating contest with a friend of mine was not so successful as we tackled a 12 lb. pizza and ate only half of it in 1 hour.