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Chris Nikic: 1% Better - Small Steps to Change your Life With Down Syndrome Warrior and Ironman Finisher

August 23, 2023 Carissa Galloway and John Pelkey Season 1 Episode 7
Chris Nikic: 1% Better - Small Steps to Change your Life With Down Syndrome Warrior and Ironman Finisher
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321 GO!
Chris Nikic: 1% Better - Small Steps to Change your Life With Down Syndrome Warrior and Ironman Finisher
Aug 23, 2023 Season 1 Episode 7
Carissa Galloway and John Pelkey

Get ready for an immersive, inspiring, and adrenaline-pumping journey as we bring you the incredible story of Ironman Finisher and Down Syndrome Warrior, Chris Nikic. Buckle up, because this episode promises to deliver heart-pounding tales of resilience, determination, and unwavering dedication. Chris shares his extraordinary feat of completing the grueling Ironman distance race, and the obstacles he had to overcome to get there.

Prepare to be moved as we uncover Chris Nickage's inspiring story of pushing himself 1% more each day to achieve his dream. He expresses his admiration for Ironman Triathlete Lucy Charles, his love for the Boston Marathon, and his favorite Disney character, Goofy! We also discuss the emotional roller coaster of a Disney race weekend and share invaluable tips on running Disney races. As we wrap up our conversation with Chris, remember this - the goal is indeed great, but don't forget to enjoy the journey!


Join Jeff Galloway's Challenge program for inspiration and accountability, getting in those Dopey miles!

Send us a Text Message.

Support the Show.

Let Registered Dietitian Carissa Galloway lead you through a science-backed plan to transform the way you think about your diet.
Visit www.GallowayCourse.com and use the code PODCAST at checkout for a great discount!

Become a 321 Go! Supporter. Help us continue to create! HERE

Join Customized + over a $500 discount! HERE you get-

  • 6 Months of Customized Training
  • 6 Months of Healthier U chats
  • 30-day Summer Nutrition Shake Up


Follow us! @321GoPodcast @carissa_gway @pelkman19

Email us 321GoPodcast@gmail.com

Order Carissa's New Book - Run Walk Eat

Improve sleep, boost recovery and perform at your best with PILLAR’s range of magnesium recovery supplements.
Use code 321GO at www.theFeed.com to get 15% off

Let Sara Akers with RunsOnMagic plan your next runDisney weekend!
IG @runsonmagic or you can go to www.RUNSONMAGIC.com or email her ...

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Get ready for an immersive, inspiring, and adrenaline-pumping journey as we bring you the incredible story of Ironman Finisher and Down Syndrome Warrior, Chris Nikic. Buckle up, because this episode promises to deliver heart-pounding tales of resilience, determination, and unwavering dedication. Chris shares his extraordinary feat of completing the grueling Ironman distance race, and the obstacles he had to overcome to get there.

Prepare to be moved as we uncover Chris Nickage's inspiring story of pushing himself 1% more each day to achieve his dream. He expresses his admiration for Ironman Triathlete Lucy Charles, his love for the Boston Marathon, and his favorite Disney character, Goofy! We also discuss the emotional roller coaster of a Disney race weekend and share invaluable tips on running Disney races. As we wrap up our conversation with Chris, remember this - the goal is indeed great, but don't forget to enjoy the journey!


Join Jeff Galloway's Challenge program for inspiration and accountability, getting in those Dopey miles!

Send us a Text Message.

Support the Show.

Let Registered Dietitian Carissa Galloway lead you through a science-backed plan to transform the way you think about your diet.
Visit www.GallowayCourse.com and use the code PODCAST at checkout for a great discount!

Become a 321 Go! Supporter. Help us continue to create! HERE

Join Customized + over a $500 discount! HERE you get-

  • 6 Months of Customized Training
  • 6 Months of Healthier U chats
  • 30-day Summer Nutrition Shake Up


Follow us! @321GoPodcast @carissa_gway @pelkman19

Email us 321GoPodcast@gmail.com

Order Carissa's New Book - Run Walk Eat

Improve sleep, boost recovery and perform at your best with PILLAR’s range of magnesium recovery supplements.
Use code 321GO at www.theFeed.com to get 15% off

Let Sara Akers with RunsOnMagic plan your next runDisney weekend!
IG @runsonmagic or you can go to www.RUNSONMAGIC.com or email her ...

John Pelkey:

Hello and welcome to 321 Go the Podcast. I'm John Pelkey.

Carissa Galloway:

And I'm Carissa Galloway, and we're bringing you stories from start to finish to keep the everyday athlete motivated to keep moving towards the next finish.

John Pelkey:

And we have set the bar really high today. Inspiring show with Iron man, Finisher and Down Syndrome Warrior Chris Nikic that will make you strive to want to be 1% better every day. Let's do this.

Carissa Galloway:

Awesome show today, so excited to chat with Chris, who we've seen at Run Disney. I've seen him at Iron man. Guys, welcome back to 321 Go If you are loving the podcast. First of all, thank you. Please subscribe, follow, tell your friends and tell us what you want to hear. But right now what you're going to hear is John and I chat about life a little bit.

