VCM Elites: Dianna Chivakos

by EJN Comments (0) Articles, Racing

Continuing our preview of the invited field for the Vermont City Marathon (5/29 in lovely Burlington, VT), we present Dianna Chivakos, a Stonehill grad who now competes for the Battle Road Track Club. Here’s Dianna’s profile, courtesy of the VCM website:

Town: Westford, MA
Originally from: Hamilton, MA
College & Year: Stonehill College, 2005

Occupation: Stay at home mom
Club Affiliation: Battle Road Track Club
Sponsors: New Balance
Recent Race Highlights: 2nd woman at 2015 Bay State Half Marathon, with a time of 1:21:18. Nothing else of note as I gave birth in July of 2014!

Half Marathon PR: 1:21:18 in 2015 at Bay State Half Marathon
Other Racing Highlights: PRs of:
Mile, 4:52 (track)
3k, 9:49 (track)
5k, 17:07 (track)
5k, 17:14 (road)
10k, 35:29 (road)

Cross-country All-American.
7x National Qualifier.
Northeast-10 Track Athlete of the Year.
Northeast Regional Athlete of the Year (XC).

We sent the former Skyhawk a few follow up questions to see how things have been going leading up to the race:

First time at VCM? What does it mean to be a part of the invited runner field?

This is my first time at VCM, and first real attempt at a marathon, so I am beyond thrilled and very grateful to be part of the Inviter Runner Program! Since I’ve never done this race before I can’t say what I love about it, but I can say that the organization has been amazing to work with so far, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about the race (hence the reason I wanted to do it).

How many marathons have you done?

This will be my first marathon! Ok, that’s technically a lie. I “ran” Boston once years ago, but I was hurt going into it and after the halfway point, I stopped every mile to stretch for a bit, so I don’t really count it as actually having done one.

What goal are you aiming for?

I am hesitant to share my goal as this is all new to me…I set the bar high for myself, but I’ve encountered some bumps along the way (before that, training was going great), so we shall see how the race unfolds!

What’s your biggest strength as a runner? How do you think that translates to the VCM course?

My strengths as a runner have changed over the years. Lately I’ve become much better at pacing myself and being able to regroup after a rough patch. I’m hoping this works in my favor at the race! I believe where I live and train is similar terrain to the race course as well, so that should ensure it’s not too much of a shock to the system.

What is your favorite race distance? Which one is your best one? Why?

In college I was all about the shorter events, the mile up to the 5k. After college I went after the 10k for a bit, but after giving birth I’ve found that what I now seem to lack in speed I have made up for in endurance! So right this moment I’d say the half is my best distance.

Do you have many half marathons under your belt?

I’ve run about a half dozen half marathons, but really never specifically trained for one until this past fall (in the past I’d do them while training for shorter stuff and then feel surprised/disappointed when I fell apart at the end, go figure). For whatever reason I can handle much higher mileage now than I ever could in past years, which was one of the reasons I thought I’d finally give the full a try.

Do you find that it took you a little bit to adjust to racing the longer distances?

It took a while to get used to the longer workouts, but I’m big believer in getting as many miles on your legs at goal pace as possible, so that come race day it feels like second nature. The hardest part for me is staying tough when the workout (or race) is going bad! When you know you still have many miles to go, that can be tough to push through mentally. The workouts I’m proudest of aren’t the fastest ones, but the ones where I hung in even when all my body wanted to do was stop.

How do you juggle family, career and training all while competing at such a high level?

Physically, being a mom while still training hard is fairly easy for me (my son has tons of energy so I have to be fit just to keep up with him!). The logistics are the toughest part for me; let’s just say many of my training runs have involved pushing a 25 pound toddler!

How easy will it be on race day knowing you won’t have to push a stroller for the whole thing?

Since much of my training was run pushing a stroller, I assume that means that without the extra resistance, I will win with a course record time at VCM (I am joking, in case that’s not obvious). Honestly in a weird way, I truly believe part of the reason I can handle more miles now is that pushing, while incredibly hard on the upper body, takes some of the pounding off the legs, so in other words it uses entirely different set of muscles. It would be interesting to see what I could run with him though…

In a race like this, what’s more important, time or place?

I will be focused on place for sure, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t chasing the clock as well!

Do you have a nickname?

I don’t really have a nickname. Some small people (one in particular) call me Mama though. 🙂

Go-to post marathon meal (celebration mode)?

I am a New Englander through and through, but after spending 7 years in San Diego, I would do anything for carne asada fries or a California burrito!!

You can find more on Dianna and the rest of the elite field here. More to come!

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