Legion Profile: Katrina Vassallo

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Katrina Gravel (now Vassallo) who now runs for Craft Concept Racing was featured in our May/June 2013 magazine issue.

Katrina Gravel runs for the Sisu Project and recently completed the Boston Marathon in a PR of 2:59. She was kind enough to answer 10 Level Renner essay questions.

1. Who are you?  How did you get started in running?
My name is Katrina Gravel and I hail from Peabody, MA. I started in running as a freshman in high school. I wanted to take music lessons and my parents struck a deal with me, in which they would pay for lessons if I promised to play a sport. I picked the one requiring the least amount of coordination. I was pretty much hooked after my first cross-country race.

Katrina Gravel Vassallo. Photo by Krissy Kozlosky.

2. You’re engaged to a runner (Dan Vassallo of CMS).  How does your relationship affect your running?
To me, the pros of dating a runner far outweigh the cons. Basically I have someone who not only understands the sport but is also willing to talk race strategy and training plans, who doesn’t question me if I spend several hours of my weekend on long runs, and who can usually be talked into a run at my pace every now and then. The cons include minor disagreements about pre-work running versus post-work running, and occasional pouting when one person is injured or not racing well. But overall I feel that our relationship keeps me motivated and makes me a better runner.

3. You currently hold the 5th place position in the USATF-NE Grand Prix Series.  Do you intend to race the complete circuit?  What’s your approach for this series of events?
I’m going to be 100% honest: I didn’t know I was currently in 5th until I read this question. That probably comes off as extremely aloof, but I’ve never really been one for tracking rankings. I do plan to race most of the circuit, and I’m really looking forward to the Nahant 30k. I approach each event in the series as an opportunity to race against (or at least, behind) some of the top runners in the region; it’s a good set of races to train for.

4. Tell us about your involvement in the Sisu Project.
I’m fairly new to the Sisu Project, though I’ve known of them for several years. I just officially joined the team in January and it has been a great experience so far. It’s a wonderful group of people with a great attitude and a positive outlook on running and on life. The team support at races has been phenomenal and I really appreciate the enthusiasm of my teammates.

5. Describe your best performance and proudest accomplishment.
I’d say my best performance was the New Bedford Half Marathon in 2011. I ran my PR there and it was just one of those rare races where everything clicks – I felt good, the weather cooperated, I was confident in my training, and I executed the race well.
My proudest accomplishment was earning an All-American spot at XC Nationals my senior year of college; I placed 35th and the top 35 get All-American. It wasn’t a particularly good race for me but as I neared the finish I heard someone telling another runner near me that she was in the top 40. I kicked like hell for the last 400 meters but thought I’d just missed it. Finding out that I placed 35th when results were posted remains a highlight of my running career.

6. What’s your “go to” workout?
Hill repeats are my favorite, especially on the trails. My “go to” track workout is one from high school : 16 x 200 meter repeats, at the same pace, with increasingly shorter rest for each set of four (1:00, :45, :30, :15). Short and sweet – it’s a good one for days when I want to get my legs moving a bit but am too lazy to do a real workout.

7. How do you know you’re ready to race?
There usually comes a point in any given training cycle where I go out for a run with DV [Editor’s Note: That’s Dan Vassallo.] and we’re clipping right along and at the end I’m the one trying to push the pace or suggesting that we add an extra loop or something, rather than dragging my feet and whining about it. When I feel good and I’m excited about my training and about running in general, I’m ready to race.

8. Do you run doubles?
I run doubles when I need to, which is generally when my mileage gets above 70 miles a week. I prefer running singles (less laundry!) but it’s not always possible to get the necessary mileage in on one run before or after work. My philosophy is that doubles can be an effective way to get in extra mileage.

9. What do you do when you have a cold, ache, or pain?
I usually try to run through it, especially if it’s a cold. I sometimes think running can clear up a cold more than rest. But if something is really bothering me (such as an injury) or I’m really feeling exhausted, I’ll take a day off.

10. What type of ancillary activities do you do to support your running?
I don’t stretch or ice nearly as much as I should. I try to lift and/or do core work most days of the week, and I occasionally incorporate yoga, boot-camp style classes, and biking as well. I’m a fan of exploring new cross-training activities and I’m looking forward to trying out boxing in the near future.

10 Shorts for Katrina Gravel

1. Height and weight?
5’5, ~120

2. Nick/Code Name?

3. Best Book You’ve Ever Read?
The Little Prince

4. Favorite Band/Song?
Pretty much anything by Mumford and Sons gets me amped right now.

5. Favorite Movie?
Toss-up between Rocky IV and The Boondock Saints

6. Ice Postrun?
Only occasionally. Ice baths in the summer.

7. Running Site most Frequented?
Running2Win for logging runs; Level Renner for reading about running.

8. Local Running Role Model?
Kara Haas and Gina Braz-Rocha – both helped shape my running career and continue to inspire me.

9. Hours of Sleep per Night?
On average, six.

10. Other Hobbies?
Reading, writing, skiing, baking, wedding planning (for the next couple of months)


To read more from our May/June 2013 issue, click here.

To read from our current issue, click here.

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