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Talks with T: Q & A with Team SFQ'er Mary Kate Noble

Mary Kate Noble is a returning member of TeamSFQ from Chester Springs, PA, who has blazed back onto the running and triathlon scene after enduring a health scare in late 2018, and into 2019. Mary Kate exemplifies the strength that can grow from patience, and lends a true appreciation for what her body has overcome, and goals that she plans to chase down in the future.  
When and why were you sparked to become a triathlete?

My Dad was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis around 2009 and that propelled me to start running. The triathlon piece came into play shortly after as I needed to cross train because all of the running was bothering my knees.

Since you have a houseful of active teenagers (swimmers and football players) how have they reacted to your athletic pursuits?

Well, I don’t think my kids truly understand what I do. Most times I am back from all of my workouts before they are even awake! They know I train hard and rarely ever miss a training session. So, they know I won’t cut them much slack with their sports. My husband had a long career in the NFL and my brother in law plays for the LA Rams, so they are more impressed with that!

In the fall of 2018, you were diagnosed with breast cancer, how did you frame your mindset to take on such a tremendous physical and emotional challenge?

After my diagnosis, I was so busy setting up appointments and getting ready for my first surgery (double mastectomy), that period was such a whirlwind. I knew it would be at least six months from my first surgery until my third. Waiting for the test results from my mastectomy took weeks and those results dictated any future treatment, which would extend the six-month plan. After my first surgery, I was very limited in what I could do, just getting out of bed was nearly impossible. I had weeks where I couldn’t drive, couldn’t lift anything, I couldn’t even read a book or use my phone because I had an adverse reaction to the anesthesia. Taking things one day at a time was the only way to go. Setting small goals like getting my drains out, or taking a walk down the street kept me focused and not overwhelmed.

In November of 2019, you laced up your shoes again to run the Philadelphia Marathon, did you have any goals going into the race, or did you simply want to enjoy the day?

When I decided to sign up to do the Philly Marathon in November of 2019, I had the goal of qualifying for Boston. So, I knew the time I had to get to qualify for Boston as I prepared for the race, but as I walked to the corral before the race did I think it was possible, no, not really. The plan I was following was for an Ironman so I think there was only one 18-mile run leading up to the marathon. There was a lot of doubt running through my mind if my body could handle 26.2 miles, let alone running fast enough to qualify for Boston! I had lost twenty pounds during those months of surgery. My body was definitely not back to normal by the time I ran Philly. Basically, I was just thrilled to be there! It wasn’t until the last two miles of the race that I realized I could get a Boston qualifying time. Luckily, I was able to hang on and get a BQ. Ironically, it was a 16 minute PR for me!

How did it feel to run such a spectacular race just over a year from receiving your cancer diagnosis?

It was really amazing, I am not an overly emotional person, but I may have shed a tear or two.

Do you believe your mind and body are stronger today, and that you have gained more appreciation for their resilience after conquering cancer?

While my body will never be what it used to be, I feel like I’m getting stronger every day. Having had breast cancer, I went through some unimaginable pain. But getting through that experience definitely made me much more mentally tough. I look at a 6-hour trainer ride much differently these days! I am so grateful to be alive and to be able to continue to compete in the sport I love.

Now that you’re back to great health and were planning to race at the now post-poned Ironman Texas due to COVID-19, how have you adapted to the constant shifting of the 2020 season?

Before I found out that Ironman Texas wasn’t happening April 25th, we found out that YMCA swim Nationals was canceled for my daughter Grace. So as disappointed as I was about Texas, I was definitely more bummed for my daughter and her teammates. If I hadn’t had Texas on my calendar I’m not sure I would have gotten back into shape so soon. So there are no regrets! It’s not the first time I’ve trained for an Ironman and things didn’t go as planned! I trained for Ironman Florida a few years back, and a few days before the race I found out I had torn a tendon in my foot. At Ironman Mont Tremblant I got food poisoning the night of the race! My bike was in transition ready to go, meanwhile I was hanging over the hotel toilet. I am looking at maybe doing Ironman Maryland in the fall, but definitely just waiting for things to get back to normal again before I pick a race. 


We look forward to cheering on Mary Kate at whichever event she is able to race next, and will be supporting her through every swim, bike, and run workout in between. 




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