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Meet the Athlete: Nolan Zimmer

Name:  Nolan Zimmer

Age:  24

Hometown:  Kearney, NE

Current residence:  Omaha, NE

Occupation/Degree you are working towards: Special Education Teacher for Millard Public Schools (Cody Elementary)

Recently got accepted into UNK for my MAE in Special Education starting this summer

High School:  Kearney High School

College (major/minor):  Northwest Missouri State University (Maryville, MO)    

What is your running background?   I made the decision to starting training seriously during the summer of 2009, going into my sophomore year of high school, and first ever season of XC.  Surprised the shit out of myself and my family in high school and realized this is what I was born to do. Got a scholarship to run at Northwest Missouri State, took it, and the rest is history.  Many of incredible moments and relationships along the way!

Favorite distance to run?  I love racing the 5k and 10k on the roads, but I’m really beginning to fall in love with the half-marathon.  I’m only 5 in, but I’ve learned a lot with each one. As far as training mileage, I love a solid 15-17 mile long run with my brothers of the grind.  

I can’t run without…?  A really good poop beforehand and tying my shoes!  

Do you do anything to stay injury free?  Hydrating with plenty of beer!  Kidding! But not really! I’ve been quite fortunate to avoid injury in my career, but I honestly think it’s a testament to consistency, taking recovery seriously, and just being a human being outside of running.  Laugh often and love others!

Do you have a favorite movie/athlete?  Favorite movies that come to mind include:  The Prestige, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Wedding Crashers, and Prisoners (with Hugh Jackman and is seriously such an underrated movie).  Anything Christopher Nolan is a masterpiece!

As far as runners go, my favorite ones include Emil Zatopek and Bill Rodgers.  Both of their books are awesome reads! I thoroughly enjoy following the various American distance groups, including Bowerman TC, Tinman Elite, NJNY TC, and NAZ Elite.  

Outside of running, I loved Brett Favre growing up.  Dude was an absolute grinder, and when Aaron Rodgers replaced him, I immediately found my new favorite athlete.  

What is your favorite race you have competed in the past?  Definitely the two Club XC Championships(Lexington, KY and Spokane, WA), Shamrock Shuffle, and Grandma’s Half-Marathon

What is your number one bucket list race you would like to do in the future?  I previously mentioned those four major marathons way down the road:  New York, Boston, Chicago, and Berlin

Do you have any advice to other runners?  Be consistent, not only with your training, but with your character!  Former 10k American record holder Chris Solinsky once said, “Consistency is key!”  Embrace the suffering every damn day of your life. This lifestyle we lead is not glamorous or for the feint of heart.  We aren’t the damn Kardashians out here! This is real life and we were meant to push our bodies to limits we didn’t even know existed.  Take your easy days easy, grind when you need to grind, and enjoy every moment with teammates and training partners. This whole life is so fragile!  

What are your PRs?   

PR’s: Mile – 4:18 (indoor)

Mile – 4:30 (road)

3k – 8:28 (indoor)

5k – 14:31

8k – 24:24 (Chile Pepper Festival)

8k road – 24:46 (Chicago Shamrock Shuffle)

10k – 30:49

Half-marathon – 1:07:13 (Good Life Halfsy)

How long have you been an LRC-Nebraska member?:  A little over 2 years now.  I joined the team in January of 2017 when I moved to Omaha for student teaching.  Logan Watley was the first person I ran with in Omaha, and I’ll always remember our first run together on the West Papio Trail, because he brought his phone with him, in case he got a call about his wife going into labor.

What excites you the most about being an LRC-Nebraska athlete?  Friendship.  Family. Culture.  I really believe that those three words sum up where our team currently resides, and is heading.  When I joined the team, it was a huge adjustment because I had just come from a very tightly knit brotherhood in college, and all of a sudden, I was training every day by myself, with the occasional long run with a few guys.  I feel truly inspired by so many people on our team, because none of us are being told that we have to do this running thing. We are all true warriors, with varying passions, personalities, and quirks, and I have loved every minute of being a part of this squad.  We have recently added some awesome women and men, of all ages and backgrounds, and we are truly only heading in one direction, and that’s up! I believe we will take running to heights it has never been in the state of Nebraska.

What does a typical training week look like for you?  Walk us through your daily routine (training related and otherwise):  Lots of early, dark, lonely runs and lots of coffee!

Typically, I wake up about 5:10 a.m. on week days, get a small cup of coffee and a granola bar in me, and get out the door about 5:45 – 5:50 a.m.  If it is a higher mileage week I will try and double on my really easy days (Monday and Thursdays). Easy 8 miles in the A.M. and easy 5 miles in the P.M.  Either Tuesday or Wednesday is a hard tempo effort or Fartlek workout, and the other day is simply mileage, by feel. Thursday, as mentioned, is usually a recovery day and Fridays I will sometimes open up on my mileage run a little bit if I’m feeling good.  Saturdays will usually be 10 miles and either tempo or Fartlek, usually the opposite of whichever one I did on Tuesday. I recently got a roll-out stick, that I honestly do not use enough. Simply put, that son of a bitch makes me cry some days, but I usually try and use it on Saturdays to feel a little better before long runs on Sundays.  Long runs recently have been 15-17 miles. Weekly mileage ranges from 65-80. I just raced two 5k’s two Fridays in a row, so this week has been mileage and recovery. I’m hoping to get back to 80 mile weeks soon, before we head to Chicago at the end of March.

