No pain…

Triathlon scores big with Alcoa couple

Brooke lit him up in the marathon.

Monday, Brian Nix exacted a small measure of revenge on his wife of seven years.

Nix came home in 1 hour, 8 minutes and 19 seconds at the Foothills Sprint Triathlon on Memorial Day at John Sevier Pool. Brooke followed her husband to the line in 1:11:57. Both were excellent times, considering Brooke was in only her second triathlon, Brian his first.

Nick Waninger of Santa Claus, Ind., covered the 350-meter swim, 11.2-mile bike ride and 2.6-mile run in an overall winning time of 47:56, with Kelsey Williamson of Maryville winning the women’s event in 58:23.

Brooke, an avid runner, was happy with her time, Brian’s strong finish withstanding.

“I beat him in the marathon, but he beat me (Monday),” she said.

The triathlon, Brian said, is more his speed.

“I’m not fast anymore, if I ever was, but it gives me a way to compete,” he said.

Brian and Brooke are just the type of venturesome, extreme-sport athletes most attracted to triathlons.

Both graduates of Maryville College, where Brooke played volleyball, Brian football, they moved to Colorado shortly after their 2001 wedding. Brian, now an assistant football coach at Alcoa High School, scored tickets to a Denver Broncos game one weekend while there. Brooke suggested a vigorous hike instead - to the summit of a nearby 14,000-foot mountain.

“I have these ideas,” she said, “and he kind of takes them and runs with them.”

The stakes escalated in a big way in record time. On a trip to Africa one summer, they climbed to the summit of 15,000-foot Mount Kilimanjaro. A year later, they found themselves at base camp on Mount Everest, reaching 18,800 feet before turning back.

“Everest (29,029 feet) is still another 10,000 feet higher,” Brooke said. “It was the most beautiful view ever.”

The road to Monday’s triathlon grew out of Brooke’s love of running and Brian’s knack for preparation.

“It gives me a reason to train,” he said. “Football is a sport where you do more training than you do playing. I’m on kids all the time to push themselves. If didn’t do something, I’d be a hypocrite.”

Last fall, Brooke entered her first triathlon, the Springbrook Sprint. Almost immediately, the couple began preparation for the Foothills’ event.

“There weren’t many in my group (at Springbrook), but I got fourth,” Brooke said. “It was just something so I could push myself.

“There’s nothing like getting off that bicycle and running. Your legs feel like Jell-O.”

The variety in training is the appeal of triathlons, Brian said.

“The nice thing about the tri is you bike for two or three days a week; you swim three days; you run for two days,” he said.

Proof of the couple’s just-do-it mentally when it comes to challenges, Brooke and Brian went largely with the equipment on hand for the Foothills triathlon. Brian did the bike leg of the event on a mountain bike. It wasn’t the bike that pushed him above the hour mark, though.

The couple lives within a few blocks of John Sevier. Brian trains on the ¼-mile finishing hill on a regular basis. When the race reached that point, with a friend and rival in tow, he went for broke.

“I said, ‘I know I can keep this pace up until I get to my house,’” Brian said. “I kicked it in, and he kicked it in, too. I was in some pain on that one, boy.”

Monday’s foray has the couple looking to take things to the next level. Their plans are to enter a half-Ironman triathlon this summer, a sobering test encompassing a 1.25-mile swim, 55-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run. If accomplished, Brian said he’ll take a run at the sport’s summit.

“If I could get the swimming down, I’d like to (attempt a full Ironman),” he said. “I’m going to do a half this summer. If I can do that, I’d like to go for an Ironman.”

Brooke’s stepping it up, too. Brian opened a lead on his wife during the bike leg on Monday, with Brooke unable to make up the deficit during the run.

Tuesday, Brooke went shopping for new bike.

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