John Pelkey:

All right, let's get started with this. You are a road warrior. If people don't know, you're always on the road. You, your husband, the lovely and talented Westin Galloway. I love you, Westin. See, I got that one out first in today's show. Now you're in Cordeleine, Idaho, for something Good job. Good to see you underneath. Thank you for something very, very. I took French in college, cordeleine. What does that mean then In Italian? What's that?

Carissa Galloway:

What does it mean?

John Pelkey:

I don't know, I didn't get that far. Is it French? I was good. Yeah, it's got it's French. All right, we'll have to Someone. Don't tell us. We'll clean this part up in post, but you and Weston were out there very, very special.

Carissa Galloway:

It was. So is a beautiful place, beautiful lake in Idaho and Westin did the Ironman 70.3, which was there last year. So that's a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike and a half marathon.

Chris Nikic:

I'm sorry.

John Pelkey:

That's what.

Carissa Galloway:

That's the half version. That's the shorter version, a 1.2 mile swim a 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run Like in a row, that's the half. That's what we did last year At Ironman. You know, at Disney we have our Disney sound techs, our Disney engineers. They put everything up. They do a great job. You and I know when you go to other races how good an announcer is depends a lot on how good our sound Basically. That's all that. How good an announcer?

John Pelkey:

is Right. If you can't be heard, you're not a good announcer.

Carissa Galloway:

Correct and if the level there's so much, that goes into it. So at Ironman they have a group called BCC, which is Boulder County Communications, that does the sound, the playlist, the videos. They're a fantastic group and they're a really awesome group of humans. They're just generally really good humans. Sometimes I mean, I'm going to say this in a nice way that doesn't Sound techs. Can you think of them as like these grumpy behind the seat? You know what I mean, john.

John Pelkey:

Yes, yes, I've been in this business for a while. These guys are not this way.

Carissa Galloway:

They strive to make somebody's day every day. Bcc is an amazing team. So last year when Westin did the half, they said we're going to do a BCC team when the full comes back to Coeur d'Alene next year. The owner of BCC, dave Downey, had never done an Ironman. There was a couple other guys. So I say, without a pause, oh, my husband will do it too. So I essentially signed him up for a full Ironman, which, john, is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and then a marathon.

John Pelkey:

I'm having issues with my earbuds here. That what?

Carissa Galloway:

So he swam almost as far as your 5K.

John Pelkey:

Okay.

Carissa Galloway:

Then biked 112 miles.

John Pelkey:

Over six or seven days. Is that how that works?

Carissa Galloway:

No, just in this little, little little time window, and then ran a marathon.

John Pelkey:

On the same day.

Carissa Galloway:

On the same day. It's an amazing feat. We'll talk more about Ironman as we go through, because I'm sort of. Ironman happens in the summer, where road races tend to happen, more in the fall, winter, for whether Ironman just doesn't care. Hot, cold. You know ZFs right, it rained on him during the bike. Some people said it hailed on them at some point.

John Pelkey:

This year's been a hail year. I don't get it.

Carissa Galloway:

There's hail everywhere I have no idea because it was a two loop bike course, but there's still 56 miles away from me. I'm like it rained. It wasn't like I was 50 miles away.

John Pelkey:

You know and again I'm joking around about the Ironman I know obviously what an Ironman and a half Ironman is. It is under the best of conditions. It is a daunting task and frankly I don't think there's ever the best of conditions to deal with. And obviously you were dealing with a little out there. Now I will say on my 5K it rained and I was sort of happy about it because it did cool it down just a little bit. So hopefully for Westin that was somewhat helpful.

Carissa Galloway:

My husband is a very laid back guy. He's a talented athlete but he's not I ain't got to win every time. I love that about him because it allows him to, in air quotes, enjoy the Ironman. So he did a great job. His swim was phenomenal. On the bike, the most important thing for me anybody who ever does an Ironman on the bike is to do it safely, because something unfortunately happens in every Ironman athlete from his team hit some rumble ramps, his bike's locked, his brakes locked, landed on a guardrail on his abdomen, had to have emergency surgery. So it's a different beast. But he got off the bike safely and then he went out and had an enjoyable or not enjoyable marathon, but he did it. He was the first member from Team BCC to finish. I got to call him an Ironman across the line. What's the goal? Three times you are Ironman. And then he qualified for the World Championships so he retired. After the race he said he retired. I'm done three Ironmans. I retired. 12 hours later he un-retired.

Carissa Galloway:

So, we could go to the men's only World Championships in Nice, france. Ironman World Championships have always been in Kona. This year they're doing a men's race and a women's race, so the women's race will be in Kona, the men's will be in Nice, france. That's the first time it's happened. We don't know if it'll happen again, but it should be a pretty cool experience and I'll just be drinking champagne on the sidelines.

