When it comes to naming women who inspire us, and dare we say it, consider to be heroes, we have an extensive list. However, Deena Kastor is a cut above the rest. Sure, she is an Olympian, Mom, motivational speaker and well known for her culinary prowess (check out her recipe for Avocado Enchiladas), but it is her zest and passion for life and everything that she does that inspires us most. We had the fun experience and honor of working with Deena to launch her new website DeenaKastor.com and we encourage you to check it out for some instant inspiration. Morgan is good friends with Deena and also trains with her and the Mammoth Track Club in Mammoth Lakes, CA under the coaching of Deena’s husband Andrew Kastor. After one of their trail runs (like the one pictured below with MTC athlete Bria Wetsch) Morgan sat down with Deena for an inspiring and fun interview:
Before you started running what types of sports or activities did you participate in?
Sports are a great way for a person of any age to learn about teamwork, time management and ability to focus. I participated in soccer, softball and ice skating before running took hold of me and ignited a passion to progress. I am not sure if I was successful right away because I loved to run or if I loved to run because I had talent, but either way I was happy to find a place for myself at the age of 11.
As a team of PR Pros who are also top-level athletes, SMACK! Media is all about living a balanced, healthy and productive life. You are a professional athlete, wife and mother as well as a public speaker with your hands in many exciting endeavors. How do you balance it all?
When we wear many hats throughout the day, it’s important to make sure you enjoy wearing each of those hats. I get busy and tired, but I also love everything I do. I also think my greatest asset is my team. I am selective when it comes to choosing who I work with and I make sure to surround myself and my family with quality people who are also passionate about their craft. Success is more of a flow than a struggle when you have a good team of people working together.
Your daughter Piper competed in the Carlsbad 5000 Kid’s run, as did Eli’s boys. Does Piper like to run?
My 4 year old daughter Piper loves to run. To me there is no greater joy than seeing children and animals running. It appears effortless, smooth and playful. It is also refreshing to see how Andrew and I influenced Piper to run by simply showing her the fun spirit and exploration of running.
You moved to Mammoth Lakes 14 years ago. For those not accustomed to training at altitude nor living in a small remote mountain town, describe the appeal and magic of living there:
Andrew and I have found Mammoth Lakes to be home for the past 15 years and can’t envision a place we like better. Many exercise physiologist can attest to the performance benefits for endurance athletes living and training at altitude, but the personal benefits come from living life in the mountains. It is here in Mammoth where I have a deep gratitude for nature, exploring trails and the simple pleasures of spending time with friends. This profound connection with nature and people fuels my spirit and it is with that spirit that I run with.
You have an exciting Mammoth Lakes Running Escape planned (September 11-13) this fall. Can you tease us a bit about what runners who attend can expect?
The Mammoth Running Escape this September is a way to showcase my hometown. I carefully selected my favorite running locations, a gourmet menu and created classes to intimately share my running ideals. My inspiration for this escape is to roll out the red carpet and welcome the running community to the place that has fostered many great Olympians. I love to throw a good party and for this long weekend I have given attention to every detail to ensure my guests leave with life-lasting memories.
This spring you have raced a variety of events ranging from the Carlsbad 5000, Ezakimak Pink Moon Challenge (an uphill night 3 Mile run on snow that finishes at 11,053 feet!) and the MORE Fitness/SHAPE Half Marathon. Can you talk about the benefits of mixing up events and how this can benefit runners of all levels?
I have participated in a variety of races over the past year and all are a way to enjoy fitness. Each race I run has a purpose and those purposes vary quite a bit. Having purpose gets me out the door to train each day. So whether I am running in an all-womens race to celebrate health and fitness, supporting a local community event or returning to a race that has been a part of my success years ago, the purpose gets an emotion out of me and I honor that in training and on race day.
You’re well known as a foodie so we must ask a few related questions! What is your favorite meal to prepare?
FOOD! I love preparing anything if it is meant to be shared with family and friends. It first starts with quality ingredients and I take pride in making sure the vegetables and sides are organic and that the meat is humanely and properly raised. There is of course an abundant flow of wine.
What do you eat before a workout or race?
Before big workouts and races I like to have wood-fired pizza typically topped with a balance of meats, veggies and cheese or a piece of wild salmon with a side of pesto pasta. I try to be open minded because when I travel so much it is difficult to stick to one specific meal you believe will give you the power to reach your goals. Last year before the Rock n Roll Philly race I was busy and social all day and wanted to just rent a movie and eat dinner in the quiet of my room. I went to Terminal Market—a huge food hall—and was won over by a large tuna sandwich at an Italian eatery. Now is where I disclose that I like putting chips in my sandwiches! So my pre-race dinner was a tuna sandwich—it even sounds bizarre to me now, but at the time, it was the most appealing.
Your favorite celebration meal includes:
A celebration meal can be anything as long as it includes friends and wine—preferably a lot of both.
What is your favorite type of run or workout?
My favorite workout is mile repeats. They burn, but I feel it adds quality to all my other runs, Mile repeats make other runs super easy, and tempo runs get more efficient which in turn makes long runs more efficient.
When you’re not running you like to:
When I’m not running I love to read, but live in such a beautiful place, I usually read with a view and then have the desire to explore. So then, I like to hike. And after a good hike I’m hungry, so then I like to cook and entertain!
What is your favorite place in the world you have traveled to?
My favorite travel was to Marrakech Morocco. It felt as though I went back in time, eating heavily spiced foods with my hands, bartering for clothes in the marketplace and seeing donkey pulled carts. It was beautiful, exotic and delicious!
Be sure to follow Deena, her family and the Mammoth Track Club on Twitter–it’s a guaranteed dose of positivity and inspiration!
Deena Kastor @DeenaKastor
Andrew Kastor @CoachKastor
Piper Bloom @PiperBloom
Asics Mammoth Track Club @MammothTC