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What If... - Geek Turned Athlete

What If…

Do you ever think to yourself, “What if I could do ….”?


What I find completely surprising is that people who I’ve just met or just started reading my blog think that I’ve always been —dare I say athletic? They think that I’ve always been able to maintain at least an 8:15 min/mile pace for 7 miles like the other day or maintain a 7:58 average min/mile pace for the 10K portion of an olympic triathlon. I’m not saying those are fast times by any means, but it is all relative, right?

I used to think a 9:30 pace was fast. Heck, I used to think a 10:30 pace was fast. When I started running 8 years ago, I could barely run a mile on the treadmill at the gym without walking. I would get frustrated after being on there for 10 minutes and jump on the elliptical instead. Time passed, and soon I was able to run on a treadmill for a while averaging a 10 minute/mile pace for a few miles. I was (and still am) proud of that accomplishment. I kept adding miles little by little. Then, I started running outside. BIG change. I was focused more on the distance I could go.  Who would have thought I would run my first marathon well under 4 hours let alone run one at all?

My boyfriend, now hubs, bought me a bike for Christmas one year, and I started riding that to my college classes a few times a week averaging a 25 mile round trip each time. Pace was not my main concern. I just wanted to make it up the massive hills back up to my parent’s house without falling over or dying at the end of the day!

Swimming, well, let’s just say that while my high school swim team was basically taking anyone who could float, they didn’t take me.  However, I managed to survive my first half Ironman last year and didn’t drown!

For the majority of the last 8 years, I have focused on distance. The last couple of years, I have started to realize the importance of speedwork. If I would have recognized this importance a few years ago, who knows how fast I would be right now? But, I can’t go back in time, and you know what? I wouldn’t want to. I enjoyed going for the distance on races just to see if I could do them. It started to open my eyes to the fact that I AM capable of anything I put my mind to.

I think that I might be past the point of just being thankful that I can run a 5K or a marathon at a “whatever” pace. I want more. I’m sick of being scared of my potential. I wonder how fast I could be if I tried even 50% more than what I’ve done in years past?

  • I joined a running group that is faster than me even though it scared the crap out of me.
  • I joined a tri club because of the same reason above. Masters swimming! Ack!
  • I will try to be as consistent as I can with my training plan. I wonder how fast I could be if I actually hit at least 85% of my workouts that I’m supposed to.

Here is the point: Keep moving forward with your goals. Don’t ever become stagnant. Otherwise, what is the point? Of course, none of this would even be relevant if I wasn’t having fun in the process. My body, and more importantly, my mind continues to surprise me with the obstacles they are able to accomplish when working together seamlessly.

For those of you who are just starting out, getting back on workout wagon, or have been working out for years, keep trucking along. Focus on what you can do, and start adding more distance (or speed if you want). You just might surprise yourself with how far you can go if you really focus on the strength within yourself.

For those of you who are faster than me, I’m coming to get you. It may not be this year or the next, but I’ll get you. 😉

{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Callie January 26, 2011, 1:18 pm

    I love this post! You know I can totally relate. And just for the record – a 10:30 mile is still fast for me. 🙂
    Callie recently posted..Workout Hiatus

    • Nicole January 26, 2011, 1:19 pm

      It’s all relative right? 🙂 Pretty soon, that won’t be the case for you!

  • Ashley M. [at] (never home)maker January 26, 2011, 1:21 pm

    Love this post 🙂
    Ashley M. [at] (never home)maker recently posted..2011 The Year of No-Biggie Races

  • Michelle January 26, 2011, 1:29 pm

    Great post.
    Michelle recently posted..Day 1- Week 1

  • Jess January 26, 2011, 1:31 pm

    AMEN sista!!! I loved this post so much! You are right – these things take time and practice and dedication but ANYTHING is possible. You are totally proof of that! Nothing that’s worth it comes easily, right??
    Jess recently posted..It’s challenge time

  • Erica January 26, 2011, 1:43 pm

    AMEN! I used to be one of those people who said “I just can’t run….”, now I LOVE it. Time & dedication brings results
    Erica recently posted..M- Honey Rosemary Chicken With Rice Pilaf

  • Carolyn January 26, 2011, 1:44 pm

    Love this post as I’ve recently decided to fix my horrible front crawl (hopefully in time for a June triathlon). I couldn’t believe how awful I felt during my first stroke improvement lesson. It was humbling. I was flopping around like a dying trout, choking on water & forgetting to breathe. I couldn’t understand how I could run ten miles but be gasping for air after swimming 25 meters! BUT…I’m better this week than I was last week. Reading blogs like this one are a real source of encouragement. I shall keep hitting the pool!