John Pelkey:

Wow, I may have to come as a spectator. Our good friend Mark Ferrera recently in Nice sending pictures by the way, folks, if you're scoring at home, weston Galloway, the Tom Brady of Ironman Retirements, believe nothing you hear just going to keep coming back and honestly, I don't think he's doing it for the massive paycheck that they bring him back for, I think it's just for the competition. So well, that is. Congratulations to Weston, and what an accomplishment. And Nice, my goodness, wow. But I put on the Rolling Stones exile on Main Street later because it was recorded in the Nice area. So, all right, let's, let's move on from that. As exciting as it was. Congratulations to you for being able to announce Weston and all the great athletes across the line and, of course, congratulations for him qualifying to go to Nice. So Carissa can sip champagne on a yacht while he does an Ironman. Very nice, important for us. Dopey. Training is underway, carissa.

Carissa Galloway:

That's right. Dopey training started in the heat of the summer. If you're listening to this then you're like wait, I was supposed to start training for Dopey. Yes, yes you are. But training with Dopey kind of like training with an Ironman. Just you just got to get that time under your feet. Don't skip these early runs. To kind of get that base, even though it's hot. Jeff Galloway on his training hub, which they've got about 1,000 people now over on the brand new Jeff Galloway training hub. They have a challenge program which is designed to help you get through Dopey, with a lot of group support, support from Jeff, support from Chris Twiggs. So that's a great thing to do. But yeah, it's exciting to kind of see everybody start doing Dopey, because we get this big gap from springtime to wine and diner where we miss run Disney. I know we have some virtual shorts and fun things like that, but it's exciting to see everybody start getting back into the run Disney mode with those athletes doing Dopey.

John Pelkey:

Yeah, mainly we just see people signing up for races and letting us know what races they were able to get into. So good luck to everybody. Training for Dopey Apparently, I'll be jumping on the app and training for something as well. We'll keep that. We'll keep that for a little bit.

Carissa Galloway:

A little foreshadowing, maybe, possibly, possibly.

John Pelkey:

Not Dopey, though people Pump the brakes. We need you.

Carissa Galloway:

You literally can't, I would. I support all of your running and I'm not letting you do Dopey, because that would be Dopey, because who am I talking to then for hours on?

John Pelkey:

that's true, that's true.

Carissa Galloway:

Need you. Yeah, I can't be left alone all that time. I need to get to sleep in. That wouldn't be fair. Actually, doing Dopey, you would sleep in more than announcing.

John Pelkey:

Hold on.

Carissa Galloway:

Yeah.

John Pelkey:

Now it's looking more attractive, looking much more attractive. All right, talk to us a little about the Lake Tahoe running camp.

Carissa Galloway:

Yeah, so Jeff Galloway has had for years a running camp in Lake Tahoe. I've been to it before Nice altitude, really cool temps in the morning, beautiful places to run right around Squaw Valley, which is where the Olympics were. I've heard in the winter 1960. Yep, I knew you would know Winter Olympics. Who knew that was a thing? I'm just kidding, we're a very summer Olympic family.

John Pelkey:

I love the Winter Olympics because I can watch all of those and go. There's no way I could ever do any of that.

Carissa Galloway:

Except curling.

John Pelkey:

I do enjoy the curling, though I couldn't do it. I know I couldn't do it. Have you ever seen me on the ice, you can't squat down that far. I can get down there.

Carissa Galloway:

It's getting back up, it's going to be a little bit. I just visualized you as like you've fallen over on the curling thing and like Jody comes and is like pulling you away.

John Pelkey:

I am good at sweeping, though I mean my wife can let you know I'm fairly good at household chores. So I actually love curling. Find it very entertaining. Find it very entertaining.

Carissa Galloway:

So Squaw Valley in 60, I was not there, I was not there Beautiful area, so we're taking the whole family, the whole Kitten Kaboodle is going out to Lake Tahoe. So I'm stressed because New Time Zone, long flights, but once we get there to be beautiful, there's still snow. I guess up there I'll be doing some nutrition seminars. The kids will be listening to Jeff motivate them to get out there. I got new hiking boots, so lots to look forward to. That's my first pair of hiking boots.

John Pelkey:

Really.

Carissa Galloway:

Yeah, wow so.

John Pelkey:

I.

Chris Nikic:

Florida John.

John Pelkey:

Well, that's a good point. I said I have more of a hiking background than you do. Coming from now. You are a Virginian, but you're, you're down there on the coast near Virginia Beach area, chesapeake and stuff. You're not. You're not, yeah, you're not in the mountains. No, blue Ridge drive, stuff for you. And then, of course, my wife's from New England. So every time you go there you hike, because that's what you do when you're in.

Carissa Galloway:

I mean, if I was to write a second book because the first one's coming out, it could be like my life at sea level, that's.

John Pelkey:

I challenge you.

Chris Nikic:

Short book.

John Pelkey:

And for the audiobook I will. I will reach out to Chuck LaVell, who was the musical director for the Rolling Stones, since I always love to talk about the Stones, who had a band called Sea Level, and we will see if we can use some of their music a great jazz fusion band for for your next book. I'm going to start promoting it, since you seem to push me into doing things Chris's next book, my life at sea level. Look forward in other bookstores. Is that a thing there are? There are, I would like to see.

