This month's featured athlete of the month Nic Cumings is like many triathletes- balancing work and family with the demands of training for triathlons when he can. The former Marine is married with three kids and has the physically and mentally demanding job of being a firefighter in Denver. He exemplifies the type of commitment and attitude that D3 Multisport is all about. He's pushed himself to achieve his best while still staying focused on what's most important to him.
Cumings started in the sport at the early age of 12 doing a sprint triathlon. However, he raced very little over the years, accumulating about 25 races under his belt so far. He started IRONMAN racing in 2014 at IRONMAN Boulder and has raced there every year since. He is drawn to the sport by the desire to continue pushing his limits, something that reminds him of his days in the Marine Corps.
Like many triathletes, he faces a balancing act to fit in his training on a daily basis. To fit in the training around his complex schedule takes a high level of planning, flexibility, and support from the family. "It takes lots of scheduling and getting creative with squeezing in workouts," says Cumings. "I’ll run or bike to our destination like appointments, gymnastics meets, soccer etc. Numerous times my wife Sandi brings a gallon of water and a change of clothes for a roadside shower before the event." Despite the juggling act, Cumings fits in 10 to 14 hours a week of training. In previous years he used training plans to guide his training, but this year he started working with Coach Jim Hallberg and his training has been more focused than ever. "I’ve put in less time training this year than ever before but it’s smarter training and I’m more rested," he says.
While you might assume that the stress of training could negatively effect his ability to perform on the job, Cumings sees it the other way. "Honestly, I never have been concerned about being too tired to perform at my job," he says. "If anything, it’s made me a better firefighter. I’ve been on fires at wee hours of the night for hours and kept myself going with proper nutrition so if anything I’m better because of triathlon." He even brings extra food for the rest of the crew because he knows they will eventually ask what he has.This year at IRONMAN Boulder Cumings thought he had a shot at qualifying for Kona and was ready to put it all on the line. But a course mishap saw those hopes dashed. At the 50 mile point on the bike he was fifth in the age group and in the hunt for a Kona spot. Unfortunately he was directed off course on the bike. He realized the error and got back on course, albeit well back and with his Kona chances far up the road.
While some athletes might throw in the towel, that's not what Cumings is about. "I may have said a few choice words at myself because ultimately it was my fault," he recalls. "The thought to not finish never crossed my mind. I was more concerned with being DQ’d." So he continued on and even stopped to help a fellow athlete change a tire and another put a chain back on. He also ran out of race nutrition and was cramping badly. In total, he rode 130 miles. Off the bike, he walk/jogged his was to the finish line, finishing in 11:52. He was well off his goal time, but he had a bigger goal in mind after his mishap. "I was also trying to teach my son and two girls that if you start something you finish if you're able," he said. As for Kona, Cummings isn't going to stress about what happened in Boulder and doesn't plan on chasing a spot, but he's not letting it go either. He's taking a sort of wait and see what happens approach. "I don’t want to chase a qualifying spot but I may race again this year just so this season ends on a better note," he says. He's considering IRONMAN Florida but has not put any pressure on himself. "If it happens than great, I’d rather execute a great race and know I brought my A game."
So while IRONMAN Boulder ultimately did not end as he hoped, his attitude and mental toughness made sure that something good came from all of his effort. It's that type of determination that inspires others, including his coach. "I have the utmost respect for Nic because of his mental and physical strength even at the worst of times," says Coach Jim.
No matter where he's racing or what's going on, you can be sure the Nic Cumings will be giving the race everything he has because it's who he is and how he competes.