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April 12, 2006

From Kelly to Alan

This morning I ran for 35 minutes, and it seemed odd.

I typically base my taper off of a three-week framework that Pete Pfitzinger wrote in Running Times several years ago. The general idea is to have a handful of hard workouts interspersed among several short, easy runs, while gradually bringing your overall mileage downward.

Yesterday was a fairly difficult 13-miler (on the loop), and tomorrow will be 11 miles with 7 at marathon pace, so that made today an easy day – the schedule called for 30-40 minutes at an easy pace.

After several weeks where my shortest run has been about 7 miles, it felt very strange to turn and head for home after running only 15 minutes. I tacked on an extra 5 minutes just to appease my OCD tendencies, but ended the workout feeling like I had barely started. I guess that’s the point.

Anyway, my mind usually starts to wander when I’m running aimlessly, and this morning was no exception. And this morning, it kept wandering right into Kelly Clarkson’s abs.

I’ve watched her “Walk Away” video a handful of times over the past week now. It’s a funny video, and the tune is fairly catchy. In the video, Kelly wears an outfit that covers her arms and chest, but leaves her stomach exposed down to her low-rider jeans.

And I need to be careful about how I say this, because I dig Kelly. And like I said, the video is amusing. But I can’t help thinking that she still needs to raise her game a bit when it comes to showing us her stomach.

It’s not that it’s a bad-looking stomach. Far from it, actually. But it’s clearly not in the same league as Beyonce’s, or Shakira’s, or the all-time classic: Britney Spears circa 2002.

Sure, that’s a tough comparison to make, but ab-baring is definitely a game where you have to bring it strong, or don’t bring it at all. And - just to re-state for emphasis - Kelly’s good. She’s probably better than 99% of us. She’s just not world-class.

Since this is (ostensibly) a running blog, I’ll use this illustration. Remember Alan Webb in 2001? He was the best high school runner in a generation, poised to take the world by storm. Then he started running in international meets and getting his butt kicked by Kenyans and Moroccans and even a lot of European runners. He won the Olympic Trials 1500m by almost a half-lap in 2004, but didn’t advance past the preliminary round at the Athens Olympics.

He was still the best miler in America, but he wasn’t quite world-class. But now a few years later, he holds his own against international fields, and his name can be legitimately entered into a discussion of the world’s best runners.

So let’s think of Kelly Clarkson’s abs like the 2001 Alan Webb. She’s got one of the best looks going, but Beyonce and Shakira are totally kicking her butt right now – they’re her versions of Bernard Lagat and Ramzi Rashid (using the same analogy, Britney Spears would be Hicham El Guerrouj – simply the best miler ever). And if she wants to compete at their level, she needs to step it up yet another notch.

She's winning-the-Olympic-trials good, but not competing-head-to-head-with-Beyonce good. There's a big difference.

But she’s still young, like Webb, so there’s cause for hope. And personally, I’m pulling for her to jump into that world-class discussion – I mean, there’s always room in the talent pool for another hardbody, right?

Not to mention, this is the kind of competition I could really enjoy watching over the next couple of years.

(See what kind of crazy things can happen if I don’t get enough running?)


backofpack 4/12/06, 1:13 PM  

Okay, now think back to that first season of Idol when Kelly won. She was kind of soft and a little pudgy then. She's certainly come a long way!

Now to pick up the running analogy, how about age-group abs? Does someone of my slightly (ahem) older age, coming periously close to 50, get a break in the abs department? I would like to be compared with others in my age group (where I would still come up lacking) rather than with the 20 something age groups...

stronger 4/12/06, 1:25 PM  

Look at Britney circa 2002 and compare to Britney ala 2006- Pop star to looking like any ol' gal walking barefoot into a 7-11 restroom. At least Kelly doesn't look like the starved Lohan and Hillary Duff's out there.

olga 4/12/06, 4:06 PM  

Man, this rest day makes me wonder about your mental health:) And please, can we not pick on stomach issue?
OK, but the analogies were great! You need a patent on that!

robtherunner 4/12/06, 7:17 PM  

You had me laughing on this one. I am a Shakira fan myself. Does your wife read this stuff? And if she does, she is either extremely understanding, or you must have a lot of bruises on your arms if she is anything like my wife when I talk about other women.

Susan 4/13/06, 1:56 PM  

Britney 2006 - ew! Hee, Rob is funny.

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