I remember people by a collection of poignant memories, a handful of individual moments that collectively illustrate their whole. The tapestry of memories woven together to form Ashley Nichols includes reimagined Disney tales fireside at the 2017 Northwest Women’s Retreat and strategizing with teammates at the start line of the 2018 Sudden Valley XC meet. The most defining moment, however, took place on the lake trail at Moran State Park. Likely somewhere within her umpteenth mile, Ashley came charging around a bend in the trail, with the fierceness of a warrior charging into battle. It is this fierceness--this outward expression of her fathomless internal grit--that is the Ashley forever etched into my memory.
Ashley joined Club Northwest in 2014, after college, although she has run as a part of a team since elementary school. Her foray into racing began with Beat the Bridge’s Diaper Derby, and she has returned many times over to compete in the event’s 8k road race. As Coach Tom predicted, Ashley had an immediate impact running her first race donning Club’s signature orange singlet at the USATF Club Track and Field 10k. Since then, Ashley has been a staple of Club Northwest’s open women’s cross country team, where she contributed to the team’s 8th place finish at last year’s highly competitive USATF Club Cross Country National Championships.
A warrior on the trails and fiercely dedicated teammate on the XC course, Ashley and her tenacious grit have now conquered not one but two sub three-hour marathons. She made her marathon debut in Duluth, Minnesota, at the 2018 Grandma’s Marathon. In preparation for the Boston marathon, her second marathon, Ashley says she unintentionally slept less, intentionally ran most of her long runs as workouts, and tapered more. When asked how she prepared for the inclement weather forecasted for the 2019 Boston Marathon, Ashley replied, “I didn’t.” She remarked post-Boston that the downhills were painful, and she dealt with dehydration and sunburn. “I had to drink a lot more water- I'd take water on the right then go to the left side.” After running most of Grandma’s alone, Ashley enjoyed having people to run with at Boston. In line with her tough-as-nails mentality and not one to take the easy road, she would consider running Boston again because it presented a challenge.
Not only, though, is Ashley Nichols an accomplished runner. Every Tuesday night, one can find her supporting other runners on the Roosevelt High School track as one of two Club Northwest athletes who coach the weekly track workout open to the community. Tuesday nights aren’t Ashley’s first coaching experience. She started coaching at the high school level in 2014 at Inglemoor High School, where she coached for three years. In 2018, she started helping CNW’s Spencer Walsh on Tuesdays, and the group has blossomed into a steady group of 16-20 runners, many of whom participated in the recent Top Pot 5k. Ashley’s dedication to Tuesday nights speaks to her selfless contribution to Club Northwest as a whole. She gives her time as a committee member and brings her grit to each race at which she toes the line.
A mere week after Boston, Ashley’s training for the Chicago Marathon commenced. She’s looking forward to the flat, fast course Chicago boasts, and, if not still experiencing soreness from Boston, plans to race the upcoming hometown favorite Beat the Bridge. Ashley will continue to collaborate with Coach Spencer to facilitate Tuesday Night Track Workouts, which take place every Tuesday evening, at 6:30pm, on the Roosevelt High School Track. If you’re looking to spark your momentum to get on the track or give your current routine that extra kick, join Coach Ashley for a workout. Her gritty enthusiasm for running is definitely infectious and will undoubtedly catapult you towards that next PR!
By Julia “Jules” Reade