What started out as a joke between teammates has turned into an Olympic dream for Northwestern alum Lindsay Herman.
The former three-sport athlete at Northwestern is now turning her attention to a much more obscure sport, race walking.
Herman, who will be a sophomore this fall at Drexel University, has been competing in race walking events on the East Coast this year, including posting a personal best time in April's Penn Relays in Philadelphia.
From putting up posters about a fictitious race walking club with cross country teammates at Northwestern to now hoping for a spot on the country's Olympic race walking team in one of the next two Summer Games, Herman has certainly come full circle on the sport that doesn't allow running.
"It just happened, more or less," Herman said. "It's definitely been a fun ride so far."
Herman was first introduced to the sport as a junior at Northwestern when she was injured and unable to participate in the running portion of the Women's 5K Classic for Breast Cancer in Allentown.
Instead of giving up on the event completely, Herman decided to give the competitive walk a shot.
"During cross-country, we'd been joking around about race walking," Herman said. "So with me being hurt, I decided to sign up for the competitive walk and it was really fun. It just kind of kept going from there."
Herman ended up third in that race and then followed that up with a first-place finish in the event the next year.
Race walking followed her to college, when her introduction to computer science professor Jeff Salvage made a presentation on the little-known sport.
After Herman showed interest in the sport, the race walking expert decided to take Herman under his wing and coach her.
Herman placed sixth overall in a 3K race in New Jersey in February before posting a time of 28 minutes, 40 seconds and finishing sixth in the 5000 meter race walk event at the Raleigh Relays at North Carolina State University in the end of March.
In April's Penn Relays, Herman performed her best yet, recording a time of 27:08 and finishing 10th in the women's 5K open division race.
"It actually went really well," Herman said. "In a month time, I was able to drop off 1:30 on my PR (personal record)."
In high school, Herman competed in soccer, basketball and cross country. The 2009 Northwestern graduate also was selected as the school's female Colonial League scholar athlete in her senior year.
"It was really an honor to get that award," Herman said. "It really showed that I worked hard at sports but I always made sure I had enough time to do homework and study."
Although she saw plenty of success in sports at Northwestern, Herman knew she would need more than her athletic ability to get into a school the caliber of Drexel.
"For some people, athletics can take them anywhere," Herman said. "But for me, I knew I wasn't going to get any scholarships for sports so I made sure to stay focused as a student."
As she continues to build on her success in race walking, Herman has her sights set high, looking to qualify for the Summer Olympics.
If London in 2012 is out of the question, Herman hopes she can earn a spot on the national team for the Rio de Janeiro games in 2016.
"My chances of making it for 2012 are very slim," Herman said. "But if my training goes well, maybe I can get on the team for 2016. That would be wonderful because the Olympics for athletes is the ultimate goal."