"In running it is man against himself, the cruelest of opponents. The other runners are not the real enemies. His adversary lies within him, in his ability with brain and heart to master himself and his emotions." -- Glenn Cunningham Olympic Bronze Medalist 1936
The wording of the late Dr. Cunningham’s quote is archaic, but the spirit of the message is still the great truth for endurance athletes. As we have learned in previous articles (if you haven’t, check out Nicole’s other interviews on this site’) our former #24 has willingly taken on this opponent in herself. A couple of weeks ago, we tracked Nicole’s race in the Ironman Triathlon in Whistler, British Columbia. A virtual Highway To Hell in terms of the physical demands on your body over a combined 70.3 miles of swim-bike-run. And although you may be surrounded by dozens of athletes at any given point during the event, and scored against hundreds, you are still competing primarily against yourself. Nicole did just that, and had a great race and told us “-It is so well done. The volunteers are excellent and instructions are simple and well mapped out. The course is well done. They really do an incredible job accommodating all of the athletes and making sure everyone's needs are met. It was an excellent experience!!!”
Cetacean Nation asked Nicole what her goals were heading into the Whistler competition. She replied “I really only looked to compare my results from this Ironman to my results at the last year in Tremblant. I wanted to improve my nutrition and overall time which I did for both so I am very pleased with the outcome.” Cetacean Nation followed up by asking if there was a point where she realized that she was having a good race? Nicole said “That is a great question and honestly not something that I think about. I really focus myself and getting times that I think are reasonable for myself. I will always be an "age grouper" when it comes to Ironman events and I am ok with that so being able to stay in the moment and do what I think my body is capable of that day is really the goal. I want to finish and be able to walk afterwards :) I did notice that I had a strong swim time (for myself) and the bike it usually my best event so I always gain some momentum there. It is so hard to tell where you fall in terms of overall competitor given the magnitude and the distance so I just focus on trying to hit my marks and push my body to the limit and let the rest fall into place. I was happy with my improvement from the year before and that was the ultimate goal.“ Ultimarely, Nicole improved her age group standing from 45th to13th, and also improved her overall time.
We also asked Nicole to break down the segments of the competition for us, and comment on both the good, and not so good aspects. Here is what she told us. “The swim was by far my best of my competition days. The water was still and a great temperature, and I just enjoyed being able to keep a rhythm instead of stopping all the time like in the pool. It was the first time I had to do two laps in a swim event so that was a little challenging (many more bodies), but I have to say it made the loop shorter and maybe overall helped my mindset. The bike is where I do work. I love being on the bike, and while climbing is tough I always remind myself that "what goes up must come down," so the reward is the downhill part. And man, we had some great downhill to take in the breeze. The last 20 miles on the bike were really tough but mentally you have to push through to get to that run. The run was along the lake and really beautiful, so hard not to enjoy. Although it was challenging and the legs were getting tight by the end, it was very nice weather and great scenery so it was as enjoyable as it could be.”
Cetacean Nation asked if Nicole had gotten any ideas from this Tri for training for the next. She replied “I have not thought a lot about how I will train yet.That will be happening in the next couple of weeks and then I will make adjustments and go from there. I will probably focus a bit more on the running and techniques and then some strength training things. I figured out the nutritional component this time around it seems. There will be some fine tuning coming, but I feel as though things went much smoother and I was able to give my body enough and not too much in order to make it through the entire race feeling good. I signed up for Lake Placid, NY on July 26, 2020, so I will be back at the training in September and more seriously after the holidays.”“ Nicole mentioned feeling good, and we wondered how her reconvery went. Nicole answered that “Recovery took about two days, by Wednesday I was feeling good. I did enjoy some post reace celebrations on Sunday and then on Monday. It is always nice to let the hair down a little after being so strict leading up to the race.”
And to putva bow on the interview, we went off the course and back on the ice with Coach Nicole Stock. We asked about the upcoming season for her hockey squad at Lawrenceville School, located between Princeton and Trenton in New Jerssey. That’s not very far from another interesting hockey venue that has been in the news recntly, and Nicole is aware. She explained “Lawrenceville won’t start up till Thanksgiving time but work will be starting up here shortly as pre-season fall athletes come back, then school starts. Hopefully now that the Rivs are so close we will be able to take some of the girls to a game or two.” Fins Up to perhaps seeing Nicole and her charges rinkside at ProSkate this winter! It is too early to tell what the entry list will look like for the Lake Placid Ironman next year. But Nicole Stock knows who her toughest and cruelest opponent will be. And if you happen to be into wagering, we strongly suggest not betting against #24. Fins Up Nicole!
UPDATE 8/1/20: Triathlon is another of the many sports impacted by the Covid pandemic of 2020, and we caught up with Nicole to discuss this and a few other things to keep everyone current on what's going on with our fan favorite Nicole. She explained
“It is crazy to think about how different things look after a year. As you mentioned Lake Placid Ironman was cancelled, and this was supposed to be my week of vacation following my Ironman. Instead, my summer has looked very different, with much less bike and run time. We are trying to figure out the plan for our kids coming back to campus (at Lawrenceville School in NJ where she works and coaches) and what all that looks like to best protect our students and faculty. It is a crazy time. I saw the Whale season was postponed until at least the new year. Hopefully it will be able to come back this season even if on a shortened schedule. I am just happy that the NHL is back. I need that right now, to take my mind off of things. I am currently registering for my level 2 reffing certification as I decided to go that route last year and spent my first year reffing in NJ. So hopefully I will be able to climb the ladder a bit and ref womens hockey at a higher level down the road. Other than that just trying to stay safe. I did get my Ironman Lake Placid registration pushed to 2021 so I will be doing next year's event given Corona is under control!”
We will certainly be looking forward to that, and we offered this thought to Nicole: since she has now added referee to her list of hockey achievements along with player and coach, we think she has completed a unique Hockey Triathlon as well! Fins Up