Nicole Schneeberger | Reader-Athlete June 2011

Nicole Schneeberger
Family: Fiancé, Alex; two dogs, Trooper and Layla
Youth Coordinator for IROC (Indoor Recreation of Orleans County) and preschool teacher
Primary sport: Triathlon

VS: What is your best leg of the triathlon?
NS: Swimming is definitely my strongest leg. I swam competitively in high school, so I have all that technique and form, which is a huge part of swimming. Cycling and running rely a lot more on strength and endurance. However, the run is my favorite portion of triathlons. It’s near the end of the race, and you see a lot of people; it’s a social time and people are cheering each other on.

VS: With two jobs, how do you find the time to train in all three disciplines?
NS: It’s been a challenge finding time. I can normally eke out a two-hour chunk each day, although it might be at five in the morning or eight at night. I teach classes at IROC, so I can use my time there as training as well. Of all the training I do, I like the running best because it’s fun to do with other people. I divide the training out: I’ll swim two days a week, run a few days and cycle a few more, because cycling is my weakest leg. As I get closer to events, I’ll try to brick them together.

VS: Tell us about IROC.
NS: IROC is a great organization. I teach a variety of classes to people of all ages, including some classes designed for kids and others for senior citizens. I really enjoy teaching a circuit class called Body Blast. There are 15 stations with different activities and people do each one for a certain period of time. I’ve started teaching a new class called Drums Alive, which uses a yoga ball and drumsticks. I also coach youth running groups.

VS: How did you end up in Derby?
NS: I’m originally from upstate New York. After graduating from the University of Vermont, I lived in Burlington for awhile, but then I met Alex, and he got a teaching job at North County Union High School. That first year, I stayed in Burlington and we saw each other on weekends, but that got old fast. I got a job at Holland Elementary School and moved up here, and I’m so happy I did.

VS: You seem to be very involved in the community. I see that you’ve been the Derby coordinator for Green Up Day.
NS: The community here is very close-knit, and I feel a sense of really belonging. This place lends itself to community involvement. I love being able to take part in things like Green Up Day, IROC special events, and school functions.

VS: How many triathlons have you done?
NS: I’ve done an awful lot of sprint triathlons, starting when I was 15. I used to split them with a friend; I’d swim and run, and she would do the cycling leg. After awhile I started doing them on my own. I’ve done two international distance triathlons in Washington, D.C., and this year I’ll be competing in the USA Triathlon Championship in Burlington (see story).

VS: Will this be your first national competition?
NS: Yes, and I’m really excited about it. It’s an opportunity to compete with people who are vying for a spot on the Olympic team. That’s not my goal, but competing against people at that level is awesome. On top of that, it’s in Burlington, which is my old stomping grounds.

VS: Do you prefer triathlons with outdoor swimming?
NS: Absolutely. In a pool, you’ve got the walls and you end up making a lot of turns, but in a lake you can just flat-out go. I’ve got the technique from my youth, so I’m capable of doing that. A lot of people are squeamish about swimming in a lake, but I grew up on water, so I’m not worried about any of the things that might bother indoor swimmers.

VS: Are you interested in doing longer distances?
NS: This year I’ll be doing my first Half Ironman in New Hampshire. It’s a personal goal to be able to say that I can do it. A friend with whom I’ve been running triathlons convinced me to try it, particularly since it’s relatively close by.

VS: Do you have a favorite race course?
NS: That would be the Kingdom Triathlon that IROC runs. I did it before I started working for them. The swim is in Lake Salem; there’s a 13-mile bike loop through Derby and West Charleston, and then a run around Derby Pond. It’s a great route and very scenic. The Kingdom Triathlon was also my best showing. The first year I did it, I stuck around for the awards ceremony because the male winner was a guy who had helped me with my bicycle before the race, and I thought that was cool and wanted to support him. When they started announcing the awards, I was startled to hear my name. I was the first female finisher, and I didn’t even know it. I was caught completely off guard.

VS: Why do you like triathlons?
NS: I think it comes back to the fact that I do all the sports, so being able to put them all together to do an event is just awesome. Just running would be boring. Besides, I like training in different areas. Competing is fun because of all the people you meet. There are some amazing athletes and really interesting people. At the start of the race, you’re all in the same boat: nervous and scared. At the end, there’s a real sense of accomplishment when you can piece so much together and do the whole thing.

—Phyl Newbeck

Phyl Newbeck

Phyl Newbeck lives in Jericho with two spoiled orange cats. She is a skier, skater, cyclist, kayaker, and lover of virtually any sport which does not involve motors. She is the author of “Virginia Hasn’t Always Been for Lovers: Interracial Marriage Bans and the Case of Richard and Mildred Loving.”