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Lee's Summit Athlete, Nichole Ahlers,...
Lee's Summit Athlete, Nichole Ahlers, Qualifies for IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships
Triathlon devotee, Nichole Ahlers qualified for the 2011 Ironman 70.3 World Championships. She is shown here with her amazing generational support team.
Pictured from left to right: Vani Ahlers (her mom), Nichole and her
Grandmother, Lois Myler.
Running, swimming, biking, they all sound like great sports and ones that many of us have participated in and enjoyed, but all three, one right after another and for substantial lengths??? That’s crazy and it’s called a Triathlon. It is also a big part of Lee’s Summit resident Nichole Ahlers’ life.
Originally from a small town in northwest Iowa called Laurens, Nichole took her first job out of college in the Kansas City Area. She moved to Lee’s Summit in 2007. With a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration and a Master’s in Business Administration she has been working at The Children’s Mercy Hospital for over three years.
Nichole spends anywhere from 12 to 20 hours a week cross training (biking 30 to 70 miles twice a week, swimming one to two miles twice a week, running 10 to 13 miles three times a week, and weight lifting three times a week) and says, “This is such a wonderful sport that I hold very near and dear to my heart. Not only has it taught me that anything is possible, but it has also whipped me into the best shape of my life. Being healthy is a wonderful thing and I couldn’t ask for more.”
Perhaps her biggest fan and supporter is Mom, Vani Ahlers, who provided a delightful view of Nichole’s experience and was gracious enough to share it with the LS Tribune.
No Goal Is Too Far Out Of Reach
By Vani AhlersBack in the summer of 2009 my daughter told me that she was going to train to complete her first sprint triathlon. Triathlon? I had no idea what that even was. After a quick internet search, I learned that it was a multi-sport event consisting of swimming, biking, and running. One immediately following the other with little to no rest in between and over various distances. I knew she had always been a swimmer but I couldn’t help but wonder about the biking and running. After all, I was almost certain that her Barbie kiddy bike was still in the garage and that she had never really owned a real pair of running shoes. So of course this left me very intrigued. I wondered why on earth she’d ever want to do something like that and how it could possibly be fun.
In the months to follow I’d call my daughter to chat only to find that she’d be at the pool swimming, riding her bike around, or out running. I thought to myself, “Wow, she’s really going to do this.” And low and behold in August 2009 I packed up the car, headed to Kansas City, and watched my daughter complete her very first sprint course triathlon. Not only did she perform well but she was also in the best shape of her life, eating healthy, working out, and encouraging others to do the same.
After her sprint triathlon I assumed that was the end of this journey. However, she informed me that it was just the beginning. Before I knew it October 2009 rolled around and I was yet again packing up the car en route to Kansas City to watch her complete her first Half Marathon, a run course consisting of 13.1 miles. Once again, she exceeded my expectations. So this time instead of asking if this was it, I asked “What’s next?” With shin splints and sore muscles she said, “Ironman.”
The plan was to compete in a whole season of long distance triathlons including the Chicago International Triathlon, the largest triathlon in the world, in August 2010 and then to complete the Longhorn Ironman 70.3 in Austin, Texas on October 17, 2010. A Half Ironman is a 70.3 mile course consisting of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run. It would require countless hours of intense training to prepare for, but I knew if she wanted it bad enough that she’d put in the work.
Little did I know that this work would consist of maintaining a strict diet and cross training anywhere from 12-20 hours a week all while working a full time job and finishing up her Master’s degree. It wasn’t about being the fastest athlete, but about finding the determination to train just as hard if not harder than anyone else. Early morning runs, evening bike rides, Master’s Swim Team practices, and weight lifting became her routine, gradually increasing her mileage one day at a time. She acquired a few injuries along the way but pushed through the pain. Her only goal was to cross the finish line. And I’d be there waiting for her when she did.
October 2010 rolled around and before I knew it we were off to Texas to watch her complete her first Ironman 70.3. It was quite a sight to see. Not only did she accomplish her goal of crossing the finish line but was also fortunate enough to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada to be held in September 2011. It was a day to remember.
So instead of asking her what was next, this time I asked “Why?” She said, “Regardless of your body shape, age, or experience, it’s all about accomplishing your goals and doing the best you can. Pushing your limits and choosing to live a healthy lifestyle.” Congratulations Nichole! Your family and friends are so very proud of you.
************************* *************************The Ironman 70.3 World Championship sounds like a daunting challenge. The race begins with a 1.2 mile swim in Lake Las Vegas followed by a 56 mile bike through Lake Mead National Recreation Area that includes several steep climbs. The race finishes with a 13.1-mile run through Henderson’s scenic residential areas. This is a huge event with participants ranging in age from 18 to 70-plus and representing all 50 states and nearly 50 countries. It will take more than 2,500 volunteers from the local community to support the event.
“I was very fortunate to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship on a wild card (the term I use for getting lucky),” Nichole told me. “For a long while, I wasn’t sure I was worthy of such an honor, but then a friend of mine provided me some unforgettable inspiration with the quote, ‘Fortune sides with him who dares.’ I don’t know how long I’ll be doing this, but I do know that things fell my way and I’m going to give it my all to do the best I can with the opportunity I’ve been given. My only goal was to finish that day and now a whole new door has been opened. Everything happens for a reason and I’ve been given the opportunity of a lifetime to compete at such an accomplished level. As stated in my mother’s article, I may not be the fastest athlete, but I will train just as hard if not harder than anyone else. I just want everyone to know that all things are possible and encourage people to be active by getting involved. Never in a million years did I ever think I’d be competing in the world of Triathlons. Now, I simply cannot live without it.”
Virginia Mae Sass Poynter