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Athlete Spotlight: Diana Barr

Updated: Sep 14, 2022

Before we get started, here's a little message from Coach Vicki:

Diana approached me after attending a run clinic regarding training for Ironman and I couldn’t wait for the opportunity!

Diana is not only a dedicated athlete, she is also extremely dedicated to her family and work. Balance is extremely hard when training for Ironman and, when you add a full-time job and a family in the mix, organization and planning becomes of utmost importance. In my opinion, Diana and her family have done this incredibly well!

One of the other keys to successfully getting to the start line fully prepared revolves around communication. Diana has been the role model around this as well. Her communication is consistent, clear, and because she plans in advance, is prepared with great questions in each of our meetings. She is also an individual that has not let her ego get in the way of training. This is a challenge for so many athletes. We might not want to admit that we have a “niggle” that is keeping us from being 100%, but, if we know about these little things, they can be addressed before they become big things. These things have made her preparation extremely successful.

I am so excited for Diana’s story!

Name | Diana Barr

Tell us about your family/career.

I’ve been married to my amazing husband for almost 11 years and we have two amazing children who are 8 and 5. I work full-time as a marketing director for a regional independent grocery retailer.

How long has fitness been part of your life?

Always. At a young age, my parents told me they didn’t care which sport or activity I chose, but I needed to pick something that kept my body moving. I ended up joining the junior swim team and swam competitively throughout high school. Now that I’m a parent myself, I’m telling my kids the same thing!

What are some of your favorite hobbies?

You can have other hobbies besides triathlon? 😊 In what little time is left after training, my family, and my work, I love to read, travel, and be outdoors.

Do you have a favorite quote or motto?

Last year, on the night before the Chisago Half Ironman, my daughter opened a chocolate candy with a message saying, “Don’t Stop Until You’re Proud” and it has been my race motto ever since. The candy wrapper is even taped to my aero water bottle so it’s front and center on my bike rides.

What keeps you going when you really don’t want to go?

I can’t think of many instances where I’ve regretted a workout. It inevitably lifts my mood and energy level. I tell myself, “Just envision how good it will feel when you’re done.” And I believe that something can be better than nothing, so I also try to remove any pressure from myself and think, “Let’s just try and see how it goes.” I often surprise myself with having more to give than I thought.

What got you started with training?

I love the variety of triathlon training – it keeps me active without getting bored or burnt out because I’m not doing the same activity day after day. Signing up for races was just something to keep me motivated.

When you tell your friends/family about beginning your journey what was their reaction?

It’s been funny to watch people’s reactions as I tell them I signed up for an Ironman. Most people seem to have a general concept that it’s a very difficult event, but they would ask “Now how far is that?” And as I would share the distances their eyes would get wider and wider. I got a lot of “You’re crazy!”

How long have you been training?

I started training for Ironman Wisconsin the beginning of March, so about six months. Although in retrospect, I wish I would’ve started strength training even before that. 😊

In the broad sense, though, I’ve been training for Ironman for 5 years. I’ve been doing triathlons for 10 years, but always sprint distances. When I told a friend that I could NEVER do an Ironman, he said, “Sure you could. Do a sprint distance this year, do an Olympic distance next year, then a half Ironman the next year, and then finally the full distance.” When he broke it down like that it felt completely manageable and achievable. The reason it took 5 years instead of 4 was thanks to 2020 and COVID.

Were you involved in other competitive sports prior to your adult years?

Being on the swim team in my younger years set me up well for triathlon, since the swim is often the scariest part. I’m probably one of the few triathletes that wishes the swim portion was longer.

Best tip for someone that is thinking about starting a fitness program.

Find an activity that you enjoy; where exercise doesn’t feel like a chore. There are so many great activities that get you moving, I believe there is something for everyone.

Who is your biggest inspiration? First and foremost, my kids. I want to be a role model for them to see not only how important it is to be active and healthy, but also what it looks like to set a goal, work hard for that goal, encounter setbacks, and achieve a goal.

Secondly, my parents. My mom (who also trains with Vicki!) is a 26-year survivor of breast cancer. And unfortunately, my dad lost his fight with cancer last year after a 3-year battle. Watching them both navigate the harsh realities of cancer treatments made any tough training session seem like a walk in the park. They persevered through more than I could ever imagine.

And specifically to my Ironman journey, I was inspired by Chris Nikic, the Ironman athlete with down syndrome. When I think about all the hurdles he had to overcome, I found that any excuse I could put behind “I can’t…” didn’t hold much weight.

What is your biggest struggle? Finding patience. For myself – wanting results to come quicker, things to happen faster, etc. And for others – after I’ve put in a long day of training, working, and parenting, I can get a little snippy. 😉

Goals for the upcoming year? I am so proud to have checked Ironman off my goals. I’m looking forward to taking some recovery time, but then I’m hoping to really ramp up my strength training in the off-season to improve my running and get back to racing – much shorter distances – next year.

Anything else you would like to add?

There aren’t good words to describe the magic that is the triathlon community. Everyone should be so lucky to know Vicki and the Tri Club folks. Everyone I have met has been so incredibly kind and supportive. I’m not a formal member of Tri Club (as I live in the south Metro, plus the two kids and full-time job...), but always felt welcomed and included. Our interactions might have been brief, but they made a big impact.

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