Nancy Arena (BTT 2007) is the reigning BTT Female Athlete of the Year having been awarded this honor after an outstanding 2011 season. In addition to her BTT honor, she received Honorable Mention honors from USA Triathlon.
Unfortunately in 2012, Nancy has seen limited race action since having hip surgery in December to repair an injury sustained in a bike crash at the 2011 Age Group Nationals. Recovery time is long and painful but we hope to see Nancy back in action in 2013.
Where are you from? And what do you do?
I grew up locally on the south shore in Scituate; in fact, I just attended a high school reunion where I proudly showed pictures of my Cervelo R3 and Guru. I think my bikes stood out amongst all the baby pictures. I’ve been living in Charlestown since I returned to the area from Connecticut in 2006.
I’m currently working at a large multispecialty practice as a Physician’s Assistant (PA) but still moonlight on occasion for Dana Farber Cancer Institute where I spent five years as a PA before switching jobs.
How did you get started in triathlons? When was your first tri? What race?
While training for the 2000 NYC Marathon, I injured my hamstring and IT band so I decided to “cross train” and this is how it all started. My first triathlon was at a Tuesday night race series sponsored by CATS, a local tri team in Farmington, Connecticut. I figured the swim part would be easy even though I hadn’t swum since I was 10 years old. I was completely wrong. I also used a mountain bike that weighed more than me. I got totally smoked but I was still hooked.
My first road bike was a blue Bianchi or “blue steel.” No aero bars (didn’t even know what they were), no race wheels, no GPS or heart rate monitor – I just raced old school. I raced only sprints that first year then moved up to the Olympic distance. My first half was at St. Croix. Just me and the blue steel and thankfully she came with a granny gear that I used all the way up “the beast.” I had no idea what I had gotten myself into but could not stop.
What is your favorite thing about triathlon? Your least favorite?
I love to train and the daily sense of accomplishment with completing the training goals. I love being on my trainer to watch ELLEN; I tape her every day and if anyone has an “in” on how to get me a ticket to see her live, please let me know. I cover a lot of ground on my trainer like watching a full season of True Blood and Mad Men.
Of course, the stress of getting it all in when training for long course - not enough hours in the day. I also don’t particularly love swimming but I am getting there and couldn’t do it without swimming masters, love the camaraderie of the pool, my lane mates make it fun!!!
When not swimming/biking or running, you can be found …
Working, shopping, drinking wine, grocery shopping - I love shopping at Whole Foods. I like to cook but don’t do it enough, but it’s fun to try making dishes I’ve had in restaurants.
What's your funniest/scariest/most memorable triathlon moment? (pick one - or more if you have more to share)
Umm...that would have to be my graceful move of wiping out in Burlington (2011 Age Group Nationals) at mile 24 ish....wiped out on sand around a corner, hit my head, heard my helmet crack , got up and the adrenaline made me keep going. Finished the race, but tore my right hip labrum. I’m paying for that now.
Most memorable would be LP 2008- RAIN RAIN and more RAIN, but I felt great!!!! I never felt so good at the finish line.
List three adjectives your friends would use to describe you.
Stubborn, driven, self- deprecating at times, and sarcastic.
Do you have any role models or a favorite motivating/inspiring quote?
HA - I believe it is "Lance had cancer and Jim has broken ribs, so stop whining" at Reach the Beach race a few years ago...
Favorite pre-race (pick one) song/meal/ritual
Guns and Roses, Paradise City. Of course the meal is apple sauce, banana, Gatorade and protein powder
Finish this sentence: It may surprise you to learn...
I can take a shower, get dressed and be ready to go out in less than 12 minutes.
What attracted you to BTT?
I met a bunch of the BTTers at a race many years ago and was so impressed with the camaraderie , team members cheering each other on... makes going to the races that much more fun.Is there one epic race that you are most proud of?
IMLP 2008 - had a great race.
You had a tremendous year in 2011, did you do anything differently than in past years?
Yes, due to continued hamstring/pirifomis injury, I didn’t run for 5 months, and worked with Aaron Brooks who specializes in addressing biomechanical issues - tedious work but I think combined with rest, and decreased volume, I was more efficient, and my running and biking was faster. I also need to credit Lauren Bonaca for our Wednesday am secret training sessions :-)