Time to Tri Again: Part 3: The Run

So I guess some people could be reading my blog, thinking, “This girl doesn’t seem to be a strong swimmer, or cyclist … Why is she doing triathlon?” Well, sometimes I think the same thing!

I can run though. Generally in triathlons in Australia I would pull myself from the end of the field as I came in on the bike (once dead last), to mid-field by the end of the run. Sometimes a bit better. And that was over 3km – 5km runs. So yeah, I can do okay in a triathlon. Should I focus all my energy on running? Possibly … I ran a 3:01 marathon last October, so logically the next step is to go for sub-three hours. But there is something about triathlon that is so addictive … so compelling … And I am convinced if I get the cycling up-to-scratch, I am going to be a real competitor.

But I digress, I want to fill you in on how I am fitting in my running training in Amsterdam …

Talk about the loneliness of the long distance runner! It is virtually impossible to find running groups here in Amsterdam … Let’s review my options …

Swimming (Tri)athletes?

Four weeks ago, I contacted Amsterdam’s only triathlon club and asked if I could attend their one run session for the week. Today, I finally heard back from them.

“Did you already get an answer from one of us? I was on a holiday so didn’t see your message. Sorry.

You’re more than welcome to train with us but we have mainly swim trainings so if you only want to do running you should better go to AAC. At the run training there are not a lot of triathletes.”

Bizarre … How can you be a triathlete if you only swim? Isn’t that a mono-athlete?

Smokers?

I recently met a guy at a barbecue, who told me he ran with some “Run Holland” group. I was immediately interested, and asked him to tell me more about it.

“Well,” he began, “there are five levels. I am in Level 5, the fastest level, but you would probably be in Level 3.”

Given that I hadn’t told him anything about my running background, I asked why he thought that.

“Most of the ladies are in Level 3 and below. Only a few fast ones are in Level 2,” he responded.

Alright, so I’m not a raging feminist, getting up on my high horse demanding women should be allowed entry to Level 1. I know the differences between fast men and fast women can be large. But still, I was curious.

“What do I have to run to be Level 1?” I asked.

“Oh, 10km in 40 minutes,” he responded, pushing his chest out proudly.

Now, let me take a moment to tell you about 10km. The US qualifying times for the Olympics for 10km are 27:50 for men; 31:45 for women. So you see 40 minutes is good … but it’s not that good. It’s not what I would expect for the “top level” in a running group.

In Melbourne I trained with a group of 15 girls, more than half of whom could run sub-37 minutes. My PB was 38:50.

Getting back to the Level 1 runner… “I run that,” I responded.

“Oh,” he responded … And pulled out a cigarette!

This time I did get on my high horse, and advised him, “You could run a lot faster if you didn’t do that.”

“Well, it doesn’t really make much of a difference. Most of the guys in the group smoke.”

Scratching that one from my list!

Ironmen? Sure!

I recently met a guy at the gym after a spin class, who came up to me and asked if I was a triathlete, based on my clothes (I wear a lot of 2XU stuff, which is primarily a triathlon brand). He explained he was training for a half ironman – which was going to be his first triathlon. He was doing this training with his friend, who had recently completed an ironman race in 10 hours (that’s fast – 3.8km swim/180km bike/42.2km run).

I jumped. “Do you want to train together?” I asked.

And so these are the guys I train with when I get the chance. I just kind of invite myself to their Sunday runs, but they don’t seem to complain:)

… And so here I am, finding it’s time to “tri” again …

So I’ve now introduced myself to you as a runner, cyclist and swimmer. Join me on my endeavours as I train for Ironman 70.3 Austria in May 2012 … and beyond!

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