Carissa Galloway:

what would it be? Sea level S, e, a or sea level, the letter C?

John Pelkey:

Well, there you go. The band is sea level, s E A, but Chuck LaVell, it's a play on his name and he is sea level, so we will get to the bottom of this later.

Carissa Galloway:

We do have to move on the bottom.

John Pelkey:

It just writes itself, it just writes itself, it's going to be good.

Carissa Galloway:

I'm speaking of good before we move on to today's amazing guest. You have something good happening your birthday is coming up.

John Pelkey:

I'm not sure at my age that that's necessarily a good thing, but it is. As we are taping here, my birthday is in a couple of days. Yes, my 59th, yeah.

Carissa Galloway:

I mean because run Disney is. We've done it almost too long for me to like not say, without people really questioning how old I am. You used to talk about you were going to write a book, that was what. Like speaking of books, you used to have this joke Do you remember your joke?

John Pelkey:

Yeah, how to? How to live to 58, I believe was the name of my book.

Carissa Galloway:

Yeah, how are we doing on that?

John Pelkey:

I'm going to be 59 in a couple of days, so you know, the jury is still out, but I think I think I exceeded expectations.

Carissa Galloway:

What do you enjoy to usually do for your birthday?

John Pelkey:

Well, my birthday is the second of July, which is actually the day that we declared independence from from England. My wife's birthday is the fourth of July, which is when we celebrate the thing that happened on my birthday, or as I like to call it, mattress sale day. So we we often celebrate on the third, kind of splitting the difference. But this year, because I will be in St Petersburg for the St Pete Pier Run on the 4th of July a four mile run in St Pete at the beautiful St Pete Pier every 4th of July, I will. I will not be back home to late. I'll be gone the third and not home to late on the fourth. So we are going to celebrate on the 5th.

John Pelkey:

Normally we we go out to dinner somewhere and it's pretty low key. From time to time we meet friends. We just let people know where we're going to be if they want to come and hang out. I don't know if we're going to be able to do that this year, but you know again, 59. It's you know you don't like to think about it. I still feel emotionally 16, philosophically about 35 and physically 132. So yeah, just gonna keep it low, key it may be. I don't eat. My wife doesn't eat red meat, so for my birthday, if we don't go out to dinner, I usually get a steak and grill it up on my grill, so it'll be something like that. I actually have a rehearsal the night of my birthday, a Zoom rehearsal for a corporate gig I'm doing later, so I'm actually gonna work on my birthday. Cue the sound effect.

Carissa Galloway:

You're an adult, I mean.

John Pelkey:

I know I'm gonna be adulting, but I am looking it'll be. It's always a lot of fun to go down and do the St Pete Pier Run for the 4th of July, which is one of the two events I do down there St Pete Runfest coming up this November. More on that later on in our podcast, not today's, but you know.

Carissa Galloway:

Next year big 60, you better start planning that. That's a big deal.

John Pelkey:

Well, next year actually we have friends there are a lot of birthdays, anniversaries that are kind of the bellwether ones my 60th, my wife will be 55. Or is she 55 this year? No, she'll be 55. No, 57, I don't know how it's yeah.

Carissa Galloway:

It's sister wife.

John Pelkey:

She'll be 55.

Carissa Galloway:

Oh, she's yelling from the other room.

John Pelkey:

Yeah, so there are a lot of those. So we are actually with a lot of friends, going to Tuscany, renting a big villa in Tuscany and just hanging out for a week or 10 days or however long it is in Italy. So yeah, we are planning something for next year, but this year nice and low key. What's that?

Carissa Galloway:

I was not invited to Tuscany.

John Pelkey:

Ah well, I went this year.

Carissa Galloway:

It's fine.

John Pelkey:

It's fine. Oh well, yeah, I've been invited. In fact, if we're a look inside my life, my best friend from college calls me when I'm in Maine a couple of weeks ago and says hey, my fiance and I have decided to change our wedding, which was gonna be in Florida, later on in the year. How do you feel about coming to Tuscany in this October? And I'm like, well, guess I could scout out restaurants while I'm there. So I don't know if I'm gonna be able to make that, but I may do two times in Tuscany in one year, missy.

Carissa Galloway:

So I have some recommendations for you. We'll talk offline about that, but it's such a beautiful I mean so amazing. I love old things Like you know I love me.

Carissa Galloway:

Yes, that's why I like you. We were in this winery and we were there and it's then, you know, had that redone. It was really modern, which I don't have a lot of those Kind of the way we do wineries in America with, like the subscriptions and the membership. So this was a unique redone winery and then touching it literally was a church from 933. Yeah, I mean just it's amazing. It blows my mind Not 933 in the morning.

John Pelkey:

people 933 the year.

Carissa Galloway:

The year so.

