Today’s episode will be a little different from usual because my guest is an avid cyclist, though running is very much a part of his past.
Not sure I’ve ever had an ex-runner on the show before, but there’s a first time for everything!
It’s my pleasure to welcome my fellow Headsweats ambassador, Andrew Neill Nunez to the show!
Home Of A Running Legend
Andrew Neill Nunez grew up in North Bend, Oregon, also known as the home of Steve Prefontaine.
That small coastal town was immersed in the running culture.
In some ways, it was inevitable that Andrew would gravitate towards the sport.
Andrew loved running whether it was in cross country, track, or soccer.
While in high school, Andrew began to see an upward trajectory through running.
More than once he qualified for the state cross country meet in the 5k.
A Future In Running Cut Short
After some impressive performances, Andrew caught the attention of the brand La Sportiva.
La Sportiva is an Italian brand that is known for its outdoor gear.
In teaming up with them, Andrew found himself venturing onto the trails and running longer distances.
It was during his junior year of high school that Andrew felt like his life was grinding to a halt.
At a state cross country meet, he had a fluke accident, where he tripped and fell.
That fall was the end of any future he envisioned with running.
Andrew tore his ACL and hamstring which required multiple surgeries to repair.
Riding Out Of The Dark
Andrew is the type of person that can’t sit still.
As his body began to heal, Andrew attempted to run again.
Regardless of how many attempts he made, the run was always fraught with pain.
Andrew experienced some dark moments during his freshman year of college.
He was struggling with what his future would look like without running.
His uncle gifted him a road bike to help him get active again.
At the time Andrew had no idea how much that first road bike would change the course of his life.
Miserably Hard and He Was Hooked
Andrew started out by sticking to the bike path whenever he went out.
According to Andrew, cycling has a reputation for being more elitist than running.
It was more challenging for him to get into a group of cyclists than it ever was to connect with running groups.
His first ride off the bike paths with a group was one that is forever etched in his memory.
While in college at the University of Oregon, he went out on a group ride with the cycling team.
Andrew showed up wearing jeans and only had a Gatorade and a cliff bar for fuel.
The ride encompassed about 60 miles and Andrew was working so hard to keep up that he wasn’t able to consume any calories.
He ended the day passing out with his helmet still on after having consumed whatever food was in his mini fridge.
That “miserably hard” ride had him hooked.
Finding His Potential
It took Andrew a long time before he truly figured out where his strengths with cycling were.
While on the collegiate team, he was one of the least successful cyclists and struggled to keep up.
During his days of riding with a team, they often competed in a format with various events.
Andrew found that his best event was the team time trial.
It was only after college that Andrew connected the dots as to where he would excel.
Road races are a lot more tactical whereas time trials are purer and just the cyclist against the clock.
Andrew found that he not only enjoyed the time trials more but he was also better at them.
Andrew has a deep family heritage that ties him to Chile.
His mother was born in Chile and he still has a lot of family members that live there.
He had the fortunate opportunity to get dual citizenship with Chile.
As Andrew got more into cycling he realized that Chile doesn’t have a well-developed road cycling team.
He got the idea that he might be able to represent the country in the sport he loves.
Competing in the Olympics has been a lifelong dream and goal of his.
Andrew realizes his talents won’t put him in medal contention, but just having the opportunity to compete and represent Chile would fulfill his dream.
The honor and privilege of being an Olympian is something that can never be taken away from him.
Roadmap To The Games
Andrew has his sights set on competing at the 2024 Paris games.
The qualifying process has many steps that Andrew must complete before he can represent Chile.
The system to qualify is based on points and includes various races.
First, he must compete in the National Championships and earn a title in the time trial.
Next, in order to earn enough points, Andrew must race in various international races while also placing well.
Finally, he needs to accumulate enough points to qualify for the Pan Am Games.
The road ahead is steeped with challenges to qualify, but Andrew is ready to put in the work to achieve his dream.
Not Last Podcast
Andrew is the creator and host of the Not Last Podcast.
Not last is one of the many goals he is striving for at the Olympics.
His goal in creating a podcast is to share his personal journey and pathway to qualifying for the Olympics.
The podcast also includes guests with inspiring stories that pertain to athleticism.
Most, but not all, of the topics are told through the lens of cycling.
Andrew is committed to being open and vulnerable especially when talking about mental health, something he himself struggles with.
The Road Is Not Always Smooth
Recently Andrew had an accident while riding his mountain bike.
He broke his arm and is limited on what activities he can do for 6 weeks.
This accident came just as racing is starting back up.
Andrew is anxious to get back to training and racing.
In the meantime, he is doing what he can to maintain fitness and be ready to train hard when he gets the green light.
This is not his first injury, and it certainly won’t be his last.
Andrew has suffered numerous injuries over the years which is par for the course when cycling competitively.
Aside from cycling, Andrew also does a variety of cross-training.
Variety in sport is key for both the mind and the body.
Mentioned In This Episode:
Stay connected with Andrew and follow along on his Olympic journey by following him on Instagram.
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