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World-Class All Around: Exclusive Interview With Deena Kastor

  • By Mario Fraioli
  • Published Sep. 30, 2011
  • Updated Oct. 30, 2011 at 4:46 PM UTC

The Olympic bronze medalist is ready to rock in San Jose this weekend.

Interview by: Mario Fraioli

Deena Kastor, shown here at the NYRR Mini 10K in March, will line up for this weekend's Dodge Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon. Photo: PhotoRun.net

She’s won numerous national championships, captured an Olympic bronze medal, and is the only American woman to ever run under 2 hours and 20 minutes for the marathon. In the last seven months Deena Kastor has added an even bigger accomplishment to her already robust resume: that of world-class mom.

The 38-year old gave birth to her first child, Piper Bloom, this past February. On Sunday she’ll contest her longest race since her pregnancy, the Dodge Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon. The reigning Olympic Trials Marathon champion, Kastor is on a quest to make her fourth Olympic Team this coming January in Houston.

We caught up with Kastor just a few days before she took the starting line in San Jose.

Competitor.com: Deena, the Dodge Rock n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon will be your first race over 10K since the birth of Piper. How excited are you heading into the half this weekend?

Deena Kastor: I love the half marathon distance. I definitely look forward to improving my fitness over the next few months as we get closer to the marathon trials and probably doing another Rock ‘n’ Roll half somewhere in the country before the trials in January. But for me I like to have the motivation of getting ready for races, so San Jose was a great fit and it’s just right across the Sierra Nevada mountains where we live, so I’m really excited to get there and just test my fitness a little bit at the longer distance. I still haven’t had too much high mileage in my training but definitely love this distance and look forward to the race.

Since having Piper in February you ran the New York Road Runners Mini 10K in June and most recently the Cow Harbor about 10K two weeks ago. Talk a little bit about the progression that’s occurred between those two races.

I was really far from being fit (at the Mini 10K) but was just really excited to get back into racing and being apart of the running circuit again. I just got back from the Cow Harbor 10K two weeks ago and that was more of a realistic shot of trying to get out there and win a race. And I fell short of it with Janet (Cherobon-Bawcom) tearing up the roads this summer. I was second place there so I just look forward to progressing every week. Piper’s seven months old now and it just seems like as the weeks and months go on I’m climbing back into fitness. It’s been a real steady, but great, climb back to where I want to be.

So is it safe to say then you were pretty encouraged by your result at Cow Harbor?

Yeah, and I just feel as the weeks go on I get stronger and stronger. It’s been a gradual progression. I’m hoping to time it perfectly so that I’m at my fittest come January. But I was really happy with the Cow Harbor race and it seems that even since then that training has gone even better, so it’s just been exciting to watch, almost witness myself gaining that fitness back that I used to thrive on. So to look back at my log over the past few months it’s hard to believe almost. I’m excited and confident and feel that I’m a totally different runner now than I was just a couple of months ago.

Speaking of regaining that fitness, how has your training changed since you’ve had Piper? Have you had to compromise mileage or intensity at all?

Yeah I think just because since I took more than five months off of training I did have to start back gradually and I’m just now getting close to hitting 100-mile weeks, where I used to run 120 to 140 miles a week, so just starting to get back to the triple digits mileage-wise. But I’m really just trying to focus on quality more now and so it seems that my morning runs, which is our more intense session, our harder session of the day, I’m a lot more focused on getting the best out of myself for those couple of hours and then when I’m home I get to be a world-class Mom and spend time with Piper. I’m just really grateful that both Andrew and I have the flexibility to watch out daughter grow on a daily basis, so we’re at a pretty fun stage right now and instead of just having that steadfast schedule in the evening I just kind of get out the door and do that second run whenever Andrew comes home from work and is able to take Piper and play with her while I get out and do my second training run and core work. So it’s really been a lot of fun. I think my days used to be pretty running-focused and getting in naps everyday, where as now I’m probably not napping as consistently but I sure sleep a lot at night.

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Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli is a senior editor at Competitor magazine. A cross-country All-American at Stonehill College in 2003, he now coaches the Prado Women's Racing Team in San Diego and was the men's marathon coach for Costa Rica's 2012 Olympic team. His first book, The Official Rock 'n' Roll Guide To Marathon & Half-Marathon Training (VeloPress, 2013) is available in bookstores, running shops and online.

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