We all approach training and racing differently, so tell us what your short-term and long-term goals are with running:  When I think short-term, I think within the calendar year, so in 2019 I would like primarily keep training healthy.  I have been very fortunate (knock on wood) in my running career to stay injury free, but I truly believe that is a testament to consistency, and not taking too much time off.  I think that’s when people can get sometimes get injured, when they come back too hard, after a break. I would say that one of my biggest personal goals for the year is to finally dip under 1:07:00 in the half-marathon, if not under 1:06:30.  I’d like to put the pedal to the metal in Chicago next month too! I think it would be fun to get within the top 60 or 70 at Club XC this year too!

In the long term, similar to short term, stay healthy and happy with running.  Although I’m training more by myself than ever, I’m probably having more fun with the sport, because the lonely runs make the group long runs and races feel so much more fun!  I would like to be a part of future teams that put Nebraska distance running on the map, whether it be at races like Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago, or Club XC Nationals. When I do finally make the jump to the marathon, I just want to compete my ass off, while being smart with training, and learning from every race and training segment.  New York, Boston, Chicago, and Berlin are all major marathons that are on my radar for the future.

Where are your 3 favorite places to do long runs at the moment?   -Wabash in Council Bluffs.  You catch that baby on a sunny spring, summer, or fall morning, and man it’s a beautiful place to run.

-Gravel roads from Da’s apartment.  Da stands for my lovely girlfriend Miranda, who lives close to some very hilly, quiet gravel roads near Gretna and the interstate.  We like doing these roads as a mental and physical challenge, simply because of the terrain and vulnerability to the elements.

-South and West Gretna gravel roads from Kenny G’s.  We often will meet at Grundmayer’s in Gretna and drive a few minutes out of town.  These routes are a little flatter than the ones south of the interstate. I love when we head down towards the Holy Family Shrine and jump onto Fishery Road.  Man, that road is just made for people to log miles on! Basically, any gravel road between Gretna and the Platte River have a special place in my heart.

After a solid race or long run, what is your favorite meal to demolish and replenish those calories?  Please use details and give recommendations!  You simply cannot go wrong with Village Inn, especially a big helping of biscuits & gravy, scrambled eggs, hash browns, toast, and coffee.  Just recently, after the Frank Sevigne 5k, a group of us guys, including our significant others, met at the Village Inn on 27th Street in Lincoln at about 10:30 p.m. to, not only demolish great food, but enjoy the fellowship and share stories and laughs.  These are some of my favorite moments in the sport. Rewarding the grind, and doing so with the people that I love.

Other locations that I love include Amato’s Café (by Aksarben in Omaha) and Virginia’s in Lincoln.  I have also been known to smash a Caniac Combo from Raising Canes with ease. There is a slew of great Mexican restaurants, and I love a good, big burrito, loaded with queso, and washing it all down with a couple of beers.  I am a huge beer guy. Favorites include anything Bouldevard, New Belgium, and Sam Adams. Sometimes after a good run, I’ll keep it simple and grab a couple slices of pizza from Casey’s and a couple chocolate milks and just splurge!  Ask Olson on that one. That Casey’s in the Bottoms was our weekend routine there for a while.

Share a crazy training or racing story, or simply an interesting moment in time:  Dude, this question could honestly be its own damn podcast.  This is probably the hardest one to answer, but here we go:

Often times in high school, Olson would get bloody noses in the middle of runs, so when we would get back to school we would tell Coach Mathiesen that we got in a fight, or met the Kearney Catholic guys on the trail, and things got dicey.  His expression alone was enough to remember.

Another high school moment that left an imprint was changing a 60+ year old woman’s tire for her in the middle of a February run.  Here is this poor lady, stranded on the side of the road, and all of a sudden a group of 5 or 6 scrawny idiots come barreling down the road.  We made it a group effort in regards to taking off the flat, using the jack, and putting on the spare. She insisted on getting our names and we kept saying that wasn’t necessary, but we finally caved and gave her the names.  Her son ended up writing into the Kearney Hub and we were recognized for our good deed, which is ironic, because moments later one of us probably threw a snowball at a moving car. But I digress.

Damn, I’ll do one more (I know I’m getting winded).  This is a very recent one. Just a few weeks ago we were doing our long run on the roads west of Gretna.  Our brother of the grind, John Cleary, got the “call of nature” that every serious runner is all too familiar with.  John shoots into a ditch, behind a tree, and tells us to keep going and he’ll catch up. There just so happened to be a house right across the road from where John was, but I believe he thought the tree was hiding him.  All of a sudden we hear a voice coming from the house, “Not a port-o-potty dumbass!” John shoots out of the ditch like a damn pheasant and sprints back up to our group. Meanwhile, we’re all laughing like hyenas.

What book are you currently reading or Podcast are you listening to?   I just finished my second book of 2019 last night.  It was “The Sports Gene” by David Epstein and it was fantastic!  It offers a unique perspective of what being an athlete truly entails, but also offers a glimpse into our history as human beings, and what we’re capable of achieving.  Before that I read “12 Rules for Life” by Jordan B. Peterson and that was truly eye opening. I love what this renowned clinical psychologist has to say about suffering.  Humbling read and keeps you grounded. Next, I plan on starting Scott Fauble’s “Inside a Marathon.”

There are so many awesome podcasts out there, but my go-to’s are Joe Rogan, Pat McAfee Show, Bill Burr, Tony Kornheiser, and Your Mom’s House with Tom Segura and his wife Christina Pazsitzky.

You’re the star of a running movie, and the opening scene is you running on a winding dirt road, with a beautiful sunrise.  What song is playing in the background? “Eminence Front” by The Who.  This song has one of the sickest intros, and I’m not sure how it hasn’t been used in more television shows and movies.  Always gives me goosebumps.

Honorable Mentions include:

“I am the Highway” by Audioslave (Chris Cornell’s voice is one of the greatest of all time.  R.I.P.)

“Crossing a Line” by Mike Shinoda

“All Apologies” by Nirvana

“These Days” by Foo Fighters

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