Leslie Nikkel

September Featured Runner

Leslie Nikkel
Age: 46
Job: Bookkeeper
Mantra: distract yourself
Hobbies: Reading, fishing, x-country skiing, playing cards
Meet Leslie!
Like many moms, Leslie started running after the birth of her son to try and carve out some ‘me time’ in her life. The physical and mental benefits from getting out and hitting the road were undeniable and she found herself seeking out events that might allow her to explore the challenge more thoroughly. She found the 60km two day walk for breast cancer and was hooked. Not only was the cause near and dear to her heart but she started to realize that running was about so much more than the sport itself. It was the community.

Leslie has tackled pretty much every conceivable distance. The commonality between every distance, every landmark race are the friendships formed through the shared miles. It’s a common theme when you to talk to runners; the community, the people are what keep you coming back to a sport that if we’re all honest, can have some pretty low moments. Those low moments are what have helped turn Leslie into strong, resilient, determined runner.

Leslie has been running since 2009 and the growth in her over the years is unmistakable. From a timid, shy, quiet, self-conscious woman who felt she really didn’t quite belong and fit in, to a strong fierce warrior who this year decided to step far outside her personal comfort zone and take on a new challenge. No it wasn’t a fancy impressive new distance, she already has a bunch of those. It was to give back even more to the community.

Leslie found herself leading a transition to trail clinic put on by the local MEC. She found herself designing routes, plans, distances, curriculum and best of all working with new runners. Some new to running, some just new to trails but to those who’d joined her clinic it was clear that she had found her calling, mentoring and leading.

It didn’t take too long before Leslie was able to add another feather to her cap, in August she found herself stepping into the role of Race Director for Race #2 of the MEC series. Yet again Leslie proved she was not afraid to face a new challenge head on. She designed a new race course that received great reviews, handed out high fives, cheered on runners as they pushed new personal limits.

When one decides to step outside their comfort zone the initial response is usually fear. What if I don’t make it, what it I screw up? What if I *gasp* DNF? What will others think of me? Leslie is living proof that if you decide to take a giant leap the rewards that can come your way, the growth and changes you experience at a personal level are profound and always worth the risk. Has she had a hiccup or two along the way? Sure, but find a runner that hasn’t. Its how you deal with those hiccups, how you take those less than stellar moments and make them work for you that matter.

If you ask Leslie what bit of advice she would pass along to a new runner just contemplating starting their journey, she had two bits of wisdom. The first was the ever wise adage “Fake it til you make it”. When running gets tough, don’t focus on the negative, plaster a smile on your face and fake it until you yourself actually start to believe you really are having the best time of your life. Negative self-talk is something that many runner are good at, but by giving it real estate you’re self-sabotaging everything you’ve worked for. So plaster a smile on your face and pass out a few high fives, you might be surprised just how much that changes your mood.

The second was simple; Running is fun! ; A phrase that many of us in the running community are familiar with, and to each one it resonates differently. For Leslie it reminds her that running is SUPPOSED to be fun. It’s not always about PB’s and numbers and stats designed to impress. It’s also about the fun that can be had, the laughs, the memories that we make along the way. Trophies and medals are great, but in the end they’re just things; things that will end up tucked into a drawer or hanging on a hanger in a closet. The memories and friendships that are formed along the way will last a lifetime and add so much more to your life. So while you’re out there working hard towards whatever goal, don’t forget to enjoy yourself, Running isn’t a job for most of us, it’s a hobby, an excuse to get out with friends, go for coffee and to truly celebrate on all fronts what running can bring into your life.