My name is Jesika Johnson. I am a former swimmer turned triathlete. Many people know me as the better half to Nick Johnson. Although I have not raced a full season of triathlon since 2015, due to surgery, pregnancy and postpartum, I am excited to return to the sport this season with full force.
Why I Tri? It is a simple question, but when you actually start to think about why you really do something and then have to put it into words it becomes a bit more complicated. The simple answer to this question is that I love the lifestyle this sport provides not only myself, but also my family. The more complicated answer can be found in the question and answers below.
Q: When and how did triathlon or multisport become a part of your life?
A: Growing up I swam competitively and raced at the national level and in college until some injuries my freshman year of college derailed my swimming career. Once I was done swimming I turned to running and loved it. My dad always would mention how well I would do in triathlon and that I should give one a try, but I just was not interested. I loved how easy just running was and how different it was from my swimming days. Fast forward to 2013 and I started dating Nick, my now husband, and he was heavily involved in triathlon. He convinced me to give one a try in 2014 and the rest is history.
Q: What has been one of your greatest accomplishments as an athlete?
A: Prior to triathlon my greatest achievements were in swimming and competing at the national level. It is what all club swimmers strive for each and every day that they are in the pool staring at that black line for hours upon hours. In triathlon I do not think I have reached my full potential. I have only really raced two full seasons (2014 and 2015), but if I had to choose one accomplishment out of these two seasons, I would have to choose racing Lake Stevens 70.3 in 2015, my first and only 70.3 to date. As someone who struggles on the bike, the bike course at this race terrified me. Nick took me to ride the course two weeks prior to the race, so that I would be comfortable on race day and I am not afraid to admit that I cried more than a few times while out on the course that day. Those hills were no joke (3,200ft of climbing- most of it in the last half of the ride)! The day of the race I just wanted to go out and have fun. I tried not too worry too much about the bike. In the end I conquered the race and finished strong (6th in my age group). Making it thru the bike that day gave me the confidence that I needed to get thru any other bike course that I raced.
Q: What is the most challenging thing for you to do in triathlon?
A: Biking! I love the swim and run, but the bike has always been my challenge. I am starting to learn to like the bike more thanks to early morning trainer rides before the baby wakes, but I feel like my biking will always be a work in progress.
Q: What was the scariest thing you have had to do?
A: When I first ventured into triathlon, thinking about open water swimming scared me. I do not like not being able to see the bottom and having watched Ironman races on television, I had heard about the swim start being aggressive. I was not quite sure I was ready for that type of swimming. Being a pool swimmer I had never encountered this kind of aggressive swimming before, but to be honest I have not experienced this type of swimming in any triathlon I have entered. Maybe I have escaped this issue because I am a front pack swimmer, but I got over this fear rather quickly.
Q: What was the best advice you were ever given?
A: If you were to ask my Dad this question he would reply: "Boys are poison," but a boy is what got me into triathlon, so I think he might be wrong. In my mind, the best advice I ever received was from an old swimming coach. He always told me before a race to just go out there and have fun and that if I was having fun then the performances would follow. I truly believe that this is true in triathlon more than any other sport. You have to be able to have fun in training and races, otherwise why do it?
Q: Where do you draw your inspiration?
A: Watching my husband chase his dream of qualifying for Kona and then getting to see him race in Kona this past October was super inspiring. It really got my triathlon wheels turning, especially after having our first baby, Mae, in September 2017. Knowing that she is watching not only my hard work and dedication, but also Nick's only inspires me more to be a great role model for her. Who knows, maybe one day Mae will choose to follow Nick and I's footsteps and be involved in triathlon as well. 😊
This is Why I Tri!
Raise the Bar
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