Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Here is my story, from the beginning

I thought it might be best to start off telling you a little about me. First, Hi, I'm Diane Hoffman. By day I am the entertainment editor at The Mercury newspaper in Pottstown. By night I am a mommy to a 4-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. In between work and family, I am a triathlete... or at least I'd like to think of myself as one.
Which brings me to the reason we're here: triathlon.
In 2007, after giving birth to my son, I weighed close to 200 lbs. Being an unimpressive 5-feet, 5-inches tall, this is a lot of extra weight to carry around.

Me at 200 lbs.

At the time, my husband was just getting into cycling and I thought if I was going to lose this weight, I'll probably have greater success having a partner in exercising. Also, if any of you have a spouse who is a cyclist, you know it can take up A LOT of time, so if I wanted to spend any time with him, my best shot was going to be while on a bike.
With the help of my family and friends, I set out to do what I thought at the time was completely unthinkable: The Multiple Sclerosis Society 150 City to Shore. It's a two day event that starts in Pennsahken, N.J., and ends in Ocean City, N.J., covering 150 miles over two days. My family thought I was crazy, hell, I thought I was crazy, but I did it and it was awesome.
From there, I focused all of my attention to cycling for two years, after which I started to get a little bored. I lost a good portion of the weight I put on, but wanted to get fitter so I could ride stronger. At the same time, a friend did her first triathlon. She encouraged me to do one too.
So I did. I drank the Kool-Aid.
In 2010, I did the Philadelphia Insurance Sprint Triathlon. A half mile swim, a 15 mile bike ride and a 5k. I finished that race in 2:01. I was exhausted, yet so full of endorphins and I couldn't wait to do another.

Me, center, with my two friends at the Philly Tri finish

One month later, I did SheRox Philadelphia, which is essentially the same course as the Philly Tri and I finished in 1:54.

 SheRox 2010

On New Year's Eve 2010,  I listened to friends talk about doing a half iron distance triathlon in 2011. I woke up on Jan. 1, 2011, and it was clear as day. I was doing a half iron.
But before I could take on such a huge race, I had some goals I needed to reach. First, I ran my first half marathon, the Delaware half marathon with my coworker and friend Brandie.

Brandie and I during the Delaware Half Marathon 2011

Next I needed to tackle an Olympic distance triathlon. I don't  know why, but I picked the Black Bear Triathlon, a killer race that I did not finish. It was a mile swim, 26 mile bike ride and a 10k. I just barely made it through the swim. I was the very last person out of the water. Literally. About 3 miles into the bike ride I had an asthma attack and when I reached back to get my inhaler, I found it wasn't there, which caused me to panic and fall off my bike. I couldn't get it back on and had to drop out of the race. It was a race I was just not ready to finish.
Still needing an Olympic distance on my resume before the 70.3, I signed up for the Sunset Challenge Triathlon in New Jersey. I ramped up my training and finished this one in 3:34. Not a great time, but I was proud nonetheless.

Sunset Challenge Olympic distance triathlon 2011

Continuing on my ramped up training program, I found myself completely exhausted. I was so tired that one Monday morning I literally couldn't get out of bed. My husband took the kids to school and I slept until 2 p.m.
I needed help. The big race was getting closer and there I was crashed, unable to get up. Through some of my friends on the social networking site for athletes, dailymile, I knew of a swim coach named Joanna Chodorowska. In complete desperation, I hired Joanna to help me swim.
In just five sessions Joanna improved not only my swim time, but my confidence as well. Along with my swimming, she gave me several pointers, a race day nutrition plan and I was able to get through my first half iron, Delaware Diamondman 70.3.

Delaware Diamondman 70.3 2011

I finished the 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and 13.1 mile run in 7:17. It's not a great time, but I gave every single thing I had that day, so I am proud of my accomplishment. Today, with Joanna's help, I'm setting out to improve that time in June at Eagleman and I would love to have you along for the journey.


  1. Such an amazing story. Such an inspiration, too! and we're only getting started!

  2. Hey D, I didn't know you had a story like that. I had assumed you always were an awesome athlete. The deeper I get into endurance sports, the more frequent stories like yours (and mine) seem to be. Congrats on taking the plunge and on hiring Coach J. I've heard great things about her.

  3. I'm so excited to start training with Joanna. If you have any questions for Joanna, feel free to ask. We will be featuring a video segment called, "Ask the Coach" in which she will directly answer your questions.

  4. Love the blog Diane! You have come a long way in triathlon in a short time frame, amazing determination! Can't wait to follow along on your blog.

  5. Diane, I loved reading your story, and am so proud of you and happy to be a part of it. Your writing always sucks me in too. Can't wait to see this new training journey unfold!