I find that it’s more like: What’s the next challenge, and that’s like kind of always how I’ve been athletically and even when I started playing for the Whale. It wa, alright I’ll take on that challenge."

NICOLE STOCK: A WHALE RETURNS TO LAKE PLACID.

We had a chance to chat with our Amazing OW #24 Nicole Stock ten days after her July 25th Ironman Triathlon up in Lake Placid, NY. A Whale returning to the scene of the NWHL Season Six bubble as it were. And for Nicole and the other competitos, it was a return to their sport after a two year hiatus due to the Covid pandemic. Nicole had last raced an Ironman on July 28, 2019 in Whistler, BC, ( You can read about that race and then her previous interviews on this site) Prior to this year’s race, Nicole told us  “Not sure I will have a repeat of my Whistler performance given the year and everything else but I am ready to do my best and a finish would be a huge accomplishment!” Well, Nicole did much more than finish, improving her overall time by more than two minutes. And the race we are talking about here is in three consecutive stages, right after each other. A 2.4 mile swim, a 122 mile bike race, and a 26.2 mile marathon run: Twelve hours, forty-three minutes and:eleven seconds of taking it to the limits."Yes I did improve my time" she confirmed  "But not as much as I would have liked, but yes.”

We asked Nicole about the impact of the pandemic on her training leading up to this and she explained

 “With the biking and the running, at least most of that is done outdoors or on my trainer or ProForm, so that outdoor part is certainly helpful, But I will say the swim was definitely a challenge. Our pool was not open for the majority of the year. We.didn’t open our campus on the Lawrenceville School campus until the end of March, right around our spring break. So I was a little worried on that front, my swimming abilities aren’t my strongest part of the Tri. So knowing that I just got back in the pool and had to make up a good amount of ground was a challenge. But we did open up for staff, and I was able to swim three days a week, so I got really lucky at that, to be getting in the water those days. And then just trying to stay with it and try and stay as fit as possible. But we were shutting down for all sorts of different things at different times, so there’s always a challenge.The swimming aspect, 2.4 miles was always the part where I was: OK, well slow and steady, and you should get out of it. So that was always the hope. And I actually didn’t have that bad of a swim. I shocked myself in that regard"she chuckled. “I thought Whistler (swim time) was better, but I know it was faster than Momt Treblant, where this was all new. But at Whistler I think I was faster. I haven’t compared to closely yet. As you mentioned, I was going to be happy with a finish, and that certainly was the case. And a finish in the top third, I’m like: All right! Ok! The pro race was really stacked. I made it off my bike in time to see some of the pros on land running, so I was excited about that, to see some of the on. Heather I saw at the end of her run as was makoing my first lap. So it was a different and unique experience to be a part of and to see.”

Central New Jersey where Nicole lives and works is low elevation and flat terrain, and we wondered where she did her outdoor training. She replied

“Right where I live. Sometimes I get back up to Connecticut where Inused to work and I’ll do a long ride there, just because I’m more familiar with the terrain, and I’m able to get in those bigger, longer hills. So I did one of my longer runs up there this year. I have a friend up,in Ithaca, and sometimes I can get up there and ride. And that’s the wind component. They do have some hills but that’ll give you the wind there, which was a huge factor at Lake Placid, but this year Inwas not fortunate enough to do that. But just trying to get different feels. Even when I come home to Chicago in the summer, those training sessions, even though it’s a bit flatter, there is something to be said about having to pump your legs the entire time. Your not getting any help from any downward off the upward. It’s a little bit different kind of training, but it’s never hindered my ability to feel prepared for the race. It’s interesting what I’ve learned over the years in terms of things like that. Some people are very adamant that they have to go our and do hills, and do hills, and do hills, because the rerrain is going to be hilly. But I don’t so much agree with that theory.”

We also asked if Nicole had the same philosophy as to the running component, and she explained

 “ Me and running are not the best of friends. I will say I felt a little bit better in my track workouts this year, and I was able to get on the track a bit more, just because I had to be outside for certain things. And I no longer have a dog that can run with me so, so I can get on the track and do some more track workouts. Which was different, but that I think did help, especially my first half of the marathon which was pretty solid. And the wheels fell off,"she laughed  " that’s pretty normal for me. And I also will say in February I hurt my back lifting, and so I actually stopped lifting altogether.And I was actually probably most nervous about that. Because I do think the lifting aspect does help you when you are trying to recruit the end of your muscle capacity for the last little bit. I think a big part of the reason the last part of the marathon was a struggle, was not having that extra strength training in my schedule. So I am hoping to just ease back into that, and get that back in order. That was actually one part that I think made the most difference. It was like,: OK, here we go! We’re going to see how true the strength and conditioning piece is, because it certainly is a factor. So I think that was probably the biggest reason for my decline in the second half of the run. Because I stuck to the same training program I did previously. So I think that was the biggest factor, to be honest.” 

We asked Nicole how she prepares mentally for the fact that after the first two grueling legs of the Tri, you still have a marathon to run!

