Here’s a reprint of the my interview with USAT writer Lindsay Wyskowski. You can find the original here. This is super awesome to get the recognition for all the work I’ve done through the years. Turning 40 can be a positive thing, folks!
As 2010 comes to a close, many multisport athletes take time to reflect on the season. Alicia Parr has reason to celebrate — she set the bar high this season, winning national titles in three of USA Triathlon’s national championship events.
Parr considers the 2010 season to be a great success as she met her goals of taking home age group victories in three national championships. “It’s always wonderful to set a big goal, do the work, and execute well enough to achieve it,” Parr said. She planned her entire season around three USAT events — Duathlon Nationals in Richmond, Va., Age Group Nationals in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Long Course Nationals in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
It took some strategic planning on Parr’s part to peak at the right moment. She competed in a few local races leading up to Duathlon Nationals to ensure that she was building speed, and then began her preparation for back-to-back events: Age Group and Long Course Nationals. “I knew the key would be to build to one peak in late September, early October,” said Parr, who has been competing in multisport since 2002. “It takes some self-discipline to hold back in June and July when everyone else seems to be gunning it pretty hard, but I stuck with my plan. I’ve made lots of training and racing errors through the years, but I have learned a lot that I can now put into practice.”
Like most triathletes, Parr got her start in triathlon when she decided to get back into shape after being out of sport for more than a decade. “I was a fairly decent swimmer when I was young and ran occasionally,” Parr said. “With this background, I picked up triathlon quickly and did quite well. I feel so grateful to have found this sport for the opportunities it has given me, in particular, introducing me to a social circle of local and long distance friends with similar interests.”
After winning her age group at Duathlon Nationals and finishing as the first female masters athlete at Age Group Nationals, Parr headed to Myrtle Beach for Long Course Nationals, hoping for a strong finish in a competitive field. Although the swim was cancelled as a result of heavy rains, Parr didn’t have to alter her plan of attack much at all. “I had been riding strong in training, so I was hoping for a bike split of 2:27-2:28,” Parr said. “I was able to surpass that, which is fantastic. I stuck to my plan on the run and kept my pace comfortable on the first loop then built my effort through the second loop. I beat my target time there too, so I couldn’t be happier with how things turned out.”
Though she competed in a number of events throughout the 2010 season, Parr says that her best race was Long Course Nationals. “I trained for and peaked for that event specifically, knowing that this would set me up to race well the previous week at short course nationals, and I nailed the taper. I felt fine for short course nationals, but I was ready to race the following weekend in Myrtle Beach.”
Parr isn’t sure which of the national championship events she’ll be competing in come 2011, but she already has her sights set on what she calls her biggest goal for next season — the ITU Long Course World Championship in Henderson, Nev. “I’ve raced the course before at Silverman, and I have to say, it’s a beast,” she said. In addition to the trip to Nevada, Parr plans to do local races in her home state of North Carolina, where she says there are many races to choose from.
For most of the year, Parr trains about 10 hours each week, balancing her training with the time she spends with her family. When she’s not competing in multisport events, she spends the winter months doing trail runs. “I think it helps me become a more durable runner by increasing my run consistency at least part of the year,” said Parr, who already has four long trail runs on her schedule between January and March. “Having said that, at this point of my multisport career, my offseason choices are less about preparing for next season than they are about mixing it up and doing a variety of things I enjoy. I think keeping my athletic goals interesting improves my longevity in endurance sports, and longevity in athletics is something that is important to me.”
It’s clear that while Parr enjoys competing in multisport, she never imagined that she’d be winning age group titles at the national level. “I remember my first trip to short course nationals in Louisiana and seeing those top finishers and wondering what it would be like to be that fast,” Parr said. “I had won a couple local races but was nowhere near even qualifying for worlds that year. At that time, I never would have put myself in those fast girl shoes, so I’m just thrilled about what I’ve managed to achieve since then. I’ve learned so much along the way and met some great people, which is the best part of it all.”