John Pelkey:

Yeah, I know it's crazy. I have been before, I've been to Florence, I've been to Tuscany before. It's just beautiful over there. If you have a chance to go to Italy, if you have a chance to travel, travel. Can I just say that, can I just be the mantra? There's nothing better. It can be annoying, certainly airports and things can be tough to deal with, but going and seeing different places gives you a, I think, a better perspective on your own life and it's inspirational.

Carissa Galloway:

Would like to sponsor the podcast 321go with Delta.

Chris Nikic:

Yeah, we're.

Carissa Galloway:

Hi, we're saying things out loud, as we may talk about a little later on.

John Pelkey:

Any airline, please contact us and sponsor would be fine. The airline jet blue Anybody, I'll take anybody.

Carissa Galloway:

We talk about airlines a lot for a podcast. That's about running.

John Pelkey:

Will you spend about half your life on a plane? So I do.

Carissa Galloway:

My dad was a pilot, is a pilot. So I grew up, I earned it, you know. So Burn up, that's another day.

John Pelkey:

Yes.

Carissa Galloway:

Because today we have an athlete who has done more to inspire more people than anyone that I can think of in recent history in terms of an everyday athlete who did something that the whole world took notice of. Today's guest was born with Down syndrome. He had open heart surgery at five months old, one of many, many surgeries he endured. He was not able to walk until well until four years old, or even eat solid food until age five, but then he went on to be the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman. Not only that, but then he went and finished the very, very challenging course in Kona at the Ironman World Championships. He was awarded the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance as part of the 2021 SB Awards. He won the SB for Best Athlete with a Disability in Men's Sport, and now he's on a quest to run all the world marathon. Majors, john, how lucky are we to have Chris here.

John Pelkey:

I can't say it enough. We have many, many people who are inspirational the folks that we were able to talk to but Chris is inspirational and he is a pioneer. I mean his name to be the first to do anything is amazing and, given his story, it is unbelievably inspirational. We are so lucky to have him here.

Carissa Galloway:

And I'll say so.

Carissa Galloway:

Chris did his Ironman, ironman Florida in November of 2020.

Carissa Galloway:

And when I was in the World Championships, I had the honor of being able to watch him finish, the honor of being able to track him all day, and we were kind of standing on the bleachers with his family and his dad, who his dad is so amazing with how he has pushed Chris and just not let people say put a no or pushing for inclusivity.

Carissa Galloway:

We had so many people hearing the story saying COVID was a really dark time for me, as it was for all of us. Watching Chris accomplish that changed me. It reminded me that I have to keep living. It reminded me to keep going and we never know when we'll have a person like Chris come along. That just totally changes the way we think about ourselves and I think, hopefully, the way we think about people with disabilities is finding ways for it to be inclusive for them, finding ways for them to be able to achieve things that inspire them to keep going and things like that. And it's just what he did was extremely difficult and has done so much, I think, to inspire the world really.

John Pelkey:

A pioneer. Ok, civilians, it's time for the goods.

Carissa Galloway:

Let's get on to the interview. So we are so excited to welcome one of the most inspiring people that I know. He's the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman. Then he went on and finished the 2022 Ironman World Championships. He's won the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance and he all encourages all of us to want to keep pushing to be 1% better. Please welcome to the podcast, chris Nickage. Chris, how are you?

Chris Nikic:

You know, I just pray and simple having a cup of coffee.

Carissa Galloway:

And that's no better way to start your morning, right? John?

John Pelkey:

Absolutely. I'm right there with you, chris hey, listen, let's just jump right in. Your Ironman journey began in 2017 with a single push up, and you aimed to improve your performance 1% each day. Tell everybody about that.

Chris Nikic:

So it started with one person, one senior, one squad, then one lab swim, one run, then every workout. I think it's one more. Three years later, in 2020, I did an Ironman.

Carissa Galloway:

I love that. Chris, you said you just did one push up, one sit up, one squat. You added one more every workout and from that simple start that grew and took you all the way to an Ironman and that was just so amazing watching you finish that Ironman. You inspired so many people. But you and I know, and the world knows, ironman's are really, really, really hard. So what was the hardest part of that? First Ironman in Florida?

Chris Nikic:

Training for three to six hours each day for months in the brutal falling heat. I saw the pain I'm seeing on the bike. In hands I have so much more pain from sitting up.

Carissa Galloway:

Because that's a long 112 miles is not an easy task.

John Pelkey:

Hey Chris, do you have anybody who's inspired you? Do you have a favorite triathlete? Lucy Charles.

Carissa Galloway:

Lucy Charles. Chris, I knew that you were going to say Lucy Charles. Last year Iron man World Championships in Kona, my first time there. You were there and you got to come to the press conference and I was in the back sitting around checking it all out. At the end, when they asked for questions, chris, you raised your hand. You had a very sweet question for Lucy Charles. You told her how much you liked her, how much you admired her, and then you asked for tips from Lucy for your girlfriend. So I knew that you were going to call out Lucy Charles. She's one of my favorites too, love her battle braids and I think she's smoking hot too. Chris, why did finishing an Iron man become your dream?

