MEMBER: Nick Tuck
Name: Nick Tuck
Hometown: Burke, VA
High School: Lake Braddock Secondary School
College: University of Pennsylvania
Occupation: Pilot, Wellness Guide at Philadelphia Runner
3000 Steeple: 8:44.88
3000 Steeple: 8:44.88
8k XC: 23:51
10k XC: 30:15
Ivy League Champion: 3k Steeple (2015, 2016, 2017, Indoor 5,000 (2017)
2016 Penn Relays Champion (4 x Mile)
2016 Ivy League Cross Country Team Champions
By: Kevin Brandon (03/05/19)
Nick, thanks for taking time to speak with us. Could you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you end up in Philadelphia and running with PRTC?
I ended up in Philly after high school to go to Penn to study physics and run track & field and cross country. Spent the best four years of my life there and afterwards moved in with two guys currently on the team, Alec Brand and Kieran Sutton, who basically got me back into running again.
When did you first become a runner? Did a specific event compel you to take on the sport?
Haha I like to think I've always been a runner. Grew up playing all sorts of sports from hockey, basketball, tennis, soccer, etc. The list continues, but it wasn't until around 7th grade when I broke my wrist and my school told me I couldn't play contact sports until I was fully healed. My science teacher at the time was the cross country coach and said I should come out and run for the team so I could at least stay in shape for my winter and spring sports. And the rest is history, really.
Once you began running, how did your career develop? Take us through day one to today.
Oh man where to begin. So as I said I started running in 7th grade when I was living in California. In 8th grade my family moved to Hawaii and I ran for a club team on the island along with soccer until our soccer team was disbanded and I ran full time. Hawaii doesn't typically have strong runners so I was fortunate enough to experience championship racing at a young age granted it isn't anything compared to running in the rest of the country. I unfortunately finished last my freshman year at states in the 3000 final (Yes, a final. There was a prelim for some reason in the 3k) and was lapped by a future NCAA All American. That didn't deter me, I was excited for the opportunity and set me up for success when I moved to the Washington DC area for 10th grade.
I went to high school at Lake Braddock Secondary School for my last 3 years of high school and strictly ran track and cross country while giving up on my other sports. I also had a massive growth spurt that summer and I noticed my times dropping like crazy. My coaches, other teams, and even college coaches began to notice my improvement allowing me to compete in some pretty cool places in high school. I got to travel to Stanford, Texas, and Florida for cross country races as well as the Armory and Franklin Field for track. Indoor Nationals my junior year of high school had to be my break out moment. I ran the 2 mile and ran a massive PR. I started hearing from various colleges, including Penn. After my time in high school I ultimately decided to continue my running career at the University of Pennsylvania.
The summer before coming to Penn for freshman year I actually called Coach Dolan to tell him I didn't want to run anymore and that I was done with the sport altogether. He managed to convince me to give it a try and if I wasn't happy at the end of the season he'd let me walk. What a mistake that would have been. If I thought my high school racing experiences were cool my collegiate ones blew those out of the water. I got to compete all over the country and even in England against Oxford and Cambridge. I competed at the most historic track and field meets in the country with Penn Relays and the Heps. For those of you that don't know, the Heps is the Ivy League's conference championships. I'm very happy with everything I was able to accomplish as a student athlete at Penn and I wouldn't have given it up for the world.
My collegiate career came to a bittersweet end at the NCAA East Regional meet when I came down with an illness just before racing the steeple. I still managed to run a respectable time but didn't make it to the final unfortunately. It was really difficult for me to run after that and honestly it still is. I lost that outlet of competing I craved and really that drive to be the best. Thankfully I was able to meet some amazing people at Philadelphia Runner and PRTC and I feel like I am slowly but surely turning my running career back around.
Today I'm still getting through some aches and pains but know my best racing days are far from over.
What is a favorite running accomplishment or moment?
All-time favorite running moment? Wow that one is tough. There are so many to choose from and each has a special meaning to me. But if I had to pick one it would have to be winning the 4xmile at Penn Relays in 2016 with fellow PRTC member, Chris Hatler, and two of the best teammates I ever had, Keaton Naff and Thomas Awad. I will never forget the rush and adrenaline of racing in front of 50,000 people and doing that victory lap seeing not just my college teammates but even my high school was there to see it too. A close 2nd was when Penn won its first cross country championship in over 40 years back in 2016. I've never, not once, cried after a race but I sure has hell did after that one. I finally felt like all our collective hard work paid off for something so huge.
How about a not-so-great moment?
My least favorite running moment was crossing the line at the 2017 NCAA East Regional and realizing my career was over. It hit me almost immediately. I was devastated. I felt like I had so much more in me, so much more to prove and I wouldn't get the chance to do so. It has taken me a long, long time to overcome that moment and I still have my bad days when I run about a mile before I break down and stop.
Regarding your running future, what are your near and long-term goals?
So near term plans for running. Haven't told anyone this yet but I'm scheduled to run a 10k down in Richmond in April for my first race back post-marathon. Depending how that goes it's all up in the air from there. Long-term I know I have one more good steeple in me and before I hang the spikes up for good (again), I want to give one more honest go at it. Also I am sick and tired to losing to that punk Alec Brand every single time. That needs to change. (Love you, Sweetums)
Do you have a preferred pre and/or post-race meal?
My roommates know that if I don't say a steak and full box of mac and cheese I'd be lying. It honestly doesn't matter what I eat the day before a race. I try not to think too much about it. In college we would always go to Allegro's in West Philly for half off pasta dishes the week of a meet but I did that for the cost-effectiveness and the camaraderie.
Post race again steak and mac and cheese haha I love that meal. Substitute the mac and cheese for some mashed potatoes and that's the perfect meal right there. Oh and throw in a couple beers too because what is better for recovery than some nice cold brews?
We're all eagerly awaiting a rematch between you and Breandan after last year's marathon. Care to share any news on this front?
Oh yes I have big news. Boston 2020 will be our official rematch. For those of you that don't know, Breandan and I bet that the loser of the Philly marathon would have to eat 15 moonshine-infused maraschino cherries from Locust Rendezvous. I like to think that I lost due to inexperience but it was definitely lack of preparation. I had no idea what I was doing. I would literally run a few times a week and mainly do long runs leading up to the marathon so the fact that boss man over here beat me by a measly 5 minutes, he best be scared come April 2020. And we've upped the stakes on this one. Loser has to retake the SAT so I cannot wait for those test results to come back for Breandan and tell him he's illiterate.
Has working at Philadelphia Runner changed how you view running in any way?
Absolutely Philadelphia Runner has changed my view on running. I have only seen and experienced the high intensity and competitive side of running. Everyone who comes into the store has their own unique view on running and honestly I see more passion and genuine happiness in running from the people that come to our Thursday group runs than I did from my high school and college teammates, myself included. Philly Runner and PRTC are the reason I even ran the marathon in the first place and this whole community is the reason why I finished.
Any non-running related hobbies, hidden skills or talents we may enjoy hearing about?
If you follow Philly Runner's Instagram you may catch scenes of me juggling shoes or various objects. I like to think of myself as an amateur juggler. I also live and breathe sports. Rip the Los Angeles Rams, I haven't felt more defeated watching sports than watching them lose in the Super Bowl. My roommates in college and now can tell you how obsessed I am with sports. In the next month I'll be going to a baseball game, basketball game, and a NASCAR race so yeah I'd say I am an avid sports fan. I also like to think I'm a good handy man. I've fixed a lot of things in our dumpster of a post grad frat house, granted I'm usually the person that breaks those things in the first place. I.e. Alec Brand's bedroom door.