MEMBER: Rebecca Nichols
Name: Rebecca Nichols
Hometown: Lakeville, MN
High School: Lakeville South
College: University of Minnesota / Pacific Lutheran University
Occupation: Real Estate
Half Marathon: 1:30
By: Kevin Brandon (03/10/19)
Rebecca, 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 grew up outside the Twin Cities in Minnesota, graduated from college in Tacoma, WA , and spent just over a year in the UK before I ended up in Philly in September 2015. I had just finished graduate school in London, and wanted to stay in the UK. I quickly realized how hard it would be to get a visa sponsor. Employers don’t seem to value a Masters in Environmental Studies. (Nonprofits didn't have any money to waste on the visa sponsorship process, even pre-Brexit). My brother in West Philly offered me a place to stay while I decided what to do next. I was afraid of Philly in the first few months (Philly felt grittier than anywhere I had ever lived, including Tacoma WA) so I wanted to find a group to run with. That group was the Fishtown Beer Runners for a while, but I realized I would rather find a group that challenged me to run faster instead drinking more. I still love Beer Runners, but decided to take a break and try out PRTC last summer instead. It only took me 7 months to show up again and join!
When did you first become a runner? Did a specific event compel you to take on the sport?
In 8th grade track my dad bribed me by promising to buy me The OC soundtrack if I ran the mile in a meet. My dad is a runner and was pretty invested in trying to turn me into one too, while trying not to be too pushy. Bribes felt like the right choice for him I guess, and even after I continued distance running in high school, he had a couple more. I was obsessed with tattoos as a teenager, so my sophomore year he said that if the tattoo was running related, I qualified for state, and could find a tattoo parlor in Minnesota that would illegally tattoo a 15 year old with parent permission, then he would be ok with it. He was convinced that as long as it was a running related tattoo I'd never outgrow it. The next year, for a second tattoo, he changed the terms to make it more challenging. After the second tattoo my mom made us put an end to the tattoo-bribe situation. FYI, I do not think this is great parenting, but it did work! Now I have no choice but to continue to run because if I stopped then these damn cross country and track tattoos that I got in high school would constantly remind me of my laziness.
Once you began running, how did your career develop? Take us through day one to today.
It's been all over the place since that 8th grade track season! After a great experience running cross country and track in high school I started running in college, but it was a huge mess. I broke a letter of intent with one school and walked on to Minnesota's team instead. I was actually only eligible after breaking the letter because of a loophole filing mistake the other coach made. I ended up being injured for most of my time there, not getting along with the coach, and transferring schools. After this I wanted to train on my own and try a marathon. In the years after college I wasn’t taking my running and racing very seriously. Last year I finally started taking more time to care about my speed and investing more time to my running, which led me to the PRTC!
What is a favorite running accomplishment or moment?
Nothing super special comes to mind..but more recently the Philadelphia Half last fall was really great because I finally was able to convince my husband, who swore he would never become a runner when I met him, to race! I was feeling under the weather for the month or so before the race and wasn't keeping up with my training, so though I had an incredibly uncomfortable race, I was still very happy to be within 30 seconds of my goal. He also finished faster than he (and I) thought he would, so sharing that experience of post-race pride was really nice.
How about a not-so-great moment?
Boston Marathon in 2014 was a disaster. My flight from the west coast was delayed, I had a very hearty acidic dinner at 9 pm (distant relatives were hosting me and I was too shy to reject the meal they prepared for me) and I had terrible indigestion at the start of the race, along with some jet-lag. I had heartburn along with any other GI issues you can think of. I have never been so close to dropping out of a race in my life. I only didn't because another runner whispered to me that a member of 98 Degrees was running next to us, and I knew I couldn't take the embarrassment of a former boy-band member beating me if this was true. It's possible there were other reasons I didn't drop out, but that one is the most important.
Regarding your running future, what are your near and long-term goals?
I would love to qualify for the New York City Marathon this year! I would also like to have a better experience at Boston next month.
Preferred pre and post-race meals?
Post-race definitely pizza and beer! Pre-race I'm still figuring out what works best, but my meal the night before has to be at a time that a Midwestern grandmother would approve. 5 o clock sharp!
Can you share with us what you're currently up to professionally?
I work with my husband's family business, which does real estate development, sales, and property management. Professionally/personally, we’re just in the home stretch of renovating a house for ourselves in South Philly. Even with our other development experience it has been way more work then we thought it would be. I also recently started coaching middle school track at Friends Central School.
What inspired you to pursue this field?
I'll honestly say that its a combination of getting burnt out from working in non-profits, and the huge appeal of the flexibility in working in the family business. I'm pumped that this has allowed me the time to start coaching!
Any non-running related hobbies, hidden skills or talents we may enjoy hearing about?
Traveling, hiking with my dog, attempting to brew my own beer (I've finally made something drinkable if not enjoyable), and baking.