Chris Nikic:

It was never my dream. My dream was to make my own money so I could buy my own house, my own car and make smoking hot blond, like my mom. My dad said if I do an Iron man, I can become a public speaker and give my dream. So I am in to become a core, to become a dream.

Carissa Galloway:

And Chris, what you said is not unlike what everybody wants. You just wanted to make your own money, have your own house, have your own car, have a smoking hot blonde wife like your mom. I hope that you get there. But you saw Iron man as the door. An Iron man to a step to your own independence. Through inspiration, you achieved that, you inspired and now you're speaking all over the world. And it didn't stop for you there at Iron man. You're still going, you're still pushing to be that 1% better.

John Pelkey:

Yeah, I can't. Honestly, I can't really fathom it, having just run a 5k for the first time in my life, so it's just so inspiring. Now, as you know, chris and I work at Disney. You ran the Disney Marathon in 2022. Tell us about that.

Chris Nikic:

It's just an easy fun run. I like talking and taking pictures everywhere.

Carissa Galloway:

That's what's nice about that run A little less pressure there's a lot of great pictures. And do you know, john and I have favorite Disney characters. But, chris, I want to know who is your favorite Disney character.

Chris Nikic:

Because it's just that's me Groofie.

Carissa Galloway:

And the shirt. Do you know, your shirt is kind of Goofie's colors.

Chris Nikic:

No.

Carissa Galloway:

Goofie wears an orange shirt and he has the blue. Yeah, I mean, look at that, you're inspiring even Goofie.

John Pelkey:

And having had the great fortune to work with a lot of characters Goofie, chrissy, you can back me up on this. Always fun when you get to work with Goofie, always as much fun as you can. Have no offense to any of our other great characters, but Goofie, a favorite of mine too. Chris, all right, now you're running marathons now A lot of marathons. Do you have a favorite?

Chris Nikic:

Boston was my favorite marathon Because they were kissing station and they're by now. Stay soon.

Carissa Galloway:

Wow, yeah, the. I know about the kissing. Did you stop for any kisses during Boston?

Chris Nikic:

Did you?

Carissa Galloway:

get any kisses. Yeah, yeah, were people. Was it really loud it?

Chris Nikic:

was from the previous, the longest women In Boston.

Carissa Galloway:

Well, that might be a reason for you to come back and run that race again. That's a pretty good reason. So we talked a lot about yeah, I didn't get any butt snaps when I ran Boston. I guess I missed out on that one.

John Pelkey:

But you're pretty popular. He's much more popular than you, chris. I'm the only one who hasn't done Boston, so I will go out and I would offer kisses, but I don't think I would do very well with that.

Chris Nikic:

You're bad, but you already have coffee right now. All right, Well, yeah, that's a group coffee right there.

John Pelkey:

Absolutely.

Carissa Galloway:

All right, chris, we talked a lot about running, but there's another sport that you like basketball and you were signed by the Orlando magic, so tell us about that.

Chris Nikic:

Apparently they saw me and they wanted to sign me to a three day contract. Somebody asked me about my next three. I said I wanted to play for the magic, thank you, so by holding it it may help you. So one secret to getting three is to save them and out Dot dot dot.

Carissa Galloway:

Simple as that Amazing.

John Pelkey:

That is outstanding. That is so great and we could use you. Chris, I'm so glad. I'm so glad the magic is signing you. Very, very smart move on the organization's part. All right, Chris, you do so much. What's next for Chris Nickage?

Chris Nikic:

No, I want to help others knock me to the center. We started the 1% better foundation to help others knock me.

Carissa Galloway:

Yes, you started the 1% foundation to help others like you, and this year we've actually seen more athletes I have at Ironman, and I specifically Ironman 70.3s athletes with Down syndrome finish these races, continuing to inspire, and that's something that you started, which is why the 1% foundation really makes a huge impact, so great.

Chris Nikic:

You inspire so many.

Carissa Galloway:

Are you prior Me, me, bebe, john, we actually cry each podcast because we have people come on like you that make us want to be better, that make us want to push harder. So why do you, chris, think you inspire people?

Chris Nikic:

You know why the way you see me I've heard from my obstacles, but they believe they can see it. You know why we are like people who help us believe it can succeed and you know why I have pure belief that can succeed.

John Pelkey:

I just I can't, honestly. I'm Chris Goodell. I've never been a loss for words.

Carissa Galloway:

Chris, you inspire so much and I love the way that you broke it down there. You overcame an obstacle, something that you know if anybody has watched any of the ESPN pieces that they've done. On you, Chris, people said that you couldn't do an Ironman, and you overcame that obstacle and you showed people that they, as you said, believe they can too. You also said that we need people to help us believe and, through COVID, through your Ironman, through what you continue to do, you did that. And then the last thing you said I think is so powerful. You said that you inspire others because you have a pure belief that you can succeed, and that's powerful because, John, Chris, think about it If we imagine that we know in our heart we can succeed, I think that would make us unstoppable.

John Pelkey:

You are so inspirational. All right, chris, finally tell us all how we can get 1% better.