 “ To be honest, I don’t really think about it. I enjoy the biking part, and that is obviously the biggest chunk. So after that, it’s : OK, get off and start moving your feet, put one foot in front of the other and eventually it will be over.I’ve run a marathon just on it’s own, a cpouple of year’s back in Philly, and it was just the worse experience of my life. I was like:Oh my gosh, I’m never doing this again. But I would say to people that it is harder to just straight run a marathon than to just tack on those 26.1 miles after being on the bike forever. People look at me like I’ve got six heads she laughed "But your muscles are btoken down, and it’s just a mindset at that point. So you just put one foot in front of the other, and then it’s over. So I don’t know where my mindset comes from. But it’s funny, we were standing at the start of the swim, and I’m sure they say this at everybIronman, but the announcer is saying, If you treat your attitude well today, your body will respond.” Or something like that. If you have a good attitude, your attitude will carrry you through the day. And I think that is true. .Why get down? Just be positive. You’ve trained, you know you’re going to finish it, given your bike doesn’t break down or something goes drastically wrong. You kind of trust that your training takes over, and then, just have some fun. It’s not like I’m Heather Jackson and I’m getting paid to do this. Just pump the breaks on that "she chuckled. "The first Tri I signed up for, one of my next friends asked : You paid how much, to kick your own ass, for how long? she laughed, adding  "I guess when you put it that way, it doesn’t sound like as much fun.”

So now what are Nicole’s triathlon plans going forward?

“Good question, I haven’t figured it out. After Whistler, I knew that I wanted to do Lake Placid, ragtime was always in my mind. So really when I finished Whistler- Insigned up for Lake Placid, that would be my third, and then reevaluate where Inwant to go. So now, after two years of waiting, made it through Whistler and Lake Placid, the one I want to do again is probably Mont-Tremblant. Because ir was my first rodeo, and to be able to go back there and actually do the course over and just see if Incan do better than the first time I was there. That’s definitely a factor. And then there is one in Maryland, closer to home, so that would be a good one to do. But then Inthought I might do a summer where I just do half Tri’s. Do like two half Tri’s, and then the following summer go back to a full Tri. Just give my body a little time to recover, recuperate, and see if I can get my back in line, and kind of go from there. So I haven’t really put my thumb on it yet, but I’ll have a little bit of time to figure it out before entries fill up. I know Lake Placid entries are already closed for next year.But to do the same course two years a row is not something I would enjoy as much. I guess there’s always that: I’ll go right back and beat my time, a lot of people have that thought. But part of this for me is also being able to go different places, bike in different places, see different things and explore a little bit. That was the whole thing about Whistler, the road trip beforehand” And being able to supend two weeks making my way out there, and seeing Yellowstone and the Badlands, taking in some of the travel aspect too. That was a long answer, but the short answer is Inam not sure yet, still figuring it out. Something a little different gives you something more to look forward to, like: Ok, where’s the edge going to be for me,it just changes your mindset a little bit, keeps it a little bit fresher.You train for so,long and do so much work, if you already know the course and everything that goes along with it, it’s just not as much fun” she laughed

 Nicole had previously mentioned some back issues, and we wondered how she was feeling mow after the race.

"It was the one thing I thought would be the most sore, and it ended up being yjebleast sore. Maybe because I had just kind of been on it so much, thaybI Maine prepped it more than some other parts of the body. So bisiting a chiropractor and doing all the things to stay aligned helped, staying on the stretching routine and the foam roller, all of those things helped. Your biggest thing as always was sore legs "she chuckled " Your pride feels pretty good after the race, nothing else does!” I’ve been lucky where I haven’t had the bike fall apart on race day, or you can’t finish ot something like that, so I’ve been really lucky on that part. Most people do one a year, so you do all that training and your bike falls apart and your like: Seriously? But you are are kind of working with what you are dealt, and you see people on the side of the road and you feel for them. And hope it is the bike and they srebn’t injured.” That’s just not what you’re going for especially this year when most competitor’s had trained two years for it. I find that it’s more like: What’s the next challenge, and that’s like kind of always how I’ve been athletically and even when I started playing for the Whale. It wa, alright I’ll take on that challenge."

As we wrapped things up with Nicole we asked about herupcoming Seaeon with her Lawrenceville Prep girlf’s hockey squad

“Our fall season looks like it will be pretty normal, so we’re aiming for that full schedule, traveling, etc. But nothing’s written in stone with the Delta variant going around, and our administration is workongbfthrough some of that. But we played almost a full slate last spring with our team, so that was positive. Hopefully we’ll have that in the fall, and then looking ahead to the winter, as long as things progress in the right way, I don’t see why we wouldn’t be right back on track in full schedule mode. I know our schedule is built, so it’s justness matter of whether schools are going to be able to compete or not. So as we get further into the fall we’ll see a bit more of what the variant is doing, and how our school is doing in general.. We normally start up the hockey program just after Thanksgiving, and then run into our spring break, the early part of March. I’m hopeful! “

Cetacean Nation thanks Nicole for giving us a look inside the world of the triathlete, and as usual, loved her insightful and thoughtful content on her continuing Amazing athletic career. As the Whale enter Season Seven, Nicole Stock is still on top of wins in goal for the Pod. Fins Up Forever Nicole!