Introducing Pesto!

backinmyhappyplaceHello fellow Salties! I’m Pesto, one of the newest additions to the Salty Spice Rack. I am sure I speak for all of us new Saltines when I say that I could not be more thrilled to be here! But unlike others you will meet soon, I must confess, I am not a life-long runner.

In 2008, my final year at my small-town boarding school in New Zealand, it was final exam time and I was looking for reasons to procrastinate. Given that I was living in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, naturally, I took up running. It quickly became part of my daily routine; it helped to clear my mind, it felt so good, and most importantly it was better than studying!

Within a couple of months I placed at a regional road race, displacing many “fast” girls who had been running competitively for years. After that I figured I would try my hand at the National Championships. Off I went and no one, myself included, really knew what the heck I was doing. Somehow I managed to place 2nd in the Senior Girls 4km Road Race, and that same day was offered a full ride for college in the United States. Of course, running collegiately had never been on my radar; I was already enrolled in university in NZ and was due to start in less than two months. We had no idea what the NCAA was or what the general education classes were, but at the end of the day this was an opportunity that I could not turn down and my mum encouraged me to take with both hands. Worst case I could always come home, right?

Well, that’s not exactly how it went. I discovered that, while I expected D1 college running to be extremely tough, it was even tougher for an anxious, eager to please kid with no formal training living on the other side of the world from her home. My college running career included All-Conference and All-Region cross country finishes, a school record, and a 5K PR I will likely never come close to again, but for reasons we’ll cover soon, was relatively short-lived. Thankfully when I made the decision to leave the running program I was partly through writing my honors thesis, so it was decided that I would stay stateside to  finish my education.

Now a couple of years later, I am back in school, pursuing my Ph.D in Cognitive Behavioral Neuroscience. I also lucked out in the husband department, having married the amazing Mr. Pesto last year and live with him near Washington, D.C. with our Rhodesian Ridgeback, Gracie, who is possibly the best little spoon in the world.

Living in DC has its perks, including Mr. Pesto and Gracie

One day shortly after our wedding I decided that I was ready to get back together with my first love, distance running. Thankfully this polyamorous relationship doesn’t cause too many problems in our household. I am excited for what lies ahead, both in running and life. Highlights from my recent comeback include winning an off road trail half, running a 1:26 solo half in April, getting five twenty-plus milers under my belt and, in my humble opinion, doing a pretty good job at sustaining a good work-life balance (Mr. Pesto had no comment on this). 

After that 1:26 half marathon I decided to start making some new goals, including a sub-3 marathon. Also, before I left New Zealand, I represented my home nation at the World Mountain Running Championships, which was a great experience. Representing my country (or my new adopted country!) again is something I would love to pursue.

I was scheduled to run the Vermont City Marathon a couple of weeks ago to begin my quest for the sub 3, but alas, I ran one too many twenty-milers and I am currently hobbling around with a tibial stress fracture. Thankfully, bones heal relatively quickly.

I look forward to sharing my comeback with you all as I work towards breaking three hours in the marathon!

I am currently working on my Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience while sipping on wine & coffee in Northern Virginia. Together with my husband and Rhodesian Ridgeback, Gracie we battle to keep the Tupperware cupboard organized for more than two days at time. I recently ran my first marathon (2:51) and am excited for what is to come. I like to ramble about running post injury, finding a work-life balance and running quickly.

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  1. Welcome Pesto!! Loved reading your story and excited to follow your journey to sub-3!! ps: the tupperware quest = impossible. 🙂

  2. Welcome, Pesto! That is impressive…working on a PHD is not easy! You seem to have balanced your running/work/family life very well! I have the same goal-I am also a 1:26 halfer and just started training for a sub 3 hour marathon…I look forward to reading your posts and getting some much needed inspiration from you!

  3. Wow! Very impressive resume and you’re just getting started! Looking forward to following your journey.

  4. Hi Pesto, where in NZ are you from? I’m from Nelson but live in Queenstown… Both amazing places for running and triathlons