Chris Nikic:

Yeah, my Chris said about Ironman is easy. The first steps get a big dream, start a big core. Start with doing this one thing to hit that core. Then get small, more until you hit your core.

Carissa Galloway:

That is really great advice, chris, that I think we can all take to heart. The steps first, get a big dream. Second, start with just one thing to hit that goal. And third, just do one more. I encourage everybody out there listening today Think about your goals, think about next time you're out there pushing towards them, whether it's at work, whether it's on a run, whether it's in the gym, on the bike. Can you do just one more and in that 1% it'll add up to, hopefully, the inspiration with someone else, and that started with Chris.

John Pelkey:

Well, you have certainly inspired me. I'm going to do my best to get 1% better, Chris. I'm sure you will do the same.

Carissa Galloway:

I will and you just keep inspiring so many people. Chris, I have a question that we didn't prep you for, but I want your help. John has done one 5K, but he's not sure he can do a 10K. Chris, what do you say to John? Yes, you can. John, chris is telling you you can do a 10K. Can you tell us that you, in the 2024 run Disney season, will do a 10K to be 1% better?

John Pelkey:

There's absolutely no way I can sit with Chris Nickage and say that there's anything I can't do. Yes, I will commit to running a 10K in the 2023 2024 run Disney season.

Chris Nikic:

Okay.

John Pelkey:

Thanks, chris. You are such an inspiration and we are so happy to have you on 321 Go the podcast. Best of luck and hopefully we'll see you maybe later in the run Disney season or somewhere down the line.

Chris Nikic:

You're on podcast coffee.

John Pelkey:

Yes, coffee for all. Cheers Chris.

Carissa Galloway:

Cheers.

John Pelkey:

All right athletes.

Carissa Galloway:

Here's the drink Time to shape up your diet, Carissa. Give them the goods All right. Thank you, Sarge. It is time for our healthier you nutrition moment. Now, John, I want you to tell me a food that you think eating every day would make you healthier.

John Pelkey:

Avocado.

Carissa Galloway:

Okay, that's good, we can. We'll talk about that later. What about a fruit that theoretically is avocado fruit?

John Pelkey:

It confuses me. A tomato is a fruit, so it possibly could be a fruit.

Carissa Galloway:

All right. What about a fruit that you could eat every day, that could make you healthier? That's not an avocado.

John Pelkey:

I have a banana almost every day.

Carissa Galloway:

Also good. What about a fruit that you you can associate with Maine or New England in this time of year?

John Pelkey:

I'm going to go with my actual favorite fruit blueberries.

Carissa Galloway:

Blueberries, that is true. So a fruit you can eat every day. And you actually only need to eat about eight of them every day to get some of these amazing benefits from blueberries. One of them antioxidants High in antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, which give them that deep blue color. These are going to prevent your cells from damage. That's important Heart health Regular consumption of blueberries has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, and that goes back to these great antioxidants.

Carissa Galloway:

But it's not just there. Blueberries can help your brain. So some of these compounds and research shows that blueberries may improve memory, slow down age related cognitive decline and protect the brain against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, and this is a delicious item that many of us enjoy anyway. They're also anti-inflammatory. So when you're exercising, when you're trying to rid your body of that chronic inflammation, blueberries are going to help that as well. And finally, they've got fiber.

Carissa Galloway:

So there is no reason not to include blueberries, and we try to have them every day. Literally, the numbers eight. Some time, a long time ago, I read that it was eight blueberries. So Wes and I aim for eight blueberries in the morning. Put them on your oatmeal, put them with your cereal, peanut butter, toast, whatever you do get in those blueberries. I hope they're not sour, I hope they're always sweet and I hope that you found this information helpful and, if you did, there was more nutrition nuggets like this to help you improve your diet, your energy, weight loss at healthier you. You can use the code summer to save or send me any questions and I'll tell you all about it.

John Pelkey:

I don't know why I chose to throw avocado out there, but probably because I'm going to have avocado toast in a few minutes, because I'm pretty bougie.

Chris Nikic:

You know how bougie I am.

John Pelkey:

All right, the mailbox Athletes listen up it's mail call time.

Carissa Galloway:

Announce a free present.

John Pelkey:

OK, sarge, all right. Our question is from Michael C, a frequent run Disney runner and healthcare hero. Michael asks what's the best part, what's the hardest part of your job as a run Disney race announcer? Well, I think the hardest part we could both agree on is managing the sleep and dealing with that yeah. Dealing with lack of sleep.

Carissa Galloway:

It seems like the low hanging fruit, like we're gonna say that's the hardest, but it's really. I mean, this is me thinking about it way too much and having thought about it way too much for years. It's not necessarily that the moment of wake up it's balancing your energy. Yeah, To handle that wake up as the weekends go on, because I do find if I'm not getting I mean you've got to getting enough sleep First my brain doesn't work as well, and it's also you got to think about going to bed at like 3 pm, Right, and you know you have things to do, so you've got to prep for that. So I would say the hardest point is getting to sleep and then balancing. These weekends are a lot of fun, so there's a lot of people we want to see and things we want to do, and it's sometimes for me saying no to those things because I know I need to get to sleep and be a better announcer. What's the hardest part for you?

