Olympic Trials Preview: Deena Kastor

Proving pregnancy can make you stronger, Deena and her drool-worthy legs won the the 2011 Los Angeles Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon.

This week, as we head into the Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston for this summer's Games in London, we are going to feature five mother runners who will be crossing the starting line this Saturday. Yes, they are ridiculously fast and run like 90 miles a week, but the cool thing is that, at the root of it all, we all toss the same balls into the air--running, kids, husbands, jobs, kitchen duties, diaper changing and all the other glorious tasks that motherhood demands--and hope that we don't drop too many in one day.

We're starting with none other than the inimitable, 38-year-old Deena Kastor, who took bronze in the 2004 Olympic Marathon, broke her foot during the 2008 Olympic Marathon--an experience she calls a "gift, although it was a tough gift to swallow. It taught me a lot."--and  gave birth to Piper less than a year ago. Deena's pre-pregnancy run at the 2010 London Marathon--a 2:36:20--qualified her for the Olympic Trials.

From me-time to her-time: My perspective on running has changed significantly since I had Piper. I definitely feel more focused during my training. Before Piper, I had all day to spread my running focus. Now, I make the most of my training hours so I can play and watch Piper evolve the remainder of the day.

Lessons from the big belly: I learned early in my pregnancy that I can’t have any expectations and I need to be flexible. Going from a sedentary pregnancy to casual running again was so exciting. I was totally invigorated to be outside and moving forward.

But when I began working out again, it was a different story! It was SO difficult. I was exhausted--which, I realize, I will be the remainder of my days on earth--and had a hard time putting in an extended effort.

I am glad I had the mind set that I was starting my running career from scratch, because to compare the runner I was at my peak to the runner I was post-pregnancy would have sent me into retirement or severe depression.

Instead, I focused on steady progress and sharing my return to running with my daughter. I tell her about what I do when I’m gone in the morning and whether she understands or not, I love communicating with her.

There are actually three beautiful girls in the Kastor family: Deena, Piper, and Sage, the hound.

Nap time for both mom and Piper: I am a huge believer in naps and recovery after a run. Of course I wish there were a few more hours in the day, but Andrew, my husband, and I are a great team. We also have a wonderful group of friends who come over and help with Piper. Some of our friends come over and take her for walks, some come and read to her in the afternoons, others come to feed her and amuse themselves with how much her little frame can consume, and some friends sleep over and play all weekend. We are grateful that she has such great role models and influences from our greatest friends.

Ready to squash it: I love to be in the kitchen and Andrew and I love butternut squash soup. It is fun that Piper is eating real food now because even she makes the “mmm” sound when she is eating it. She eats curry spices!
{Here's the recipe, or you can open it as a pdf here: Butternut Squash Soup. She also has some other great recipes on her site.}

Butternut Squash Soup
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons curry
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 large butternut squash, peeled & diced (about 8 cups)*
1 granny smith apple, peeled & diced
3 cups water or chicken broth**

In large pot, heat olive oil and sauté onions until lightly browned.  Add curry and sugar; mix.  Add squash & apple and mix well.  Add water or chicken broth (enough to cover squash) and scrape bottom of pan. Simmer until squash is soft; about 20-30 minutes.  Remove from heat and, using a blender, blend soup until creamy consistency.  Return to pot, salt to taste.

Serve warm with a dash of cayenne pepper, toasted pumpkin seeds or fried sage leaves.

*The produce section of some markets has butternut squash that is pre-diced.
**I have also added apple cider to this recipe as the liquid.

Goal for the Trials: My goal in Houston is to make the Olympic team.  It will be my 4th Olympic team and I want this more than any other year I’ve run the Trials.  It seems so important to me now to be tougher than ever and be a good role model for Piper. I won’t compete at this level forever, so I would love to share this Olympics with Piper and earn her another medal for her future “show and tell” at school. 2012 will be the year I dedicate to my team of supporters; we also have had so much help with friends and family since Piper was born, I feel more than ever that this Trials was a team effort.

Winners of the 2008 Olympic Trials: Blake Russell, Deena Kastor and Magdelena Lewy Boulet. Who will be draped in the stars and stripes this year?

Tune in: The Olympic Trials for both men and women will be on NBC from 3-5 EST on Saturday, January 14th.

15 responses to “Olympic Trials Preview: Deena Kastor

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  4. oh man this is so inspiring. I cannot wait to see the trials. I hope I get to see the trials. Does anyone know if you’ll be able to watch them online after they’re over (just in case I don’t get to watch them live?)??

  5. I LOVE Deena! What an amazing role model and inspiration for mother runners! I am rooting for her! Now, if I can only figure out how to incorporate her wonderful recovery naps into my day…haha! Thanks for an awesome, motivating series that I can’t wait to continue to read.

  6. 38, mother, runner, butternut squash lover, 2:36 finish. I’m just like Deena! Except I don’t run quite as far in that time. Kill the trials. Mother runners are cheering for you!

  7. Absolutely – MOTIVATING! I can’t imagine training for the hours that she does and still wearing all the hats the rest of us do. WOW – women are truly amazing! We can do anything we set our minds to.

    2011 was a whirlwind of a year for me – training for my first marathon. I wish I could have had this as my example 6 months ago! I knew she was back to running and was still doing amazing things but to see that picture of her above and those amazing legs – Woa!

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