Colorado athletes heading to Kona!
Name: Nicki Leo
1. What are you most excited about in competing in Kona?
I am most excited to experience the legend course, to personally feel the heat, humidity, and winds that are so infamous. I am also excited to see in person, at one time, many of my heroes in the sport. Triathlon is genuinely one of the only sports in the world where you get to compete on the same field of play as the professionals…and do that with all of them is going to be amazing. I am truly excited about just being able to have this opportunity.
2. What is your favorite career Ironman so far?
That is a hard one…Louisville 2018 where I qualified will probably always be special because I realized a dream come true. However, my first Ironman–Arizona in 2011–will probably always be my favorite because my love for the sport was all so pure then– a lesson in ignorance is bliss. The celebratory feeling that I could actually do something like a full Ironman…there is always that doubt…and then you cross that finish line and you cannot believe it…the feeling is so indescribable unless you’ve done it. It is also the only time I ever felt that way…after finishing the first, knowing you could do it, the others after that were amazing but I knew I could finish because I had before.
3. Is this your first time competing in Kona?
Yes. I have always wanted to qualify and came close a couple of times however, in 2018 after my first DNF (ever) in Ironman Boulder–which was supposed to be my 11th IM–I did IM Canada (which turned out to be #11). Destroyed about the DNF at Boulder, I registered for Louisville (12) to get onto the Legacy list. Well…I finished second (missing first by 6 seconds) and qualified!
4. If someone were new to the sport, what would I tell them is the best thing about being a triathlete and competing at this venue?
For sure, triathlon has saved me in so many ways…it has given me something to live for and something to always work towards. It has given me the feeling few will ever experience in their lifetime–that feeling of wanting so badly to stop and yet, feeling the most alive I ever feel. It has given me direction when I have been lost–depression, eating disorders, cancer. It has given me determination and grit to endure–pain, injuries (which all have come as result of getting hit by cars…multiple times). It has given me a family and friends that I would not otherwise have in CO since I moved here not knowing anyone. It has given me perspective that I’m human–changing and adapting everyday is required to lead a balanced life. The venue itself will cause you to doubt yourself, to face failure, to determine what your priorities in life are, and it will make you feel more alive than anything else in this world if you dare take yourself there.
5. What do I think is the hardest part of Ironman?
The time it takes. The energy it takes at times. The fear you have to overcome to test yourself. And to do it for YOU. That first one is always about YOU…then you “drink the kool aid” and for some reason, it changes. I have a love/hate relationship with Ironman because of this. I think the family and culture it creates can be amazing but I have also seen it destroy people. It can be so intimidating so I think the hardest thing is not to lose yourself and don’t lose sight of what Ironman is in your life…that is, it is a hobby/sport you enjoy and unless you are a pro, it does not define you.