  • Amber from Girl with the Red Hair January 26, 2011, 1:56 pm

    This is an awesome post! Speed is SO MUCH about perspective anyways! What was an “easy” pace for me the summer of 2009 is now a super fast pace for me! I am working on getting back to where it’s just an easy pace again 🙂

  • Sana January 26, 2011, 1:57 pm

    10min/mile is fast! But everything after that is ALL mental 🙂

  • Theresa @ActiveEggplant January 26, 2011, 1:59 pm

    Great post Nicole! I think it’s slowly dawning on me just how much I’m capable of. I would always discount my accomplishments by saying “I’m not as fast as this person” or “I don’t work out as much as that person”. But that’s not what matters – what does matter is that I’m making progress and continuing to try new things. Last year I taught myself how to swim and completed two triathlons – I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d ever do something like that! (I’ve set my sights on my first Olympic distance this year.) And I look back at my race times and see that I really am getting faster and running longer than ever before. I’m so glad I realized that it IS worthwhile to push myself and try new things – otherwise I’d never know just how much I CAN do!
    Theresa @ActiveEggplant recently posted..Ringling Bridge Run VIII- Recap

  • Marie C. January 26, 2011, 2:45 pm

    What a great post! A lot of people do forget that it takes time to get to where you are today.
    Marie C. recently posted..Running from the LAPD

  • lindsay January 26, 2011, 3:05 pm

    gosh, I was just thinking about this today and needed a little encouragement. Thank you!
    lindsay recently posted..Spice my Life

  • Natalie S. January 26, 2011, 3:35 pm

    Wow, this is just what I needed to hear. I started working out again this past October, and I recently decided to run a 10K even though I never considered myself a “runner.” Running just 2.25 miles is such an accomplishment to me, but sometimes it’s REALLY hard dragging my butt off the couch. I do try to push myself though, and I feel SO proud after.

  • Charisa January 26, 2011, 3:42 pm

    Anything is possible – great post.
    Charisa recently posted..The Battle

  • Kelly January 26, 2011, 3:50 pm

    What an awesome reminder that the people who are faster than me used to run my speed. I feel bad sometimes, like I’m less of a runner, because I’m slower. But deep down I know, like you said, if I focused on speed, I would get faster. I can do anything I put my mind to too! 🙂 Thanks for the reminder.
    Kelly recently posted..Discomfort is relative

  • Heather January 27, 2011, 5:14 am

    Like I always say in my classes at the gym “Try before you cry!” – you don’t know what you can do unless you TRY. Great post!
    Heather recently posted..Icicles In My Hair

  • Katy @ MonsterProof January 27, 2011, 5:59 am

    Oh, I never have managed to get “fast”, but now taking a break for pregnancy, the idea of working back up is really daunting! I WILL get there, though!
    Katy @ MonsterProof recently posted..Pumpkin Bread

  • Jena January 27, 2011, 11:50 am

    Well, I’m just going to repeat what everyone else said and say, “Great post.” After reading your post yesterday about how you hung w/ the faster runners I was totally inspired to go home and run hard. I know I can run fast(er) then I do sometimes, but I don’t like the uncomfortable feeling so I just relax into a slower pace. After my run yesterday I felt on top of the world because I was able to main an 8:25pace for 8 miles, holy crap!

    After yesterday’s run, and your post about running w/ the running group I am going to really try to get in w/ one of the groups Saturday morning and hope I can hang w/ the quicker runners. (Let’s hope my hip stops hurting before then).

    Speed is absolutely relative. My first 5k was 31:07, the next one, a month later was 26:something. You just have to be confident and not worry about what all the other runners around you are doing. Focus on you, and your abilities. Some people just naturally have a little Kenyan in them, I don’t. =)
    Jena recently posted..Mermaids

  • Toronto Girl West January 27, 2011, 10:33 pm

    lol I have a funny feeling I motivated this post! 😛

    The first blog post I ever read of yours was your Paris Marathon Recap. And let’s face it, you had quite a good time! So of course, knowing it was your first I was sure you had always been that fast. lol

    I didn’t realize I had been that wrong.

    Plus, I thought you looked like a runner!

    Anywho – this entry gives me hope! Gracias! 🙂
    Toronto Girl West recently posted..A Whole Wheat Honey Oatmeal Loaf Recipe

    • Nicole January 28, 2011, 8:21 am

      It was a little bit you, and a little bit from other posts that I have seen lately. People are so afraid of their own potential. I’m one of them, but I’m slowly starting to change that around. I didn’t know that was the first post you read from me. That is so interesting! haha. Well, now you know! I started from scratch!

  • Kristy February 8, 2011, 7:31 pm

    This is a great post, thank you! I also enjoying racing. The marathon is my favorite distance and I recently began competing in triathlons. I may sign up for a tri club and or running club as well as I would like to improve my speed. And I think it would help with my motivation to see some progress.
    Kristy recently posted..Cultural Wine &amp Dine

  • steena February 13, 2011, 5:50 am

    I love love LOVE this post! Very inspiring! You make me want to go for a half ironman! Though, I need to get through my first sprint tri first!
    steena recently posted..Four Things Friday – February 11th- 2011

  • Bex March 30, 2014, 1:50 pm

    This is so inspiring! I have run two marathons and decided that I wanted to do a triathlon. I then convinced myself that I would never be able to swim properly and talked myself out of it. Your blog had reminded me that I can do it if I put my mind to it- so thank you!


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