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Face of the Race: Megan Deakins

Deakins-Trail-RunningWhat’s it like to break a record? Megan Deakins knows — she broke the Leadville Heavy Half Marathon women’s record this year with a time of 2:17:21. But the unassuming med student was simply after her own Leadville experience.

Congrats on shattering the Heavy Half record — how did that feel to learn that you broke the record?
The whole day was such an incredible experience, so the record was just a nice way to top off an overall memorable adventure. The record wasn’t something that I was thinking about during the race or that I had researched beforehand, but I was excited to hear the announcer mention it when I finished. My fiancé, David Roche, holds the men’s record from last year (he had a work obligation this year and couldn’t race), so I’m honored to now be a part of the Leadville legacy with my own family.

What’s your history with trail running and competing?
I actually competed in field hockey in college and then took a fifth year to run cross-country and track. I’m really not the most efficient runner, so I love trail running because I feel that athleticism, strength and footwork are more important aspects than efficiency for being competitive in trail running.

We heard you kept saying something like, “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” What keeps you going when it gets hard?
When I race I try to let my mind go completely blank, and when this strategy is effective, it’s as if the pain is outside my body. The best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten for competition, and actually for life as well, is, “Don’t judge.” That advice was excellent for this race because I felt terrible during the first mile. I put that feeling outside of myself and just focused on the next mile and so on and so forth. I actually felt better and more empowered as I kept going. That said, I’m not sure I could have gone a mile farther at the end of the race.

Was this your first time doing an event in Leadville? What was it about this event that drew your interest?
Leadville is iconic. Growing up, I’d heard about, read about, and seen pictures of all the Leadville events. The family -style event with a focus on adventure and the fun of competing is also enticing. Plus, when I heard rumors that Leadville is one of the most challenging races, I knew I had to race.

Do you train with music/headphones? If so, what are some favorites on your playlist right now?
Absolutely. I run almost every run with headphones; however, when the workout gets tough I often don’t even process the music. I don’t listen to the standard pump -up music — I prefer to leave the pump up to the coffee and just listen to good beats. Some of my favorites are “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman, “Learning to Love Again” by Mat Kearney, “Babylon” by David Gray, and “Snow” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Surprisingly, I also have a soft spot for country music.

What’s your favorite way to fuel for a hard effort like this?
The night before a race I don’t have too many routines — just the standard chicken, salmon, or other protein on top of a large salad. Dinner is always followed by plenty of ice cream, and lately I have been experimenting with a small glass of wine. The morning of a race I eat lots of peanut butter with pretzels and a chocolate chip Clif bar. The morning coffee is the most important part though!

Are you attending the Stanford University School of Medicine right now? How do you balance training with the rigors of your studies/schooling?
I just finished my first year of medical school and I am really looking forward to the upcoming second year. For me, having the balance and perspective of running is necessary in medical school. Often it requires adjusting workouts — early morning trails, a short lunchtime tempo, or doubles around an exam (I have to run before I take an exam). Medical school makes me appreciate my time on the trails, and my adventure running enables me to do longer study days that might involve sitting or desk standing for long periods of time.

What are your future goals in terms of running? Any plans to do the Trail Marathon or another Leadville run event?
In terms of future goals, I always prioritize my medical school and family life first and then plan my running races and training. Right now I am planning to spend next year focusing on trail running with some national races and smaller California events. I generally don’t race distances longer than the half marathon as I like to focus on speed training and agility, so I probably won’t enter the Leadville Trail Marathon, even though it looks incredible. Although I have always dreamed of doing the Leadville Trail 100 MTB. If I can find the time to start supplementing some mountain biking into my training schedule I would love to try the 100.

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