The folllowing article appeared in the November 2002 issue of the Raleigh Area TriathleteS newsletter. The interview is published here in its entirety.
If the North Carolina Triathlon Series gave out awards in the same manner as professional sports, perhaps Alicia Parr would be named “Rookie of the Year.”
Alicia won her division in the very first triathlon she entered — and she did it riding what she describes as “a 50-lb, ancient Huffy with a kickstand.” She also had some problems with navigation on the swim, but after being redirected by the course marshalls had a great race and clinched first place in the Female Novice Division at the 2002 White Lake Sprint.
“White Lake Sprint will always be special because it was my first,” she said via an email interview,”and after I completed that one, I knew I would be doing many, many more. It’s where I caught the bug.”
The 32-year-old HR consultant has a strong background in two of the three disciplines. She was a competitive swimmer from age 9-19, competing at the state level from age 14 to 17. She also entered a number of running races and performed well, although her focus remained swimming.
I asked Alicia why she decided to take up triathlon. “I had considered it before, since I have a background in two of the three events,” she said, ” but I was not aware of the more reasonable sprint and international distances races. During my 20s, I fell out of the competitive athletics realm, but had started getting into shape at the gym and someone suggested doing a triathlon.
“A few days prior, I had watched TV coverage of triathlon and thought it looked very interesting, but the bike portion scared me a bit.”
Then she came across Lance Armstrong’s book, It’s Not About The Bike and found inspiration. “After reading it, I figured, heck, if he can do all hes done, I can surely manage 14-15 miles on a bike,” she said.
Alicia does not have a coach, although she has some guidance with running through her gym membership. “I make up my own swim workouts” she said. “I learned some about cycling form from stationary classes at the gym, which I did a lot of through the winter to help build up my cycling strength. Otherwise, no, no coach. It’s something I’m thinking about.”
She tries to vary her workouts, getting in all three sports two to three times a week, including bricks. Her workouts include short, fast intervals, as well as long, moderately paced sessions. I like to keep variation from week to week” she said, “sometimes emphasizing one discipline on a particular week based on how I’m feeling and what’s coming up race-wise.”
Alicia loves the varation that triathlon training provides. “My favorite part of triathlon is that I can train running one day, then get to swim and/or bike the next,” she said. She also makes sure to include at least one rest day each week, sometimes more if she is in a recovery mode. These “off weeks” occur every 1-1.5 months.
Since the White Lake Sprint, Alicia has purchased a used Quintana Roo Special Edition bike and enjoys training near RTP where she lives, at her gym, and on “almost any route in the rolling countryside.” After excellent performances at Triangle and Bandit’s Challenge, where she won her division in both races, Alicia signed up for the Wilmington Sprint and the Pinehurst Olympic distance races to round out the season.
So what gives her the edge? “Any edge is psychological,” she said. “If I’m tired, I tell myself I feel good. No matter how long the race, steep the hill, I never have to do more than one step or stroke at a time and there is no need to be overwhelmed by the whole race or whole hill.”
Next year, Alicia plans to enter six races. She’ll definitely do White Lake and Triangle again and is considering traveling out of state for a race.
Finally, I asked Alicia for her advice on staying motivated during those periods when it seems like life gets in the way of training. “I stay focused on the goal of going faster next time,” she said. “I don’t beat myself up if I miss a day here and there, It’s good to get an occasional break. I just pick up where I left off, rather than give up. I don’t have a real problem with staying motivated to train, I get a lot of satisfaction out of doing the training and seeing improvements in my performance because of it. To me life doesn’t get in the way of training, training is part of my life.”