Have you ever seen someone and knew there was something about them, but you could not put your finger on it?
I have been “racing” in my area since 2007. I don’t remember when I started to see this girl around, but I know whenever I was at a race I noticed her. Each event I felt drawn to her, but I never took the time to talk to her or ask anyone else who she was. After a while she became (in my mind) the really talented girl with the curly hair. There are lots of those though, so what else was it?
Laugh at me if you will, but I always thought I had a bit of a psychic streak. Or perhaps my intuition is a bit more on the surface than others.
Last night I attended a group run at Fleet Feet Sports Northfield. This was a some-what themed run in that they called it the “Torch Run” and it was announced a local girl/woman would be speaking on what it takes, or at least what it took for her, to qualify for the Olympic Trials.
When I arrived I expected a speech I couldn’t relate to in any way, shape, or form. I expected a tall, lean blonde with fierce muscles and a boatload of sponsors. I expected to gaze at a person I saw on TV or heard about in a running magazine. Not to imply Nicole isn’t any of these qualities, or won’t be these things some day…but she was so….normal…she was the girl I had seen at races of yesteryear and gazed at wondering “Why do I find you so interesting?” Because it turns out, she was and still is very special.
Nicole shared with us prior to our group run, what she believes it took to make it to the Olympic Trials in Texas this year. She also passed around her bib number and finisher’s medal. At the trials she came in 37th overall and hopes to return in 4 years, and would like to see a top 10 finish. The trials were her 4th marathon, coming in after 2 years of Cleveland and 1 Columbus.
What does it take?
First it takes support and a community. Nicole shared she would not be where she is today if she did not have people in her court to encourage her and who helped her to get involved with her current coach. Like many of us, she has days where getting up in the early morning isn’t fun or appealing, running by herself doesn’t sound like a good time. That is where training partners, friends, and coaches come into play.
It also takes the ability to be dedicated. She has a passion for what she does, she willingly trains a majority of her free time in hopes of achieving a goal. Now mind you, she runs probably about 3x as quickly as I can and she is training about 3-4x the number of hours and miles I train…and I train for ultra events. This girl is serious business!
Two things that took to my heart, were her words on giving up social time in exchange for training and her employment. With honesty she told us her friends didn’t always think she was “fun” when training. Nights out were tossed aside in favor or early morning practices. Apparently, she doesn’t regret this for the world, as her dedication paid off and took her to the Olympic freaking trials! However, I can’t say I would ever have the same pay? Is my return on investment enough? Something to think about…
And when it comes to work and sponsors? She is sponsored by Fleet Feet (which is really cool) but hopes to pick up a “bigger name” in the future. Why? Well, she works 40 hours a week at a normal desk job! That’s right, she works 5 days a week and at times wears heels. She trains outside of the 9-5 or 8-4 work day! How crazy? I always assumed to be at that level your job was training. This alone have me the encouragement and confidence to not allow things like a work schedule to get in the way of being a better athlete.
After the discussion/speech I was able to chat with her briefly about some local events we were both familiar with from the past, before we were all gathered outside for the other main event.
I’m proud to say I made it the actual run with this group…in the past I fell so far behind I gave up and turned around way early. Around mile 2 I decided I didn’t want to over do it (I ran M and T this week as well) and took the U-turn of the road. I ran solid until around mile 3.5 then it was time to walk the other .5 as a “cool down”. Felt awesome and was so glad I drove over…especially at door prize time when my name was called for a Nike Olympic Hat! Check me out!