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Open Mic Friday: Meet the Kristina, the Marathon Mama

Posted Jan 23 2009 3:51pm

  Open_mic_fridayA sign of a great guest for Open Mic Friday is how quickly the reader departs reading the interview to go read the guest' s blog.  Today' s guest is Kristina, the Marathon Mama, whose passion for running and writing make for a blog which is a treat to read.  She tells it like it is and can turn a phrase that makes us wish we' d said it that way. Perhaps the most down-to-earth holder of a doctorate you' ll ever meet, a former Buddhist, a wickedly insightful writer, and a fine runner, she' s grounded in motherhood and her adoration for her son, Henry. 

Fresh off completing P.F' s Changs RnR Marathon on Sunday, we' re delighted to bring you Kristina Pinto.


Congratulations on your hard-earned PR.  Care to tell us more about how you’re feeling about it a few days later? 

Is it strange to say I’m making peace with my PR? I had trained quite hard for a really ambitious time goal and didn’t make that goal in this race, so the PR is a little bittersweet. I’m trying to keep my sense of humor about the outcome and shake it off so I can move on in my running. Either that, or I’ll take up bocce instead.

Boston How would you prepare differently for a marathon in January in Phoenix?

Tough question because I live in northern Massachusetts so I can’t really train in Phoenix-like conditions, which proved to be my undoing in the marathon. I think I’d have to plan a smarter nutrition strategy that is specific to the climate of the race, rather than just drinking water from every cup that’s extended to me.

Tell us how you got started running and racing?

Poverty! I started running after college because it was cheap, which makes me laugh now because I’ve made it exponentially more expensive with my lust for running gadgets and gear.  I ran my first 5k after watching the Pittsburgh marathon go through my neighborhood and welling up with tears. I took that as a cue that I should start running—either that or go for an eye exam. I didn’t consider myself a runner at all but for some reason I thought if would be a good idea to run a marathon after that 5k. I hadn’t run further than 4 miles at the time. What can I say? I’m a dreamer not a planner.

What are you most looking forward to about running in 2009?

I’m running the Covered Bridges Half-Marathon in Vermont in early June. It’s quite competitive to get into, and I spent almost an hour trying to sign up the day registration opened. I’ve had an easier time getting Springsteen tickets.

Kristina and Henry You have a very special writing/running project going on.  Care to tell us about it?

I’m writing a book about the culture of mother-runners—moms who run. It’s meant to be a motivational study of the meaning of running in our lives. Running has changed motherhood by giving women an outlet to connect meaningfully with each other and to reclaim and develop their identities after having children. At the same time, motherhood has changed athletics in a radical way through running by carving a space for a group that is not usually prominent in sports. Mothers hold the world record in the marathon and the gold medal in the marathon. Women’s running performance actually improves in the year after childbirth. It’s like motherhood and running are meant for each other, but the pairing hasn’t really ever been given much attention. Can you tell I’m kind of passionate about this topic?

What would your family and friends tell us about your passion for running?

They’d probably say it’s ruined me for conversation about any other topic. They’re all incredibly supportive of my passion for running, but behind my back I’m fairly certain they twirl their fingers at their temples.

You have a great blog.  What makes it unique and interesting?

I don’t know that I’m unique, but I strive to be candid and to see the humor in my own missteps, of which there seem to be many. I’ve kind of become a Murphy’s Law marathoner, so it’s getting to the point where people read just to see what will go wrong next. I’ve had a DNF from injury, pulled out of a marathon with pneumonia, and now dealt with unseasonable heat. I’ll probably be abducted by aliens in the next one.

Striding Best race experience?

I had a great race at the Hyannis Marathon last year, which I ran as a relay with my husband. One of those cliché races where everything clicks and you remember why you love running so much.

Any quirky running traits?

This is kind of embarrassing, but I am unfortunately afflicted with “excessive mucus production” when I run (I’m trying to be decorous here). The problem is that I lack the talent for expelling it with enough force. I’ve had men try to teach me the art of shooting it from my nose, but it always ends up on my clothes or shoes. It’s amazing that anyone is willing to run with me twice. Is that quirky or just gross?

How did you develop your passion for running and fitness?

I’ve never been especially passionate about fitness, oddly enough, though running is obviously a passion. I think it actually took writing about it for me to see my passion for it, and now I write in my head while I run, so they’ve kind of evolved together.

What have you not done with your running that you’re still looking forward to?

Three words: Qualify for Boston.

What gets you excited about running?

Good music. Have I mentioned I’m a Springsteen fan? I don’t think I’ve brought that up yet. I think my legs actually have muscle memory for “Glory Days,” I’ve listened to it so many times during speed work.

What’s your secret to running success?

I don’t know how well I do this, but one thing I’ve heard from elites is that they can shake off a race disappointment and move on pretty easily. I think that’s the secret to having the confidence to do well on the next run, whether you’re a professional or an amateur. I like to apply that strategy to other areas of my life, too. I tell my son to shake it off when he loses a game of Chutes and Ladders.

Favorite race?

Tufts 10k for Women in Boston. It’s huge, follows the Charles, and you get to shake Joan Benoit Samuelson’s hand at the finish line.

Favorite distance?

Half-marathon

Greatest running accomplishment?

In this last training cycle, I did a speed workout of 4 x 4 miles on my treadmill. Including the rest intervals, it came to 18 miles alone in this tiny room, gradually losing my mind. It was the hardest, most miserable run I ever did, but I finished.

 Current running goals?

Take some time to enjoy running for its own sake, without a watch, and then revisit my time goals. I desperately want to run a 3:40 marathon; I don’t know that I actually want to run Boston, but I want to meet that qualifying standard.

Non- running and non-blogging interests?

Needlepoint (bet you didn’t see that coming!), cross-country skiing, and all things chocolate.

With Henry Running hero?

The woman I just interviewed for my book who organizes and facilitates groups of running mothers in London. She doesn’t get paid for it; she just does it because she’s passionate about how running changes women’s lives. So inspiring.

Greatest running moment?

Finishing the Boston Marathon (for charity) in 2008

What is one unique thing about you that most people don' t know?

I don’t know how to drive a stick shift. It’s so embarrassing, but I am totally unteachable.

Who are some of your virtual running friends you would like to meet up and run with?

Everyone who left a comment on my race report for Phoenix. They were all so kind.

Most embarrassing running moment?

Nope, too embarrassing!

What’s going on in your life outside of running?

There’s a life outside running?

If money could buy you a running dream, what would it be?

I could buy interviews with Paula Radcliffe, Catherine Ndreba, and Constantina Tomescu-Dita for the book, I would in a second. And a massage every week.

Best running advice you’ve ever been given?

Run a good race, regardless of what the clock says. Jack Fultz, ’76 Boston Marathon winner and coach of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team, reminds his runners of that a lot when we get caught up in time goals. It always reminds me that if I’m not enjoying the race, I shouldn’t be running it.

Best running advice you’d like to share?

Get good socks. Seriously, socks never get the attention they deserve, all hidden there under the fancy shoes picked especially for you. Once you find your perfect socks, they’re as important as the shoes.


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