Keeping Orange at HeartPublished September 24, 2001 in The Post-Standard.
By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer
Rachel Sears started running at age 8 with 5am morning jogs with her father. In junior high, Sears ran cross country and track for Central Square. At Paul V. Moore High School, she competed at the state and national levels. Last week, Sears won a gold medal at the International Triathlon Union Duathlon World Championships in Rimini, Italy.
According to Scott Love, who coached Sears at Central Square, she was never afraid of training hard. An overachiever and a fierce competitor, she led her high school team to a perfect record, never losing a dual meet in cross country or in track. A growth spurt that pushed her close to 6 feet slowed her running, and she spent her senior year studying in Germany.
Sears enrolled at Syracuse University in 1992 on an athletic and academic scholarship to study television, radio and film at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. She ran for the Orange in her freshman year, before abandoning competition in favor of radio. She worked as an on-air personality for WJPZ, B104.7 and Y94-FM before graduating cum laude in May 1996, and taking a full-time job in Boston. An impulsive marathon debut in New York in 1998 and an attempt at cycling brought Sears back to competition. Her tall stature gave her an edge on the bicycle, so she combined running with cycling. A mixed bag of results in 1999 convinced her to leave Boston for the friendlier terrain of California, where she took up training full-time. "So now I train, I race, I coach," as she put it.
Sears built her training on a regimen of low-volume, high-quality workouts. In a typical week, she swims 3 to 5 hours or 10,000-12,500 meters, bikes 8 to 15 hours or 150-250 miles, runs 20 to 35 miles, and performs 2-3 hours of strength and flexibility exercises. She also takes 1 or 2 naps each day - my kind of training- depending on the intensity of her workouts.
Her conservative approach to training kept her injury-free, and led to a steady improvement. She won the Pope Valley Biathlon last March, won her age group in the Escape from Alcatraz in June, finished first woman in the Danskin Triathlon in Sacramento, and won the bronze medal in the ITU Powerman Duathlon World Championships in Holland on September 9, leading to her age group gold medal in the ITU Duathlon World Championships in Italy on September 16.
A Syracusan at heart, Sears always races with some article of clothing with orange. She chose her racing shoes, in part, because they were orange and blue, and painted her training and racing bikes orange "because of my love for Syracuse and Syracuse University." She plans to turn professional in 2002, focusing initially on duathlons as she develops her swimming skills. She chronicles her activities on her web site at http://www.RachelSears.com.
Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created TrackMeets.com, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at email@example.com.
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