John Pelkey:

Yeah, it's balancing the sleep.

John Pelkey:

And, again, just like the folks who are doing dopey, our longest day is always the last day.

John Pelkey:

So you can deal with if you're just announcing a 5K one morning this is sometimes we do a lot of just 5K corporate stuff you can go with a little bit of a lack of sleep or less sleep and power through that, but when you're, you know 5K, 10k, half and full or just 5K, 10k half, you do have to conserve some energy for that final day because you can crash. So balancing sleep, balancing nutrition, all of those things are difficult. There have been years when I've done it literally on nothing but coffee and I've learned as I've gotten older, certainly, and hopefully wiser evidence to the contrary managing that to nutrition as well as the sleep, that is by far the hardest part and you're right, it is low hanging fruit but it's, I think, for anybody who doesn't run Disney Race, because they're the races where really you do have to get up earlier because of the size of the event and how you have to get there. So managing sleep, slash nutrition, is the hardest part.

Carissa Galloway:

Yeah, definitely, and I think it was impossible. If I remember the first couple of years we did it, I was just laying on the bed in the trailer. I was so wiped out and we kind of see that when anybody new comes into the team but you do adapt or you understand, like what it takes, and so you kind of feel more confident in getting through it. I will say it has gotten easier over the years but you can't skip sleep and expect it to be easy, I guess.

John Pelkey:

Yeah, and for we go back to the years where both you and I had to drive in for it and we didn't have some place to stay. That was always a joy, because you lose an hour sleep. So going to bed at seven o'clock at night to get up and drive in at midnight, yeah, not fun, not fun. But now they put us up in a hotel. Thank you very much, folks from Disney, and it makes it a little bit easier, but it still is the challenge. All right, what's for you the best part?

Carissa Galloway:

That's so hard to say cause I think it's so different based on the race, like certain moments that happen, that we don't know are gonna happen, like things always happen that are really special. But for me, what's always fun is when we get to come up on stage for the first time, I think, and we're in our costumes and everybody's gonna see our costumes and we're gonna see everybody in their costumes. It's just a really cool moment that you and I do other races. It doesn't happen in other races. There's not that element of, I feel, like Mary Poppins element of fun. It's so fun and like we're able to watch people do something. That's, as we know on this podcast, transformative changes, lives, changes people, makes us healthier. But then we get that moment of fun where you're dressed as Woody and I'm Bo Peep and it's just fun and as adults, I love that. We get a moment that is just frivolous and fun and we get to enjoy that with other people.

John Pelkey:

That's great. That's great For me. It's funny because we obviously talked a little bit with our guest about Jimmy V, jim Valvano, and I remember his great speech he talked about every day. Spend some time and thought, every day have your emotions move to tears, every day laugh and all of it, and that is a microcosm day of all of those things for us. It is a full spectrum of life in those days, because there are always challenges that we have to think about and we have to use our brain a little bit which, as you know, four o'clock in the morning is sometimes a challenge Move to tears. The inspirational people that we meet and things that we get to discuss so inspirational and I'm easily moved to tears and we laugh a lot.

John Pelkey:

Often not in the sight of when we are in the trailer. That lack of sleep will make you punchy, but it's just when you finish with announcing any race that you feel accomplished. But you finish with a run Disney weekend. You have lived a full life over those four or five days and it feels accomplished, like you've accomplished something. Obviously not as much as those dopey runners. I don't wanna say that, guys, I get it, but it's just. It's a full meal of life in a microcosm weekend, so that I and, as the years have gone on getting to know people and now in the beginning, we didn't know anybody and no one knew us. But getting to know people has made it even extra special. So that's it, it's all. It's a blast and I feel very, very lucky to be a part of it all.

Carissa Galloway:

That was an amazing answer, John. I don't I should not gonna add anything to it because that was like a mic drop answer right there. So, well said, we do have the best job in the world.

John Pelkey:

Hold on, I'm gonna drop my mic. There we go, there we go.

Carissa Galloway:

My mic has been dropped, so thank you guys, so much for listening. Thank you again to Chris for coming and inspiring us, for reminding John that he can do a 10K. That'll be for another day. You just have to get 1% better each day.

John Pelkey:

Better start now.

Carissa Galloway:

No rush. So thank you guys so much for listening. Again, if you love 321Go, we would love that you share it like it, tell your friends and then if you have questions that you want answered, we might answer them on a future podcast. Email us at 321gopodcast at gmailcom. And get out there and have a great day. And right, john, spend some time and thought.

John Pelkey:

Spend some time and thought, laugh, cry, enjoy the day, enjoy the journey, folks. The goal is great, but enjoy the journey.

Carissa Galloway:

We'll see you next time. Thanks guys. Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh 321Go.

Ironman Finisher and Down Syndrome Warrior
Training for Dopey and Tahoe Running
Chris Nickage
Running Disney Races