Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I recently read a post on Sue Haywood's blog where she interviews Kathryn Bertine, who is doing a blogging project for the ESPN website where she tries to quality for the 2008 Olympics. I found it fascinating, as I've been doing the same thing in my head since the day that I was pulled off of the OSU track during my evening jog to become a college distance runner. The 2000 Olympics found me glued to TV with a torn IT band and in 2004 I was a struggling neo-triathlete. Now, at the age of 27, I am leaning toward the decidedly non-Olympic side of moutain biking with little time or inclination left to try new sports before my mid-30's "peak". However, a girl can dream, right?

Before I even read Kathryn's article, my experiment in pathetic transition-phase running got me wondering if I could ever run at a high level again and how I would go about it. I posed the question to myself: If put away the bike today and started running full-time again, could I qualify for the 2012 Olympic marathon trials? The trials, mind you, not the actual Olympics. Of course, I was still thinking in 2000 terms back when people were slower. It appears that to compete in the 2008 trials, one must run the Olympic "B" standard of 2:47, which is pretty freaking fast. So the answer to my question is a definite probably not. Of course, I have very little to desire to try anyway; it was meer curiousity. Could I outdo my college self? I'm older and have more scar tissue, but I'm also much more mentally mature. You don't know how often I wish I could go back in time and tell my 20-year-old self to HTFU, as my husband likes to say. And to quit wasting my time and mental energy on boys.

Oh to be 20 years old and 12 % body fat again...

I also spent about a half a second thinking about Olympic weight lifting during my recent Clean and Jerk sessions. Not because I'm particularly proficient at it, but because it's fun. Yes, I said fun. I know that it's heresy for a cyclist to say she likes lifting weights, but since Coach Dave turned me onto Olympic lifts, I kind of do. Of course, it appears from last year's national championships results, I need to lose eight pounds and quadruple the amount of weight I can lift if I want to make the Olympic team.

Finally, Kathryn's blog only continued to fuel my fire of athletic speculation, as her first installment covered her attempt to make the national modern pentathlon team. I've already done three of the five sports (sort of). I've run competitively, swam as a triathlete, and rode horses pretty much every day from age 3-13. I never actually show jumped, but I desperately wanted to, as spent plenty of time "practicing" over every log I could find in our pasture growing up. My horse showing career was brief and unimpressing, as my Anglo-Arab mare, Desiree, didn't fit in too well with the Quarter Horse crowd in Oklahoma. Oh yeah, and she was crazy.

From Kathryn's article, it appears that a woman can get accepted to the national training program by running running a sub 11:20 3000m and swimming a sub 2:40 200m. An 11:20 3000m is a heck of a lot easier than a 2:47 marathon and I'm sure Kathryn would have made it had she not been training for much longer distances. You do have to run fast to race fast, another thing I would like to tell my 20-year-old base-training-obscessed self.

As for the swim, it has the dubious distinction as my strongest sport in triathlon. Mostly because of my learning curve. I was able to go from barely covering 50m without nearly drowning to being decently mid-pack in the triathlon swim in about a year, while my run and bike waivered with the lack of time and attention a triathlete can give to each sport. I was only swimming three days a week or less, so it would be interesting to see what I could do if I were to really focus on daily training and getting faster rather than just covering distance.

Of course, I'm pretty committed to mountain biking and too far into being a grown-up with a job to throw everything away and run off to the Olympic training center. Then again, I have a lot of idle time on the bike and it's fun to daydream.

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