Tommy Nolan was inspired to do a triathlon after watching his sister do the Jersey Girl Tri in August of 2012. The only problem was, he didn’t really know how to swim very well… Oh, and his ultimate DREAM was to do IRONMAN Lake Placid. Minor details. :)

Starting Point


It was a cool September morning in 2012. We were meeting Tommy at the pool for his very first swim session.

At this point, his goal was simply, to learn how to swim (laps) proficiently. He decided to start with a package of (3) 1 on 1 sessions and progress from there.

For his first session, we started with the basics. With each progression, we explained why and how to do what was asked. We only moved from one thing to the next as fast/slow as he could handle. The first session was a success and so were the proceeding swim sessions. Within no time, Tommy was swimming laps. We provided the guidance, but Tommy did the work. It’s very obvious when athletes follow your instruction and ‘do the work.’

1 month later we began providing Tommy with a triathlon training program and he was ‘off to the races!’




Between then and now Tommy has gone on to become a 3x IRONMAN Lake Placid finisher and a good personal friend. He’s also a 2x New York City Marathon finisher and has completed multiple half Ironman triathlons. And MOST IMPORTANTLY, he has become a husband and a father!

Below is a brief look into Tommy’s incredible triathlon journey.


How and Why did you get into triathlon?


When I saw my sister complete her first Jersey Girl triathlon, I was hooked. It was so inspiring watching my sister complete a swim, bike and run…I knew I had to do it too.


Why did you decide to hire a coach and more specifically RTA to help prepare you for your races?


I have always worked well with a schedule, and a plan of what to do, how to do it, and more specifically, “why” I need to do it.

It has always helped to have an idea of what needs to be done to make something happen, rather than “wingin’ it”.

I decided to hire RTA because of their approach to triathlon coaching. Elizabeth’s style and experience with triathlon set them above anyone else. 


You recently completed IRONMAN Lake Placid, what was that like?


Completing my third Ironman in Lake Placid was an experience like no other.

From the atmosphere if the town, to the people you meet during the race who are going through the same pain and experiences as you are, give you a special insight into why I decided to race Lake Placid.

It was an experience I will never forget. 




What was the worst/hardest part of the race and how did you overcome it?


The most difficult part of the race was the run. With certain injuries I had during training – I had to overcome a stress fracture in my foot. Obviously, the marathon is difficult to begin with, but pushing through it with an injury made me realize that I can accomplish anything.


What was going through your head when you crossed the finished line?


Crossing the finish line, knowing that my family was there to see me was an emotional experience that I will never forget.

Crossing the finish line hearing “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN” gives you a confidence that I have never felt before. Knowing I just completed 140.6 miles in one day is a very special accomplishment.


Any general advice you’d give to others thinking about doing a 70.3 or IRONMAN?


If there is any advice that I would give, it would be to hire a coach to help you through the process. Going about a half or even full Iron distance triathlon race is nothing to joke about, or take lightly. You need someone who has the experience and knowledge to pass along and answer the questions you have, and they can also help alleviate the stress of balancing work with training. 




Learn more about RTA Coaching HERE

Learn more about 1 on 1 Sessions HERE

Learn more about Team RTA Tri Club HERE



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