Runlife
October 21, 2012

Q & A with Christy Turlington Burns

Sally Bergesen

christyturlington.jpg

Hard to believe, but NYC is so close we can smell the porta-potties! Before we fly out to the big city, we were excited to circle back for a little Q&A with our charity partner, Christy Turlington Burns and Every Mother Counts (EMC).

If you haven't heard, EMC is a fantastic, women-led organization that focuses on maternal health around the world. (The 2-minute video below is a powerful visual explanation of EMC's mission and why Team EMC is running the NYC Marathon.)

As both the apparel sponsor and personal fans of EMC, we wanted to hear how Christy started marathoning, and how she feels about everything from training, to EMC, to NYC fashion week, and more...

Oiselle Q&A with Christy Turlington Burns

1. We understand your first marathon was NYC in 2011. How did that come about?
We got a random call in late July of 2011 offering Every Mother Counts ten spots in the ING NYC Marathon. I knew I could fill the spots with friends who were runners but then couldn't resist the chance to run for the first time.

2. Had you run much prior to training for New York?
I was running 3-5 miles a few times a week, and have done that periodically throughout my life. Once i got it into my head that I would run I started increasing my runs and pretty soon I was running 10 miles and feeling good so I just kept at it. My running mantra was literally, "I can do this, I can do this."

3. When you started to train, what did you find you liked most about running? And what did you like least?
I loved getting outdoors and being disconnected. No music, no phone. Just me. But, it gets pretty humid in New York in the summer and there were days when it felt like I was running in a steam shower. And, then I started losing my toe nails…during sandal season...

4. Did you shop for running clothes, or just use athletic apparel you already owned?
I wore clothing I already had around and wore shoes I had had for years. It wasn't till September when the race was within sight that I went to Paragon to get some gear and even then the options weren't great.  
 

5. What running shoes do you wear?
Last year I ran in Brooks but my feet took a beating in the actual race so this summer I tried some Nikes and have stuck with them. My feet seem much better so far with a lot more miles on them.

6. How has your training been different for 2012 than it was last year?
Well, for starters I kept the running up throughout the year, just in case. Not as regularly or long but I kept it up.  I think I had all of 12 weeks to train last year and this year I started much sooner. I also did a bit more cross training. I practiced yoga, went to a weekly spin class the last month or two and more ab work. 

7. Is there synergy between running a marathon and Every Mother Counts? If so, what?
I think there is synergy between marathons and all health related organizations but for EMC we found an incredible link to one of the biggest barriers pregnant women around the world face when accessing critical maternity care and that is distance. Some women have to walk a minimum of 5k just to access basic care but countless others have much further to go and 26.2, the distance of a marathon, is not an uncommon distance for a woman to have to travel to access emergency obstetric care. Every time I go out for a run, I think about this and it keeps me going. Our team motto for the race is "We are running so others don't have to walk."

8. The film you directed, “No Woman, No Cry” is a powerful story about women (and families) struggling to find balance, health, medicine. How were you able to connect with the women so closely and gain their trust?
Our approach changed a little in each country but in each we came to know our heroines through the health care providers in each so there was already a fair amount of trust earned through them by the time we met them. Each woman was told about our film and those who gave consent then allowed us into their homes or into clinics and hospitals. We met with dozens of women but ultimately much fewer that we were able to follow for longer periods of time. We had a very small team of mostly women and were very respectful of their comfort level at all times. The women in the film chose us as much as we chose them. Some of them understood what it was we were hoping to capture and that made the process so much smoother. We have since gone back to every country with the film and continue to stay in touch with most of the participants.

9. When you talk to people about maternal health, what are they most surprised to hear?
I think many people assume that maternal health is a given and that access isn't a problem for most. Once people hear the facts about maternal mortality, that hundreds of thousands of girls and women die each year from largely preventable causes, they start to question why and who. These are important questions to ask and if more of us start asking them, we will likely start to get some answers. People might not be totally outraged to learn that women in developing countries are dying in pregnancy and childbirth but when they learn that women are dying here too, it gets their attention. The US is ranked 50th in the world, behind Saudi Arabia and Bulgaria, yet we spend more per capita on health care than any other developed nation. However 99% of the global deaths do occur in developing countries, and 66% of them in just 11 countries. Almost all of these deaths are preventable.

10. What are the ages of your kids, and what do they think about your running?
My daughter just turned nine and my son will be seven in February. They were really into the race last year and came out to Brooklyn to cheer me on and then were at the finish line. They held their signs they made that read, "Run Mommy, Run!" 

11. When you’re tired, but need to get out the door for a run, what motivates you?
I have learned that no matter how tired I am, I will feel better after that run. I always do. I do procrastinate sometimes and am not an early riser but I do know once I get going I will be happy that I got out there.

12. What’s your favorite place to run in NYC?
I run up and down the westside highway. Its close to my apartment and the kid's school and its easy to mark the miles. Running up to and around Central Park and down is pretty nice.

13. Do you run with friends, solo, with or without music?
I most often run alone but on the longer ones we have been meeting up as a team and that's a welcome break. I got used to running without music early on and so never listen to anything. I like the peace and quiet.

14. What are your plans for getting enough fuel and fluid during the NYC Marathon?
I stick to what I know and what worked pretty well last year. I drink water and eat a few packets of gu. I always bring extra but haven't exceeded two to three ever. 

15. Do you have a time goal this year, or are you just running by feel?
I ran last year's race in 4:20 and I had a goal then of as close to 4 as possible. I would love to get closer to 4 than last year.

16. Do you have a mantra, or thought, that gives you strength and gets you to the finish line?
I may go back to my original mantra, "I can do this, I can do this." Last year I had a tough time going into the Bronx and my friend said, "remember those mothers," and that did the trick.

17. What is your favorite part of the NYC Marathon course?
I loved running through all the Brooklyn neighborhoods. I felt good and the adrenalin was pumping pretty much all the way through. The crowds were awesome!

18. You've practiced yoga for quite a while. Do you find them to be complementary?
I have practiced yoga for more than twenty five years. I do think that running and yoga are complementary. You kind of have to do yoga if you run a lot, don't you? I apply the focus and precision of yoga and meditation to the running.

19. Sorry, shameless fashion question: who are your favorite designers today?
I really don't follow fashion very closely but I have a couple of favorites that I know I can go to and look stylish without much fuss. I like Isabel Morant and Rag & Bone. I also like Stella McCartney and Marc Jacobs for special occasions

20. Did you go to any shows during fashion week, and if so, which were your favorites?
I only went to one, but honestly I regretted going as soon as I got there. There is just no reason for me to be there. It’s not fun for me and I don't enjoy looking at clothes in front of thousands of other people. 

21. Is there anything in the fashion world that you’d like to see cross over to running apparel?
I guess I would want to see a wider palette range in sports apparel. I like neutrals and earthy colors and don't see as much of that out there, particularly in footwear.

22. If you could do any other marathon in the world, which one would it be?
I don't know. Ask me again after November 4th.

 

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