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After racing the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, for the 16th time last year, two-time Ironman world champion Tim DeBoom announced it had been his final time to race in Kona. He spent 2011 racing more off-the-radar races, such as the Norseman Xtreme Triathlon in Norway, which he won, and the Xterra USA Championship in Ogden, Utah, last weekend, where he finished 16th. He’ll also be racing the Xterra World Championship in Maui next month. Before heading over to the Big Island for pre-Kona festivities, though, he chatted with Triathlete.com about his 2011 racing season, his picks for Kona and what’s next for him.
Triathlete.com: Are you going over to Kona for the race?
DeBoom: I’m actually not even going over for the race. I’m actually going over to do some stuff for some sponsors and then getting out of there. I know my limits. Watching the race might be a little much for me this year.
Triathlete.com: How did you like the Xterra race in Utah?
DeBoom: I love it. It’s great. It’s a little shock to my system after all these years of long stuff, so it’s gonna be fun to train and focus a little more on the short, hard efforts than the long, drawn-out stuff. I’m looking forward to it.
Triathlete.com: Did you race other Xterras this year?
DeBoom: No it’s my first one ever.
Triathlete.com: How was it racing with Lance [Armstrong] and Conrad [Stoltz]?
DeBoom: The Xterra guys are great. I had a blast. Lance is in a little world of his own. He took it pretty seriously, which I didn’t know if he would or not. I thought maybe he’d take it a little bit mellower, but I don’t think that’s his personality. He had his entourage there kind of taking care of stuff. But Conrad and Josiah and the other guys—everybody was awesome. Mel McQuaid was awesome. So I had a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to doing a lot more of them.
Triathlete.com: What made you choose that race?
DeBoom: Well, it kind of fit in my schedule. I knew after Norseman, I was going to need a little bit of time to recover, but I still don’t think it was enough. I was still feeling fatigued and didn’t have any real speed in me. It just kind of fit into the schedule. And I was close enough that I could just head out there, do it, and it was at altitude, so I thought it would suit me. But it was tough, it was just a harder effort than I was quite ready for. Hopefully I’ll do better in Maui.
Triathlete.com: How was Norseman?
DeBoom: The Norseman race was great, incredible, hard (laughing). Hard and long, but I had a blast. It was totally different than anything I’d done. Even training was different, and even the fact that you had like your own crew taking care of you during the race. That just made it a lot of fun—my brother and [photographer] Eric Wynn were with me, so it was a lot of fun.
Triathlete.com: How was your training different?
DeBoom: I was training long and hard in the middle of the summer, which is different instead of late summer, early fall for Ironman. We have a pretty hot summer here, so doing my key training in really the heat of the summer was taxing. But then I was just really focused on the course itself, which I still didn’t get right. There were parts of the course they didn’t really talk about online. And I got over there and saw it, and I was like, “Oh my, I would have trained a little differently for this.” But the fact that it finishes going up that mountain on a trail—I would do my long runs and finish with something like that—a lot more climbing training.
Triathlete.com: How do you think it compares in difficulty to races like Kona?
DeBoom: It’s kind of apples and oranges. Obviously I wasn’t keyed up. It’s not as fast a pace, just because my Ironman time is between 8 and 8.5 hours, and that was 11. So it’s quite a bit different. I tell you, when I was hitting that 8-hour mark, I was sick to death of eating gels and drinking Gatorade and stuff. I was just like, “Just give me water.” So it was different nutrition, like I probably should have had some real food out there.
Triathlete.com: How was it to have [your brother] Tony out there with you?
DeBoom: It was fun—we had a good time. It was more laughs than anything else. It was nice to have him to keep me company when the weather was bad and stuff.
Triathlete.com: Are you enjoying doing more off-the-radar races?
DeBoom: I’m actually really enjoying it. I was wondering how I’d feel this time of year when everyone’s getting ready for Kona, and Kona’s right around the corner. I haven’t missed it one bit. I think I occupied my time well with Norseman and then going to this Xterra stuff. I’m really excited with what I’m doing. It’s been the most fun year I’ve had in a long time.
Triathlete.com: But you plan to still follow the Kona coverage?
DeBoom: Yeah, I’m definitely still interested to see how my friends do. I think it’ll be a great race. It’s going to be interesting. I’ll always follow it—it’s always going to be there, it’s a good sporting event. I follow a lot of different events, and Kona’s always going to have a special spot in my heart. While I’m still racing—I’m not missing it at all, but that’s probably why I’m not staying on the island to watch the race—I’m not a good watcher in person. I’m good at hearing about it and reading about it, but I’d rather be doing something than actually watching something.
Triathlete.com: Do you have any picks to win Kona?
DeBoom: I think Craig [Alexander]’s going to be tough to beat, but it’ll depend on how Andreas [Raelert] comes back from those two Ironmans this summer—that’s a tough double, even with kind of cruising the second one. But I’d look out for Marino [Vanhoenacker]. I think he had a better year than he had last year and he followed the same plan, so he’s been able to replicate his plan he did last year where he got third place and actually improve on it and not have to change anything, like Andreas and Crowie did—they really had to change their schedules quite a bit this year because of the new rules and the qualifying. I think Marino’s going to be in a good spot. And there’s always somebody coming out of the woodwork who’ll do well. But you can’t bet against a guy who’s won it twice, and a guy who was second last year and third last year. The times they were setting this year in other races around the world were pretty incredible. It’s just a matter of if they have enough in the tank to still have 100 percent on race day. I think that’s what it takes now [to win]—to have 100 percent for the race and have everything go right. It’s gotten that competitive.
Triathlete.com: So when is Nicole due?
DeBoom: She’s due December 17. It’s going by quick.
Triathlete.com: What are you most looking forward to?
DeBoom: I think it’s just going to be a big change. Neither of us, when we first got married, we didn’t want kids, and we weren’t planning on it. It was just not in our plans until we started actually just talking about it a couple years ago. I think we both realized, “Well, what else are we going to do for the next 20 years?” I’m not just going to keep riding my bike around the country. We were both just looking for a nice little change in our lives. The triathlon lifestyle is such a selfish lifestyle, and I’ve lived it for so long that it’s going to be really fun to have all my attention, all my effort onto Nicole and this new baby.
Triathlete.com: Where do you see your career going from here?
DeBoom: Well, I’m hoping to do a similar thing next year [as this year]. I’m looking for another race similar to something like Norseman probably that’s kind of an adventure, that I can do some more videos with Eric Wynn and my brother. [We’ll] keep doing that because we had a lot of fun doing that. My sponsors loved it. So we’re looking for that next event that we can do that on. And then I’m going to focus on the Xterras and try to get as many of those, and maybe the Rev3 races. But that’s probably it. I’m definitely not shooting for something long like Norseman again. It can be shorter and an adventure race, too. But just something that’s going to challenge me, and that’s a unique race that’s maybe in a unique locale that’ll stir my interest a little bit. I’ve been getting different offers since Norseman. I think they saw the publicity we helped raise for that race, and some of these other races are interested in us doing the same thing for them, so we’ve got some options.