Nicole Solana first started to run to compete with her sister as they grew up together. Solana found herself always losing to her sibling in the sprints so she kept increasing her distance. It was then she found her niche as a distance runner.
Solana competed in cross-country and track and field through high school, but once at the University of South Florida in Tampa, she ran for fun and as a cadet in the ROTC program. Years later after medical school, Solana is displaying her competitive edge again as a representative on the All-Army triathlon team as well as the All-Army marathon team.
Its an honor just to be on the team, especially to represent the Army, Solana said.
Last year, the captain worked as an intern at Madigan Healthcare System on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. She is preparing to ship out to Korea where shell work as a flight surgeon for the 3rd Battalion, 2nd General Support Aviation Regiment. Solana will return to the states to run with the All-Army marathon team in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. Oct. 28.
Solana was one of 12 women selected to represent the Army at the race. She is familiar with the level of competition at the All-Army level after competing in the triathlon in June.
It was very humbling, Solana said. It was a completely different level than I have ever competed at. I didnt place well, but the experience was well worth going and being part of the team.
Solanas running career was sidelined while she was in medical school, but in the past few years she competed in multiple races.
Solana has competed in fun races dressed up as a zebra, a piece of pizza and a hot dog. But she also competes in extreme distance races like the Ironman 70.3 Florida. She has raced from Washington to Tennessee to Virginia down to her home state of Florida. Two years ago, Solana got back into triathlons with the Xterra Mountainman Triathlon in Honolulu.
People at the hospital were doing triathlons and I did one randomly and got that spark back thanks to them, she said.
The natural distance runner focuses more on the cycling and swimming legs of triathlons. Because of work constraints, Solana doesnt have a lot of time to ride and she taught herself how to distance swim. While competing on the All-Army Triathlon team she met competitors who shared their training workouts to rise to competition level next year.
Solana expects to be in Korea for at least a year. She is applying for an aerospace medicine program at the Naval Aerospace Medical Center in Florida, a place conducive to her training.
Thats another great running location, she said.