RaceMill Collegiate: Nikki Peirtsegaele of UC Davis

Hometown: Lompoc, CA

University of California, Davis

Sport: Triathlon

RM:  How did you find your sport of choice?

NP:  As ironic as it is, I have a history of hating two of the three sports that are within triathlon. When I was young, my parents had two tandems that they they would strap us on the back to and sign us up for half centuries. I always despised Sundays, when we would go out to ride (because soccer was on Saturdays), but once on the back of the bike my sister and I would sing and laugh and talk to the horses and cows that we passed during the rides. I also had the very "aerodynamic" obsession back then, where now aerohelmets and time trial bikes are all the rage, back then I would try to find the most aerodynamic dress that I could wear over my cycling shorts. This is similar to my experience with mountain biking, however I learned that you can't wear dresses while mountain biking the hard way, as dresses tend to get stuck on bushes and trees.

Getting me to swim was yet another extremely difficult task for my dear parents. They had always said, "if you fall off the boat I need to be able to swim to shore, and once you can prove this to us you can stop swimming." However, instead of learning how to swim at practice, I learned (and mastered) the art of looking as pathetic and cold as possible and was rewarded by being able to sit out while everyone else had to learn how to sit in the cold pool. This was until my mom found out... and it ended up that I stayed in swimming for more years than I banked on. But I always swore that the day I was allowed to stop I would never set foot on a pool deck again.

It's pretty funny how all the things you swear to when you are younger never really work out. Boys used to be gross and had cooties but now everyone either is in a relationship or getting married, you swore to yourself you wouldn't eat that extra cookie before race day, but of course you did... I swore that I would never get back on a bike (not that I ever had the chance to stop) but now it's my best and favorite leg in triathlon, and I also promised myself that I would never EVER swim again, but I ended up swimming and playing waterpolo all throughout high school and find myself in the pool around three to four times a week now in college.

So, my answer to this question is not really how I found this sport but rather how it found me. I have a background in all three legs (my mother and I used to run half marathons together when I was in middle school and high school), and it seemed silly not to try triathlon. My sister, Elke Peirtsegaele, left for college when I was a senior in high school and joined the triathlon team at UCSB. Seeing all of her photos and hearing her stories, it seemed only natural to go into the same sport and compete against each other at all the races.

What drives your competitiveness?

This is definitely an interesting question. When I was younger, I was incredibly competitive. Now? Well, it has faded quite a bit. When I am out on the swim course, all I can think about is getting out of the water and onto where I feel the most confident and powerful, the bike. I tend to try to swim all by myself during the race, because even with water polo experience I despise when girls constantly pull, hit, or claw me during a triathlon. How much faster is it really making them? So instead of getting frustrated, I swim all by my lonesome, far away from the pack.

The bike is where I am fueled to do my best. I guess it can be labeled as a "competitive drive" to pass as many people as possible but mostly I just love the feeling of going fast. When I was younger I was the slowest cyclist in my family. This meant that I would be left behind whenever we had a climb and to be honest it freaked me out. I knew that they would eventually wait for me but I had panic attacks being by myself. As pathetic as it sounds, it definitely benefited me in the long run because I learned to fly down descents. I'm not sure when it started, but at one point there was definitely an epiphany on how to ride a bike and how to do so quickly.

RM:  Athlete that inspires you? Why?

NP:  No particular athlete inspires me. One of my pet peeves are when people consistently name drop big names, but in reality the only thing they know about the athlete include the latest gossip about them and their statistics. They don't know the individual's personality or what they like to do in their free time. The athletes that inspire me are all the athletes that surround me on a day to day basis. The ones that go to practice even if they have a midterm the next day or the ones that push extra hard even when they are feeling incredibly down. This inspires me the most because I know what they are personally struggling to get through and it provides a motivational factor to keep pushing, myself.

RM:  How many years have you been competing?

NP:  This will be my fourth year competing for UC Davis.

RM:  Group Training or do you prefer solitude? why?

NP:  Group training! It is still difficult to motivate myself to swim hard when I'm by myself, so I prefer swimming with others. I most definitely prefer to ride with my guys because they push the pace so much and it strengthens my skills set to ride with those who are superior in it than I am. As for running, I tend to prefer running either by myself or with my roommate, Stacy LaBounty. Running is a time for me to think, but its also a great time to get inside knowledge from my roommate as well. She has been my rock to keep me grounded this year and I don't know what I would have done without her.

RM:  Best result so far?

NP:  Our regionals race, MTS. 1:29:20.

RM:  What are you working on right now?

NP:  Nationals.

RM:  What are you training for now?

NP:  Nationals 2015 and Wildflower long course.

Training Tracks:

Tubthumping by Chumbawamba  (the song "I get back down, but I get up again!")

Love runs out by One Republic

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